Now that you've found the leak in your basement and fixed it, you need to know how to dry wet carpet in order to prevent a moldy, toxic mess!

Your finished basement flooded for the first time in maybe ever and now you have a wet, soggy mess of wall to wall carpeting. You held it together while you figured out where the leak was coming from and while you took steps to fix it, but now?

Now you just want to cry.

Save the tissues because we can handle this together.

You've already fixed the leak (and if you haven't, be sure to read how to deal with water damage in your basement), which is probably the hardest part. But there's really no time to waste. If you have wall to wall carpet, you need to free up time in your schedule over the next few days.

Wet carpet quickly becomes moldy carpet if left for more than two days, so we'll need to get it completely dry before mold and mildew sets in.

How to Dry Wet Carpet in Your Flooded Basement

How long do I have to dry that wet carpet?

Two days.

I know, it sounds like too short of a time. If your basement floods and you have wall to wall carpet, then you have about 48 hours to suck out and dry all the puddles before the carpet starts to smell terrible and grow mold.

Maybe less if your basement is very warm.

And you've probably already used up a few hours finding and dealing with the leak. Time is of the essence.

How long will it take to deal with my flooded basement – start to finish?

The good news is that you don't have to get everything done in that 48 hours. You can't.

It takes probably two full weeks to completely get rid of water in your basement and prevent mold growth in your wall to wall basement carpets.

This includes about one week of active work, such as vacuuming and cleaning, and another week of passive activities such as running fans and dehumidifiers to speed up carpet drying.

Step by Step – How to Dry Wet Carpet After a Flood

  1. Relocate belongings to higher ground. Get it all out so that you can clean properly.
  2. Vacuum up excess water – use a shop vacuum. Your regular one won't do this.
  3. Bleach and sanitize. Mold is disgusting.
  4. Run a dehumidifier. Again, remove all moisture.
  5. Apply baking soda.
  6. Dry vacuum.
  7. Steam clean.
  8. Run fans.
  9. Remove mildew using an enzyme cleaner.

How to Dry Wet Carpet with a Wet Vac

Wet-vacuuming is your first, and possibly your most important, step in the process of removing water from your basement.

Before starting, note the slope of your basement floor. If for example, you have a dip in the middle, then all the moisture is going to flow toward that dip over the course of the next several days. Spots that were not wet the first day may become wet by the third or fourth day.

This is why it's important to take care of this quickly.

First things first.

Move your belongings to higher ground, and relocate as much as you can to an upper level of the house so that you can remove water, clean and sanitize every inch of the basement carpet, flooring and walls if they were affected.

Where to get a wet-dry vac

Never use a regular, upright vacuum to suck up water puddles.

A wet-dry vac is meant for this purpose.

Any prepared household should own a wet-dry vac. In fact, if you're helping your child set up housekeeping, remember that you can dry vacuum with a wet-dry vac, but you can't wet vacuum with a regular vacuum!

If you don't have one, call around to find one that you can borrow, or check with a local rental place.

And then buy one.

Check the filter and hoses

Before using a wet vac, switch the filter from paper to foam.

The paper filter is meant for dry vacuuming, and we're going to be sucking up water – that requires a foam filter.

The main feature of the wet vac that you really need right now is good suction.

Clamp the lid on tightly, and securely attach the hose. Be sure there are no holes for air or water to leak out of. If there are, duct tape will do in a pinch, but it's really best to have a wet-vac that's functioning correctly.

Try out different attachments to see which ones seem to work the best for sucking up all the water on your basement floor and rugs.

Vacuum bare floor first

Tackle the puddles on any bare floor first.

This will allow you to get a good feel for how the wet vacuum function works, and what you need to do to get the most water up in the least amount of time possible. Try dragging the suction hose/attachment along the floor to wick the water into one spot before sucking it up.

Or, maybe switch to a different attachment if, for example, you're working in a corner or along an edge.

Empty early and often

When the wet-vac accumulates a few gallons of water, dump out the bucket before it becomes too heavy to lift.

If you already waited too long and you can't lift the bucket, grab some kind of scooper apparatus to remove the water from the bucket. When it's light enough again, you can lift and dump the remaining water into the nearest large sink.

Wet-vac your basement carpet next

To remove water from the rugs or wall to wall carpets, place the wet-vac's hose with chosen attachment on the floor and pull it toward you so that it's sucking up the water from the carpet and the floor beneath it.

If you notice that a lot of liquid is coming up in one spot, you may want to press down harder and hold the vacuum in that spot so that it can draw all the water there before sucking it up and into the vacuum tank.

Remove as much water from the floor and carpet as you can in one sitting. This may take more time than you expected, but it's really worth it if it means saving your basement from becoming a disgusting mold pit.

All finished and your steam cleaner needs … well, cleaning? DIY Danielle has a post on how to deep clean your steam cleaner!

Now you know how to dry wet carpet and avoid having a moldy mess.


Author of A Cabin Full of Food and Going Herbal, mom to a large family, and a survivor of brain cancer, Marie believes that life should be simple, food should be homemade, and the best way to enjoy tomorrow is to prepare for it today.

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