How To Extract Water From Carpet: Drying Wet Carpet

Suffering from water damage in your home can be stressful, especially when much of the carpet is wet. When carpet gets wet, it’s important to act fast to remove the water and dry the carpet as quickly as possible. This helps prevent mold growth and potential damage to the carpet fibers. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through the key steps for extracting water from carpet after water damage.

Assess The Situation And Act Quickly

When you discover that your carpet is wet, the first step is to assess the situation. Determine the source of the water and if it’s still actively leaking or overflowing. This could be due to a burst pipe, broken appliance like a washing machine or dishwasher, roof leak, flooding from heavy rains, etc. If there is standing water, use a wet/dry vacuum, mop and bucket, or towels to remove as much excess water as possible.

It’s imperative to act quickly when carpet gets wet. The longer the carpet stays wet, the more risk for mold growth in the carpet backing and padding underneath. Mold can begin forming in the carpet in as little as 24-48 hours after water damage. This mold grows down into the pad and backing, making complete removal very difficult.

Extract The Water

After removing any standing water, the next step is to extract the water from the carpet fibers and backing using a specialized carpet cleaning machine. This is also referred to as hot water extraction. Carpet cleaning professionals use industrial-strength equipment that injects cleaning agents into the carpet and then extracts the water and dirt back out.

If renting or hiring a professional carpet cleaner isn’t feasible, you can still remove quite a bit of moisture using a wet/dry vac. Move the vac slowly over the carpet, with the suction end touching the surface. Push and pull it across each section multiple times to draw up as much water as possible. Absorbent materials like towels can also help extract water from the carpet. Place towels over wet areas and apply pressure by walking or standing on them. As the towels absorb water, replace them with dry ones until the area is no longer damp.

Lift And Dry Carpet Edges First

Focus your water removal efforts first along baseboards, under doorsills, and anywhere the carpet meets a vertical surface. Lifting the carpet edges allows air flow to circulate andremoves excess moisture that accumulates in these spots. Use a utility knife to cut the carpet away from the tack strip, or loosen edges so they can air dry faster. Run dehumidifiers and fans to speed up the drying process.

Sprinkle Baking Soda On The Carpet

For best results, sprinkle a generous layer of baking soda over wet carpet areas after extracting the water. The baking soda will help absorb odors and remaining moisture. Let it sit for a few hours or overnight if needed, then vacuum up the baking soda once dry. The baking soda will leave carpet fibers clean and fresh. Vinegar can also be used but should be applied sparingly since it can discolor carpet over time.

Lift And Dry Carpet Padding

It’s crucial to get carpet padding fully dry to prevent mold growth. Lift up carpet edges to access the padding underneath. Remove any sections of padding that are overly soaked or damaged. Set aside damp padding sections so air can circulate and dry them out. Aim box fans directly on padding edges that border wet spots. Replace any padding that remains damp after 48 hours.

Consider Removing Carpet Entirely

In cases of severe flooding or water damage, removing and discarding wet carpet altogether may be the best option. This is especially true if sewage, category 3 water, or contaminated flood waters reached the carpeting. Even with professional extraction methods, lingering bacteria and contaminants can remain trapped in carpet fibers and backing.

Completely removing water-damaged carpet eliminates the hidden mold risks underneath. It also allows full inspection and drying of the subfloor before installing new replacement carpet. Be sure to hire a professional water damage restoration company if this route is taken. They have the proper tools, equipment and expertise to remediate flood damage and dry out the underlying flooring.

Tips For Drying Wet Carpet Faster

Here are some useful tips for expediting the carpet drying process after water damage:

  • Use multiple fans and dehumidifiers to circulate air at the carpet surface and lower humidity.
  • Open windows whenever possible for fresh air flow.
  • Remove furniture legs out of contact with wet carpet to allow air circulation underneath.
  • Vacuum the carpet thoroughly once dry to remove cleaning residue and lingering moisture.
  • Avoid walking on damp carpet so weight and pressure don’t push water deeper into fibers.
  • Change out wet carpet padding with new dry padding to prevent mold growth.
  • Consider professional water extraction methods for faster, deeper carpet drying.
  • If humidity levels won’t decrease below 50%, bring in large commercial dehumidifiers.
  • For severe flooding, remove damaged carpet and flooring materials entirely to dry out the subfloor.
  • Increase your central A/C temperature to help lower indoor humidity and speed evaporation.
  • Use wood blocks and aluminum cans under furniture legs so they don’t compress damp carpet.

Preventing Future Water Damage

Once flood damaged carpet is cleaned up and restored, it’s wise to take preventative steps to avoid water damage occuring again in the future. Here are some useful prevention tips:

  • Inspect plumbing lines and water-fed appliances for leaks, corrosion and needed repairs.
  • Install water sensors that detect leaks and pipe bursts early.
  • Seal basement walls and use heavy plastic tarps to cover stored items in case of flooding.
  • Keep gutters cleaned out so stormwater drains properly away from the structure.
  • Update interior flooring to waterproof vinyl or tile instead of standard carpet.
  • Raise electrical outlets higher up on walls above the flood water line.
  • Have drains professionally cleaned to remove grease buildup and allow proper water flow.
  • Correct negative grade and drainage issues in the surrounding landscape.
  • Install protective barriers and backflow devices around sinks, tubs and toilets.

When To Call The Professionals

In many water damage situations, it’s highly advisable to hire professional water extraction and restoration services. They have commercial grade equipment, rapid drying technology, and the expertise to fully remediate flood damage. Professional services are particularly recommended for:

  • Cases with over an inch of standing water.
  • Contaminated or category 3 flood waters.
  • Water damage extending under walls, flooring or building materials.
  • Lingering moisture that develops mold or mildew odors.
  • Inaccessible moisture trapped beneath carpet padding and flooring.
  • Structural damage like warped floors, drywall, etc.
  • Major plumbing or appliance leaks and pipe burst damage.
  • Any electrical safety issues or fire/smoke damage present.

Reputable water damage restoration companies work closely with insurance adjusters to facilitate proper repairs and reimbursements. They can also help prevent further damage by immediately addressing moisture issues and halting mold growth. This can end up saving significantly on costs compared to DIY cleanup attempts.


Dealing with wet carpet requires prompt action to extract excess water and accelerate the drying process. This helps avoid permanent damage, odors, and potential mold growth in carpet backing and padding. Use a wet/dry vacuum, towels, carpet cleaner and fans to remove as much moisture as possible. Baking soda also helps absorb lingering dampness once the initial water is extracted. For severe floods or contaminated water, removing and replacing damaged carpet altogether is often the best solution. With proper water extraction methods and rapid drying, wet carpet can typically be restored successfully.

If damage is extensive, trust the proven flood recovery processes of professional water damage such as Southeast Water Restoration and carpet cleaning experts.