Can You Save That Water Soaked Carpet?

A storm broke your living room window and rain soaked your wall-to-wall carpet. The toilet overflows and soaks a throw rug in your bathroom. Should you try to save these rugs or just throw them out right away? The answer is based on several factors. Here are the criteria to help you decide the best approach to deal with wet carpeting.

Where Did the Water Come From?

The source of the water that soaked your carpet helps determine whether it can be salvaged or not. There are many ways a carpet can become wet including:

  • dishwasher leak
  • blocked toilet
  • burst frozen water pipe
  • overflowing washing machine
  • cracks in the foundation
  • storm water runoff

The source of the water will tell you what contaminants might be in it. Flood restoration companies categorize the water to help determine if something can be saved.

Water Damage Categories

Restoration and cleanup companies classify water in one of three ways depending on how dirty it is:

  • Category 1 - This is clean water that contains no toxins or microorganisms that might harm people. This is what comes from a sink that overflows when doing dishes or a frozen water pipe that has broken.
  • Category 2 - Also called gray water, this water can contain bacteria and other microorganisms that could hurt a person if they drank it. This would come from a broken toilet or a sump pump failure.
  • Category 3 - Also called black water, this water contains bacteria that is dangerous by just getting it on your skin. This includes sewage backup and standing water that has become contaminated with a variety of microorganisms.

Rugs soaked with category 3 water should be thrown out. The amount of cleaning and disinfecting required to make them safe for people to be around likely exceeds the cost of a new rug. Category 1 and 2 water damaged rugs may be worth saving if some other conditions are met.

The Right Conditions for Saving Your Rugs

The Carpet and Rug Institute suggests cleaning rugs within 24 hours of getting wet. When the rug is soaked longer, mold and mildew will have a chance to establish themselves in the carpet.

If a large rug is slightly dampened by uncontaminated water (category 1), such as rainwater, you can save it by first shampooing it. Next, extract the water with a wet vac and dry it well with fans blowing on it. You can clean a throw rug in your washing machine or use one of the large capacity machines at a laundromat.

Rugs damaged by category 2 water have the risk of being contaminated. If you want to save these rugs, use a professional water restoration company that can clean and disinfect the carpets properly so they are safe for people.

Don't decide to throw out all of those wet rugs until you know what kind of water was on them and how long they have been soaked. For many household flooding problems, you may be able to save your favorite carpets. But if you've discovered that black water was the source of the flooding, be safe and let a professional restoration company come in dispose of it for you.


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