How to Clean Up the Sewage in the Basement of a Home


A sewage backup or flooding incident in your basement is both upsetting and unhealthy. The cleanup process is stressful and involves the removal of all furnishings, carpets, walls and anything else that was damaged by the sewage backup or flood. With the right steps, you can tackle this frustrating issue head on and return your basement to a livable condition.

Things You'll Need

  • Rubber gloves, boots
  • Eye goggles
  • Old jacket, heavy jeans, long-sleeved shirt
  • Shop vacuum
  • Trash bags
  • Mop
  • Broom
  • Rags
  • Trash cans
  • Shovel
  • Rack
  • Hammer
  • Crowbar
  • Screwdriver
  • Nose mask
  • Hat
  • Sump pump
  • Camera
  • Box fans
  • Reciprocating saw
  • Chlorine bleach
  • Dress in long sleeves, heavy jeans, an old jacket, hat, rubber boots, gloves, nose mask and eye goggles. Make sure your jeans are down in your boots and you are completely covered up to keep any sewage from getting on your skin.

  • Turn off any gas or other fuel lines leading to a furnace, heater and/or hot water heater in the basement. You may have to turn off the gas line from the city hookup outside of your house. Inform other members of the family not to use any toilets or sinks connected to any sewage lines in the basement.

  • Open all doors and windows in the basement and in any rooms upstairs from the basement that are close by. If your basement has a door leading to the outside, open it and start shoveling any debris that is on the basement floor into trash bags. Remove any furnishings from the space next.

    If you don't have a door in your basement, shovel damaged items into trash bags and trash cans. Toss the bags out a window or have a person at the top of the basement stairs to take the bags/cans to an outside trash area.

  • Take pictures of the damage area for insurance purposes.

  • Vacuum the basement floor with a shop vacuum. Make sure it is plugged into an extension cord hung high above the basement floor and the cord is plugged into a ground-fault equipped outlet. Dump the vacuum frequently.

  • Pull out any electrical devices that are still plugged into outlets once the floor is completely vacuumed. Use a broom to wrap around the power cable and pull gently. Make sure you are not standing in any water while you unplug the devices.

  • Remove and discard any carpet, drapes, wood flooring, upholstered furniture, accessories stained by sewage, toys, clothing and other contaminated objects in the basement. It is best to be safe than sorry. Even if you think you can salvage an item, think again, especially small household items.

  • Revacuum the floor to remove any debris present from throwing out items.

  • Cut out any damaged dry wall, paneling, wallboard or wall coverings with a reciprocating saw. Throw out any remaining sewage items from the basement, then sweep the floors and vacuum the space one more time.

  • Mop any concrete floors with a mixture of 8 tbsp. of chlorine bleach to a gallon of water.

  • Set up at least three box fans and turn them on to ventilate the affected area. Air out the basement for at least 24 hours before replacing flooring, drywall, furnishings and any fixtures.

Tips & Warnings

  • Avoid skin contact with anything contaminated with sewage. Do not allow children into the contaminated basement. Do not eat or drink anything exposed to the sewage water/debris. Remove clothing and take a shower once you are done cleaning up the basement. Discard the clothing you wore while cleaning the basement. Wash the rubber boots and gloves in soap and hot water outside of your house.
  • If you suffer a cut while working in the basement, contact your physician or visit an emergency room immediately for treatment.

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