10 Expert Tips to Save Your Carpets After Water Damage

June 22, 2021

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Can carpets be saved after water damage? There is no “one size fits all” answer to that question, as whether or not you can restore a carpet after a flood or spill will depend on a variety of factors; however, never automatically assume that a water-damaged carpet is ruined and needs replacing!

Carpets will be saved after water damage when you:

  1. Work quickly
  2. Remove as much water as possible
  3. Keep carpets ventilated and near light
  4. Pull up wall-to-wall carpeting
  5. Dry carpet undersides
  6. Dry the floors
  7. Address mold and mildew
  8. Clean according to materials
  9. Replace padding
  10. Use odor neutralizers

If your home or commercial property has suffered a flood, or if firefighters used copious amounts of water to extinguish a blaze, don’t toss out those water-damaged carpets just yet! A bit of work and know-how can mean salvaging your beautiful carpets and avoiding the cost of new carpet installation.

people not knowing what to do about water damage

Note a few added details about carpet cleaning after flooding and call a carpet cleaning company or water damage cleanup contractor near you if these tips don’t get your carpets clean and pristine. He or she can often work wonders on even the toughest stains, mold growth, and other water damage, and get those carpets looking like new again!

How Do You Fix Water Damaged Carpets? 10 Tips to Follow

When fixing water-damaged carpets, first ensure your safety; if there is still standing water or even small puddles in the room, consider switching off the electrical circuits, and ensure you keep electrical cords dry! Use rubber-soled shoes for walking on wet tile, and wear protective equipment when addressing a burst plumbing pipe or outside flooding, as that water might hold lots of dangerous germs and bacteria. Can carpets be saved after water damage? Let's dig in and find out.

1. Work quickly

Don’t put off addressing water-damaged carpets, as carpet fibers and a structure’s wood subflooring absorb water quickly, risking wood rot, damaged fibers, mold, and mildew! The faster you work to remove standing water and then dry and clean those carpets, the less damage they’ll suffer and less cleanup needed overall.

2. Remove as much water as possible

To answer whether or not carpets can be saved after water damage, never assume that the water drenching your carpets will simply evaporate. Even if those carpets have been sitting for days after a flood, it’s vital that you extract as much water as possible. The more water you remove, the less risk of mold, mildew, and damage to the carpet’s fibers and backing.

removing water from water-damaged carpet

To extract water, avoid using a household vacuum and rent or invest in a commercial-quality wet-dry vacuum instead.  A wet-dry vacuum or “shop vac” is designed to remove the excess water quickly and safely, without damage to the machine or the surfaces being cleaned. Heat lamps and dehumidifiers also help dry out excess water.

3. Keep carpets ventilated and near light

Lots of fresh air and bright light will not only keep carpets dry but will also reduce the risk of mold and mildew! Mold and mildew thrive in dark, damp environments, so ensure you keep rooms with damaged carpets brightly lit, with lots of air circulation. Open windows and run fans directed to the outside if needed, and move lamps into the space even if there is an adequate overhead light, to add to the room’s brightness.

4. Pull up wall-to-wall carpeting

Even the best wet-dry vacuum won’t pull water out of floorboards underneath carpeting. It’s also vital to pull up wall-to-wall carpeting so that water doesn’t pool around room corners, under baseboards, and in other spots tough to reach with your vacuum. If you’re not sure how to pull up and then replace wall-to-wall carpeting, call a water damage restoration contractor near you and let them tackle the job instead.

5. Dry carpet undersides

underside of water-damaged carpet

When extracting water from a carpet, ensure you dry its undersides. Pulling up wall-to-wall carpeting allows you to pull water out from a carpet backing; for area rugs, once you’ve extracted water from its surface, turn it over and continue to extract water. This will provide a thoroughly dry carpet, ready for cleaning, and avoid the risk of mold and mildew.

6. Dry the floors

When addressing water-damaged carpeting, don’t forget to dry the floors underneath those rugs! If a structure’s floorboards and subflooring are still damp when you set down the carpets, those fibers will simply absorb the moisture under it, risking more damage as well as mold and mildew.

7. Address mold and mildew

Now that the carpets and floors are dry, it’s time to clean those carpets! Note that standard carpet shampoos will remove dirt but don’t kill mold and mildew spores and roots; if your carpets show signs of mold or mildew growth, you’ll need to address them with a steam extractor. Steam kills mold spores and mildew roots so you can remove that growth and not have them return.

8. Clean according to the carpet material

Steam is an excellent cleaning method for any carpet and will remove layers of grime as well as mold, but might not remove tough stains and ground-in dirt and debris. Carpet shampoos and even scrub brushes are often needed for added cleaning, but it’s vital you choose materials and tools meant for the carpet’s material specifically.

Wool, cotton, and silk carpets should be cleaned with a gentle, low pH shampoo. A dry foam shampoo is also good for water-damaged carpets, as these require little to no rinse water for extraction, keeping those carpets dry.

cleaning water-damaged carpets

When cleaning wool carpets, it’s best to leave the fabric slightly acidic, to reduce shrinkage and other damage. Add a shampoo neutralizer after cleaning for best results; a touch of diluted vinegar can even do the trick!

Rotary shampoos are often used for area rugs and specialty carpets, as they will have additives that help prevent dye bleeding during the scrubbing process. Fine fabric shampoos are excellent for silk blend carpets and delicate area rugs.

