So many old and antique rugs sourced by Leah and I in Istanbul have come to call Calgary, Alberta home. Now after the record flood in Calgary we have had a call inquiring how to deal with the silt drenched carpets that were on the floors of homes recently flooded.
Before I give some input on the question of what to do with soggy rugs let me say that Jack and I are so amazingly thankful that our own little late 1940’s home just several hundred metres from one of Calgary’s main rivers weathered the onslaught of the flood. Our basement is dry. Our garage had over a metre of water in it but it seems a small inconvenience when all around us neighbours and friends have had basements and main floors inundated with water as the flood reached epic heights breaching the banks of the rivers. One friend in responding to an email from me wrote ‘very little is left of my house’ – she is far from alone as many homes have washed away. The entire business and downtown centre of Calgary has been evacuated and remains without power at this point.
Now to the question of wet rugs. Jack just helped a friend this afternoon who antique rugs were sodden and mud filled. At the home a pump was pumping clear, clean ground water out of his home through a two inch hose. They used the force of this water to rinse and rinse the carpets until the water ran clear and all the mud was removed from the pieces. A garden hose with clean water is the most likely alternative. Position the carpet flat on a deck or on the slope of a driveway and run water continually through the piece. If you have a broad squeegee use this to force the water and mud on one direction (with the nap of the carpet). Continue to rinse the carpet multiple times until the water runs clear. If the rugs have been in contact with ‘black water’ use a pure soap and massage it into the fibres and begin the rinsing process. Rinse repeatedly very well until the water runs clean.
Hang the wet carpet over a railing or other support. You will need the help of a couple of people to move the carpet when it is wet, it will be very heavy.
When the carpet is almost dry lay it flat preferably on a wooden deck and staple it at intervals on the edges to the deck to stretch the carpet and to facilitate it laying flat and square when dry. Another option to stretch and block the rug is to use carpet tack strips. This is the product that is used around the perimeter of rooms when laying wall to wall carpets. Secure the strips to a wooden deck somewhat closer together than the length of the carpet. Hook the carpet ends carefully onto the tacks and then tent the carpet with a 2″ x 4″ piece of lumber which is at least as long as the width of the rug. Turn the board on it’s side in the under the carpet in the middle of the piece ‘tenting’ it into a raised position. This allows the air to circulate. Dry the carpet thoroughly before returning it to the floor. Think about cleaning your old carpet as you would a good wool sweater (aside from laying it on the driveway and stapling it down!) – cold water, pure soap and a very thorough rinse and block to dry.
So many details to attend to in the case of a disaster of this magnitude. Hope this post helps with this specific problem in terms of caring for your carpets after such a unpredictable event of such epic proportions.
Heartfelt sympathies to those of you who have lost a lifetime the art and objects that personalize our homes. Thankfully beyond our possessions we have our community and each other; our true wealth.