Flood safety tips: cleaning up dust, asbestos and mould

Flood damaged household goods in Mullumbimby waiting for kerbside collection. Photo Aslan Shand.

Flood damaged household goods in Mullumbimby waiting for kerbside collection. Photo Aslan Shand.

Cyclone Debbie has caused major damage throughout the north coast region and as people continue to clean up their homes and businesses the Northern NSW Local Health District is reminding people to take precautions against mould, dust and asbestos.

Dust and mould

Irritated eyes, running and blocked nose, sneezing and wheezing can be caused by mould and dust leading to allergic reactions and other breathing problems.

Using a P2 mask available at hardware stores when cleaning or in dusty conditions is recommended

Going back home

Returning to you home and businesses after a flood the following steps are recommended:
Clean up and dry out the building quickly. Open doors and windows and use fans or dehumidifiers to dry out the building.

Remove all porous items that have been wet for longer than 48 hours and that cannot be thoroughly cleaned and dried. These items can remain a source of mould growth and should be removed from the home or building. Porous, non-cleanable items include carpeting and carpet padding, upholstery, wallpaper, drywall, ceiling tiles, insulation material, some clothing, leather, paper, some wood and wood products, and food. Removal and cleaning are important because even dead mould can cause allergic reactions.

Clean wet items and surfaces with detergent and water to prevent mould growth.
Temporarily store damaged or discarded items outside the home or building until insurance claims can be processed.

Removing mould:

Routinely cleaning surfaces using mild detergent or vinegar diluted in water (4 parts vinegar to 1 part water).

To make up a 10 litre bucket of disinfectant, fill the bucket with water and then add one of the following 50mls (quarter of a cup) of 4 per cent chlorine (household bleach) OR 8 – 16mls (desert spoon) of 12.5 per cent chlorine (liquid pool chlorine). Tea Tree oil is also effective use a 3 per cent solution or (2 teaspoons in a spray bottle with 2 cups of water)

It is recommended PVC or nitrate rubber gloves, safety goggles, masks and safety shoes be used in a well ventilated room when bleach is used.

Always allow cleaning solution to remain on surface being treated for at least 20 minutes before rinsing off.

Ensure the surface is dried completely once cleaned.

Absorbent material, such as carpet, may need to be professionally cleaned or replaced.


Asbestos is a concern because when it is broken up it may create airborne asbestos dust particles.
Many properties built or renovated before 1987 are likely to contain asbestos, usually in the form of roof and wall sheeting.

Generally, the asbestos will remain trapped in the cement matrix (bonded asbestos) and cause no harm. When it is broken up or worked on with power tools such as drills, grinders, saws etc, small fibres of asbestos will be released into the air. It is the airborne fibres that can cause illness when inhaled.


Spray with water

Cover with plastic sheeting

Prevent access by children and pets

Cover children’s toys

Use wet clean up procedures rather than dry sweeping or vacuuming

Stay away from confined spaces containing loose asbestos materials

One response to “Flood safety tips: cleaning up dust, asbestos and mould”

  1. hans lovejoy says:

    Clove oil is probably the best thing for mould. Works wonders, I guarantee it

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