Cleaning Guides

5 Ways to Dry Your Wet Carpet to Prevent Damage

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Imagine coming home after a long hot day (like most days in Australia) with the idea of relaxing in a calm atmosphere only to discover that you got to try Mother Nature’s latest “Water on Carpet” air-freshener free of charge.

You put your foot on the floor and feel the chill of your wet carpeting. So your thoughts start racing: ‘Oh, the water damage to my carpet! Something must be wrong with the plumbing… the laundry machine… or the fridge! How am I going to dry it out? Better check what’s going on, and fast!’

Keep reading to learn how to react in a wet carpet situation, how to dry a wet carpet and what water damage prevention options you can try.

Table of contents:

Immediate action

Your best bet at avoiding water damage to carpets is acting quickly. Looking up information on the internet can feel natural, but you first need to call the carpet’s manufacturer to see if your carpet’s warranty is still valid. If they can sort the issue out on your behalf, you don’t need to do much. If they don’t, you must keep calm and act fast.

At that point, many anxiety-inducing questions start coming up:

  • How long does a wet carpet take to dry?
  • Is a carpet ruined if it gets wet?
  • Can you vacuum water out of a rug?
  • How long can a carpet stay wet?
  • Will the wet carpet smell go away?
  • Will my wet carpet dry by itself?

…and many more. Your worries are valid, but time is of the essence, and you need to focus on drying your flooded carpet because bacteria are already spreading. Don’t wait around for mould to start building up. Even if it doesn’t look that bad, you might get a false sense of security from your carpet’s padding.

You see, padding acts like a sponge when it touches water, so even if your rug doesn’t look soaked, the padding underneath might already be growing mouldy arms and legs. So start with assessment, then proceed to wet carpet drying.

Assessing water damage on your carpet

Sometimes the answer is simple – you or somebody else spilt something, and now the carpet makes noise. In other cases, a more ominous issue in your property might need to be addressed.

Make sure you act quickly because even a little water on the carpet can ruin it. The pad and subfloor can be damaged by mould growth and the water soaking through them. Key things to check:

  • Water concentration – The key to drying a flooded carpet is knowing exactly how sodden your rug is. Is it damp? Or is it soaked? Somewhere in-between?
  • Problem area size – If you’re lucky, you might not have to dry the entire carpet.
  • Padding – Remember that this is the hardest part to dry in a rug and the most prone to developing mould. If it’s soaked through, you better replace it.
  • How long has the carpet stayed wet – Don’t let water on your carpet sit for too long. This one is a bit obvious, but the stronger the wet carpet smell – the more time your rug has spent marinating.

Sometimes, water on your carpet will only need to dry. If the water that made your rug wet comes from a broken water line, or it’s just rainwater, it’s clean and needs to evaporate. However, if there’s been a flood and one of your sewer lines is backed up, your wet carpet might already be full of harmful toxins, silt, bacteria, and mould.

If you notice the rug’s been wet for too long and mould has already developed underneath, the best decision would be to get professional carpet steam cleaning. Using the popular Hot Water Extraction (HWE) method, an industrial vacuum cleaner could cleanse your rug and leave it almost dry.

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5 steps to drying your carpet

Before you start wet carpet drying, you should understand that even after a professional cleaning service, your rug would need 4-6 hours to dry completely. Because households don’t have any rug-specific equipment at their disposal, prepare to wait at least 12-14 hours for your rug to dry, and maybe even more if it’s very soaked. Here are 5 ideas about how to dry your carpet:

  1. Absorb the water with towels – A simple approach for carpet water removal. Lay dry towels on your wet rug, and step on them to absorb the moisture. Swap them for dry ones. Repeat until the rug is damp.
  2. Use a wet vacuum – An alternative to towels, a wet vacuum cleaner will make carpet water removal faster and easier. Just make sure the power cord doesn’t lay on any damp areas. If you have a wet vacuum cleaner – great! If not: you can rent one for a day.
  3. Reduce dampness with baking soda – A fantastic substance, baking soda powder has countless uses. One of those uses is absorbing moisture and odours out of rugs. This makes it an excellent choice to eliminate that wet carpet smell. You can sprinkle baking soda on the damp areas and let it stay like that for up to an hour while the powder works its magic. After that, use a dry vacuum cleaner to collect the powder and leave your rug looking fresh. Repeat as many times as necessary.
  4. Turn on the AC or dehumidifier – The number one factor when it comes to wet carpet drying. There comes a point in the process where you’ve done all you can and just have to be patient. Better airflow will make drying your wet carpet easier. Turn on the AC or open the windows, turn on any fans you have and angle them towards the rug’s damp areas. A dehumidifier can also be of great help if you have one.
  5. Get your carpet steam cleaned – The final step is the one you jump to when your rug’s condition is way too bad, or you simply don’t want to bother with the first four. A professional carpet cleaning service will sanitise your rug on top of drying it, so it’s probably the best option if you want to save time.
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Drying spilt water

You might have spilt a glass of water or maybe left the window open when it was raining. If pressing your hand into the rug doesn’t make water drops appear, then you’re in luck! A little bit of water doesn’t hurt anybody and will probably evaporate pretty quickly.

A towel or two to soak up any moisture on top should be enough. If you feel the need to – you could also try sprinkling baking soda on top, letting it sit for a while and vacuuming it. From that point on, just crack a window (not if it’s raining), and be patient.

Drying wet carpet after a leak

Your rug might be soaked with clean or dirty water depending on where the leak came from. If it was a sewage pipe that burst, you best get an expert to do the cleaning job or replace the carpet altogether. Sewage water is stacked with harmful bacteria and other pathogens, so it’s advisable not to deal with the problem alone.

If the water leak source is clean, like a burst water line pipe, or a leaky fridge, then, depending on how soggy it is, you might get away by using just towels again. For rugs that are soaked more thoroughly, you can go the extra length and rent a wet vacuum cleaner. Absorb as much moisture as possible, take your baking soda powder and start sprinkling. Vacuum when done, do what you can about aeration, and wait for the rest of the dampness to dry.

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Drying a flooded carpet

Drying a carpet after water damage as severe as a flood is difficult. Start by replacing the padding if moisture has soaked through your rug. There’s still a chance the carpet could be salvaged, though. Make sure you have a lot of towels if you don’t have a wet vacuum or don’t want to rent one.

Press towels into your soggy rug. Use two or three sets of towels to ensure uninterrupted moisture extraction. Put wet towels away to dry, and while they’re drying, press another set. We recommend you apply baking soda after you remove most of the moisture and then vacuum again. Consider expert carpet cleaning after drying your flooded carpet for best results.

How to prevent carpet water damage

Preventing carpet water damage depends on the situation. Your best bet on keeping your rugs fresh, clean and protected is to have a professional carpet cleaning service which includes the application of a preventative agent. Regular cleaning and water-repellent treatment are the most cost-efficient long-term choices. We at Fantastic Services offer one of the best water protection products in the market – Scotchgard.

On the other hand, you should also address the cause of the flood, if you can. If your rug got wet due to a flood or leak caused by your property’s plumbing, then a professional plumber should come over and take a look. After all, you wouldn’t want your carpet to get wet again, would you?


  • Act rapidly – mould develops quickly.
  • Better aeration makes carpets dry faster.
  • Don’t let water sit on your rugs.
  • Replace carpet padding if it has soaked through.
  • Consider professional carpet treatment for future damage prevention.

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