After Irma, 2 yrs ago, our floor was covered with a wet sticky mud. I used a massive amount of towels to clean it up. Now I am wondering if a wet dry vac( preferably with a pump ) would make the job easier. Your thoughts please?

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    I would probably start with something like a Squeegee Broom to push the stuff into bigger piles or thicker puddles before scooping it up in a dust-pan or something similar. – brhans Sep 5 '19 at 15:07
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    I was part of a team cleaning a factory floor covered in water plus.., we used large brooms (4ft head) and shovels then big industrial wet/dry vacs but the shovels and brooms did the large part of the work... – Solar Mike Sep 5 '19 at 15:20
  • A shop vac would get quickly filled. The filter would get wet and covered in mud which would stop it up. I would scrape up as much as you can with a dustpan (or pair of them pushed together). Perhaps a snow shovel would work. If the floors could be scratched by metal implements, then plastic implements should be used. The mud would be dumped into a wheelbarrow, if you have one, or into buckets if you don't have a wheel barrow. Only after as much as could removed by the above would I consider using a shop vac. – Jim Stewart Sep 5 '19 at 15:22
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    @JimStewart, you normally remove the filter from a wet/dry vac when using it on liquids or wet materials. That said, I wouldn't use one on mud. Dirty water, sure, but not mud. – JPhi1618 Sep 5 '19 at 15:40
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    Every shop vac I've ever seen has a float ball captured inside the filter cage. If the ball gets too close to the vacuum input, it is sucked up and plugs the input, making the vacuum go "SkrEEEEE" and stopping all suction. Water rising in the vac moves it too close. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Sep 5 '19 at 21:55

What I've done in the past for mud and other messes is to start with a garden hose to move the mud, using a basic sprayer head. You spray in an arc across the floor and try to get the water & mess flowing in the direction you want. You can use the squeegee broom mentioned by brhans to help with this. The water not only helps liquefy the mess to make it easier to flow away, but the movement and pressure does the work of moving it for you. You don't even need a pressure washer to get most things clean this way.

basic sprayer head for garden hose

If you get really good at this, you can not only get large amounts of mud/mess off the floor, but you can get nearly 100% of it off. I've used the technique so much and figured it out so well that mops were essentially unnecessary for several things I've had to clean off floors. Getting the water to move correctly will prevent puddles and will leave not much more standing water than a mop will.

How thick and/or how large an area it is you need to work with determines your starting point. If it's not thick and not a large area, start at the farthest point away from your exit or drain. This gives you the best shot at getting it done in the fewest passes. And don't worry about trying to clean it all in one pass. With something as messy as mud, it'll likely take several passes, even if there's not much there.

If it's a lot of mud/gunk or it's a large area, start closer to the exit or drain. This allows removal of sections of mess and helps prevent it from flowing back on your already cleaned sections.

If it's really thick, as in more than an inch, then you need to shovel it out first, using a flat bladed shovel, like the image below, or a snow shovel or scoop shovel. Depending on where you need to get it, a wheel barrow, like Jim Stewart mentions, could do the trick. If you can't get one through a door, then 5 gallon buckets can work in a pinch.

flat bladed shovel

  • Images included for example only.
  • That was my first thought also. However it depends on there being a downhill place for the water/mud amalgam to ultimately go, like a garage door or basement walkout. You wouldn't want to have your sump pump pumping it... Maybe you could temporarily rip it out and replace with a dirty water pump. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Sep 5 '19 at 21:56
  • @Harper, good point. A sump could handle some of it, if it's a dilute enough slurry, but not big chunks or really thick gunk. – computercarguy Sep 5 '19 at 21:58
  • Close to where I grew up the Russian river would flood every 10 years or so. We would use sprayers and large rubber squeegees to move everything out including the Sheetrock we had to cut out. After moving the solids and spraying a bleach solution and again water spray and squeegeeing was all we did to prep the homes. Today I would use hydrogen peroxide as the bleach stinks forever, no real smell to hydrogen peroxide and it cleans up any nasties in the water. – Ed Beal Sep 7 '19 at 4:43

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