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How to Clean Flooded Carpet

As the most common environmental hazard worldwide, we’ve probably all experienced flooding in some way. Flooding can be a result of a natural disaster, like the recent devastating Hurricane Ian, or it can be caused by burst pipes within the home. If your home has ever been affected by flooding, you know the clean up is not fun, and can sometimes even be dangerous. Water damage is no joke, and can be very expensive to replace ruined items. 

Replacing ruined items due to water damage can add up quickly. If you have damaged carpet, you’re probably wondering if it can be saved. Carpet can be very expensive, and you likely don’t want to spend money replacing it if you don’t have to.  

Water and Safety

The severity of the flood and how long it’s been wet are key factors in determining whether you should clean or replace the carpet. There are three categories of floodwater, and it’s important to know which your carpet has been soaking in before considering cleaning. If you have a carpet pad underneath, that will likely have to be replaced no matter what (that is much cheaper to replace than the entire carpet).

  • Category 1: water from plumbing or rain that hasn’t been contaminated. Carpets flooded with this type can usually be salvaged if it’s been less than 48 hours. 
  • Category 2: “greywater” or water that has been slightly contaminated and can cause illness if ingested or come in contact with skin. If addressed and cleaned quickly, carpet can sometimes be salvaged. 
  • Category 3: “blackwater” or water that is very contaminated with pathogens. Sewage, toilet backflow, or any flooded water from rivers, oceans, lakes, etc. If this water is in your home, professional help is absolutely necessary to safely remove it. Do not ever attempt clean up for this type yourself. 

Steps for Cleaning

Whether you have major or minor water damage, the very first thing you should do prior to the actual cleaning is water mitigation. Mitigation is necessary to prevent any further or permanent water damage or mold from occurring through water removal, moisture control, and structural drying. In cases like widespread natural disasters, most places offer water mitigation emergency services.

| How to Clean Flooded Carpet
| How to Clean Flooded Carpet

Remember, when flooding damage is involved, the most important thing to remember is to act quickly. Any delay in this process opens up the possibility of mold and mildew developing, which are both dangerous. Pay attention to smells – if you’re smelling mildew strongly going through any part of the water damage process, you should hire a professional service for water damage restoration. 

If the water that’s damaged your carpet is determined to be clean enough, here is a short guide on how to clean flooded carpet. 

  1. Extract water – depending if the carpet is submerged still or just parts of it are soaked, you will probably need a wet vac or subversive pump to start this. These will be able to extract a significant amount of water. 
  2. Disinfect/sanitize – even if it’s considered clean enough water, the carpet should still be disinfected to prevent any possibility of contamination developing. 
  3. Dry the carpet – use multiple fans from multiple directions, open windows; just make sure there’s constant air flow hitting that carpet. 

Call a Professional

Cleaning up after floods is a daunting task and you don’t have to do it yourself (nor should you in many situations). For the best chance of saving the carpet, you should consider flood restoration services that have the tools, time, and expertise to act quickly and do it right. There are many companies that specialize in water damage cleanup and restoration. They’ll have a much better idea of what can be saved and what is hazardous. They will know how to repair water damage and how to do mold remediation. Their knowledge extends beyond carpet, they will also know about complete home restoration after water damage, in case other parts of your home were severely affected.

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