What Happens If You Vacuum Wet Carpet?

  • Author: Irene Mills
  • Date: September 26, 2022
  • Time to read: 5 min.
Affiliate Disclaimer

As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Sometimes, you might be tempted to vacuum carpet while it’s wet or damp, but should you?

As a general rule, this is never a good idea. When carpets are professionally cleaned or you clean them yourself, they’ll be damp afterward.

They might even be wet instead of damp. You might also be tempted to vacuum your carpets to speed up the drying process.

But once you learn what happens if you vacuum a wet carpet, you’ll change your mind.

Why?

Because for a variety of good reasons, vacuuming wet carpet is a bad idea. You might be surprised to learn some of the reasons this is so.

What Happens If You Vacuum Wet Carpet?

What will happen to your vacuum if you vacuum wet carpet is that it can ruin the vacuum cleaner. If your carpet isn’t 100% dry, it’s not a good idea to vacuum it. The dirty water can enter the motor and damage it.

And If the carpet is too wet, you might get electrocuted. This doesn’t happen often, but it is still a possibility.

In fact, all of this is possible because a standard vacuum cleaner isn’t made to accommodate wet carpets.

Even if none of these things happen, you could still find a soggy mess to deal with when you empty the dust bag. Yuk! Dampness and wetness simply don’t do well with an electric vacuum cleaner.

Most vacuums are not made to work on damp carpets. They are made to remove dirt and restore the pile of the carpet.

In other words, it works wonders on dry carpets but causes most problems on wet carpets.

What Do You Do If You Vacuum Water?

Vacuum cleaners are not made to suck up water or other liquids. If you accidentally do this, however, don’t panic.

Keep in mind that even a small amount of water can harm a vacuum cleaner, but you can stall it if you know what to do.

Here are the steps you should take if you do vacuum up water:

  1. Turn off the vacuum cleaner immediately
  2. Take apart as much of the vacuum as possible, especially the filter and the dust bag
  3. Spread the parts out on an old newspaper in a warm area
  4. Clean, then dry the filter or replace it if necessary
  5. Throw the dust bag away and replace it with a new one
  6. Use a hairdryer on the parts when necessary
  7. Do not put the parts back in until they are completely dry

You might also have to dust off and clean the inside of the vacuum cleaner.

Remember, you want the vacuum to be as dry as possible in the end. This includes all of the internal parts and components.

How To Dry Wet Carpet Without A Vacuum

If you have a wet carpet but no vacuum, you might think it’s impossible to get the carpet dry again. If you want to dry out your carpet, the remedy will depend on the type of spill you experienced.

For large spills or very wet carpets, you’ll need a shop vac to dry it out properly.

For small spills, it’s a lot easier.

One effective remedy is to place lots of fans directed at the carpet and turn them on high. Leave the fans there until the carpet is completely dried.

You can also use a dehumidifier to draw the moisture out of the air. Or, try placing rags over the damp area and weigh them down with heavy items.

Books do a great job at this. You just have to make sure you cover them with something waterproof first. You can even use a hairdryer on small spills.

One thing to remember: don’t get the hairdryer too close to the carpet. Why?

Because such intense heat can actually ruin the fibers of some types of carpet.

How Long Does Wet Carpet Take to Dry?

As a general rule, wet carpet can take 6 to 12 hours to completely dry.

Factors that affect this time include a high humidity level, cool temperatures, and poor circulation. All three of these cause the drying time to be longer.

You should never walk across a cleaned carpet until it is completely dry. If you do have to walk across it, remove your shoes and stick to the edges of the carpet.

If it’s been professionally cleaned and isn’t dry after 24 hours, you’ll need to contact the company that cleaned it.

Can You Vacuum Water with a Shop-Vac?

You absolutely can vacuum the water out of carpet with a shop vac. These heavy-duty vacuums are specifically made for both wet and dry carpets. They are also made to dry all types of carpet, both thick and thin.

Even if your carpet is extremely wet, a good shop vac will suck up the wetness with no problems.

Make sure you press down on the handle hard when vacuuming so it goes deep into the carpet and sucks out more water.

Afterward, layout dry towels and walk across them so that more moisture is removed. Shop vacs do an amazing job on all types of wet carpets.

Final Thoughts: Can You Use a Regular Vacuum on Water?

If you’re thinking of using a regular vacuum cleaner on a damp or wet carpet, one word of advice: don’t! Standard vacuum cleaners are not built to handle these tasks. Using them for this purpose in any way can wreak havoc on your vacuum and even hurt you if you accidentally get electrocuted.

Vacuuming water or other liquids can break your vacuum and make the carpet dirty again. It can even cause you to have to clean the carpet all over again. 

All in all, it isn’t worth the potential problems to vacuum up any type of liquid with a regular vacuum cleaner.

Instead, layout towels on the carpet to soak up the water or use a shop vac to do the same thing.

Looking For Vacuum Guides?

If you’re looking for more vacuum resources, consider checking out our other posts on vacuums.

References: How to Use a Shop Vac for Water, How to Dry Slightly Damp Carpet