How to Dry Wet Carpet Properly (4 Steps)

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how to dry wet carpet

Nothing ruins a day faster than coming home to find puddles of water standing on the carpet.

After all, everyone knows that carpet and water just don’t mix. 

If you’ve found yourself in this situation, you need to act fast. The quicker you are to dry your carpet, the higher your chances of not having to fully replace it. Here’s how to dry wet carpet and what to do after it’s dry.

How do you dry wet carpet? The best way to dry wet carpet is to remove as much moisture as possible with a shop vac or submersible pump and then soak up any remaining water with a towel. Once that’s done, you’ll need to create an airflow to speed up the drying process. You can do this by using fans and a dehumidifier.

The Four Basic Steps of Drying Wet Carpet

The best way to save your carpet is to act quickly. But before you get started, make sure any electrical devices are unplugged.  And, if the outlets are wet, turn off power to the room.

To dry your carpet, you’ll need to follow these steps. Here’s what to do:

1. Remove Excess Water

The first step to drying the carpet is removing excess water. You have two options for this: a submersible pump or a shop vac.

A submersible pump is ideal in situations where there is a lot of standing water left on the floor. This pump will suction up the water through a hose. You can find submersible pumps for less than $100 at most home improvement stores.

(Important note: If there’s a lot of standing water on your floor, you’re better off calling the experts than trying to salvage the carpet or flooring yourself.)

If you are just dealing with mildly wet carpet, you can use a wet/dry shop vac. Simply run the suction hose all over your carpet 2-3 times to thoroughly remove excess water.

2. Soak Up Moisture

Once the excess water has been suctioned or pumped out, it’s time to soak up moisture. For this, you’ll need a lot of absorbent towels. (Microfiber generally works the best, but you can use what you have.)

Lay the towels down over the carpet and pat them to absorb moisture. When a towel becomes fully saturated, replace it with a new towel.

3. Create an Air Flow to Fully Dry

The last step in getting the carpet dry is to create an airflow. There are several ways to do this. You can combine any of the following methods to speed up the drying process:

  • Open windows (weather permitting)
  • Turn on fans
  • Turn the heat on
  • Run dehumidifiers

4. Check the Padding and Subfloor

After you’ve gone through these steps, you’ll need to check the padding and subfloor to see if the water is gone. To do this, peel up the carpet in a corner of the room and look underneath. 

If your padding and subfloors are wet, you’ll need to call in the professionals or have your carpet entirely replaced. 

What Should I Do After the Carpet is Dry?

Since wet carpet can create toxins and develop a stale smell, you’ll want to deodorize your carpet after it’s dry. You can start by steam cleaning. The heat from the steam cleaner will kill the toxins.

After steam cleaning, and when your carpet is fully dry, sprinkle baking soda all over it. The baking soda will absorb any lingering odors. Allow the baking soda to sit overnight, and then vacuum your carpet the following day.

Video Tutorial

Frequently Asked Questions

faq how to dry wet carpet

Can carpet dry on its own?

It’s a bad idea to let the carpet dry on its own. Moisture can cause mold and mildew to form in the carpet and can even rot your subflooring.

If you notice that there are wet spots in your carpet, you should take immediate steps to speed up the drying process.

Can you dry carpet padding?

You can dry carpet padding, but it’s tough to do since padding acts like a sponge. If you want to give it a try, the first thing you need to do is peel back the carpet in all the spots where the padding is wet.

Next, use a shop vac to suck out the moisture in the padding. Sprinkle the padding with baking soda and turn on fans and the air conditioner to speed up the air-drying process. Once the padding is dry, deodorize and put the carpet back.

How long does it take for mold to grow in wet carpet?

According to the EPA, mold usually grows in damp places within 24-48 hours. This is why acting fast can help save your carpet.


If you have a leak or your basement has flooded, and your carpet has gotten wet, act fast. When you work quickly to dry your carpet, you have a greater chance of preventing mold from forming.

If you feel like the job is too big for you, contact a water damage and restoration company. They’ll have the tools and knowledge to save your carpet and will be able to advise you whether or not your carpet and padding need to be replaced.

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Katie Barton lives with her husband and three daughters in an 1800’s style log cabin in southern Ohio. She thinks cleaning is relaxing and is considered the organizing go-to person by her family and friends. She runs the blog Cabin Lane where she shares about cleaning, decluttering, and minimalism. See full biography here.

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