5+ Essential Steps to Dry Your Car Carpet After a Flood

Learn how to dry your car carpet after a flood in 5 steps: vacuum, towel dry, use fans, vinegar solution, and dehumidifier or baking soda for moisture absorption.

cleaning car carpet

Oh no! You left the car windows open or the convertible hood down, and now, your car flooded after a rainstorm. Do not fret!

While the process will take a few days, there is an easy step-by-step way to dry your car carpet after experiencing a flood. Here is how to dry carpet after a flood in five essential and easy steps. 

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1. Start With a Wet and Dry Vacuum 

Stanley - SL18116P Wet/Dry Vacuum, 6 Gallon, 4 Horsepower Black

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Vacuuming up the bulk of the rainwater inside of your car carpets with a portable wet and dry vacuum is the best way to start the process.

While it will not completely remove all the wetness and moisture, at least it will make the carpets damp enough to move on to the next step in the procedure, where it will be easier to remove all the water.

Remove the car mats and run the wet and dry vacuum over them as well. Hang them up to dry in a designated area of your home or garage while getting the rest of your car’s carpeting dry. 

2. Use Towels To Remove Water From the Damp Carpets

Browse your linen closet for a few old towels for this job. Put on a pair of cleaning gloves for a more sanitary clean-up experience. 

Manually push down on the damp carpets with a clean towel. Once it is soaked, move on to a dry, fresh towel. You may need at least three to four old towels to complete this step.

Using towels for the damp carpets lifts any wetness that the wet-dry vacuum could not get. 

3. Fans To Dry the Carpets

You will need at least a few fans for this next step. Place a fan point towards the carpet of the driver’s side and another for the passenger side’s carpet.

Position the final fan pointing towards the carpet for the backseat. If you have a fourth fan, go ahead and have one fan pointing towards each side of the back seat’s carpeting. 

If you do not have enough fans, you can borrow some from a family member or neighbor. Alternatively, you can invest in a few extra units when you visit your local department store next time. 

Invest in a power inverter car adaptor to power a couple of the fans using your car’s cigarette lighter.

Most models only come with up to two standard wall plug-ins on the device, so you may need a long extension cord with a power strip connected to operate the other one or two fans needed to help dry the car’s carpeting. 

4. Mix Vinegar and Water To Remove Mildew or Freshen Damp Carpet


Depending on how long your car carpets have remained wet before you started to get them dry, some mildew may have already started accumulating on them.

Whether you smell mildew on the carpets or not, it’s a good idea to mix a solution of vinegar and water to remove potential mold buildup and to freshen your damp carpets before they are fully dry. 

Vinegar contains acetic acid, which is essential for removing the smell of mold and the fungus itself from your damp carpets. Grab an empty spray bottle from the cleaning section of your local store and mix it with two parts vinegar and one part water. 

If you want to minimize the unpleasant smell vinegar leaves behind, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil for a better scent-pleasing experience.

Essential oils such as citrus, tea tree, lavender, eucalyptus, and clove not only enhance the smell of your carpets but also assist in removing mold

5. Use a Portable Dehumidifier or Baking Soda To Absorb the Remaining Moisture

Eva-dry E-333 Renewable dehumidifier, Pack of 1, White Sand

Pick one option or the other highlighted below when you go about the steps on how to dry car carpets after the flood. 

Plug in and let a portable dehumidifier sit near the center console of your car. For best results, use a cordless dehumidifier so that you are not draining your car’s battery.

Let it run for at least a few hours, and check on the condition of the carpets. Allow the device to run some more until it needs a charge to power it up for more dehumidifying or when all the carpets are completely dry. 

If you do not own a dehumidifier, using boxes of baking soda is a more cost-effective alternative for this last step.

You can use any brand of baking soda as long as you are purchasing the variety in small one-pound boxes. 

Grab four boxes of baking soda from your local grocery store. Open up the boxes only and place one open box in each corner of the car. The baking soda will help to absorb the remaining moisture on your car’s carpeting. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Now that you know the essential steps on how to dry a car carpet after a flood, here are answers to frequently asked questions about the topic. 

How do you dry a wet car interior?

Besides following the steps above, you can also dry a car interior by keeping the car window open during the day when there is no rain expected in the forecast. 

How long does it take for the car carpet to dry?

It can take at least two to three days for the car carpet to dry completely by following the above steps. If there is no more rain in the forecast when you are doing this project, keep your windows down to increase overall circulation and expedite the drying process. 

How do you dry a flooded carpet fast?

Drying a flooded carpet fast starts with using a wet and dry vacuum and running fans near the wet carpets. 

How long does it take for mold to grow in wet carpet?

