What to keep vs what to toss in a flood

Water damage can be devastating, leaving homeowners with the overwhelming task of trying to save their belongings and restore their homes to their former glory. Knowing what to keep and what to throw away is crucial during the aftermath of a flood. While some items may seem beyond repair, the expertise of a flood restoration company can work wonders. In this guide, we’ll explore the types of belongings that insured homeowners should absolutely throw away and the types of items that might be salvageable with the help of a professional restoration company.

Understanding your Home Insurance Policy:

The first step in knowing how to proceed with your belongings is to understand your insurance policy. There are two main types of home insurance policies.  Actual Cost Value and Replacement Cost Value.

Actual Cost Value (ACV): Pays to replace or fix your home or personal things. But, your insurance will subtract money because of age, wear and tear. For example, t0 replace a $5,000 couch you’ve had for 10 years, your insurance might give you $2,000.

Replacement Cost Value (RCV): Pays to replace or fix your home or personal things. But, your insurance won’t subtract money because of age, and wear and tear.  For example, to replace a $5,000 couch you’ve had for 10 years, your insurance would give you $5,000.  Most companies pay you only part of the RCV first. You will have to prove that you repaired your home, or replaced or fixed personal items before you get the rest of the money.

You can find out which policy you have by calling your insurance provider directly. For more information on how to talk to your insurance provider about floods click here. If you have an actual cost value policy, you will probably be more inclined to have a restoration company clean your items instead of throwing them away and having them replaced.  If you have a RCV policy, you may be okay with throwing away non-sentimental damaged items.  Regardless, here are a list of items you must absolutely throw away and some that may be salvageable.

What to Throw Away

Food Items

Water from a house flood can often be contaminated with bacteria, sewage, and other harmful substances. As a result, any food items that have come into contact with floodwater should be thrown away immediately. This includes not only perishable items like meats and dairy but also non-perishables in compromised packaging. Consuming contaminated food can lead to serious health issues, so it’s crucial to prioritize safety over salvage in this case.

Prescriptions or Medicine

There is always a chance of contamination in a water loss situation. Because of this, it’s too high a risk to consume any prescriptions or medicines after they’ve come into contact with water. Throw away any bottles that are wet and replace them.


Throw out pillows that come in contact with water. Because pillows are so absorbent, it’s difficult to remove all of the silt and dirt from the inside of the pillow.  That’s why we recommend you throw away any pillows that have come in contact with water damage rather than try to sanitize them.

Fabric Bins with Cardboard walls

Many homes have fabric cube bins to hold miscellaneous items. Many of these bins have cardboard walls within the fabric. When these get wet, it can be tempting to simply lay them out to dry. However, when the cardboard within the fabric is wet with contaminated water, it can become a breeding ground for mold. We recommend throwing away any bins like these that come in contact with flood water. This also includes luggage bags with cardboard inserts or laminated furnishings.



What to Consider Restoring:

Furniture and Upholstery

While it may be tempting to throw away waterlogged furniture and upholstery immediately, professional flood restoration services often have the expertise to salvage these items.  Depending on how dirty the flood water is and how extensive the water damage, solid wood furniture may be able to be dried, cleaned, and refinished to its pre-flood condition. Upholstered furniture, if addressed promptly, can go through a cleaning and drying processes as well. Restoration experts have access to specialized equipment, such as dehumidifiers and steam cleaners, which can significantly increase the chances of saving your beloved furniture.


Rugs are often the item that home owners are most concerned about after a flood. Whether or not a rug can be restored depends on how contaminated the flood water is and if water serperated the glue layers between the rug and the floor.  It’s always a good idea to have a restoration team check out the damage and decide if it is restorable or not. Check out this recent time lapse video of our contents team cleaning a rug.

Sentimental Items:

One of the most heart breaking parts of flood damage, is the damage of sentimental items in the home. These could include hand made blankets, children’s toys, paintings, and special clothing items.  Because sentimental items can be irreplaceable, don’t throw them away right away. There is always a chance of a professional restoring team being able to revive an item, even if it’s not back to it’s perfect condition.


In the aftermath of water damage, the decision of what to keep and what to throw away is certainly challenging. While some items are beyond salvation due to health risks or irreparable damage, others may be given a second chance with the expertise of a flood restoration company. Contaminated food, medicine, pillows, and any cardboard should be discarded to prioritize safety. On the other hand, furniture, upholstery, carpet, and sentimental items may be salvageable with the right professional intervention.

East Idaho Floods:

Flood and Fire Solutions Logo

It’s crucial for homeowners to act swiftly in the aftermath of a flood. If you’re a home or business owner here in South Eastern Idaho, you can trust Flood and Fire Solutions with any unwanted emergencies. Our team of experts is available 24/7 and can quickly assess the situation, provide immediate assistance, and guide you through the restoration process efficiently and carefully. Whether addressing water damage from a burst pipe or mitigating the aftermath of a basement flood, our restoration service team is committed to restoring your home to its previous condition as quickly and seamlessly as possible.