Making your home liveable again after a flood can mean starting from the ground up. To help, we’ve detailed everything you need to know about cleaning wet, flood damaged carpet and what to do if you need to get rid of it altogether. When in doubt, call in a professional.

How To Clean Wet Carpet After A Flood

Things To Consider Before Cleaning Wet Carpet

Flood water is a health hazard. It is dark in colour and contains silt, sewage, bacteria and other waste. Keep this in mind when deciding between cleaning your waterlogged carpet or removing it completely. If you want to know if your carpet can be saved, ask yourself the below questions.

What Is The Type of Damage? 

Determine if the flood damage to your carpet is minor or major. Was the carpet completely submerged by the water or its the wet area only small? Has is been wet for a day or a week? If your carpet is ripped, has mold growth or is badly contaminated then it is best to remove it and install new carpet or flooring.

Is There Damage Under The Carpet – Underlay And Floor? 

Flooding can cause structural damage to your property so it’s important to check the floor beneath your carpet before cleaning.

Remove the top carpet layer and look at the padding and floor under it. If the carpet padding beneath or carpet pad is soaked, you will need to remove and replace this because it cannot air dry. If the floor is damaged or no longer flat then you will need to fix the foundation first before you can clean the carpet. Seek professional advice where you are unsure.

What Is The Colour And Condition Of Your Carpet? 

What did your carpet look like before the flood? Was it new or was it old and needing to be replaced? Is the carpet colour dark or light and shows stains easily? After the flood, does your carpet feel brittle and are there marks? Is the condition still in good shape or wrinkling and not lying flat? The overall look and feel of your carpet will help you decide.

Is There Mould?

Floods provide the perfect environment for mould to thrive. Once your carpet becomes wet, mould will develop within 24 to 48 hours. Quickly becoming a serious problem, treating and removing mould as soon as you see it will increase your chances of saving your carpet from the rubbish tip. If the mould is only affecting a small area of carpet only then you may be able to remove it yourself. See our tips below on how to remove mould from carpet.

Tip: Act Fast Once The Flood Water Has Gone

Once the source of water has gone, start the cleaning process as soon as you can. The less time where your carpet is completely saturated, the less settled in dirt, stains and mould will become. This will make it easier to restore your carpet to its original condition, where possible.

Before You Clean Your Wet Carpet

Follow the below preparation steps before cleaning your wet carpet. You will need the following items:

  • Wet vacuum cleaner
  • Fans
  • Multiple clean towels
  • Optional: high powered fans and/or heater
  • Optional: air conditioner and/or dehumidifier
  • Optional: backing soda
  • Optional: new carpet underlay padding

Step 1: Clean and Clear Out the Affected Areas

Start by removing all your furniture and belongings from the wet carpet area. Clearing the space will give you the best access for cleaning as well as a full view of what exactly needs to be done. It’s important to check for mould here too and remove it so there’s no chance that it can spread.

Step 2: Remove Water 

Taking as much water out as possible before cleaning is key to the overall result. Use a wet vacuum to suck up water or improvise with a broom to sweep it outside. Once most of the water is gone, lay down towels to absorb the moisture. Do this by placing dry towels over the carpet and walking over it to push the water into the towel. Then remove soaked towels and wring out the water outside. Repeat this process until most of the water is gone.

Step 3: Dry Wet Carpet 

Drying your carpet out to remove all the water completely will take a lot of time but is crucial before cleaning it. You can either dry carpet with fans while on the floor or lift up the carpet and place fans underneath and around it. The second option will speed up the drying time, as you’re drying the carpet from multiple angles and targeting any excess water. It will also improve your chances of saving the carpet padding underneath.

Hiring industrial fans and using heaters will also speed up the drying process. Keep the windows open and check how the carpet is drying after every few hours. Reposition the heater or fans to target any areas that are still wet. Air flow will also help prevent mould growth and move out musty wet carpet smells and foul odor. If the weather is humid outside, then close the windows and use an air conditioner or dehumidifier to help to remove moisture.

Step 4: Remove and Replace Padding Under the Carpet

After the carpet is dry, check underneath the carpet by lifting it from a corner to feel the padding. If this under layer feels wet then you need to remove it as it will not completely dry once it is soaked in water. Replacing the padding is a crucial step in cleaning your wet carpet if it was completely soaked from the flood. Otherwise, you will experience mould and further problems down the track. A carpet expert will help you with this. Ensure that the carpet and padding are laid out correctly before cleaning.

