How Long Does Sewage Contamination Last?

Wednesday 12th April 2023

Ellen Warren

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Flooded bathroom floor


If there is a sewer backup or spillage in your home, your property could be at risk of long-lasting contamination that might expose you to harmful bacteria. By spotting the signs of a spill early, you can prevent damage to your home and reduce your risk of illness.

Here at ICE Cleaning, our sewage cleaning services can thoroughly decontaminate your property. Our expert technicians utilise state-of-the-art technology and industrial-grade chemical solutions to efficiently remove dangerous bacteria, and restore your home.

Read on to learn more about sewage contamination and how long it will last until it leaves irreparable damage.

What is sewage contamination?

Sewage that overflows or enters a domestic space will touch various surfaces, objects, and electronics. This leads to areas being contaminated by sewage, exposing people to harmful toxins, bloodborne pathogens, flesh-eating bacteria, and other diseases that might lead to deadly illnesses.

When contamination occurs, the mix of toxins, biohazards, and bacteria can survive on surfaces for a long time. If those materials are porous, there is an increased risk that these bacteria may continue to thrive and spread.

How does sewage contamination happen?

With appropriate maintenance and regular assessments, you can spot the warning signs of a sewage spill early on. This will lower the likelihood of sewage contamination occurring in your home.

Overflowing pipes, flood water, and poor plumbing maintenance are the biggest contributors to sewage spills and contamination. To prevent sewage from flowing into your home, you should:

  • Not leave your taps running and ensure they are not leaking
  • Repair any leaking pipes or taps
  • Take short showers
  • Install low-flow devices on your taps, showers, baths, and toilets
  • Replace your washing machine and dishwasher every ten years
  • Do not pour grease, oil, or fats down the drain
  • Do not flush nappies, tampons, pads, or baby wipes down the toilet
  • Reduce rainwater overflow by installing rain barrels or directing drainpipes into vegetation patches
  • Protect your home from flooding to keep out black water

How long does sewage contamination last?

If there is a sewage spill in your home, then it is imperative that you call sewage cleaning specialists immediately. If left for too long, the spillage can stagnate and produce millions of bacteria that will fester in your home for many months.

Depending on where the sewage spills on your property, various surfaces will be contaminated including walls, floors, appliances, and furniture. If sewage infests your garden, the soil may harbour bacteria for up to three months and even longer if left untreated.

Bacteria that attach to hard surfaces like metal, plastic, and stone could live for a long time. For example, bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli double every twenty minutes, meaning sterilising a contaminated property requires biohazard cleaning services.

What sewage contamination can do

When sewage overflows or spills into your home, the number of bacteria present could damage your belongings and impact your health. Sewage contains a mixture of bacteria produced by humans and animals, thus carrying pathogens that can pass on to people dangerously quickly.

Many of these pathogens might result in severe infections. Accidentally inhaling, ingesting, or touching sewage could lead to:

  • Skin infections
  • Eye infections
  • Ear infections
  • Stomach bugs
  • Sore throat
  • Chest infections
  • E. coli
  • Hepatitis
  • Organ damage

The effects that sewage water leaves behind are often invisible, and some of your furniture or belongings could be unsalvageable depending on their materials. Sewage water may impact your home in the following ways:

  • Mould might start to grow on the walls, floor, and ceiling
  • Fabric furniture will be unsalvageable
  • Wooden furniture will require specialist cleaning
  • Electrical devices and appliances may need to be replaced or thoroughly decontaminated
  • Furniture and toys for children will need to be completely discarded
  • Clothes and other fabrics will be unsalvageable without professional cleaning
  • Foods, medicines, and packaged water must be thrown away
  • Porous household objects like wooden or plastic cutting boards and baby bottles are impossible to decontaminate and must be thrown out

What can you do if sewage leaks in your home?

If you experience a sewage spill in your home, you should ensure that everyone is safe including children or pets. If you believe someone may have inhaled, ingested, or touched blackwater, you must contact 111.

If you need to re-enter the property to collect evidence of damage for your insurance company, you should wear gloves and a mask to minimise contact. You may need to do this if you do not believe you are responsible for the damages, or if the local water company is liable.

However, you must take some precautions to keep yourself safe when you go back inside the damaged property, including:

  • Switching off the electricity
  • Turning off the water flow in the property
  • Reporting the incident to your local water company
  • Taking photos and videos of the damage for your insurance
  • Contacting your insurance company or your landlord to report the incident
  • Not cleaning the sewage yourself
  • Finding temporary accommodation for yourself and anyone who lives with you
  • Contacting a sewage cleaning specialist or company

Get in touch

Our expert cleaners at ICE Cleaning provide sewage and biohazard cleaning services and have years of training in the field. We use non-abrasive solutions to ensure there is no long-lasting damage on your property and kill all dangerous bacteria present.

To book our technicians for sewage cleaning, give our friendly support team a call at 0208 066 0360 or send them an inquiry at We can be on-site within a few hours in an emergency and are available 24/7, 365 days a year, nationwide.

Zoe Dunning

Zoe Dunning

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