One of the most difficult and possibly expensive inconveniences a homeowner can face is a carpet that has been flooded. Cleaning water-damaged areas can be difficult and discouraging. However, with time and patience, most fabric items with light-to-medium water damage can be adequately salvaged. There's also a good chance that carpet with minimal damage can be saved. |
Consider these tips for recovering flood-damaged fabrics and carpets.
• Salvaging flood-damaged carpets and fabrics is a race against mildew. Most of the dirt can be washed out, but mildew can cause permanent damage quickly. Before beginning the cleanup, be sure to wear rubber gloves since flooded items could be contaminated.
• Air dry fabrics as soon as possible. Don't leave clothes in a heap since it promotes mildew growth. Once dry, shake them or brush off loose dirt and dried mud. Next, separate clothes the way you would for regular washing. Store separated clothes in clean, dry plastic bags if it is going to take time to get the items cleaned.
• Pre-soak clothes in cold water before washing. If your washer has a pre-rinse cycle, this works well. Next, use hot water and detergent to kill germs, and remember to load the washer more loosely than usual so extra dirty clothes can get clean. Wool and delicate items may not be able to tolerate hot water. Dry cleaning is a good option, but if that isn't possible, hand wash items in a basin of warm water using one to two tablespoons of heavy-duty liquid detergent. Allow to soak for at least three minutes and rinse thoroughly.
• Most blankets, throw rugs, bedspreads, quilts and down-filled items can be treated the same way. Be sure to carefully support these items when they are wet to avoid ripping from the weight of the water.
• Flooded carpets may contain unknown chemicals or sewage that can contaminate and present a health hazard. Be sure to wear rubber gloves when handling carpets. The first step is to immediately get the carpet off the floor to start the drying process and to preserve the wood under the carpet. You may also have to remove any foam carpet padding. If possible, take it to a driveway or patio to dry.
If the carpet is too heavy to move, lift it off the floor and prop it on sawhorses or chairs to allow air circulation. If possible, don't let the carpet completely dry this way if you want to save it. It will likely be stretched out of shape when it dries.
• Next, clean floors. Scrub them with hot water and detergent, then rinse with a solution of one-half cup bleach per gallon of water. This will minimize odor and mildew.
• You may need to consult professional carpet cleaners to decide if the carpet is worth saving. Your decision will likely depend on the source of the water damage. If it is flood water or sewer backup, your main concern will be sanitation. If the damage is from rain or culinary water, your main concern is preventing mildew. In this case, most rented carpet cleaners should do an adequate job.
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