Home » Be prepared » To throw or not to throw? The dilemma of flood damaged furniture.

To throw or not to throw? The dilemma of flood damaged furniture.

Minus the food, it could be a keeper

This morning I had the honour of appearing on The Today Show, speaking on a very unpleasant topic: trying to recover and repair flood damaged furniture. Many homes and offices around Queensland are now facing this very dilemma – do I throw it out or can it be salvaged?

I demonstrated cleaning and safety techniques on a particularly funky fridge – and I don’t mean it was cute or trendy. It was probably one of the most unpleasant tasks I have ever had to do – and I had to do it on live morning television!

Here are some tips I recommended on the show if you are thinking of reclaiming your refrigerator from being thrown out onto the street.

  1. Do not attempt to turn on the fridge unless thoroughly inspected by an electrician or fridge mechanic first. They will check all wiring, compressors and gas levels.
  2. Look after your health – make sure you are kitted up with gloves, long sleeve clothes, face masks, covered shoes and even goggles – bacteria can get you from many angles!
  3. Have plenty of garbage bags ready for any food that was left in the fridge – you will want it disposed of very quickly and effectively as the stench is very nasty.
  4. Exterior: Wash the mud off the outside of the refrigerator, paying particular attention to the seals around the door (use a toothbrush) with warm, soapy water; rinse and wipe dry.
  5. Scuffs and stains can be removed by rubbing with non-abrasive tooth-paste, grease spills will come off with a little lemon juice and water.
  6. Interior: Remove all removable parts and wash these in hot soapy water (dishwashing detergent is fine but make sure antibacterial for germs in the mud).
  7. Rinse in warm water and let dry (air drying is best).
  8. Using a soft sponge, wipe down all surfaces with a sprinkling of bicarbonate of soda and vinegar (this helps with smell). Or use commercial cleaning product recommended for food storage use.
  9. Again, pay particular attention to door seals, the door racks and other compartments where bacteria could be hiding.
  10. Rinse with a sponge or dishcloth and clean warm water.
  11. Dry all surfaces with a clean towel or cloth.
  12. Use vanilla essence on a soft cloth to wipe out fridge when dry to help with odours and store an open packet of bicarbonate soda for continued odour control.
  13. Fill up the fridge once again with fresh tasty food!



2 thoughts on “To throw or not to throw? The dilemma of flood damaged furniture.

  1. What about the water that gets into the insulation – between the external walls and the internal skin? You can’t dry that out or get to it without destroying the cabinet and in a flood like Brisbane had, the water carried highly toxic bacteria that will be left behind as well. Cleaning the surfaces won’t remove or get near this threat. I would think it is extremely risky to try to salvage and re-use a flood damaged fridge.

    • Thanks for your important comments Karl. In the first bullet point I said “… unless thoroughly inspected by an electrician or fridge mechanic first…” I am assuming a fridge mechanic would be able to advise the owner of the depth of the damage done to each individual fridge. The point of the article was to think about trying to save some bigger priced items before they were thrown out willy nilly (usually while in shock). Obviously a fridge that has been fully submerged until the dirty water would not be one of those things, but there were many different levels of flooding and damage that occurred.

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