9. Replace padding

Foam or rubber padding is often difficult to restore after water damage, as these materials tend to break down and degrade when exposed to flooding and high moisture levels. You can scrub them with a wet mop and carpet shampoo to remove dirt; however, if the material itself shows signs of tearing or shrinking, it’s often best to simply replace that padding altogether.

10. Use odor neutralizers

Even with the best cleaning method, a water-damaged carpet is likely to smell musty or otherwise unpleasant. Don’t try to cover up these odors with carpet perfumes but invest in an odor neutralizer instead. These neutralizers remove the chemicals creating those odors, for a carpet that smells as good as it looks!

Will Wet Carpet Dry On Its Own?

While water from small spills might evaporate without damaging that carpet, never assume that floodwaters will simply dry on their own. Instead, that water is likely to be absorbed by the home’s floorboards and subflooring, risking wood rot. Carpet fibers and their backing also might stay wet even after the carpet’s surface feels dry; this dampness can mean mold, mildew, and long-term damage.

water damage cleanup

Rather than waiting for the carpet to dry on its own or assuming it’s already dry if it doesn’t feel damp along its surface, use a wet-dry vacuum and extract as much moisture as possible. This will keep dirt from settling into those fibers and reduce the risk of mold and mildew growth as well. For area rugs, you might hang it outside where it’s exposed to lots of air circulation and sunlight, which will help it dry out completely.

Is Carpet Ruined If It Gets Wet?

A carpet isn’t necessarily ruined if wet, as said. Rather than assuming a thoroughly soaked carpet is damaged beyond repair, go through the steps mentioned above to remove excess water and then clean those carpets.

If those steps don’t work, call a water damage restoration contractor! Note that water damage cleanup contractors evaluate materials after a fire, flood, or another such event, and can tell you if carpets are salvageable or beyond repair. You can then make an informed decision about cleaning or replacing them as needed.

How Long Does It Take for Mold to Grow In Wet Carpet?

One vital reason to act quickly and ensure your carpets can be saved after water damage and dry out carpets thoroughly is that it doesn’t take much time for mold to grow and spread! Mold spores only need 24 to 48 hours to grow on saturated carpets, per mold specialists Rytech.

mold growing in atlanta home

It’s also vital for property owners to realize that drying carpets alone won’t stop mold growth; mold does thrive in damp environments, but remember that just the humidity in the air is enough to feed mold once it starts to develop along carpet fibers or backing! A thorough cleaning and check for mold once carpets are put back into place is the best choice for reducing the risk of mold growth and addressing it if it should then appear.

Is Carpet Mold Dangerous?

Not everyone responds to mold the same way but exposure to mold spores can cause irritation in those with certain sensitivities. Allergic reactions to mold exposure are also commonplace, and mold is often especially irritating to those with asthma and other breathing disorders.

Mold also spreads and grows very easily if left untreated and untouched. Rather than assuming a small bit of mold is not an issue for your family or a building’s occupants, consider thorough carpet cleaning and mold remediation at the first sign of mold growth, to reduce the risk of health hazards and keep that mold from spreading along carpet backing and other interior surfaces.

Can Mold Dry Out and Die?

Mold can dry out in a very dry environment and when exposed to lots of light, but it won’t necessarily “die” and then fall away from a surface such as carpeting. In most cases, drying out mold will simply stop it from spreading.

If you have an area rug or have pulled up wall-to-wall carpeting and notice mold growing along its backside or surface, don’t assume that drying out the carpet is enough to address this problem. After drying, use steam cleaning or call on the services of a professional to remove that mold and ensure the carpet is clean and as mold-free as possible.

mold growing in Atlanta home

How Do You Dry a Carpet After a Water Leak?

Pulling up wall-to-wall carpet or taking up an area rug after a water leak is the best choice for ensuring those pieces are thoroughly dry, and for checking the subflooring for signs of water damage and needed cleaning or repairs. However, if pulling up a carpet isn’t an option, note a few tips for getting it as dry as possible.

  • A commercial quality wet-dry vacuum will remove excess dampness from carpet fibers quickly and easily. Use the vacuum over the damp areas repeatedly, emptying the canister as often as needed until you’ve removed as much dampness as possible.
  • Fresh air circulation and bright, warm light both help dry out carpets. Open windows, turn on as many lights in the room as possible, and use fans to help remove water after a water leak.
  • Just like a hairdryer dries your hair quickly, space heaters can help dry out carpeting! Use caution with space heaters, ensuring they’re away from drapes and other hazards, but try to aim them at areas of excess dampness for faster drying.
  • Damp carpets don’t dry out as easily in a humid environment, so use dehumidifiers after a water leak. Drying out the air in a room will help carpets dry out as well, and keep them from trapping moisture along their underside.

While going through this process, be sure you remove furniture and other items in the space so that all damp areas of the carpet can dry out thoroughly. Also, note that baking soda, baby powder, cornstarch, and other materials won’t help remove dampness in the carpet and can just create an unpleasant mess! However, you might sprinkle some baking powder over the carpet once it’s dry and then vacuum it up, to help remove odors and some residual dirt and dust.

cleaned carpet after water damage in Atlanta

24/7 Water Damage Atlanta is happy to provide this information to our readers and hopefully it helped you better understand if carpets can be saved after water damage. If your home or commercial property has suffered through a flood, fire, or other such disasters, contact our trusted Atlanta water damage repair contractors right away! We make quick work of evaluating that damage and restoring your property to a clean and hygienic space, ready for occupation. To find out more, call us today.

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