How do I Clean a Water Damaged Carpet?

N. Swensson

There can be many methods of cleaning a water damaged carpet. The process will depend on a few different factors, including the type and the extent of the water damage. Restoration efforts should begin as soon as possible after a water leak or flood to help prevent mold growth. First, remove as much excess water from the carpet and padding as possible. Then clean the carpet thoroughly using a disinfectant solution, but spot test it first to make sure it won't cause further damage. Finally, remove the carpet from tack strips and position fans underneath to dry it. This method may work for smaller areas of water damage, but in more severe cases, the carpet may need to be replaced.

A professional carpet cleaner can be called in to clean a carpet stain.
A professional carpet cleaner can be called in to clean a carpet stain.

One of the most important factors in determining whether a water damaged carpet can be restored is the type of water. Water sources such as a leaking pipe are considered sanitary because they are not likely to contain bacteria or other harmful contaminants. If flooding has been caused by a sanitary source, water damaged carpet can often be restored. Other sources of water such as dishwasher or toilet overflows may be considered unsanitary, meaning that the potential for health hazards is too great and that carpet should be replaced. Carpet damaged by black water, which can come from a sewage backup or flood, almost always needs to be replaced because of the likelihood of contamination.

A bleach and water solution is one remedy used to prevent mold growth.
A bleach and water solution is one remedy used to prevent mold growth.

For smaller areas of damage or flooding caused by sanitary sources, the source of water leakage should be addressed immediately and excess water removed from the carpet. Then a disinfectant solution, such as bleach and water, should be applied to prevent mold growth or other contamination of the carpet. Next, the carpet can be removed from the tack strips and dried using a fan underneath it. Sometimes the baseboards can be removed and holes drilled into the drywall near the floor to help with ventilation. Running a dehumidifier in the room can also help to dry the water damaged carpet faster.

Toxic mold can spread quickly across any organic material, such as wood and textiles.
Toxic mold can spread quickly across any organic material, such as wood and textiles.

During the drying process, it may help to avoid walking on the wet carpet to prevent staining and further damaging the carpet. Water can sometimes cause the glue backing to separate from carpet fibers, a process called delamination. Also, all furniture should be removed from wet carpet as soon as possible, as any dyes or stains from the furniture can cause staining. The furniture can also be damaged if it absorbs water from the carpet.

Water damage might be caused by a leaky dishwasher.
Water damage might be caused by a leaky dishwasher.
An improperly sealed shower stall can leak and damage bathroom carpets.
An improperly sealed shower stall can leak and damage bathroom carpets.

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Discussion Comments

stoneMason

@fBoyle-- One of the other reasons why people shouldn't walk on water damaged carpet, is because it causes delamination. If the carpet is dried fast enough and no pressure is applied on it, delamination can be avoided. This is also why furniture has to be removed immediately.

I think the most important thing is drying the carpet as soon as possible. Even if a disinfectant is used, the risk of mold increases if the carpet is not dried within a day.

fBoyle

@SarahGen-- How did you re-attach the carpet after cutting it? Didn't the carpet delaminate? Water damage repair is difficult. I had the same problem but thankfully, my insurance company replaced the carpet.

SarahGen

My bathroom carpet had water damage because of a leaking bathroom pipe last month. I was aware that I might have to replace the carpet but I wanted to try and clean it myself anyway.

The good thing is that the water was clean. If it hadn't been, I wouldn't have even bothered with the cleaning because I'm very sensitive about hygiene.

I had to do some cutting to remove the carpet and then I cleaned it with an antiseptic carpet solution. I soaked up excess water with sponges and rags. After that, I put two fans and a dehumidifier in the bathroom. I let them work continuously for several days.

Even after I was sure that the carpet was dry, I watched it carefully for the next week to see if there would be molding. I must have dried it well enough because it didn't grow mold at all.

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