How to Clean Waterlogged Carpet

When a carpet becomes waterlogged, it is important to clean it as soon as you can.

Area Rugs

Water can damage its fibers, but a carpet that has been exposed to water can also become a health concern. Mold and mildew will form on a carpet that has undergone water damage. Before attempting to clean the carpet, you must first decide if it is worth saving. Consider how long the carpet has been under water and if the water contained sewage. Carpets that can be moved should be cleaned outside.

Dry the carpet first if it is too heavy to pick up. Place floor fans so that they blow air across the surface of the carpet. Use old towels and rags to soak up as much moisture as possible. Run a wet/dry vacuum over the rug to soak up the water. If possible, prop up the carpet so the fans can also blow air underneath it.

Take it outside and place it on a patio, deck or driveway. Rinse the carpet in one direction with a garden hose. Continue rinsing to remove as much dirt and debris as possible. Flip the carpet over and repeat the rinsing process on the bottom of the carpet.

Pour a carpet shampoo on the surface of the carpet. Use a sponge to work the shampoo into the carpet. Allow shampoo to sink in for 15 minutes. Rinse off the carpet in one direction until all of the suds from the shampoo are gone.

Mix a solution of 2 tbsp. of bleach for each 1 gallon of water. Test the solution on a small part in the corner of the carpet. If the solution does not change the color of the carpet, sponge the entire carpet with the bleach solution. Rinse off the carpet in one direction until only clear water remains. The solution that includes bleach is particularly important for carpets that have been exposed to water for more than 24 hours. The bleach kills any mold and mildew that is growing on the carpet.

Suck out as much water as you can from the carpet with a wet/dry vacuum. Dry the carpet completely in the sunshine. Elevate the carpet by placing it over a railing so that both sides are dried.

Wall-to-Wall Carpeting

Dry the room with the water-logged carpet with fans and dehumidifiers. Place box fans in the windows, and blow dry air into the room. Open all curtains to allow sun into the room. Turn on any ceiling fans.

Soak up the water with rags and old towels. Suck the water from the carpet with a wet/dry vacuum. Run the vacuum until it stops collecting water. Aim box fans at the carpet to speed up the drying process.

Apply a carpet shampoo to the carpet with a sponge. Allow the carpet shampoo to soak in for at least 15 minutes. Sponge the carpet with water until all the suds are gone.

Mix a solution of 2 tbsp. of bleach for each 1 gallon of water. Follow the instructions listed for area rugs to sponge the carpet with a bleach and water solution. Rinse off the carpet with a sponge and water.

Dry the carpet immediately to prevent mildew and mold from forming. Continue to run fans and dehumidifiers. Allow as much sun into the room as you can.

Things You Will Need

  • Wet/dry vacuum
  • Towels
  • Rags
  • Sponge
  • Carpet shampoo
  • Bleach
  • Hose
  • Fans
  • Dehumidifiers

Tip

  • A sloped surface works best when rinsing the carpet outside. This allows the water to easily flow off the carpet.

Warnings

  • Don't leave the area rugs in the sunshine after it has dried. The sun could fade its color. Also clean and disinfect the floor before reinstalling the carpet.
  • The padding underneath wall-to-wall carpet will most likely have to be thrown away if it was soaked.

About the Author

John Smith is a writer with over 30 years experience. He has worked at a newspaper, various magazines and websites, and he has interests in a wide range of subjects including sports, politics and entertainment. Smith earned a bachelor's degree in history from the College of New Jersey.