skip navigational links Occupational Safety & Health Administration
OSHA Quick Card
General Decontamination

Floodwaters may be contaminated with sewage and decaying animal and human remains. Disinfection of hands, clothing, tools/equipment, and surfaces in work areas is critical in disease prevention.

Hand Decontamination
  • Wash hands completely with soap and water.
  • Rinse completely; dry with a clean towel or air dry.
Clothing, Tool/Equipment Decontamination
  • It is preferrable to use soap and clean water when available.
  • If only contaminated water is available, mix 1/4 cup bleach per gallon of water.
  • Immerse objects in solution for 10 minutes; if clothing, gently agitate periodically.
  • Transfer objects to hand wash solution for 10 minutes; if clothing, gently agitate periodically.
  • Allow clothes and tools/equipment to thoroughly airdry before re-use.
Severe Surface Decontamination
  • Use for decontaminating only the most seriously affected surfaces.
  • Mix 11/2 cups bleach per gallon of water.
  • Douse surfaces with heavy contamination and allow to sit for 3 minutes.
  • Wipe the contamination from the surface with a paper towel and douse the surface again but use the hand wash solution.
  • Wipe off residual contamination with a paper towel.
Important Considerations
  • Use gloves and eye protection.
  • Prepare bleach solutions daily and allow to stand for at least 30 minutes before use.
  • All containers should be labeled "Bleach-disinfected water, DO NOT DRINK." CAUTION: Do not mix bleach with products containing ammonia.
  • Do not immerse electrical or battery operated tools/equipment in solutions; clean exterior with a rag soaked with soap and water or disinfectant solution.

For more complete information:
OSHA Occupational
Safety and Health
U.S. Department of Labor (800) 321-OSHA

OSHA 3267-09N-05
Back to TopBack to Top

Contact Us | Freedom of Information Act | Customer Survey
Privacy and Security Statement | Disclaimers
Occupational Safety & Health Administrations
200 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20210
Page last updated: 2005