How to Clean a Flooded Car Carpet

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Have you just got home from a trip? I hope, elements haven’t damaged your car. Thunderstorms and heavy rains are common in spring. They might soak the footwell in your car. When that happens, you ask yourself how to clean a flooded car carpet? This task is not easy. But it’s manageable if you use the right tool.

Using a powerful, heavy-duty machine, you can get rid of debris, moisture, and smell. Which device should you select? How do you deal with the consequences of storms? In this article, you will find several simple tips that I hope will help you to do the job with ease.

Reasons for Water Leaks in Your Car

Fortunately, the weather in California is warm and pleasant already. Here, in the Golden State, we enjoy sunny, hot days. Temperatures reach the 90s at the end of April. Wildfires are more likely than thunderstorms. But after a long trip, you might find water under the carpet in your car.

Multiple regions in the US are prone to heavy rains. The Atlantic hurricane season starts in June. Whereas the Pacific Coast suffers from tropical cyclones from May through November. Risk of getting caught by thunderstorms increases. Most tornadoes happen in April, May and June. The greatest threat is in the Plains-Midwest region. Is the damage repairable?

Water SourceEffectsVehicle Condition
Car valetwet carpets and seat coverscleanable
Rainmoisture, smellfixable
Flooded roadrust, corrosionreparable
Submersion in saltwateraggressive corrosionirreparable

The best hot water extractor for car detailing can lift up to 230 inches of water. But, does it help? If the level of water was too high, it could cause serious damage. Try to avoid ocean storm areas. Saltwater pouring from the exhaust might turn it to scrap metal. National Insurance Crime Bureau warns customers against invisible damage risk. It recommends avoiding buying used vehicles without a detailed inspection.

Why is My Car Carpet Wet after Rain?

The bottom of your vehicle is virtually leak-proof. The doors feature rubber gaskets. They seal the car, providing perfect heat and sound insulation. However, subtle leaks might happen. If your car wasn’t in a flooded area and the level of water inside is not too high, you will be able to fix this.

Did you find a puddle on the car’s floorboard? That will require urgent attention. Dry out as soon as possible. Otherwise, mold and odors might build up. Using one of these machines is heavy-duty and efficient. It suits car detailing applications.

The carpet will dry up in only 24-48 hours. Drying time after steaming is shorter. But it works only if the upholstery/textile fiber was already dry.

The leak might appear due to:

  • sunroof drains clogging;
  • loose A/C hose;
  • poor windshield installation;
  • unsealed body seams;
  • leaky drain plug.

First of all, make sure that the liquid on your carpet is water. I know it sounds silly but it may be antifreeze, oil or a fuel leakage and they could be dangerous. So much so, that in some states, like for example California, inspection for fuel leaks is a part of the official Smog Check. If it turns out it is just A/C condensation or rainwater, it should be safe to proceed as water is harmless. Anyway, check the engine, gas tank, oil dipstick, and filter. Make sure that your car is in good repair at all times and stop any leaks to avoid those puddles in the future.

How Do I Dry Out the Inside of My Car?

At his point, you have solved all car repair and maintenance issues. Fixed all leaks. Now you can remove the remaining water on the floorboard? You can use:

  • a carpet cleaner or hot water extractor;
  • paper or fabric towels;
  • moisture absorber;
  • airflow.

Remove rubber floor mats and clean them. Do it in your garage, parking lot, in your yard or at a gas station. Vacuum them, shake the dirt out. Wash the mats with a garden hose. Scrub them with a brush, if necessary.

Now, proceed with the car interior. Check the water level. Is it high? Remove the drain plug to run the water off. Use towels to sop it up from leather seats and cloths to dry up the upholstery. If there is about 1 inch of standing water, any wet/dry vac does the job. It picks up and holds 1-3 gallons of dirty liquid. 

How Can I Dry My Car Carpet Faster?

A powerful hot water extractor is more efficient. It heats water and uses high pressure to lift it. Together with a soap detergent, this technology touches the spot. This way, you clean deeply soiled areas and remove stubborn stains. And the carpets dry a bit faster than after conventional wet vacuuming.

Carpets, upholstery and floorboard remain damp to the touch.

How to dry car seats after valet? Heat and airflow eliminate lingering moisture. If you live in a sunny place, all it takes is leaving the car outdoors with the doors open. Hot, sunny weather does the job. Otherwise, apply:

  • car A/C or climate control system;
  • a dehumidifier;
  • a portable fan;
  • a hairdryer;
  • your garage heater.

Get rid of wetness within a couple of hours. It’s important to prevent mold development. Otherwise, it covers the surfaces and results in an unpleasant musky odor.

How Do You Get Rid of the Smell of a Flooded Car?

Traces of mildew might be invisible in hidden places. Use a spray like air freshener, deodorizer or odor neutralizer. It kills bacteria and reduces odors. If some spots on your seat covers or carpets are moldy, the stains will be difficult to remove.

Try to kill the mold, using a mixture, based on:

  • white vinegar;
  • baking soda;
  • Borax powder;
  • special agent.

Don’t forget to wear protective gloves and a face mask before cleaning. Apply the liquid on the spots, wait for 10-20 minutes. Rinse the textile off, using an extractor or vacuum. Check all areas under the seats and the gaps between them. Clean the trunk. Washing parts under the hood is even more difficult. They are vulnerable. So, cover the engine to protect it.

Final Words

So, how to clean a flooded car carpet? Moisture should not remain inside your car. It could damage the carpets and surfaces. Mold development is destructive. Try to prevent it. Leave windows or doors open at midday. Use your climate control heating. Pour some soda or moisture absorbent behind the seats. Let your car interior be always dry and odor-free. It prolongs its lifespan, making your trips enjoyable.

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