How to Clean a Flooded Car Carpet – Dry it Quickly in 2023 and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Flooded cars are associated with a great amount of damage to the car carpet and floor, which might lead to corrosion and the growth of molds. In addition to this, a stale smell is also common in such objects. There might be a variety of reasons for the flooding of your car, including heavy rains, car accidents, driving through flooded streets, etc. Hence, you should regularly maintain your vehicle to prevent permanent damage.

This can be carried out by identifying the location and certainty of damage, removing the water from the car via wet/dry vacuum, use of towels to clean seats and carpeting, and increasing the airflow to increase the performance efficiency. This article offers a step-by-step guide on how to clean a flooded car carpet using a wet/dry vacuum, cloth towels, and other tools in the most cost and time-efficient manner.

How to Clean a Flooded Car Carpet

Reason for the Damage

There are many factors that can lead to flooded car floors. Most common among these include driving through a flooded street, especially if the water level is extremely high. In such instances, water can quickly infiltrate the vehicle and can lead to significant damage. Apart from this, water can also seep into your car via an open roof and windows during a rainy day.

It can easily move into corners and enclosed areas and remain there for a long time. You may not notice this, but it is capable of corroding and might also damage the seal of the automobile. Similarly, heavy damage to your car and especially your engine might be caused by drowning in a lake or other accidents that might occur around water bodies. Such situations can destroy the whole equipment and might cost you a lot for the repair.

Engine damage due to water can impact the inner machinery and apparatus and is said to be hydro-locked. The water can enter the engine through the air intake and cause it to perform poorly. Other problems associated with water seepage include issues with brakes, wiring connections, power seats, intrusion of water in oil, and rusting of the tools. In order to avoid these problems following steps can be followed.

Location and Extent of Damage

The first step towards cleaning a flooded car involves the identification of the location and extent of the damage. But before that, if you sense the presence of water in the engine or inside the vehicle, you should quickly stop the car and do not try to try it again. Starting the car with water in the fuel system can cause technical and electrical problems, which might be difficult and expensive to repair.

Afterward, check which parts of the automobile have been affected. Water can travel quickly between various parts and can harm other tools as well that might be originally located far off from the first leakage point. It is also recommended to carefully monitor the carpeting and seats to check if they have also been saturated with water or not. Monitor the seals and engine as well for better insight into the problem.

Drying Out the Interior

Using Dry/Wet Vacuum

After you have checked all the leakage points and associated issues, it is time to start cleaning the vehicle. You can pick one of the best car vacuum cleaners for this purpose. They are highly efficient for the removal of water that is one inch higher than the car surface. Use the vacuum to absorb the dirt and standing water from the car. Make sure to clean the area under seats and corners for maximum efficiency and performance output.

I prefer using the vacuum under the armrest and center console to wipe out every drop of water from my car completely. I recommend unplugging the drainage holes as well. The drainage holes are a built-in feature in most vehicles and can help in the elimination of standing water to a great extent. The vacuum also displays remarkable efficiency on carpets as well. On the other hand, there are ways to dry a carpet without a vacuum, but you have to check our earlier post to see if it applies to car carpets, too.

Using a Towel

For carpets and seats, you are advised to use a cloth towel. Wet cloth towels are more efficient than paper towels and offer better performance output. This is attributed to the increased absorbent nature of cloth towels, as they are more porous than their paper counterparts.

These items can soak water from the surface of seats and carpets and can help dry out the remaining apparatus. However, it might take some time to do so. You can use a vacuum first for the removal of standing water, followed by the use of towels to remove the remaining liquid from the vehicle.

Increasing the AirFlow

Despite using all the above-mentioned methods of dryness, it is inevitable to leave dampness and humidity in the system. The reason for this is the long exposure of the unit to standing water which has greatly affected the related materials. You can check the damping and humidity in the system by touching the carpet.

If you feel that the carpet is still wet, I highly recommend opening all the windows and doors to let the fresh air enter the vehicle. You can also use fans to perform the task. Besides this, the removal of carpet is also essential. Remove the carpet to dry out the lower surface as it will help to reduce the growth of molds and bacteria in the region. Hang the carpets in the sunlight or in front of fans to dry them quickly.

Leave the equipment in this way for a day or more. The use of a dehumidifier alongside the fans can improve the drying efficiency and can lead to extraordinary results. Alternatively, a car’s built-in heater can be used if you are worried about leaving your vehicle open for a day. Likewise, this method also works wonders with ventilation and other methods described above.

Using a Shampoo for Thorough Clean Up

Once you have completely dried out the interior of your automobile, it’s time to thoroughly clean it. This can be carried out with the help of shampoo or another cleaning agent, which is mild in effect. Strong detergents or cleaning agents might damage the fabric or lead to color fading. Clean out all the areas that were affected with water with the help of shampoo and dry them as well. Do not leave the water after cleaning the interior.

Otherwise, all of your efforts would be in vain, and the system will remain wet. Using a shampoo will help kill bacteria and molds and will remove the unwanted smell from the system. However, remember to dry the system completely before finishing the procedure. You can use a hairdryer for this purpose. It will help reduce a lot of time for drying. Carpet can also be dried in a cloth dryer to achieve maximum output.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can flooded carpet be saved?

There are two categories of damage to the car carpet after flooding. If the water has stayed in your automobile for less than 24 hours, it leads to category one damage which can be efficiently cleaned using the above-mentioned techniques such as dry/wet vacuum, cloth towels, and proper ventilation. However, if the time exceeds 24 hours,  water may seep beneath the carpet and damage the flooring. This might lead to category 2 damage which can be repaired by replacing padding.

How do you get rid of the smell of a flooded car?

The smell can be eliminated from the car via proper ventilation. You should remove the carpet from the interior and use a fan to properly dry the surroundings. Then, use a shampoo to clean the vehicle thoroughly and prevent the growth of bacteria and molds. This will also help relieve the underlying smell and will improve the performance of your unit. However, remember to dry the interior completely after cleaning.

What does baking soda do to the wet carpet?

Baking soda is an effective ingredient that can help remove the smell from a flooded car. You can sprinkle it over the carpet for some time, and it will remove all the pungent smell and will give out a fresh feeling. Another advantage of baking soda is its ability to absorb moisture from the surroundings. This also helps in drying out the carpets to a great extent. However, the application should be followed after a thorough clean-up to prevent underlying moisture.

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Wrapping Up

Flooded cars can lead to extensive damage to the carpet and floor, and cleaning up might require a lot of time and effort on your part. The damage to a car carpet is categorized into two levels, including levels one and two. Level one is associated with less damage, while level two is characterized by damage to flooring and padding.

The solution lies in popper maintenance and the use of wet/dry vacuum and cloth towel to dry the system. Furthermore, proper ventilation should be carried out for better results. This can be followed by a thorough clean-up using shampoo to eliminate the smell and prevent bacterial growth in the future.

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