Excess moisture or dampness in your carpets can cause a number of issues within your home. From lingering odors to warped, uneven floorboards; it is extremely important that any moisture, whether it is minimal or substantial, is dealt with as quickly as possible to prevent any lasting damage.
Here, we’re going to take a look at why it’s so important that carpets remain dry and are treated efficiently when they become wet or damp. We’ll also look at how to dry carpet fast, and some key tips and advice for restoring your carpet to its optimal condition after drying.
Signs Your Carpet Needs Drying
It may be immediately obvious that your carpet needs drying. If you have been affected by flooding or a large leak, it’s likely that the carpet will be visibly wet and you will know straight away that your carpet needs drying. But how to dry a carpet fast?
However, in some cases, it may be less obvious that your carpet is wet. Carpets are made up of multiple layers and often moisture will reside at the bottom layers of the carpet which are not always visible.
If you notice any of the following signs, the chances are that your carpet is wet and needs to be dried out as soon as possible.
1. It Feels Wet to the Touch
If your carpet is not visibly wet but feels damp when you walk, stand, or sit on it, then you may have residual water sitting within the fibers or base layers of your carpet. This is often the first thing people notice when their carpet is wet.
2. Unpleasant Odor
Another common tell-tale sign is if your carpet smells musty. This is caused by the bacteria that grow when carpets are left to sit damp for an extended period of time. If left untreated, the carpet can become a breeding ground for mold and mildew, making the smell worse and leading to numerous issues and potential health problems for anyone in your household.
If you notice an unpleasant smell coming from your carpet, then it is likely that there is some moisture trapped within the fibers or sitting at the base of the carpet.
You may also notice that your carpet is discolored in areas where moisture has been left to sit. The carpet may be darker where it is damp or the color may appear dull.
The chances are, if your carpet is wet, you will notice at least one, but probably a combination of these signs telling you that it is time to dry out your carpet.
Why is it Important to Dry the Carpet Fast?
So, why is it so important that you dry your carpet out quickly? Surely it will dry out by itself eventually? This is a common misconception and a mistake that people often make when it comes to caring for their carpets.
Carpets can hold moisture for long periods of time and even after they have eventually dried out, what remains will be an abundance of bacteria, bad smells, and potentially permanent damage to the carpet and the floorboards underneath.
Here are some of the main reasons to dry your carpet out as soon as possible:
To Prevent the Growth of Mold or Mildew
First and foremost, the primary concern when your carpet becomes wet is the potential growth of mold and mildew.
Harmful bacteria such as these are able to thrive in damp conditions, particularly on soft furnishings such as carpets. These mold spores can then be ingested by pets or children and can also release harmful toxins into the air that we breathe. Black mold, in particular, is extremely harmful to our health and can cause numerous breathing problems and infections if we are exposed to it for long periods of time.
For this reason, it is of paramount importance that any spillages, leaks, or damp areas on your carpet are dealt with and dried out as soon as possible to stop these mold spores from growing and multiplying.
To Eliminate Odors
A byproduct of the nasty bacteria is the accompanying unpleasant smell. As we have stated, one of the most common signs of a damp carpet is the bad odor that comes with it. Mold, mildew, and bacteria all give off a damp smell that can quickly overpower your home.
The odor is notoriously stubborn and cannot be adequately tackled using air fresheners or regular cleaning sprays. If left to sit for a long period of time, the carpet may require an extensive deep clean which could prove expensive and time-consuming in the long run.
By drying the carpet quickly and eliminating bad bacteria, you can prevent and eliminate these unwelcome smells.
To Prevent Permanent Damage to the Fibers
Leaving carpets to soak up large amounts of moisture can also cause permanent damage to the fibers and base of the carpet. This is especially true if the carpet has large amounts of traffic passing over it or lots of furniture weighing it down.
Damp carpet fibers can become bent and misshapen and may end up permanently flattened, separated, or snapped. This can be incredibly frustrating if you have invested in a high-pile, fluffy carpet, only to find it downtrodden and lacking volume after being left to dry out without treatment.
Drying the carpet quickly and thoroughly significantly limits the chances of lasting damage.
To Prevent Damage to the Floorboards
Similarly, leaving your carpet to soak up the excess water or moisture could cause lasting damage to the floorboards beneath the carpet. If the carpet is highly saturated, there may be enough water to seep through the carpet’s base layer and into the wooden floorboards below.
This could lead to warping, decay, and mold growth within the floorboards, which can end up being an extremely costly repair job if left untreated.
Before Drying the Carpet
Before you get started drying your carpet, there are a few steps you should take to ensure that you know how to dry carpet fast and effectively.
Remove all Furniture
Start by removing any furniture or large objects from the carpet. As we have stated earlier, these are likely to increase the chances of any lasting damage and will also make it much more difficult to adequately dry the carpet.
You should not return any furniture to the carpet until it is fully dried and returned to its optimal condition. Doing so is likely to create further problems and damage despite any efforts made to dry the carpet beforehand. It’s a good idea to leave the carpet for 12 to 24 hours after drying to ensure that no residual moisture is left to sit beneath any furniture.
It is also important to avoid walking over the carpet until it has been thoroughly dried. If the carpet is in an area of high traffic and this cannot be avoided then try to limit this as much as possible and avoid walking over the carpet when wearing outdoor footwear to prevent any further bacteria from being deposited onto the carpet.
It may be a good idea to lay a towel over the carpet before walking over it so that any moisture that is pushed to the surface can be absorbed immediately and no dirt or debris is left on the carpet.
Remove Excess Water
Finally, try to remove as much excess water from the carpet as possible, to begin with. This is especially important if the carpet is highly saturated as a result of a flood or substantial leak. Use towels to mop up as much water as possible and open doors and windows to allow plenty of airflow through the space.
