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How To Avoid Over Wetting Carpets When Cleaning

over wetting carpets when cleaning

People often wonder how it’s possible to avoid over-wetting carpets when cleaning them. After all, using water is the main component of carpet cleaning. You literally need to pump water into your carpet to clean them.

We understand the frustration of this seemingly counterproductive expectation, especially when it seems that no matter what you do, having damp carpets seems inevitable.

Over time, you may have become so accustomed to having wet carpet after a clean that it seems perfectly normal to be living in a swimming pool for a day or two, but it isn’t!

In this blog post, we will give you some tips on how you can avoid over-wetting your carpets as you clean them.

Why is overwetting carpets a problem?

If you wet the carpets too much without removing that water, the following can occur:

  • Stinky carpet

  • Potential for mould and mildew growth

  • Dirty water will be sitting on your carpets

  • Potential damage such as underlay damage or discoloration

  • Carpets will feel sticky and weird once they dry again

  • A huge waste of your time as the carpet will still be dirty

Should carpets be wet after cleaning?

how to avoid getting carpet too wet when cleaning

Once you have finished cleaning your carpets, they should only be slightly damp and not enough for your socks to get wet if you decided to walk on them.

If your carpet is so wet that if you put your finger on it and water drips off, you know for sure that your carpet is too wet.

However, if you do the same test and you just feel a slight feeling of water but no actual moisture then this is how the carpets should be after a proper carpet clean.

If it's anywhere in between those two scenarios, you still have a problem with the carpet being too wet.

Now, enough of the negativity. Let’s take a look at how you can have practically dry carpets after cleaning them.

Don’t add chemicals to your carpet cleaning machine

pre spraying carpet

It might seem like a good idea to put a bit of cleaning chemical inside your carpet cleaning machine but it really isn’t.

Leave aside the possibility that you could damage the carpet cleaner in some way (which is pretty unlikely anyway,) and let’s have a look at why this will not help you clean any better.

If you have pre-sprayed the carpets, it’s full of cleaning chemicals already that need drawing out.

Clearwater is great for doing just that, it rinses the cleaning products and dilutes them, changing it from sudsy to more lime water with dirt in it ready for extraction.

If you put more chemicals in your carpet cleaner then all you are doing is creating more unnecessary suds which won’t fully extract.

An example I’ve used in the past is to think about how you would wash your hair because it's the same principle.

First you wet your hair and apply some shampoo or conditioner. Leave the product to do its work and then rinse it out.

Could you imagine trying to rinse your hair out with more conditioner? That’s exactly what you would be doing if you mix chemicals into the clear water carpet cleaning machine.

You need clear water to dilute those chemicals so never add chemical on chemical and expect it to be extractable.

What you can put in a carpet cleaner is a rinsing aid. This is ideal for heavily stained areas that requires more chemicals to clean it.

You can also neutralise the smell of cleaning products with these rinses to make for a much fresher finish.

Use a powerful vacuum cleaner

If you have rented a rug doctor, having a wet carpet after cleaning is a very common problem. There are plenty of reviews which state that a customer's carpet has been damp for over 48 hours after using one of their rental machines.

To avoid this, make sure that you are using a powerful suction vacuum carpet cleaner. These are a bit more expensive to rent out but do the job of sucking out that dirty water.

You can rent a larger carpet cleaner for around £80 which is good enough to do the job well. Of course, the problem here is cost.

Why rent a large carpet cleaner and buy chemicals for practically the same price as a professional cleaning service? We will leave that one to your discretion.

Don’t be trigger-happy with your machine

Always remember the golden rule. The amount of water you put into your carpets, 95% of that at least has to be removed.

You don’t need too much water if you prepared the carpet properly beforehand.

Follow these steps:

  • Pre-spray your carpets evenly, adding more to heavily soiled areas

  • Agitate the cleaner into the carpets with a medium to light bristled brush

  • Go over one section of your carpet moving forwards with the trigger squeezed

  • When coming back towards you, do not press the trigger, this is called a dry pass

  • If you have a dirt spot that didn’t go, apply more pre-spray and go over it multiple times with the trigger squeezed and multiple without the trigger

  • Rake your carpets to let it air out (you can do this with your agitation brush,) If it feels damp anywhere go over it with a few dry passes

Dry your carpets after the clean

An essential step when carpet cleaning is to dry them as much as possible afterwards. If you have been following our article's steps then no doubt you’re well on the way already.

Dry passes won’t be enough though. For detailed tips on what to do read our 'How long will it take to dry carpet after cleaning' guide. We have listed the basics below.

There are a few more steps you can do to get those carpets as dry as possible:

  • Use a floor drier

  • Rake the carpets

  • Keep furniture off the floor as far as is practical

  • Open windows

  • Turn the heating on

By following these steps, you can ensure that your carpet dries out as much as possible. This will stop the carpet from becoming smelly and developing a bad texture.

Will a wet carpet dry eventually?

Yes, wet carpets will dry out eventually most of the time but what problems may occur in the process is heavily dependent on how wet the carpets are.

It can take anything from 6-48 hours for your carpets to dry out after a clean. Anything over 24 hours is potentially damaging to your carpet.

The following can happen and does happen:

  • Smelly carpets

  • Mould and mildew growth

  • Weird feeling in your carpets

  • Dirt will start to set back in

Carpet still wet after 24 hours?

If it has been 24 hours or over and your carpet is still wet, it’s time to act fast.

The best thing you can do is call in a professional carpet cleaner.

They will be able to clean your carpet thoroughly and dry them properly in order to avoid the issues stated above.

If you can’t get a professional quickly enough, follow these steps as a short-term solution:

  • Apply baking soda to your carpet. This will tackle bad odours and inhibit mould growth

  • Once the baking soda has been sitting for 30 minutes vacuum it up

This won’t get rid of the dirt that set back in your carpet but it will prevent some serious issues that could have taken hold if left unchecked.

What if my carpet is still wet after 48 hours?

More than likely you have a serious problem. The wetness will probably be coming from underneath the carpets and from the underlay.

To fix this, follow these steps:

  • Rip out the underlay

  • Deep-clean the flooring underneath with enzyme cleaner

  • Put new underlay onto the floor once it has dried

  • Deep clean your carpet and allow it to dry fully

  • Reapply the carpet above the underlay

If it sounds like a lot of hard work then your absolutely right. There are companies that specialise in carpet restoration after water damage.

While it’s not cheap, this option should always be cheaper than replacement.

How to tell if your carpet is completely dry?

It sounds like a silly question but it’s not! Carpet can appear dry by touch and it’s hard to check every part of a large area with just this sense anyway.

You will know that your carpets are completely dry by doing these checks:

  • Smell test: can you smell anything when you enter the room? Sometimes there is a slight musty smell after cleaning which won’t go away until the carpet is fully dry

  • Dark spots on carpet: If some parts of your carpet look darker than others then this is usually because it’s still wet


Thanks for reading our article on how to avoid over-wetting carpets when cleaning. We hope you found it informative.

Always remember that wet carpets can cause serious issues for your home so unless you have the right equipment and experience, we don’t recommend that you clean carpets yourself.

You can cause so many problems if you get it wrong and this can easily end up costing you a fortune.

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