Flood Information


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Flood-damaged Carpets, Rugs May Be Saved

Whether you can save flood-damaged rugs and carpets depends on the source of the flooding.

“If the floodwaters consisted of clean basement seepage or runoff from your yard, you can dry and clean your rugs and carpets,” [insert name and title] of [insert county name] says. “But if floodwaters contaminated with sewage covered your carpeting, you should discard it for health safety reasons because the water and the carpet likely contain infectious organisms.”

Here are some basic rules to help you decide whether to keep or throw out your rugs and carpeting:

  •  You should discard wall-to-wall carpeting, most large area rugs and any rugs with foam backing if they were flooded with contaminated water. Getting them professionally cleaned generally isn’t worth the expense involved unless they are valuable rugs.
  • If you want to salvage carpeting soaked with contaminated water, consult a professional cleaning company that cleans carpets at its own cleaning and drying facility. A steam-cleaning (hot-water extraction) method is best.
  •  You can salvage wall-to-wall carpeting soaked by clean rainwater if you have it professionally cleaned or you dry and shampoo it.
  • Washable throw rugs usually can be cleaned in a washing machine.
  •  Check with your insurance company to make sure it will cover the cleaning efforts.

The general guideline for rain-soaked carpets is you should replace them if they were soaked for more than 24 hours. But if they were wet for less than 24 hours, you can clean them or have them professionally cleaned.

Here are some additional tips on cleaning rain-soaked carpet:

  • Don’t clean basement carpeting indoors in the summer because you are adding moisture to an area that’s already wet.
  • If the carpeting is installed with tack strips, you might be able to remove it and have it cleaned and reinstalled.
  • Replace padding because it is nearly impossible to clean.
  • If you can't remove the carpeting, dry it as quickly as possible with a wet/dry vacuum and dehumidifier to minimize mold growth. Circulate the air above the carpet with an air conditioner, fans and open windows. If possible, also lift the carpet and ventilate with fans underneath.
  • When the carpet is thoroughly dry, vacuum the area, then shampoo the carpet and repeat the drying process. Remember, most modern carpeting is made of nylon, so it shouldn’t be cleaned with bleach.
  • When the carpet is dry, vacuum it again.

 To reduce a musty smell in the carpet:

  • Sprinkle baking soda on the carpet and working the soda in with a broom or sponge mop.
  • Leave the baking soda on the carpet overnight.
  • Remove the baking soda by vacuuming the carpet twice, going back and forth in a different direction the second time.
For more information, visit www.ag.ndsu.edu/flood or www.extension.org/Floods.


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