With heavy rain pelting much of the country, and hurricane season in full swing, your home might be the next one to flood. Here's how to salvage your carpet:
- Clean and dry carpets and rugs as quickly as possible. If sewage-contaminated floodwater covered your carpeting, discard it for health safety reasons. Also discard if the carpet was under water for 24 hours or more.
- To clean, drape carpets and rugs outdoors and hose them down. Work a disinfecting carpet cleaner into soiled spots with a broom. To discourage mildew and odors, rinse with a solution of 2 tablespoons bleach to 1 gallon water, but don't use this solution on wool or nylon carpets.
- Dry the carpet and floor thoroughly before replacing the carpet. Padding is nearly impossible to clean so should be replaced. If the carpet can't be removed, dry it as quickly as possible using a wet/dry vacuum and dehumidifier. Use a fan to circulate air above the carpet, and if possible, lift the carpet and ventilate with fans underneath.
You can also:
1. Assess the damage.
Before you tackle clean up, know that severe damage usually requires professional help. Pros have heavy-duty equipment to remove water and the expertise to check for mold. Plus, any damage to walls and floors should be professionally repaired.
2. Keep mold at bay.
To keep mold at bay, it's important to dry water-logged items (everything from furniture to small knick-knacks) within 48 hours. The longer they remain wet, the more likely mildew stains will appear. Begin by opening windows and using fans and dehumidifiers to keep air circulating.
3. Salvage and clean carpeting.
It's best to send removable carpets and area rugs out for professional cleaning. Unfortunately, installed carpeting (and the padding underneath) that's been immersed in water can't be adequately cleaned and should be thrown away.
If only part of your carpeting got wet, use a wet-dry vacuum to remove as much water as possible. Then, call in professional cleaners, or clean and rinse the carpet with an extraction cleaner (also known as a steam cleaner, like one of these machines we tested in the Good Housekeeping Research Institute). Use fans to speed the drying.
Depending on the extent of the damage, it may be necessary to pull the carpeting up to thoroughly dry the padding and floor. Plus, you may need to replace the padding to prevent mold. After cleaning and drying, spray with disinfectant spray, like Lysol.
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