If you’ve had the misfortune of being a victim of a flood or fire (and the subsequent water damage), you’re all too aware of the devastating effects they can have on your personal belongings and precious family heirlooms.

Standing water will continue to cause damage in the form of decay, warping, and rust, not to mention the longer-term effects of mold and mildew growth on your family’s health.

Getting the water out of your belongings quickly is the key to salvaging them after a catastrophic event like a fire or flood, and knowing how to handle soot and smoke-damaged articles is equally important. Here are some suggestions you can use to save your belongings in the short term if you are ever faced with such an event, and save them forever by using ultrasonic cleaning technology:

  • Drain standing water immediately. Anything that can hold water should be turned over and emptied as soon as possible, including bowls, appliances, electronics, and furnishings.
  • Remove waterlogged area rugs, blankets, clothes, tablecloths, and pillows and hang them up in a dry location.
  • If you have power, get the air conditioning or heater running, floor and ceiling fans started, and a dehumidifier going.
  • Use towels to soak up as much water as you can from furniture, flooring, and carpets. Wring the towels out, and repeat the process as many times as needed.
  • Clothes covered with soot and smoke should not be washed, but should be turned over to a qualified restoration company specializing in soft contents cleaning. Soot does not dissolve in water, and will leave fabrics a greasy mess. Hard-surfaced objects, however, like bowls, appliances, and furnishings, can be sprayed with a degreaser and wiped down, but make sure the chemicals are compatible with the surface finishes. Some will melt plastics and paints. Don’t eat from kitchen utensils that have been cleaned in this way until they have been washed in warm soapy water with diluted bleach added.
  • Important documents, papers, books, and pictures should be blotted with a paper towel and laid out on a flat surface to air dry. Keep them out of direct sunlight.
  • If you have wooden furniture (or furniture with wooden legs) setting on wet carpet, lift each leg, wipe off any surface water, and then place a plastic sandwich baggie under and around it before setting it back down. This will keep additional water from being absorbed into the wood.
  • Open as many drawers and doors as possible to promote air circulation and ventilation. This includes all interior doors, exterior doors where possible, and drawers and doors in furniture.

Notice that the words “throw it out” are not included anywhere on this list. That’s because modern ultrasonic cleaning technology makes it possible to save many of the items that previously would have been unsalvageable. Yes, there will still be things that must be discarded, but professional restoration companies equipped with ultrasonic cleaners can help you recover items as diverse as stuffed animals, computers, appliances, and mini blinds. The key is to get the standing water away from your items quickly, and then call a restoration company in short order to help you keep your possessions.

Ultrasonic cleaning is gentle, safe, and incredibly effective. The process can remove the soot and smoky smells left behind after a fire, remove mold and mildew, and safely clean your delicate, irreplaceable family heirlooms. Restoration companies can come right to your door to begin the salvage process and return your items to you, or send them off to a restoration center for special care (like large appliances and electronics). Everything you can save is something you don’t have to go out and buy again, so they can help you keep a substantial amount of money in your pocket.

Following the tips listed here can get you started on the path to saving your personal belongings, household goods, and family keepsakes. Once you’ve taken these steps, however, it’s important to contact a professional restoration company and get them working to return your items to pre-loss condition using ultrasonic cleaning technology.