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How to Clean Up a Flooded Bathroom [Step-by-Step Guide]

Even the best-kept home can suffer from unexpected problems, such as a flooded bathroom! 

When a bathroom floods, it can cause a lot of destruction as well as a terrible smell, and cleaning up a flooded bathroom can be a challenge. Another major concern when cleaning up after a flooded toilet or a bathroom is bacteria. The room will be pretty much unsanitary until you deep clean and sanitize it.

No one wants to spend their time knee-deep in the water, yet knowing what immediate steps to take and how to properly clean up a flooded bathroom will help to minimize the consequences.

Here’s everything you need to know to clean up your flooded bathroom.

flooded bathroom

Why Is the Bathroom Flooding?

Bathroom floods happen, and they can happen more often than you realize. It can be caused by something as simple as forgetting to turn the tap off before leaving the bathroom or by something more serious like a burst pipe that requires immediate repair.

Here are a few possible causes of a flooded bathroom.

Toilet Overflow

Sometimes as you repeatedly flush the toilet the water won’t drain out, causing water to accumulate in the bowl. This happens because something is blocking the trap, the water has nowhere to go and just sits on top of the blockage. Eventually, it will go up and out onto your bathroom floor.

Sink Overflow

Bathroom sinks are just as susceptible to overflowing as toilet bowls are, especially if you have a sink that doesn’t have an overflow drain. Overflowing could lead to flooding if you leave the tap open for a long time.

Overflow Drain Problems

Overflow drain issues that cause flooding in the bathroom can happen in sinks and bathtubs. If your bathroom sink has an overflow drain, it helps prevent water from spilling onto the counter and the bathroom floor. But when the overflow drain gets clogged, sink overflows can happen rapidly.

In the case of bathtubs, when you’re running a bath and the overflow fails, it can send water out behind the wall and across the floor, which causes flooding.

Plumbing Malfunctions

There are plenty of plumbing problems that can cause flooded bathrooms. For example, dripping faucets. It wastes water, and you know where that water will eventually go, onto your bathroom floor. Combine that with a slow or clogged shower drain, and you’ll be dealing with a flooded bathroom.

Leaking pipes are another surefire cause of flooding in the bathroom. It can be a pinhole leak or a burst, which can happen when the pipe froze over the winter, then it thaws and leaks afterward.

What to Do When Your Bathroom Floods

As soon as you notice flooding in the bathroom, you have to jump into action. Taking immediate steps is critical to minimize damage and avoid dire consequences.

1. Shut Off the Main Valve

The first thing you need to do as soon as you notice a flooded bathroom is to shut off the main water valve. Some will say you should assess the problem first before you turn off anything, but a flooded bathroom that continues to flood is something you can’t afford to deal with.

There’s no use grabbing the plunger or the mop if the water keeps pouring in.

Recommended article: How to Shut Off Water to Shower

2. Shut Off Electricity

Don’t take any chances and shut off the electricity in your bathroom. Identify any gadgets and appliances that could pose an electrical hazard. Check if the wall outlets were exposed to standing water before attempting to unplug anything.

Once you’re done sweeping off the area and have made sure it’s safe, remove any electrical items in the bathroom like hairdryers, standing floor lamps, and heaters.

3. Assess the Flooding Problem

Next, find out what’s causing the flood in your bathroom. Checking the common causes of flooded toilets and sinks listed above is a good start before trying to fix the problem.

If it’s an open tap, turn it off. If the cause of the flooding is a clogged shower drain or the toilet, use a plunger or a plumber’s snake to unclog it. If the reason for the flooding is a broken pipe, you need to fix the leak first before turning the main valve back on, or you risk a second flood.

4. Prep for Cleanup

If you’re comfortable with handling the cleanup by yourself, then prepare the bathroom for cleanup. Give it a thorough once over, get soaked rugs and bath mats out of the way, and begin bagging and disposing of other items that are now too wet to salvage.

Don’t forget to check inside the cabinets and closets for signs of damage from the flooding. And if you can move bathroom vanities and cabinets to a dryer location, they will be better off. This will open up the bathroom, giving you space for easy cleanup.

How to Clean Up a Flooded Bathroom

Once you have the inflow of water under control and have checked the bathroom, you can proceed with the next steps – cleaning up the flooded bathroom.

So, suit up and start cleaning the mess. You might want to wear rubber-soled shoes before dealing with the mess to avoid the danger of slipping on the wet bathroom floor. Don’t forget to wear gloves too.

Step 1. Remove Standing Water

To start the cleanup, you first need to remove any standing water in the bathroom. If the flooding involves large amounts of water, you can remove excess water quicker using a wet/dry vacuum cleaner if you have one. Making sure the bathroom drain is working properly will also help remove the water.

You can take care of the water after minor flooding in the bathroom by soaking it up with a mop or some old towels.

Step 2. Start Drying Out the Bathroom

Now, start drying the damp bathroom floor. Open the bathroom door and windows to allow fresh air inside the area and help the water evaporate. Turning on the exhaust fan also helps take out excess moisture in the bathroom.

If you can, set up as many fans in the flooded bathroom as possible to speed up the entire process. Lastly, if you have a dehumidifier, it would be a great help as well. But don’t forget to check the water well regularly and empty it out once it’s full.

However, be patient as drying out the bathroom can take a while, even several days, depending on the amount of water.

Step 3. Clean the Floor with Soapy Water

Here’s the thing – you don’t have to wait for the bathroom floor to completely dry before you start with the actual cleaning phase. The idea was only to air out the bathroom to help remove any excess moisture and prevent further damage because of the water, which can cause things like mold and mildew.

So, start scrubbing the floor with soapy water as soon as you’ve gotten rid of any standing water in the flooded bathroom.

Step 4. Finish with a Good Scrubbing and Disinfectant 

The final step is to give your bathroom floor a good scrubbing, especially around the toilet base, floor corners, and cabinet bases. Remember to cover all parts of the bathroom to remove any contaminants left from the flooding. You can also use bleach to help remove any bacteria from the floor.

If you don’t want to use bleach or other bleach-based cleaners in the bathroom, there are other products formulated for cleaning and disinfecting the bathroom.

Mandy Phillips

As a frequent contributor to top US magazines and publications in the home improvement niche, Mandy has been known for sharing her expertise on how to clean, organize, and decorate bathrooms.

Additionally, Mandy has immense experience offering lifestyle tips and tricks to her readers.

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At Loo Academy, our mission is to offer trusted advice for everything related to bathrooms (design ideas, plumbing advice, showering & bathing tips, remodeling guides, and more) — a place where we all spend a great deal of time.

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