If you had your carpets cleaned or your carpets got wet, you’re probably wondering if it’s fine to vacuum your wet carpet?
Do not, I repeat, DO NOT vacuum your wet carpets!
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people ruin a great vacuum cleaner because they thought it was fine to vacuum up their damp or wet carpets. Your normal vacuum cleaner is not made to handle this abuse, there are options you can do, but don’t use your regular vacuum cleaner!
Why Vacuuming Wet Carpet Is Bad!
Your normal house-hold vacuum cleaner is not meant to clean wet messes, it’s as simple as that.
Even if the carpet is only damp, the suction on most vacuum cleaners is strong enough to pull cups of water out of wet carpet. Plus, your carpet is holding more water than you realize, and your vacuum cleaner will suck it out, but they’re not built to handle the excessive moisture.
Regular house-hold vacuum cleaners are made to suck dry debris like dust, dirt, hair and not liquids. Your vacuum cleaner is meant to be sealed against dry objects, wet objects can penetrate parts of your vacuum cleaner.
1. Wet Messes Damage Filters
Wet messes clog up and damage the filter in your vacuum cleaner.
It’s common for wet/dry vacuum cleaners like shop vacs cleaners to have you remove the filter when sucking up wet messes. The filters on most vacuum cleaners are paper, and it gets destroyed when water touches it. Even the vacuum cleaners with foam filters lose their oil protective coating when in contact with water.
While the carpet may only feel damp to you, it’s holding a lot of water, it’s spread out over more area, and sucking it up with your vacuum cleaner condenses it, along with the heat of the vacuum cleaner, and destroys the filter and other parts of your vacuum cleaner.
2. Destroy’s Your Vacuum’s Motor
The electric motor on most house-hold vacuum cleaners is not sealed against water, a lot are not even sealed against dust.
Sucking up water from wet carpet will get into the motor cavities and cause sparking, fires, and will have many vacuum cleaners stop working. It’s a big deal when a vacuum cleaner gets wet, even being left in the rain can do a number on them.
Vacuum cleaners use a lot of power, and a short created by water on the motor can throw a breaker. Many vacuum cleaners made in the USA don’t even have a fuse like they do in the UK, so the damage can be worse for US vacuum cleaners if your house’s electrical is not protected correctly.
3. Corrodes Bearings
Something that is missed by many or don’t realize is a problem when sucking up water with a regular vacuum cleaner is that it corrodes bearings.
The beater brushes on vacuum cleaners to the motor, and anything that spins uses some type of bearing. The things that spin fast will use metal ball bearings, and if exposed to water they will rust and fail.
These bearings are not always meant to be serviceable nor are they expected to get near water, so vacuum cleaner manufacturers often use the cheapest bearings they can find. When these bearings fail, the vacuum cleaner may not turn on or will most often make loud noises from the scraping bearings.
What To Use To Dry Wet Carpet
The best thing to use to dry wet carpet is to get a towel and spot clean it. Blot the towel around until It’s sucked water and repeat.
What I like to do is place down a bunch of towels and then walk on them until they’re fully saturated.
If you’re dealing with a leak or major water damage, you’ll need a shop vacuum cleaner to suck up the majority of the water.
Shop Vacuum Is What You Need
When it comes to a lot of water on a wet carpet, the best thing to use is a shop vacuum.
I’m a firm believer that every home should have some type of shop vacuum cleaner on hand. From water, broken glass, dirt, bodily fluids and more, a shop vacuum can handle it!
If you’re dealing with a leak or major damage from a storm or something broken in your home, you need to call professionals and your insurance company. Until then, a shop vacuum will be your best bet to get going back in the right direction.
I recommend at least a 5-gallon shop vacuum like this one here*, but the more gallons it has, the more water it can suck up and the fewer trips you need to make to empty it.
Shop Vacuum Tips For Wet Carpets
When it comes to wet carpet, the floor attachment is the best option and making slow passes is what will get the most water out of the carpet.
When sucking up water with your shop vacuum, I suggest following this guide here. Some shop vacs have a foam filter you can use instead and is made for water messes.
When the shop vacuum is full of water, they tend to make a loud screeching noise because the float ball is high enough to cut off suction. You will need to drain the shop vacuum before it will work again.
Shop Vacuums Are More Powerful
Not only are shop vacuums made to clean wet messes like damp carpets, but they’re also more powerful than your regular vacuum cleaner.
Your regular vacuum cleaner won’t have anywhere near the suction power of a shop vacuum. You would not only be destroying your regular vacuum trying to suck up wet carpet with it, but will be wasting time, as a shop vacuum will be far better at it.
The shop vacuum will get up a lot of the liquids in the carpet, but it won’t get everything perfectly dry.
The last bit of dampness, you will need to let it dry out.
This means opening windows where you can. If it’s freezing outside, don’t open the windows, as it will do more harm than good. If you can’t open the windows or even if you can, get out a dehumidifier as it will help greatly, but you’ll need to empty it often.
Get yourself some fans and turn them on in the room. You want them blowing over the carpet, so it will help release the water from the carpet and into the air, but you need a window or door open, so it will carry outside. They make blower fans exactly for this, if you have a Harbor Freight near they often have good deals on one. You can also rent these industrial-size blower fans from Lowes or Home Depot, these things are much more powerful than box fans.
Avoid Baking Soda Or Vinegar
Baking soda will absorb some water, but it also creates a mess, and you should not use your regular vacuum cleaner to suck up baking soda!
And for some reason, the internet loves baking soda and vinegar, and I get many people asking me about it for all kinds of problems, even wet carpets, so I must state don’t use either on your wet carpets!
Vinegar for sure won’t help you with your wet carpets, and it’s even worse to suck up with your house-hold vacuum cleaner than water (it’s an acid and will corrode things even faster!). A shop vacuum can handle the vinegar mess if you made one, but don’t use vinegar next time.
I know your carpets may stink now because they got wet and someone somewhere will say to use vinegar, but it’s not that great for cleaning carpets. It also won’t get rid of the smell, it only replaces it with the smell of vinegar, which, I think, is far worse. Carpets will hold on to water, and they need to be sucked out, not replaced with something that smells worse.