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How to Clean a Water Damaged Rug

Large Area Rugs Drying on Suspension Racks

Water Damage Contamination

Rug water damage can occur due to a variety of emergencies, from overflowing toilets, burst water heaters, ground seepage or flooding from natural disasters. Flood water is likely to be contaminated with dirt, chemicals and pathogens such as bacteria or viruses. Sewage backup or overflow from toilets is classified as unsanitary water that is full of disease causing microorganisms. However, not all water is contaminated. For example, water damage from overflowing sinks or bathtubs is unlikely to cause disease, as the source is tap water that is relatively clean. Essentially, the outcome of rug water damage is determined by the degree of water contamination and the duration of rug exposure to it.

Rug Restoration Versus Replacement

Valuable, antique, heirloom, old or fragile rugs are best cleaned by professionals to avoid color runs and potentially irreversible damage in any cleaning scenario, not just when dealing with water damage emergencies. Most rugs that are flooded by sanitary water for less than 24-48 hours can be cleaned and restored at home, provided they are not too large or too heavy to handle. When rugs are exposed to water for longer than that period of time, mold will develop, requiring contacting a professional rug cleaner to salvage them. In situations where rugs are contaminated by dirty or unsanitary water, professional rug cleaners should be called to evaluate the degree of contamination and the feasibility of attempted rug restoration. In some severe mold or contaminated water scenarios, it is impossible to salvage the rugs and they should be replaced rather than restored. Usually, these guidelines apply not only to rugs, but also to rug pads.

Rug Cleaners

The consensus among professional rug cleaners is that area rugs contaminated by sewage backups or flooding from overflowing bodies of water, such as rivers or lakes are beyond restoration efforts and need to be replaced. However, rugs that are exposed to dirty water from washing machines or dishwashers and not contaminated by harmful pathogens are commonly treated with safe and gentle sanitizing techniques. Not all rug cleaners are equally qualified to treat water damaged rugs. Therefore, consumers need to do their due diligence to find qualified local experts. Family and friends who had positive experiences restoring damaged rugs with local rug cleaners are good sources to tap into. In the Dallas area, Dalworth Rug Cleaning is one of the very few professional rug cleaning companies that have the capability, training, knowledge, experience, and customized facility to thoroughly clean rugs that have been exposed to various contaminants.

Rug Cleaning at Home

  • Remove Furniture from Wet Rug - When an area rug is exposed to water, the first step is to remove all furniture from it so colors do not bleed onto the rug and rust does not stain it.
  • Restrict Foot Traffic - Foot traffic should be restricted to avoid damaging the foundation of a wet rug, as it is more susceptible to damage at this state.
  • Wash with Water and Mild Detergent - Small, inexpensive rugs that hold no sentimental value can be washed in a large capacity washing machine using a mild neutral detergent, such as Dreft. However, any rug cleaning that is done at home may not yield professional results. In addition, color runs can damage the rug permanently. For optimal results, larger and heavier rugs, as well as silk and wool rugs, are best washed by professional rug cleaners.
  • Dry Rug Thoroughly - When rugs are wet, they must not be placed to dry on carpeting or wood flooring because colors may bleed onto the floor and damage it. Moreover, the wet rug and excessive moisture would lead to bacteria and mold growth. Make sure rugs are completely dry before placing back on the floor.
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