Diseases Raw Sewage Carries And How To Clean And Disinfect Your Home After A Sewer Backup

If you experience sewage coming up from your drains or hear a gurgling noise in your plumbing, you might have a blockage somewhere in your home's plumbing. A blocked sewer line can be smelly and can also cause dangerous sewage to flow into your home, so it is important to have it repaired as soon as possible. Here are some diseases that can come from raw sewage, the health problems they cause, and how to properly clean up after a sewage back-up in your home.


Giardia is a microscopic parasite present in sewage and causes an infection in your intestines after you have ingested it. Symptoms from giardia will begin one to two weeks after you have been exposed. Some of the symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, and can last for several weeks even after the parasites are gone from your intestines. Sometimes the symptoms can stop and return weeks later. If you get giardia, it will usually clear up on its own. If not, you can see your doctor to get an antibiotic to treat the parasite.

Children are more prone to contract the parasite, then pass it on to adults. So, be especially careful if you are caring for a child who has giardia so you do not become ill from it. Giardia can also cause you to develop a long-term intolerance to lactose once you have had the infection. 

To clean up after sewage where Giardia may be present, always wear gloves and clean up any sewage waste with soap and water. Then, using a mixture of 3/4 cup bleach to one gallon of water, wipe down all hard surfaces and allow the cleaning solution to sit on the surface for ten minutes. Rinse the surface with clean water.

If you are cleaning soiled carpet or upholstery, remove the sewage waste with a wet vacuum and clean the area with a regular detergent. Using a steam cleaner, steam clean the area at 158 degrees F for 5 minutes or 212 degrees F for 1 minute to disinfect.

You can also clean and disinfect toys and bedding. Smaller items can be boiled for at least one minute. If you live at an elevation above 6500 feet, boil items for at least three minutes. Then, wash fabric items in your clothes washer with detergent and dry them on the highest heat setting for at least 30 minutes.


Cryptosporidium is another parasite that can live in sewage waste and is a leading cause of waterborne disease in the United States. The Cryptosporidium parasite is covered with an outer shell, which makes it tolerant to chlorine and alcohol disinfection and able to survive outside your body for a long period of time. This self-protection allows the parasite to be easily spread to other people. 

Cryptosporidium causes intestinal discomfort, including nausea, vomiting, and fever, leading to dehydration and weight loss. If you get Cryptosporidium from a sewage leak in your home, it will normally clear up on its own, unless you have a weakened immune system from an underlying health condition. In this case you should see your doctor for treatment.

Because Cryptosporidium has a protective outer shell, you need to follow special procedures to clean it up after a sewage leak. Always wear gloves and use disposable cleaning products so you can dispose of them after their use. Wash any bedding and clothing with detergent in hot water for at least 20 minutes at 113 degrees F, or at least five minutes at 122 degrees F. Then, dry them in your dryer at the highest heat setting. Small items, such as toys should be soaked in 3 percent hydrogen peroxide solution for 20 minutes and then rinse them thoroughly.

Large upholstered furniture and carpeting you cannot properly disinfect in hydrogen peroxide will need to be pulled out of your home and discarded. Wash your hands with soap and water after handling and cleaning any infected items.

If your home becomes infected with any sewage waste, make sure you clean it up immediately so you can avoid contracting these parasitic diseases. To repair your home's sewer problem to prevent this recurring back-up problem, contact a company like A Absolute Plumbing & Heating.