Salvaging Furniture After A Flood

Content Cleaning Houston, Pack Out Services Houston, Content Cleaning Services HoustonA flood left your home a DISASTER! However, it may still be possible to rescue some of your furniture.  First, to determine whether a piece of furniture is worth saving,  take into account the cost of the item in relation to the cost of restoration. Here are some guidelines:

Solid Wood Furniture

Floodwater can damage wood furniture in several ways. Direct contact can cause changes in structure and damage to wood can progress from slight to severe in only a few days.  

When cleaning these items, first clean off any dirt and mildew. The piece should be completely dried with the help of fans but not in full sun. Moisture in wood furniture will encourage fungus and mold growth, so be thorough with this step.

With heavily damaged wood furniture, speed up drying by removing the parts that are easy to take apart like back panels, drawers, and doors. Do not try to force them if they are sticking; you can disassemble later when the furniture has dried some more.

Saturated wood expands and then shrinks as it dries. This may loosen joints and cause warping and swelling. Solid panels and tops are particularly vulnerable, especially when the inside is not finished. Slightly warped boards may be removed and straightened or replaced.  

Veneered furniture may not be worth the cost and effort of repair unless it is very valuable to you. Veneer is a thin shaving of wood glued to a core material like plywood or particleboard. These materials swell when they come in contact with water. If the veneer is loose in only a few places, you may be able to repair it, but veneered furniture repairs are usually best done by a professional. (If insurance allows part value on flood-damaged furniture, it may be best to apply the money to new furniture, rather than paying for an extensive repair.)

White mildew spots may be cleaned with turpentine or a mixture of equal parts household ammonia and water; wipe dry at once. Cream wood restorers with lanolin will help restore wood furniture.    

Upholstered furniture

These pieces can only be salvaged if the contact was with a small amount of clean water.  If the furniture did not sit in water for too long, begin by separating upholstery fabrics and other colored items to prevent or stop any chance of color bleeding. It should be dried completely to prevent mold and mildew from forming. 

Unfortunately, by its very nature, it is easy for upholstered furniture to absorb contaminants from flood waters. Usually, flood-soaked upholstered furniture should be thrown away unless it is an antique or very valuable. If you choose to save upholstered furniture, professional restoration services will be required. Even the springs and webbing may have to be replaced.


Mattresses present the same problem as upholstered furniture. However, if the mattress was exposed to water for only a short time, and if the water was clean it may be salvaged by cleaning the surface and putting the mattress out in the sun. Keep the wet side up to dry as much and as quickly as possible. Lift the mattress up on blocks and use multiple fans to facilitate drying. After drying, any musty odor is an indication of mildew; the mattress should be discarded. 

Set aside any furniture that is beyond repair for evaluation for insurance claims.

Full-Service Content Cleaning and Pack Out

Some restoration projects require that your contents and furnishings be inventoried, packed and safely transported to a climate-controlled warehouse for cleaning, restorations, deodorizing, re-packing and storage until the structural restoration is complete. ServiceMaster Restoration, based in Houston, offers a turn-key service.

Contents Pack Out Process:

  • Coordinate activities with your insurance claims representative.
  • Separate items that will not be packed and moved, including items that will not be restored.
  • Pack, provide inventory and transport your belongings to a secure facility. We will provide a copy to you of the inventory.
  • Perform restoration, cleaning, deodorizing, re-packing and storage at our facility.
  • Provide regular, frequent communications regarding the progress of your restoration claim.
  • Arrange for redelivery of your household belongings once the restoration and reconstruction are complete.