Flood: Cleaning Linens and Bedding

Often, flood-damaged sheets, blankets, quilts, etc. can be cleaned. However, anything that can't be cleaned should be discarded, as flood water is usually contaminated water. Here are some tips:

  1. Brush off loose dirt.
  2. Rinse mud stained items in cold water.
  3. Wash in warm suds and disinfectant several times. Do not use hot water. Rinse well.
  4. If stains remain, try bleaching white cottons and linens. Check bleach package for instructions and for possible use with colored fabrics.

Blankets and Comforters

  1. Wash only one at a time.
  2. Shake and brush to remove surface dirt. Follow manufacturer's instructions if available.
  3. If no instructions are available, soak at least 15 minutes in lukewarm water, turning 2 or 3 times during soak period. Repeat several times using clean water each time.
  4. Wash with mild detergent, disinfectant, and lukewarm water. Use as little agitation as possible.
  5. Rinse in several changes of lukewarm water, soaking each time for five minutes and turning over once or twice by hand. Extract as much water as possible.
  6. Hang blanket over two lines to dry or dry in a preheated dryer with several large, dry bath towels. Remove from dryer while still damp and hang over two lines to finish drying. Gently stretch into shape.
  7. Brush on both sides to raise nap.

You may need to take thick comforters apart , then wash cover and filling separately.

Woolen Bedding and Lightweight Quilts

  1. Shake and brush well to remove loose dirt.
  2. Wash in barely warm water with mild soap and detergent.
  3. Add a disinfectant.
  4. Dry outdoors in sunlight if possible. Otherwise, dry in a warm place.

Electric Blankets

  1. Follow manufacturer's directions, if available. Most manufacturers recommend washing, not dry cleaning.
  2. If directions are not available, cover plug with heavy cloth and follow instructions above.
  3. Avoid bending wiring. Do not put through a wringer or dry in a dryer unless the manufacturer recommends.
  4. Squeeze blanket lengthwise and hang over two lines.

Foam Rubber or Urethane Pillows

  1. Remove cover and brush off surface dirt.
  2. Follow manufacturers directions if available.
  3. If not available, use a bathtub or large sink.
  4. Soak in cool water; then wash in warm suds by hand. Compress the pillow and release. Do not twist or wring.
  5. Rinse the same way in lukewarm water.
  6. Gently squeeze or spin out excess water. Blot with towels.
  7. Dry away from heat or sunlight. Do not use dryer unless on an "air only" setting. Pillows may dry very slowly. If they are old, they may crumble.

Polyester Fiberfill Pillows

  1. Brush off surface dirt.
  2. Wash by hand or in washing machine in warm water and low-sudsing detergent. Add a disinfectant to the wash water. Do not twist or wring. Change water and repeat.
  3. Rinse 3 times in clear, warm water.
  4. Spin off water in automatic machine.
  5. Tumble dry in dryer at moderate setting with several bath towels OR press out as much as possible by hand and hang on line outdoors to dry.

Feather Pillows

  1. Wash feathers and ticking together if ticking is in good condition. If not, or if badly soiled, wash separately (see following instructions for separating).
  2. Brush off surface dirt.
  3. Open a few inches of the seam at opposite corners of the pillow, turn edges and sew loosely with strong thread.
  4. Wash in machine or by hand. Use warm suds and disinfectant. Wash for for 15 to 20 minutes. Do not wash more than two pillows at a time in an automatic washer.
  5. Rinse at least 3 times in clear warm water.
  6. Spin off water or gently squeeze out. Do not use wringer.
  7. Dry in dryer at moderate heat setting or in a warm room with a fan, or across two or three clotheslines. In an automatic dryer, put several bath towels or a clean tennis shoe in the dryer to speed up drying. Allow at least 2 hours. Shake up feathers occasionally to hasten drying.

    To separate ticking and feathers.

    1. Use a large pillow case or muslin bag 2-3 times larger than the ticking.
    2. Open one edge of ticking and sew open edges of ticking and bag together.
    3. Shake feathers from ticking to bag/pillowcase and close seam.
    4. Wash the bag of feathers and the ticking as you would pillow (see above).
    5. Air dry , hanging on line by 2 corners. Change position and shake feathers occasionally to speed drying.
    6. Spray starch the inside of the ticking.
    7. Transfer clean feathers to clean ticking the same way you emptied the pillow.
    8. Sew seam of ticking closed.



Renovation is not usually possible. It is best to buy a replacement mattress. However, if a mattress must be used temporarily:

  1. Scrape off surface dirt. Wear gloves and wash with a bleach solution (3/4 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water).
  2. Put the mattress in the sun. Turn occasionally to dry. Fans may speed up the process.
  3. Cover mattress with plastic or a rubber sheet before using it.

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