Step 5: Clean All Other Areas 

Any furniture or belongings that were damaged by the flood also needs to be cleaned and dried before it’s returned to the space. Wipe down any unclean walls, skirting boards, lighting and other items that could transfer onto the carpet after cleaning.

How to Clean Wet Carpet

Cleaning wet carpet will take a lot of time and effort, from preparation to cleaning and then drying. Start the process of cleaning your carpet only after all preparation steps and both your carpet and padding are dry.

Hire a Professional Carpet Cleaner 

A professional carpet cleaner adds value through knowledge and experience. They will give you a clear understanding of what outcome to expect and how to look after your carpet after cleaning. Ultimately, they will save you time and effort and, most likely, give you a free estimate regarding your home’s carpets.

DIY – Do It Yourself

Cleaning your carpet yourself is possible with the right tools and know-how. Steam cleaners will push the cleaning detergent deep into the carpet and then suck up the liquid into a wastewater tank. A bonus is that steam cleaners will also suck up dead mould spores that you can’t see so they’re great for deep cleaning wet carpeting.

Commercial high-pressure carpet steam cleaners can be hired from your local hardware store or supermarket. The tools and supplies you need are:

  • Steam cleaner
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Carpet detergent
  • Carpet stain remover
  • Cloth
  • Warm water

Step 1: Vacuum

After you’ve completed all the before cleaning steps and the carpet is dry, start by vacuuming the affected area several times. Aim to remove as much dirt or loose material as possible.

Step 2: Pretreat Stains 

Spray a stain remover product on deeper marks in the carpet and leave for at least 10 minutes. Then remove it with a damp clean cloth by blotting it out, working gently from the outside of the stain moving into the middle. Don’t be too aggressive here as you could rub the stain deeper into the carpet.

Step 3: Steam Clean the Carpet

Follow the instructions for your specific steam cleaning machine and required detergent before use. Add warm water to the tank as it will help open the fibres of the carpet, making it easier for dirt and marks to be removed.

Unlike when vacuuming, you’ll need to move the nozzle of the steam cleaner slowly across the carpet in long strokes. Repeat this process until you get your desired result. Then follow the drying instructions below.

How to Dry Wet Carpet

Depending on the size of the area you clean, drying wet carpet could take between 1-3 days. After your carpet has been thoroughly steam cleaned, follow the same process above in Step 3: Dry the Carpet.

Open windows and use fans to dry the carpet on the floor.  The carpet must dry completely before you move your cleaned furniture and belongings back into the house. To dry your carpet, you’ll need:

  • Fans / Ceiling fans
  • Optional: high powered fans and/or heater
  • Optional: air conditioner and/or dehumidifier
  • Optional: Sprinkle baking soda to remove any remaining water or moisture.

Tips to Remove Mould From Carpet

Mould loves moisture and humidity. To kill mould for good, you must address the cause of moisture. Otherwise, you will continue to clean up the symptoms of mould as it comes back. If the tips below don’t work, you may need to get professional help to remove mould or replace your carpet.

  • Clean it off with anti-mould products, vinegar, alcohol or clove oil solutions.
  • Boost airflow by opening windows and turning on fans or air conditioning.
  • Reduce humidity by using a dehumidifier to lower the moisture in the air.

Should I Remove My Carpet? 

If the water damage to your carpet, the underlayer or the floor below is significant then your best option is to remove your carpet entirely. The benefit of starting from scratch is that you will not encounter any issues that weren’t fully addressed in the cleaning process that could further damage the carpet in the future. For example, if you cleaned the carpet and the padding underneath wasn’t cleaned properly or didn’t completely dry then mould will develop.

How to Remove Your Carpet

Removing carpet yourself is a big task. Depending on the area size of carpet that needs to be removed, you will need a large amount of time and help from at least one or more people. Rolled up carpet and its padded underlay can be very heavy to lift and move. Wearing protective clothing is also recommended as removing carpet will expose you to dust, staples, carpet fibres, dirt and any bio-hazards such as sewage brought in by the flood.  Learn more through our guide on how to remove wall to wall carpet.

How to Get Rid of Removed Carpet

After you’ve removed it, you will need to dispose of your carpet properly and safely. For most councils, carpet waste must be taken to the rubbish tip or a recycling centre. It can’t be left on the side of the road for a usual curbside garbage collection as it is seen as a hazard.

1300Rubbish makes carpet removal and disposal easy. We’ll take over your problem and provide a hassle-free solution for every step. For a free, no-obligation quote simply call 1300 RUBBISH (1300 78 22 47) or contact us via the online form.