Disaster Officials Offer Cleanup Tips For Affected WTC Victims

Main Content
Release date: 
October 9, 2001
Release Number: 

New York, NY -- Federal, state, local and voluntary agency officials recommend some cleaning tips for people affected by the World Trade Center attack who are re-occupying commercial buildings and for residents re-entering their homes.

I don't have the resources to clean up my home or apartment. Can I get assistance?

Yes. For individuals who own their home, FEMA has grants for emergency cleaning or repairs to make your residence habitable. Register for assistance by calling FEMA at 1-800-462-9029 (TTY: 1-800-462-7585). An inspector will visit your home to determine what the maximum reimbursement to clean your home will be. If you lived in an apartment that was made unlivable as a result of the attack, you may be eligible for two months temporary housing assistance.

What should I do with food left in my apartment?

The power outage in much of lower Manhattan may have caused refrigerated and frozen food to spoil. Raw or cooked meat, poultry and seafood, milk and milk-containing products, eggs, mayonnaise, creamy dressings, and cooked foods should be thrown out if power was out for two or more hours. Frozen foods that have thawed should be thrown away. Do not re-freeze thawed food.

Throw away any food that may have been contaminated with dust, except for food in cans, jars or containers with tight-fitting lids. Wash cans and jars with water and wipe it clean. New York City Department of Health officials recommend that when it comes to food left in your building, if in doubt, throw it out.

How should I clean the dust in my apartment when I move back in?

The best way to remove dust is to use a wet rag or wet mop. Sweeping with a dry broom is not recommended because it can make dust airborne again. When dust is thick, you can directly wet the dust with water, and remove it in layers with wet rags and mops. Dirty rags can be rinsed under running water, being careful to not leave dust in the sink to dry. When done, used rags and mops should be put in plastic bags while they are still wet and bags should be sealed and discarded. Cloth rags should be washed separately from other laundry. Wash heavily soiled or dusty clothing or linens twice. Remove lint from washing machines and filters in the dryers with each laundry load. Rags should not be allowed to dry out before bagging and disposal or washing.

To reduce dust recirculation, use a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filtration vacuum when cleaning up apartments, if possible. If a HEPA vacuum is not available, it is recommended that either HEPA bags or dust allergen bags be used with your regular vacuum. If these options are not available, wetting down the dust and removing it as described above is recommended.

Carpets and upholstery can be shampooed and then vacuumed.

  • If your apartment is very dusty, you should wash or HEPA vacuum your curtains. If curtains need to be taken down, take them down slowly to keep dust from circulating in the air.
  • To clean plants, rinse leaves with water. Pets can be washed with running water from a hose or faucet; their paws should be wiped to avoid tracking dust inside the home.

How can I remove dust from the air?

Air purifiers may help reduce indoor dust levels. HEPA air purifiers are superior to other models in filtering the smallest particles. Air purifiers are only useful for removing dust from the air. They will not remove dust already deposited on floors, shelves, upholstery or rugs. Keep windows closed when using an air purifier. Additional recommendations include:

  • Keep outdoor dust from entering the home;
  • Keep windows closed;
  • Set the air conditioner to recirculate air (closed vents), and clean or change the fi...
Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
State/Tribal Government or Region: 
Related Disaster: 
Back to Top