Heavy rains and flooding cause a number of problems for homeowners, and one of the most expensive issues involves carpet that’s ruined by water damage. If high waters creep inside your home from a leak or flood, is your carpet doomed?

While some water damage is too extensive to salvage, there are many times that quick action and thorough measures may reduce the damage or prevent expensive repairs.

Survey the damage

Once you’re ready to tackle the clean-up process, there’s one decision you should make first. You can either try to handle the salvage mission on your own or enlist the help of professionals. Consider the extent of the damage, your resources, and if there are any unsafe circumstances. For instance, if there is standing water near a fuse box in your basement, you’ll likely want to call in the experts. If you’re braving the challenge on your own there are several ways you can take on the issue.

Standing water can develop mold and bacteria even within 24 hours that can be hazardous to your health and cause respiratory problems. So you’ll need to move quickly to keep any risks to a minimum. First, you’ll want to remove wet items and furniture from the area. Move curtains, cushions, and other wet fabrics out of the house to dry in the open air and prevent mold development.

Quickly dry the water

Use towels to soak up as much of the water as possible, drying these towels as soon as possible. You can use a wet vac or shop vacuum to remove more water from the carpet. Absolutely do not use a regular vacuum, though, as these are not designed for wet fibers and can be dangerous. Wet vacuums can be easily rented and are effective in soaking up remaining water. You can also use a dehumidifier and fans to dry the area thoroughly. You’ll also need to assess if the padding underneath the carpet has been soaked. It may need to be replaced if it’s gotten damp for any significant length of time.

Clean away bacteria

Once everything is dry, thoroughly cleaning everything can help prevent mold growth. Steam clean the carpet and flooring to remove any bacteria or other buildup in the fibers. Any surfaces that got wet or are near the damp carpet should be sanitized with a mixture of 1.5 cups of bleach to a gallon of water. Wear gloves during clean-up, but scrub any baseboards, walls, and other areas. Be sure to thoroughly inspect all areas, as a small pocket of moisture behind a sofa can easily develop into a huge mold problem if left unchecked.

Although mud, silt, and other problems make flooding an even more frustrating clean-up effort, quickly tackling the issue of wet carpet can minimize the impact to your wallet, home, and health. Enlisting the aid of a carpet cleaning company is always an option to ensure that the process is completed thoroughly.