How to dry carpet after water damage

Can I save my carpet or rug?

If your home’s been flooded, one of the big questions you’ll face during the clean-up is whether your carpets can be saved.

Whether you can save them or you need to thrown them away depends on the source of the flooding.

If the water was clean, say from rain or a broken pipe, you can dry and clean your rugs and carpets.  However, if the water was contaminated with sewage you should thrown it away to protect your family’s health.

Here are some things to think about to help you decide whether to keep or throw out your carpet:

  • How big is the area of carpet or rug? Is it valuable? What is the cost to replace versus clean?
  • How long was the carpet soaked? If it was wet for less than 24 hours you can have it cleaned but more than that there is a risk of mould and other harmful bacteria growing.
  • If you have a valuable rug or carpet you want to keep, but it’s been flooded by contaminated water or soaked for more than 24 hours, you should consult a professional cleaning company. In general, rugs and carpets that have been contaminated should be thrown away.
  • Washable throw rugs can usually be cleaned in a washing machine.
  • Check with your insurance company to make sure it will cover the cleaning efforts.

How can I dry my carpet?

If you have wet carpet, the sooner you can start the drying process, the better. These tips assume that the flooding problem has been stopped, the flood-water and silt removed from the home and power safely restored.

Follow these tips to dry it properly and prevent the spread of moisture and mould.

  • Document everything. Although the first thing on your mind is cleaning up the mess you need to take photos during the clean-up to document the damage and restoration process.
  • The water that flooded your home may have been contaminated, so it’s a good idea to wear waterproof boots and rubber gloves while cleaning the carpet.
  • Remove all wet items from the house as soon as possible to allow for more airflow inside the house.
  • Check under the house to make sure there is no water pooling under there. Use a pump or dig a drain if necessary to remove the water. This is important to allow the house to dry out properly.
  • Remove water from the carpet using a wet vacuum. These vacuums are made for removing water from carpet and can be hired if you want to do it yourself.
  • If it’s not raining, keep windows and doors open to maximise ventilation and drying. On wet days, leave the windows ajar so there is still some ventilation.
  • Create more airflow by turning on fans and air conditioners. A fan on the floor is a good idea and the more high powered the fan the better. Air conditioners are a great dehumidifier because its purpose is to pull moisture out of the air.
  • Leave fans on overnight where possible.
  • Be careful using heat to dry out the carpets because too much can cause wood to distort or split.
  • Replacing the carpet padding can sometimes be an effective way to save the carpet. This means you can dry out the carpet and the new padding will be free of mould and mildew. It’s very difficult to effectively clean the padding.
  • Steam cleaning the carpet will not only kill bacteria but also deodorise it.
  • One highly regarded home tip is to use baking soda to lift trapped moisture. Sprinkle it on the wet carpet, allow it to sit for half an hour, then vacuum it up.
  • If the carpet was installed with tack strips, you might be able to remove it to clean and dry it and then have it reinstalled.
  • If you can’t remove the carpet, try to lift sections so you can direct air to ventilate underneath.
  • When the carpet is thoroughly dried vacuum the area, then shampoo the carpet and dry it again.

Can I remove the musty smell from my carpet?

  • Sprinkle more baking soda on the carpet and work it into the fibres with a broom.
  • Leave the baking soda on the carpet overnight.
  • The next day remove the baking soda by vacuuming the carpet twice – go back and forth in the other direction the second time.

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