Caring For Water-Damaged Rugs and Carpet

You love your rugs and carpet. Whether a beautiful oriental rug adorns your home’s entrance or a rare Persian rug welcomes customers to your business, you want to protect your flooring. In addition to muddy shoes, red wine, and blood stains, there is one thing that poses a significant threat to your rugs and carpet: water damage.

Water damage can occur after a flood, a roof leak, or a break in your waterline. And unfortunately, water damage usually causes mould problems. The last thing you want is mouldy carpet or rugs throughout your home or business. By familiarizing yourself with the tips below, you can curb water damage and prevent the spread of mould.


Determining the Water Damage’s Source
The first step in caring for water-damaged rugs and carpet is finding the source of the water. Not only does this help you hinder the flow of water, it also gives you an indication of the water’s cleanliness.

  • Clean water, often from broken water supply lines or overflowing tubs, shouldn’t contain contaminants. Clean water damage is the easiest (and safest) to clean up.
  • Grey water is unsanitary water that comes from washing machines or dishwashers. Broken aquariums or waterbeds could also be the source of great water. Although grey water is unclean, it doesn’t pose any immediate health risks.
  • Black water, often from septic tanks or sewers, is both unsanitary and unhealthy. It contains pathogenic agents that could cause disease and infections.


Clean water is safe to clean up yourself, but you’ll need to do so within the first 48 hours.


If you notice grey or black water damage, call a professional right away. They’ll have protective equipment to shield them from disease-causing bacteria.


In most cases, you’ll need to discard rugs or carpet affected by grey or black water. However, professionals can often clean flooring saturated with grey water using a biocide. Be sure to ask a professional if this is an option in your case.


Taking the Next Steps
If you experience clean water damage, you’ll need to act quickly to prevent mould formation. Remember, you only have 48 hours before mould takes hold. Use these tips to keep mould at bay.


  1. Keep traffic on wet rugs and carpet to a minimum. Your flooring’s fibres become weak when wet, and heavy traffic can cause them to unravel. You should also remove heavy furniture to alleviate excess strain on the fibres.
  2. Remove water. Use buckets, mops, and wet/dry vacuums to clear water out of your home or business.
  3. Examine carpet padding. Lift up a corner of your carpet to inspect the padding underneath. If all of the padding is soaked, you’ll need to strip it and replace it after the drying process. Carpet padding takes significantly longer to dry than carpet fibres and increases your chances of developing a mould problem.
  4. Use fans and dehumidifiers to speed the drying process. Fans circulate fresh air—air movement will help fibres dry quickly. Dehumidifiers eliminate excess moisture and also prevent mould growth.
  5. Steam clean your carpet. After your rugs or carpet dry completely, you’ll need to sanitize and deodorize them. You should do this within 12 hours of the initial water damage to prevent bacteria, fungi, and mould from growing. If you don’t own a steam cleaner, you can rent one from a grocery store or call a professional.
  6. Clean your baseboards and walls, if necessary. If you had to remove standing water from your home or business, you’ll need to sanitize any surfaces touched by the water. This prevents bacteria from spreading onto your flooring or into the air. Combine 1 ½ cups chlorine bleach with one gallon of water. Then use a clean sponge or cloth to wipe any affected surfaces.


Caring For Area Rugs
Even after taking the steps above, you might worry about your valuable area rugs. Here are a few additional tips.

  • Take valuable rugs, like Oriental or Persian rugs, to a professional for additional cleaning. Absorbent compounds and dry foam shampoos might damage delicate fibres even more, so don’t try to clean them yourself. Professionals will use a biocide formula and hot water extraction to restore your rugs to their former glory.
  • Put washable throw rugs in a washing machine with 1-1 ½ cups chlorine bleach. Your machine’s hot water cycle gets hot enough to thoroughly clean more hearty rugs.
  • If a flood caused your water damage, don’t put your area rugs into the washing machine. Floodwaters can contaminate well water and other water sources. You should wait until you know your water isn’t contaminated to put anything in the washing machine.


Keep these tips in mind as you try to restore your rugs and carpet from water damage. If you feel unsure about your ability to repair the damage, contact a professional who offers flood and water restoration right away. Whether you call a professional or take a DIY approach, the most important thing to remember is that you need to act quickly.

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