If you live in a place with a typically hot climate you may find that the carpet begins to dry out quickly, since hot air will absorb more moisture. However, if you live in a cold place, the carpet is likely to remain damp for a long time. Either way, it is important that you act quickly and try to remove as much excess moisture as possible, as quickly as you can.
How to Dry Carpet Fast After Cleaning It
If your carpet has been recently cleaned, either by you or by a professional cleaning service, you may have been left with some residual, lingering moisture. In this instance, it’s likely that the carpet is only somewhat saturated; meaning that drying the carpet out should be fairly quick and straightforward.
The following steps should allow you to dry the carpet thoroughly and quickly without the need for professional help.
Allow Plenty of Ventilation
Firstly, ensure that there is plenty of ventilation in the space. Open as many windows and doors as possible as this will significantly speed up the drying process, particularly on a hot day.
If it is not possible to open windows and external doors, open the doors within your home and any vents that will allow additional airflow to pass through.
Use a Heating System and Dehumidifier
It might also be a good idea to use a dehumidifier and heater in conjunction with one another, which will also help to maintain the ideal indoor humidity. By heating the air in the room you will allow more moisture to be absorbed into the atmosphere. Adding in a dehumidifier then allows this moisture to be extracted and removed, preventing condensation and allowing the water from the carpet to evaporate much quicker.
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If you live in a hot place and don’t want to use a heater, most air conditioning units also remove moisture from the air. This may not be as quick but should still help you to dry out your carpet.
Use Baking Soda
Baking soda can also be used to help dry your carpet and is extremely affordable and easy to get a hold of.
To use baking soda in this way, simply sprinkle it over the affected area and allow it to soak for several hours, depending on the level of saturation. You want to cover the area but be careful not to add too much baking soda, as this can then be difficult to remove thoroughly and may cause damage to your vacuum cleaner.
Follow up by vacuuming the area and you should find that the baking soda has effectively soaked up a good amount of moisture from the carpet.
It is likely that you will need to use a combination of the above-listed methods to thoroughly dry out your carpet when it has been left damp after a deep clean.
Drying Your Carpet After a Flood or Leak
If you’re dealing with a more substantial saturation, for example as a result of a flood or significant leak within the home, you’re going to need to employ some more extreme measures to adequately dry the carpet out.
Again, it is likely that you will need to use a combination of these methods to ensure that the carpet is completely dry.
Use a Wet Vacuum
If the carpet is completely soaked through, the best thing to do is go in with a wet vacuum. These can be hired or bought from cleaning supply companies, or you could seek out a professional to come in and do this for you.
The wet vacuum will suck up all of the standing water in the carpet and remove the majority of the moisture from within the carpet quickly and effectively.
Alternatively, if the carpet is saturated but there is no standing water, you may be able to soak up the majority of the excess moisture using towels.
Place dry towels on the affected area and apply pressure to soak up as much liquid as possible. This may take some time and it could leave you with a hefty laundry pile, but it is important that as much liquid is removed from the surface of the carpet as quickly as possible, so this should be one of your first steps.
Use Heat and Ventilation
As we mentioned previously, hot air will soak the moisture up much quicker than cool air, so consider introducing a heater to the space while you dry your carpet.
Just be sure to also open any windows and doors and use a fan to increase ventilation and prevent over-humidifying the space, or use a dehumidifier to do this for you.
Expose the Carpet Backing
If you suspect that the moisture may have made its way right to the base of the carpet and through onto the floorboards below, you may need to lift the carpet entirely to deal with the full extent of the damage.
Allowing the liquid to soak into the floorboards is likely to result in substantial damage, and you will also see lasting impacts on your carpet such as warping, lifting, and damaged or broken fibers.
Carefully pull the carpet back and dry the floorboards using any of the methods listed above. Ensure that the carpet backing and the floorboards are completely dry before relaying the carpet. You may wish to enlist some professional help with this since carpet laying is a specialist skill.
Frequently Asked Questions
These are a few of the most commonly asked questions from people who have dealt with wet or damp carpets.
My carpet has dried but now looks flat, how can I restore its fluffiness?
When carpets become damp, particularly if sticky liquids are spilled, the fibers can become matted and flattened down. If this has happened to you, ensure that the area is thoroughly clean and dry and no residue remains hidden in the fibers. Then, go in with a stiff brush or carpet rake and make the carpet fluffy again. You may need to add a little bit of water to loosen the fibers initially but do so sparingly. You may also need to repeat this a few times to see lasting results.
My carpet still smells damp, how can I fix this?
If, after drying your carpet, you can still smell that unpleasant damp odor. Use the baking soda method listed earlier in this article. Baking soda is a natural deodorizer and should work to eliminate those unwanted smells.
White vinegar is also great for this; add equal parts white vinegar and distilled water to a bowl or basin and leave this at the edge of the carpet. This should absorb the odor. You can also use white vinegar to create your own deodorizing spray, simply mix with equal parts water, add in your choice of essential oils, and spray lightly over the carpet, being careful not to over saturate.
When is it necessary to seek professional help?
If you’re working with an especially large space or if your carpet has been flooded drastically or for a long period of time, you may need to enlist the help of a professional. The tips laid out in this article are tried and tested, but sometimes the job at hand may be simply too much to handle alone.
Final Thoughts on How to Dry Carpet Fast
When your carpet becomes damp, it may be tempting to assume that the problem will simply resolve itself and can be forgotten about once the carpet appears to have dried out. As we have detailed here, this is not the case, and leaving carpets to air dry without proper intervention is likely to result in lasting damage and numerous unpleasant side effects.
By following the advice laid out here, you’ll know how to dry carpet fast with minimal costs and maximum efficiency.