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City of Hamilton - Public Health Services

Safe Water - Cleaning and Sanitizing with Bleach after a Flood


Safety Tips

Use regular unscented 5.25% household bleach. Read and follow the safety instructions on the bleach container’s label. Never mix bleach with ammonia or any other cleaner. Wear rubber boots, rubber gloves, and eye protection. Try not to breathe bleach fumes. Open windows and doors to get fresh air.

Cleaning Recommendations

The amount of bleach to mix with water depends on what you are cleaning or sanitizing. The following chart describes some items or surfaces that should and can be cleaned, the amount of bleach to mix with water, and cleaning steps for specific purposes. 
 

Clean and Sanitize Food Cans and Surfaces
Area or Item to Be Cleaned Amount of Bleach and Water to Mix Cleaning Steps
  Bleach Amount Water Amount  
Food-contact surfaces that may have touched floodwater
[Examples: countertops, plates]
Note: Throw away wooden cutting boards, baby bottle nipples, and pacifiers  
1 teaspoon
(5 mL)
4 litres  1. Wash with soap and warm, clean water.
2. Rinse with clean water.
3. Sanitize using a mixture of 1 teaspoon (4.9 mL) of bleach per gallon of clean water.
4. Allow to air dry.
Food cans that are not bulging, open, or damaged  1 cup
(240 mL)
20 litres  1. Remove can labels.
2. Wash cans with soap and clean water.
3. Dip cans in mixture of 1 cup (240 mL) of bleach per 5 gallons of water.
4. Relabel cans with a marker

Clean and Sanitize Other Household Surfaces and Items

Surfaces that do not soak up water and that may have touched floodwater
[Examples: floors, stoves, sinks, certain toys, countertops, flatware, plates, and tools]
1 cup
(240 mL)
20 litres 1. Clean surface with soap and clean water.
2. Disinfect with a mixture of 1 cup (240 mL) of bleach to 5 gallons of water
3. Allow to air dry

Clean Mold Growth Off Hard Surfaces

Mold growth on hard surfaces
[Examples: floors, stoves, sinks, certain toys, countertops, flatware, plates, and tools]
1 cup
(240 mL)
4 litres  1. Mix 1 cup (240 mL) of bleach in 1 gallon of water.
2. Wash the item with the bleach mixture.
3. If the surface of the item is rough, scrub the surface with a stiff brush.
4. Rinse the item with clean water.
5. Dry the item or leave it out to dry

Contact Information

Last updated: July 26, 2009