How to Dry a Carpet After a Flood or Cleaning

By Gladys K. Connelly Updated December 20, 2020

This is my ultimate guide on how to dry a carpet after a flood or cleaning.
In this article, I’ll cover :

In short: if you are looking for a solution, or a set of solutions to dry a carpet in the best possible way, you’ll love my article.
Let’s dive in.

Table of Contents

What is the Average Time to Dry a Carpet?

What is the Average Time to Dry a Carpet


It depends on a lot of factors.

Humidity levels, temperature, and the type of carpet itself can affect the drying time of a rug. And, of course, how wet your carpet is also matters.

Below is an estimation of drying time for your carpet in different situations.

Keep in mind, though, that these numbers are based on a low pile carpet in a continental climate, so they may vary for you depending on where you live and the type of carpet you own.

How wet is your carpet? drying time
Flooded 3 – 5 days
Partially wet 12 – 24 hours
Damp 1 – 3 hours
Professional clean 4 – 8 hours
DIY clean 6 – 12 hours
Steam clean 2 – 4 hours

Signs Your Carpet Needs Drying

What are the signs that your carpet needs drying?

I am not talking about when I spill a lot of water… or when my radiator is leaking near my carpet.

I am talking here when there may be some moisture that seeped deep into your carpet, but I don’t know it.

While the top may have dried, the moisture deep within can cause problems.

  1. One of the very first signs of a wet or damp carpet is a musty smell around the area. It may be strong, mild, or barely detectable. Nevertheless, it’s a sign that you need to get into action and dry your carpet. Even so, you can neglect odors, and the carpet can continue to stay damp.
  2. Hence, another sign of a wet carpet is you continually having respiratory issues or allergic reactions even though there aren’t any known triggers around. (yes, a damp carpet can make you very sick!)Your carpets can begin to discolor when exposed to prolonged moisture. So when you notice your lovely orange carpet turn into a muddy gray-brown, get worried!
  3. Lastly, a wet carpet will feel cool to touch, and if it’s not obvious enough yet, you’ll feel water
    seeping out as you step on to the carpet.

Is it Okay to Let a Wet Carpet Sit?

If you’ve cleaned your carpet or if it went through a flood, start drying it immediately.

No, don’t go to sleep and don’t procrastinate – get moving and drying.

Water damage to a carpet, mainly if it’s covering the entirety of the floor, needs to be attended to immediately.

Even if it’s not dripping wet, and only slightly damp, don’t ignore it. As soon as you realize there’s some dampness/wetness, start the drying process.

Why is it Important to Dry a Wet Carpet?

You should always dry your carpet as quickly as possible.


It gets worse:

Wet carpets also damage the subfloor below the carpet and padding. You don’t want the foundations of your house to weaken; hence, it’s better to dry up a rug as soon as possible.

Also, carpets that stay wet for a long time can become very damaged. It may not be even worth it to dry them after this.

Well, prolonged dampness can cause delamination of the carpet, which means that the layers within the carpet separate.

It happens as the glue weakens, and the spaces between these separated layers become a haven for one of the biggest problems of a wet carpet – MOLD.

Does Mold Grow in Wet Carpets?

Unfortunately, mold, which is fungi, thrives in wet carpets. And for all you folks with carpeted homes and who often face flooding, or don’t have the ideal environment for your carpet to dry quickly, this means bad news.

Because mold reproduces through spores, it is straightforward for it to start growing in your carpet. Spores are almost always present in the air outside and inside.

However, when these disturbing things land on a moist surface – bam, you’ve got yourself a moldy problem.

The warmth of a wet carpet is perfect for mold to breed, and it can take as little as 24 to 48 hours to start growing and spreading. It is why it’s important not to leave your carpet wet.

Not only does it start to destroy your carpet and flooring like a slow poison, but mold can also cause mild to severe health issues.
Mild allergic reactions because of inhaling or touching mold spores include:

Sure, these may not sound SO bad, but if you’re a sensitive individual, mold can cause shortness of breath and trigger asthma attacks.
The worst part?

Mold isn’t always visible or noticeable, but you’ll still be facing these symptoms. It is why wet carpets can create havoc, and it’s necessary to dry them out immediately.

