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Home Fire Safety

Cleaning Tips


Many people are allergic to molds and mildew. Public Health Seattle-King County recommends that all mattresses, upholstered articles and carpet pads be thrown out if they have been soaked. They cannot be dried fast or well enough to keep mildew and mold spores from growing. If you do keep any of these items, follow the directions below.

Upholstered Items & Mattresses

  • Remove loose mold from surfaces by brushing with a broom. Do this outdoors to prevent scattering mildew spores in the house.
  • Vacuum the surface to draw out more of the mold.
  • Thoroughly dry by using an electric heater or fan to carry away moist air.
  • If mildew remains, sponge lightly with thick detergent suds using only the foam; wipe with clean, damp cloth. If molds have grown into the inner part of an item, send to a reliable dry cleaner.


Clothing that can withstand bleaching should be cleaned by washing in a mixture of 1/2 cup of ammonia to two gallons of water. Rinse in vinegar. (Use rubber gloves). Rinse with clear water and dry thoroughly.

Always read the CARE LABEL for proper instructions before cleaning any garments. Additional information may be obtained from a commercial cleaning service.


Wash all china, glass, pots and pans in hot, soapy water, using a scrub brush to remove any debris. Rinse in clear, clean water and dip in a solution of two tablespoons of ordinary household bleach to one gallon of water. Dishes with deep cracks must be thrown away.

Plastic and Wood Items

Plastic cookware, utensils, dishware, baby bottles and nipples, containers, cups and wooden utensils and bowls cannot be disinfected after exposure to contaminated water or chemicals. Do not use them for food or edible products.


Wipe with a damp cloth, then with a dry cloth. Stuff your purses, shoes, etc., with paper to retain shape. leave suitcases open for airing. Steel wool or a suede brush can be used on suede. Contact leather and suede cleaners for expert information. See yellow pages under "Leather".


Walls may be washed while still wet. Use a mild soap or detergent. Wash a small area at a time, working from the floor up. Rinse in clear water immediately. Ceilings should be washed last. Do not paint until thoroughly dry. Contact a paint dealer for further information.

Washable Wallpaper

  • Heat and ventilate room for several days to dry both plaster and paper.
  • Wipe mildewed paper with soap and wrung-out cloth. Rinse with clear water.
  • Re-paste edges or loosened sections.
  • Work quickly so paper does not become soaked. Work from bottom to top to prevent streaking.
  • Caution: Keep all cleaning cloths saturated with cleaning solutions (other than water) in a metal container equipped with a tight fitting metal cover.

Linoleum/Vinyl Floors

If water is allowed to remain underneath linoleum, odors and a breakdown of the wood begins. To remove or lift flooring, it is recommended that you contact a flooring specialist.

Removing White Spots on Furniture

Wipe dry at once and polish with wax or furniture polish. For more cleaning tips, contact the Seattle Public Library at 206-386-4645.

Wall to Wall Carpet

See "Mildew" section for warnings about soaked carpeting.

If carpeting is soaked, experts recommend replacing the padding underneath. A wet/dry vacuum or water extractor carpet cleaner can be rented at most supermarkets. Use it to remove standing water and dirt from carpets that are damp, but not soaked. Then add carpet cleaning detergent and clean the carpet as instructed. Rinse with vinegar and water in the tank of the machine. For further information, contact a commercial cleaning service.


Let rugs and carpets dry thoroughly. Shampoo with a commercial rug shampoo. Dry the rugs as quickly as possible by laying them flat and exposing them to warm, dry air. Make sure rugs are thoroughly dry.

Refrigerators & Freezers

Sometimes odors are difficult to remove due to damp insulation which absorbs odor. Here are some cleaning recommendations:

Defrost and wash all surfaces with water and dishwasher detergent, rinse with two tablespoons baking soda per quart of water, re-rinse with clear water.

Alternatively, wash with solution of one cup vinegar to one gallon water or with solution of one cup household ammonia to one gallon water.

Caution: When cleaning or removing any refrigerator or freezer, be sure doors are removed or secured against closing on children!

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Last Modified:   February 05, 2010

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