The growth of mold in wet carpet can start within 24 to 48 hours. If not promptly detected and eliminated, mold on carpet can rapidly expand and pose significant risks to both the structure of a home and the health of individuals, leading to allergies and other health issues.

How do you absorb water from car carpet?

To absorb water from car carpet, you can follow these steps: Open all the windows and place a fan on the affected area to facilitate evaporation. Allow Damp-Rid bags to hang inside your vehicle for a day or two. Utilize a portable dehumidifier in the car. Employ a shop vac or wet/dry vac to extract the moisture.

Will wet carpet dry on its own?

Wet carpet has the potential to dry on its own, depending on factors such as the carpet’s material and fibers, the extent of moisture, and the possibility of hanging it up. Generally, if the conditions are favorable in terms of temperature and airflow, most carpets should dry within 24 hours.

How long does wet car carpet take to dry?

The wet car carpet will take a day or two to dry out, especially if you have ample sunlight and airflow. To expedite the process, place a fan in the car and position it to blow directly on the carpets.

How fast does wet carpet mold?

Wet carpet can develop mold within 24 to 48 hours, posing risks to both the structural integrity of a home and the health of individuals. Rapid growth of mold on carpet can lead to severe hazards if not promptly detected and eliminated.

How long does it take for a carpet to air dry?

The carpet typically takes anywhere from 6-12 hours to air dry if left untouched. However, you can speed up the drying process by opening some windows and using a ceiling fan to enhance airflow.

Does baking soda absorb moisture in car?

Baking soda does absorb moisture in a car, as it is a common household item that can help keep your windows clear. By placing a small container of baking soda in your car, such as an old sock used as a makeshift container, it can effectively absorb moisture in situations where you are unable to stop your vehicle to spray the windows with a water or vinegar solution.

How do I absorb moisture in my car?

To absorb moisture in your car, you can place moisture-absorbing items inside your vehicle. An effective method is to fill an old sock or pair of tights with cat litter, as the clay particles in cat litter are great at absorbing excess moisture from the interior of your car.

Can you dry a car with air?

Air drying your car can be detrimental as it can leave behind mineral deposits from the water on the paint’s surface. This often leads to stubborn water spots that are challenging to remove. If you choose to overlook these water spots and continue with the next step, there is a possibility of scratching the paint.

How do you dry car upholstery?

To dry car upholstery, you can utilize a powerful fan to effectively dry a wet car seat that cannot be removed or needs overnight drying. Simply direct the fan towards the wettest areas of the seat and ensure all vehicle windows are open to optimize air circulation and speed up the drying process.

Is it bad to let water dry on your car?

It is not recommended to let water dry on your car because the water used for car washes contains natural minerals that do not evaporate when the car air dries. As a result, although the liquid itself may disappear, it will leave behind spots and streaks on the surface of your car.

What happens if car carpet gets wet?

If car carpet gets wet, it can lead to an unpleasant mildew smell, which can make your drive less enjoyable. Cleaning the carpets is a possible solution, but unless you address the underlying cause, the problem may persist.

Should carpet be replaced after water damage?

Carpet should be replaced after water damage if it has been wet for 72 hours or longer. It is important to take the potential risks seriously, even if the water damage is only at the bottom-most layer. Our experts follow the 72-hour rule and recommend discussing replacement options if your carpet has been wet for an extended period of time.

Does wet carpet mean mold?

Wet carpet can lead to the growth of mold if the conditions are relatively warm and there is insufficient sunlight. After some time, you may notice mounds and discoloration on your carpet, along with the presence of dark spots throughout.

How do you get water smell out of car carpet?

To get rid of water smell from car carpet, you can sprinkle baking soda on the damp or moldy areas inside your vehicle. Let the baking soda penetrate the carpet and then remove the excess by vacuuming. This will not only eliminate the odor but also help eliminate mold spores and most of the remaining residue.

How do you get mold out of car carpet?

To get mold out of car carpet, you can use a mixture of white vinegar and hot water, or incorporate baking soda into the solution. Another effective option is to combine water with color-safe bleach, but it is important to test this solution on a hidden area first to ensure it does not cause any upholstery staining.

How long does carpet stay wet?

Carpet typically takes around 6-12 hours to dry if left undisturbed. However, you can expedite the drying process by opening some windows and utilizing a ceiling fan to enhance airflow.

How do you get rid of water damage in a car?

To get rid of water damage in a car, you should follow these steps: Start by dismantling the affected areas and work your way from top to bottom. Next, ensure proper drying by cracking all windows about 4 inches open. Then, locate and seal any leaks by having a technician inside the car with a flashlight. Afterward, check for any signs of mold and treat it with a mildewcide according to the instructions. Proceed by shampooing and thoroughly drying all the wet components. If necessary, replace the carpet padding. Finally, completely reassemble the car.

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