Flooding–whether its from a natural disaster or a broken water pipe–can damage flooring, drywall and, of course, furniture. In most cases, it makes sense to completely dispose of fabric-covered items that have been soaked, because it can be costly and difficult to properly dry them out. But sometimes you'll have an important piece of furniture–maybe an armchair from Grandma or a padded ottoman with beautiful, one-of-a-kind embroidery–that you'll want to save at all costs. Here are some tips for saving water-damaged furnishings.
What Should You Do With Covering and Stuffing?
In most cases, the covering and stuffing for an upholstered item will be tough to salvage. If you need to preserve the covering, use a tack puller to gently remove the tacks or staples that attach the fabric to the frame. Then, wash the covering in gentle cycle in a washing machine or in gentle detergent by hand.
If you aren't concerned about preserving the fabric, then you can be less gentle–use any ripping tool, hammer or screwdriver to pull the coverings away from the tacks. Remove all the tacks from the frame.
If the stuffing material is cotton, you may be best off simply throwing it away. Acrylic stuffing may be salvageable, but it will have to be carefully dried and may retain an odor.
How Should You Treat the Springs and Frame?
You'll need to wipe all moisture off the springs and the frame of your furniture. A hair dryer or professional dryer may be use to completely dry the springs.
Once the springs are dry, oil them if needed. Coat any other metal parts with a rust-inhibitive spray paint.
Wood should be left to dry completely. Water damage restoration specialists may have special dryers or, for smaller items, drying chambers that can help speed the drying process. You probably do not need to dissemble a wooden frame, but if there are crevices that cannot get air circulating through, it may be necessary.
What Can You Do to Inhibit Mold and Mildew Growth?
Mildew is a type of mold that is most likely to grow on damp fabrics. Other types of mold typically grow on walls and other surfaces. It takes between 24 and 48 hours for mold growth of any kind to start. If it has been a few days since the flooding occurred, you may have to clean mildew off your furniture.
- If the item is mostly dry, take it outside and brush it off with a hand broom or whisk broom. This will remove the loose mold.
- Vacuum thoroughly and throw away the vacuum bag when finished to avoid spreading the spores.
- Use a sponge with detergent to lightly wash off the fabric. Wipe off the soap with a damp cloth. Your goal is to keep the fabric from becoming saturated and getting more water into the padding underneath.
- If you still have mildew, use a damp cloth with a solution of either 1 cup denatured alcohol to 1 cup water, or 4 teaspoons of chlorine bleach to 1 cup of water. Test first in a hidden area to make sure the solution won't damage the fabric further.
What Else Can You Do?
Give your furniture plenty of time to dry out. This can take days or weeks, but it is critical to properly restoring the item. If you continue to have mold growth or odor, use a commercial fungicide to moisten the surfaces again and then let dry.
If you aren't making progress on your own, call your local water damage restoration specialist. They can help to get your home and your furnishings dry and back in good shape. Companies like Complete Restoration Services may be able to meet your needs in this area.