how to clean kitchen after plumbing disaster?
July 16, 2013 3:53 PM   Subscribe

A plumbing disaster in my 100 year old apartment building led to a geyser of black water in my kitchen sink. How meticulous should I get when cleaning it up?

It happened when the plumber was clearing a blockage in a kitchen sink upstairs from me. The plumber swears it's only kitchen goop from upstairs, and not mixed with toilet outflow. There's no smell, so that's probably true, but it still makes me want to incinerate the entire kitchen with a flamethrower and start a new life under the kitchen witness protection program. Instead, I'm just wiping everything down with a mild bleach solution. Is that enough, or should I do more?

The flood also engulfed some of my favorite dishes and cookware - I'm soaking them in bleachy water now, but should I throw 'em out?
posted by moonmilk to Home & Garden (11 answers total)
Bleach = good.

That'll be fine.


Want to form a support group? Plumbing Disaster Suvivors?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 3:59 PM on July 16, 2013

As Ruthless Bunny just said. Bleach cures all ills. 10:1 dilution in water should do the trick.
posted by skyl1n3 at 4:00 PM on July 16, 2013

Bleach is good, but it is also necessary for everything to air dry to complete the kill.
posted by gjc at 4:32 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

10:1 bleach is what I'm to use at the hospital on toys flagged as extra-contaminated (for example, handled/mouthed by someone with infectious diarrhea). I'm pretty sure that if it's good enough for kids getting chemo, it's good enough to clean your kitchen. However, if you want something more emotionally satisfying, the cleaning supply aisle should have a bucket of wipes -- not those wimpy little 25-sheet Clorox things, but a big bucket for about ten bucks that's full of chemicals with obscenely long names and promises to kill things you didn't even know existed. Get some latex gloves and go at it. I wouldn't personally use them on surfaces I planned to eat off of, but they sure do get things clean.
posted by teremala at 7:04 PM on July 16, 2013

I had a similar disaster this year and basically bought every cleanser at Target that had the word "Bleach" on it, plus regular bleach. Then, yeah, just bleached the bleach out of everything and then wiped again with super hot water and let it all dry. So far seems like that's done it - no one's been sick or anything and this was a couple of months back.
posted by marylynn at 7:13 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks! Bleach it is. And that support group.
posted by moonmilk at 7:17 PM on July 16, 2013

I work with diarrheal poop in the lab. And when we're wiping down the bench or biosafety hood, we spray with an 80% ethanol solution, let that dry, then apply some Lysol spray and then wipe. Follow up with a half hour of UV lamp, if we're feeling frisky.

10% bleach is also a good choice, depending on what kinds of surfaces you're treating. If you want to get real fancy with the biocides, try some Nac-phene, though I don't know how I feel about using this where I'd eat.
posted by Mercaptan at 7:42 PM on July 16, 2013

Response by poster: I was all enthusiastic about the alcohol spray until I remembered the pilot lights in the stove. So I'm sticking with the bleach! Maybe I'll give the sink an alcohol wipe later.
posted by moonmilk at 8:55 PM on July 16, 2013

Response by poster: Actually, I could use a clarification on gjc's instructions: "it is also necessary for everything to air dry to complete the kill." Does that mean the surface should dry with bleach on it, or does it count if it's rinsed with pure water and then air dried?
posted by moonmilk at 9:46 PM on July 16, 2013

Just don't spray the stove directly with alcohol. Even if that small amount of alcohol ignites, it won't stay lit for long anyways.

Rinsing with pure water and air drying is fine. The drying is just to kill more bugs by drying them out.
posted by Mercaptan at 4:48 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Nthing that you should be good with the bleach, but just remember to clean any visible gunk off things with hot soapy water first. If you have scum or biofilm on something then you need to break it up and get it off before hitting the item with bleach.

Also if this happened to my favorite pots and pans I would consider boiling water in them or putting them in the over for a while before using.
posted by Aizkolari at 11:04 AM on July 17, 2013

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