You can also test for mold in your carpet using a mold test kit.

For more information on mold in flooded homes, click here.

Drying Carpet After Cleaning: Steps to Follow

Drying Carpet After Cleaning: Steps to Follow

Just finished scrubbing your carpet?

Or did you spill all the water from your pedicure tub?

Don’t worry; you can quickly dry your carpet using many different methods.

Just follow these steps, and you’ll be good to go:

1.Remove Furniture

First, remove any furniture or other objects placed on your carpet. You may be wondering, why can’t you just let the things sit on the carpet?

Well, drying your carpet with something substantial over it can leave dents on it and ruin the fluffiness of it, and you don’t want that.

Plus, this will let air flow freely around the wet area without any obstructions, and speed up the drying process.

2.Turn On the Fans

Next, do the quickest possible thing, which is to turn on your ceiling fan. It will not only dry the wet area but also help get rid of any damp, musty smell.

If you don’t have a ceiling fan, be sure you have a desk fan or stand-alone fan at hand. You need some sort of fan to dry your carpet; otherwise, it will take a long time to dry, and this may put your carpet at risk of developing mold and bacteria.

Place two fans on the opposite ends of the room for proper circulation of the air and run them at high speed.

3.Place Towels

If your carpet has become super wet, then just ceiling and desk fans won’t be enough. In this case, cover the damp area with some dry and absorbent towels and let them soak all the excess moisture.

You can press on it or walk over it to help with the soaking process as well.

Once you feel like your towels, have absorbed enough moisture, remove them, and let your fans do the rest of the work.

Also, be sure not to leave your towels laying on the carpet for too long. Around half an hour will be more than enough.

4.Open Windows

After this, open any windows in the room. If you have two or more windows, go ahead and pop open all of them because this will help with ventilation and dry your carpet quicker.

Moreover, opening windows will let in some fresh air and get rid of any moldy odors.

Of course, if the weather is rainy or very humid, opening windows won’t help. But if it’s hot, dry, or windy, you’ve got the green signal.

5.Turn On the AC/Heater

If you don’t have windows in your room, then you can try turning on air conditioning. Since air conditioning dries the air, you can use this to your advantage and help dry the wet carpet in the room.

Also, try turning on Dry mode to drop humidity levels further.

Alternatively, you can use a heater in your room for this purpose, in case it’s too cold to turn on air conditioning.

Heat can significantly help with the drying process, so it’s a good idea to use any sort of room heater for this.

iamge icon

Be sure to use the heater in your supervision as it can be hazardous to leave it on for a long time, especially near a carpet.

Drying Carpet After Flooding: Steps to Follow

Drying Carpet After Flooding_ Steps to FollowIf you’ve been a victim of the flood, your carpet is probably soaked. But don’t worry, and buckle up, because you can save your carpet by following the steps below.

They’re not easy, but hey, it works. Here’s how you can dry a flooded carpet:

1.Remove Furniture

Firstly, you’ll have to remove all the furniture and other objects out of the room so you can remove the water with ease.

2.Pump Out the Water

Assess the situation now. Is there standing water which is covering your carpet?Is your carpet just very wet?

In the first case scenario, you’ll have to pump out the water using a submersible pump.

You can easily rent this from your nearest equipment shop, like Home Depot, etc.

If renting this isn’t possible, use a bucket to scoop out water.

3.Use Shop Vac

After this, you need to remove all the excess water from the carpet. The chances are, it has soaked up water all the way through, and fans and towels won’t be enough at this point.

Hence, you’ll have to bring in yet another equipment: a shop vac.

It is a kind of vacuum, which can pull up bigger chunks of material, as well as water. Use this to suck excess water out of your carpet.

Also, be careful of the vacuum tank getting full – keep emptying it as you progress.

iamge icon

Don’t use your household vacuum cleaner for this. These vacuums cannot remove water. Not only will this ruin your vacuum, but it also poses a high risk of electrocution.

4.Bring in a Dehumidifier

At this point, place a dehumidifier in the room. It will prove to be of great help, as it can remove a lot of moisture from a room, depending on its capacity.

You can use a portable unit for this, but keep in mind that you’ll have to empty its tank frequently if the moisture content in the room is very high.

