One week ago today South-East Queensland was in the early stages of the most devastating flood since 1974. It was raining more heavily than I have ever seen it rain, the water was starting to rise, people were starting to realise how serious this was going to get. It wasn’t until my ridiculously calm-in-a-crisis mother said to me, “this is serious chicky, Brisbane is going to flood” did the magnitude of what was going to happen started to hit me.

Brisbane City flooded Jan 2011

People around Brisbane rallied to get their belongings, and their neighbours, to higher ground but for some people there just wasn’t enough time. The water rose quickly and people could not get back to their houses even if they wanted to. Books, furniture, photographs and clothes were lost.

If your house wasn’t affected it can be easy to sit back and say “it’s only stuff, the people are ok, that’s the main thing” but I don’t think it’s that simple. For a lot of people, their ‘stuff’ in particular their wardrobe is intrinsically linked to who they are, and to have that all wiped away in one day is unfathomable. Working in fashion it may be more obvious to me but what you wear can so much about who you are and I know if I lost my whole wardrobe, like many of these people have, I would feel like I had lost part of me.

So what can we do if all has been lost?? If you have had any clothes damaged by the flood waters or know anyone that has, here are a few tips that could help salvage some garments:

  1. If mud is dry, or thick and crusted, hose down outside to soften the mud and remove as much as you can
  2. Get all mud-covered clothes into a tub of hot water and Napisan straight away – soak overnight if possible
  3. Wash in the washing machine on the longest, hottest cycle with Napisan and washing powder
  4. Wash again on a normal cycle with your nicest-smelling washing powder
  • If clothes are smelly from the mud, but safe and dry, hang in the bathroom next time you have a shower, this will steam them and help remove the smell
  • Delicate fabrics (such as silk) can be handwashed several times to remove the mud

A dear girlfriend of mine had her mother’s home flooded and as well as her mum losing her whole wardrobe, my girlfriend lost some of the most exquisite vintage clothes you have ever seen in you life, we are talking thousands of dollars worth of frocks. As we were discussing the horridness of losing your whole wardrobe in one go, she said to me, “Darling it’s all fun and games until someone loses a frock.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

If you have any other questions about what you can do with flood-affected garments, please let me know – I have a team of fabric gurus on standby!