The longer water remains standing in a basement, the greater the chance for mold and mildew to form, she said.
"Mold can start to grow in a matter of days," she said. "The warm weather right now is the perfect temperature for mildew to grow."
The first step is to remove any standing water with a wet-dry vacuum, mop or towels, she said. Next, dry any carpets or other items that are wet, she said.
"It is a lot of work, but carpets that are tacked down should be untacked and dried," she said. "It is important to get under the carpet and clean the floor. If mold starts growing under the carpet, the problems will be worse in the long run."
To get a basement back in condition, she recommends three steps:
• Thoroughly clean the walls, floors and affected areas with a household cleanser. This will remove dirt and grime on which the mold spores feed.
• Sanitize the areas with a rinse of 1/4 to 3/4 cup bleach per gallon. Don't skip washing the area with a detergent or other product because bleach water is not a cleaning agent, she said.
"Cleaning is even more important than bleaching," she said. "It is important to remove the food source."
• Use a dehumidifier to remove moisture from the air.
"Fans in and of themselves are not going to dissipate the humidity," she said. "A dehumidifier is the most efficient means to reduce and control moisture."
Zastrow said that removing clutter from a basement is also important.
"Piles of cardboard boxes, boxes of clothing and too much stuff will absorb and hold moisture and inhibit air circulation patterns," she said. "These items make it hard to clean as well as keeping the area ventilated."
Long term, a basement with water problems should have sump pumps, hardware store managers said.
Sump pumps will pump water rising under the foundation of a house through a hose into the storm sewer gutter.
The pumps come in different sizes, depending on how much water there is, and how far and high it needs to be moved, said Carla Whiting, the assistant manager at Runnings Farm and Fleet.
"It is important to check on them to make sure they are working," she said.
Chris Campbell, the manager at Mac's hardware, said that it may take more than one sump pump for a house, depending on the neighborhood.
He also said dehumidifiers are a key piece of equipment.
"It is important to keep the air circulating and dry," Campbell said.