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How to dry wet carpet

Wet carpet? You’ll need to act quickly if you want to salvage it. Find out how to dry carpet.


Reading Time: 5 minutes

By Cleanipedia Team

grey blue armchair and table positioned on dry carpet
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Key steps

  1. Remove excess water with towels or a wet vacuum.

  2. Expose the floor beneath, if that’s also wet.

  3. Optionally, baking soda is helpful for drying wet carpet by absorbing liquid.

  4. Open windows, run fans and use dehumidifiers to reduce drying time.

You’re half asleep. You reach out for the glass of water by the side of the bed. There’s a ‘thunk’, and a glugging noise. You groan. It’s time to dry the carpet again.

So, how long does carpet take to dry, and can you just let it take care of itself? Wet carpet is an invitation for mould and mildew to grow, so unfortunately you can’t really leave it and hope for the best. With our easy guide to how to dry wet carpet, you can avoid damp socks and any larger problems, quickly.

If the source of your wet carpet problem is anything other than clean water, you may also want to check our article on how to clean carpets.

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Coping with flooding can be overwhelming and stressful: there’s a lot to do, and there’s not much time to do it if you want to minimise water damage. Water damage restoration services exist, and they’ll be able to help if you’re dealing with flooded carpet.

How to dry carpet: removing excess moisture

To start with, move any furniture that’s sitting on the wet area. Furniture will make drying more difficult, and it’ll also put the furniture itself at risk of damp problems.

Liquid that’s sunk into the carpet is harder to clean up, so you should act quickly to get rid of as much liquid as you can before it’s absorbed.

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You can use towels for this stage of drying wet carpet. Grab a towel and spread it over the spill. Apply pressure until the towel’s absorbed as much as it can, then replace it with a dry towel and repeat.

Alternatively, use a wet vacuum. A wet vacuum, or a wet and dry vacuum, is a vacuum cleaner that can hoover up liquids. You won’t necessarily have one of these, and you may not want to invest in one if you’d just be using it for the occasional spill. If you’re dealing with a flooded carpet, though, a wet vacuum cleaner would probably be a lot of help. Never use a regular vacuum cleaner on liquids.

Neither the towels nor the wet vacuum will be able to make the carpet completely dry. Your goal is to remove as much excess moisture as possible, so the carpet is only damp, rather than soggy.

How to dry carpet: making it easier for the carpet to dry

Check beneath the carpet. If the floor underneath is wet, your main priority is getting that dry: it’s easier to replace a carpet than to replace a floor. Remove the carpet so that both the floor and the carpet can dry more easily. If there’s very wet padding underneath the carpet, it’s unlikely to dry out well, so it may be easiest to throw away the padding altogether.

Even if the floor’s not wet, the carpet will dry much quicker if it’s removed entirely and hung up in sunlight to dry.

That’s not always possible, of course. Fortunately, there are other steps you can take to help your carpet dry a little faster.

  • Open the windows to increase airflow.

  • If it’s a humid day, you may find it more effective to run a fan than to open a window.

  • Run the central heating if it’s cold.

  • Put a dehumidifier in the room. Check out our guide to how to use a dehumidifier.

How to dry carpet with baking soda

This is an optional step that you may want to use for particularly bad spills, after you’ve removed excess water. Don’t go for the baking soda until you’ve removed as much water as you can through towelling or wet vacuuming.

Once you’ve reached the ‘damp, not soggy’ stage, you can pour baking soda over the damp patch, leave it for an hour or so, then vacuum it up. The baking soda will draw some of the moisture into itself.

How long does carpet take to dry? It depends on the carpet’s material, how wet it is and whether it’s possible to hang it up, but in good conditions most carpets should be dry within twenty-four hours. The carpet may be at risk of developing mould if it remains wet for more than two days, so it’s important to do all you can to help it dry.

Originally published