Flood: Cleaning Carpets and Floors


It is best to get professional cleaners to work on carpets and floors, but this may not be possible. Here are some steps you can take immediately to clean up:

  • Take a picture of the damage (always do this after any damage to your home, furnishings or car)
  • Hose down the flooded area to get excess mud and debris off as soon as possible.
  • Wear rubber gloves while cleaning. Wash any exposed skin frequently in clean water.

Carpets and Rugs

  1. Pull up carpets and rugs to prevent further damage to the floor.
    • Waffle-weave and foam or rubber-type pads may be reused.
  2. Dry small rugs outside in sunlight if possible. Blot up excess moisture with dry blankets or towels. Lay towels on the wet floor and walk on them to absorb moisture.
  3. Open windows if weather permits or use electric fans or lights to get air and heat to carpets.
  4. When rug is dry, thoroughly vacuum or sweep . Move the vacuum cleaner slowly to pick up more dirt. Clean off as much crusted dirt and sediment as possible before shampooing.
    • Some rugs may shrink when shampooed.
  5. Apply a commercial rug shampoo with an electrical rug shampooer, a manual applicator, a sponge mop or a hand brush.
    • Don't use an electrical shampooer on shag carpeting. The long pile may become tangled in the brushes.
  6. After cleaning each section, brush the wet pile in one direction with the applicator.
  7. When the foam is completely dry, vacuum to remove shampoo and loose dirt.
  8. To disinfect, dip sponge in a weak chlorine solution (2 tablespoons bleach to one gallon of water). Wring out sponge and wipe carpet using as little water as possible. Don't use on wool carpets. Check to see if it discolors your carpet.
  9. Rinse several time with clear water, wringing most of water from sponge each time. Change water when it becomes dirty.
  10. Blot up remaining moisture with towels.
  11. Dry rugs thoroughly as quickly as possible. An electric fan will speed up drying. Any moisture left at the base of fibers will cause mildew or rot.
  12. Cover areas you must walk on with brown paper until thoroughly dry.
  13. Vacuum when dry and brush nap in one direction.


Sections of subfloors that separate must be replaced to avoid buckling. When floor coverings are removed, allow subfloors to dry thoroughly.

Vinyl floors

  • With wood subflooring: Remove floor covering to replace subflooring.
  • With concrete floors: Removal isn't necessary except to hasten drying of the slab.


  • If the floor wasn't soaked, loose tiles can be replaced individually.

Sheet flooring

  • If water has seeped under it, remove the entire sheet.

Wood floors

  • Remove a board every few feet to reduce buckling caused by swelling.
  • Clean and dry floor thoroughly before attempting repairs.

You may also call the Cooperative Extension Service for advice. Check your telephone directory for their 800 number.

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