Also, make sure you place the dehumidifier at a safe place, which is away from wet areas, as this can be hazardous. Use dehumidifiers that are waterproof, if possible.

5.Dry the Wet Carpet

Dry the remaining moisture from the top of the carpet using the steps I described in the previous section.

6.Remove Padding

If you fear that the padding and the subfloor are wet as well, then this is where it gets tricky.

You’ll have to roll back the carpet to expose the filling below and remove it.

Next question: is removing it necessary?

In most cases, yes. Especially if the flood had any sewage water mixed in it, padding doesn’t last if it’s in contact with water for too long, so it’s best to remove it.

Pull the carpet from a corner using your hands or a plier, and then pull out the padding from underneath.

Don’t bother drying it if it’s wet, as replacing it is cheap and a much better option.

7.Dry the Subfloor

Done with the steps so far? Good.

Now, check the subfloor below the padding. If it’s wet, use fans to dry it properly.

After this, you can add in the new filling and roll backthe almost dried carpet.

8.Clean Carpet

Before your carpet becomes completely dry and is slightly damp, clean it. You can use carpet cleaneror acleaning solution.

It will remove any bacteria or dirt from the water damage.

Use bleach or a mixture of antibacterial detergent and vinegar to scrub the carpet.

After this, complete the drying process.

Additional Tips for Drying a Carpet

Here are some other useful tips that can help you with your drying process:


Baking Soda for Drying Carpets

Yep, you read that right.

You can use baking soda to dry your carpet because it is excellent at absorbing moisture. Moreover, it also helps get rid of any odors from the carpet.
Here’s how you can use it:

  1. Get yourself a big pack(or two, if you’re covering a large area) of baking soda.
  2. Now, sprinkle it all over the wet area. You can also do this with a sprinkler, which will prevent the soda from clumping and make it easier to spread it.
  3. Be sure to put heaps of it, so that it can effectively absorb moisture.
  4. Let it sit on the carpet for a good one or two hours.
  5. Now, vacuum the baking soda thoroughly by going over one area several times. I like to use a narrow nozzle on my vacuum cleaner for carpet for this job as it’s more precise and picks up smaller particles better.

Alternatively, you can use kitty litter to absorb water from the carpet in the same manner. Just be sure to vacuum your carpet thoroughly afterward.


When is it the Right Time to Leave it for Professionals?

Drying a massive spill or even a pipe leak can be pretty straightforward: just turn on the fans and dehumidifiers, and you’re good to go.
However, when a flood occurs, you may not be able to handle the situation on your own.

While you can DIY the whole process as I described above, sometimes it’s better to call in professionals from carpet cleaning and restoration companies.

But how do you determine when you can DIY and when you should call for help?

For this, you need to know the source of the water damage and the types of water.


Clean Water

Clean water is any water that’s drinkable or contains the least amount of toxic materials.

If the source of the flood was clean water, then your carpet is safe to clean and dry yourself, and you can continue using it.


Gray Water

Water is gray when it has harmful contaminants in it. It includes water from machines, showers, bathtubs, toilets, etc.

Also, clean water becomes gray water within 48 hours. So if the flooding occurred due to these sources, you might want to call in a professional.

You could clean and dry the carpet yourself, but it’s going to be a long and tiring job. Plus, it is always better to be on the safe side when it comes to health and safety.

And in this case, a professional may do the job better.


Black Water

Clean or gray water that stays stagnant for too long becomes black water. Additionally, water that has sewage mixed in it or other harmful chemicals, and water from floods and storms, is also black.

As you may have guessed, this is where stuff gets severe and out of your hands.

You should call in professionals who can assess the situation and determine whether they can save your carpet or if it’s best to replace it.

Now It’s Your Turn…

I hope you enjoyed my complete guide on how to dry a carpet after a flood or cleaning.

Now I would like to hear from you.

Let me know by leaving a quick comment below.

About the Author

Gladys K. Connelly

As a HouseKeeping Technical Writer, Gladys actively enjoys writing guides and tips about housekeeping for Thehousewire's audience. She's a housekeeping specialist with just shy of 9 years' experience to boast. That, combined with seven years prior experience in teaching, helps her create content that is both captivating and insightful.

Related Reading

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *