How to Rebuild Your Wardrobe After a Flood

A flood can affect every part of your home — from the attic to the basement and everything in between. Not even your wardrobe is safe from these waters.

Cleaning and replacing your flood-damaged clothes can be challenging in many ways, not least of which is the cost. Between dry cleaning salvageable items and buying new pieces, it can be very expensive to rebuild your wardrobe.

Rebuild Your Wardrobe After a Flood

When you’re already in deep with credit card debt to cover other damages around the house, you might be tempted to borrow another line of credit to cover your lost wardrobe. This guide is here to help you navigate this troubling situation, offering insights into the clothes you can keep, what you should toss, and how to be responsible if you decide to borrow money.

Can You Salvage Flood-Damaged Clothing?

It depends. While this answer might be frustrating, it’s the truth. Your clothes might be salvageable if your flood involved stormwater and you were able to get to your garments quickly. However, even stormwater can contain harmful bacteria, so keep this in mind while you touch your clothes.

You’ll want to reconsider this option if you have sewage backup in your basement, as this water is contaminated with dangerous bacteria.

You may also want to handle your clothes carefully if it takes you a long time to address your waterlogged items. Damp clothes are the perfect breeding grounds for mould, making it harder to clean properly.

Make a Keep and a Toss Pile

With the above rule in mind, go through your clothing and inspect each article. You’ll want to separate the items you think you can clean yourself and which ones you might need drycleaned.

Remember, your clothes might be harboring dangerous bacteria, so you should do this task in a small area that’s easy to disinfect later.

Next, wash your keep pile in batches. If your washer has a disinfect setting, use it when possible, keeping in mind your clothes washing instructions. Add bleach to your white loads and vinegar to colours for an added cleaning boost.

Replacing Your Lost Clothes

While you might salvage some clothes, the fact of the matter is, you might not have a full wardrobe when you’re done. Whether you’re missing individual pieces or entire seasonal wear, you can follow these tips to help you:

  • Cash-In Savings: If you have any emergency savings left after the flood, consider tapping into them to cover the most important items.
  • Divert Future Savings and Spending: A spending freeze is wise in the aftermath of a flood. By cancelling trips, subscriptions, and your monthly savings contribution, you might be able to free up cash to use on essential new clothing and shoes.
  • Take out a Line of Credit: Consider taking out a line of credit for those essentials you can’t put on hold — underwear, a basic outfit, pajamas, work clothes, and one pair of shoes. This option offers some flexibility, as you won’t have to pay your full balance by the due date — just the minimum payment. Retool your budget to repay this back as early as you can.
  • Shop Used: Second-hand clothing is a great way to restock your closet without dipping too far into your line of credit. In many cases, you can find clean, fashionable, and branded clothing for a fraction of the price.

Unfortunately, you may not be able to wait to save up what you need. You have to wear clothes, after all! With this in mind, follow the tips you learned here today to help you cover this big expense in a challenging time.