Over the years, and after cleaning thousands of carpets, we have come to realize that one of the biggest concerns people have when getting their carpets cleaned is dry time.
While this is completely understandable and dry times are important, you have to understand exactly what dry time means and why carpet cleaning dry times can be something people focus on too much.
So How Long Should Your Carpets Take To Dry After Cleaning?
And the answer is...it depends. There is no hard and fast rule about carpet dry times. There are a number of factors that go into how fast a carpet dries and the the carpet cleaning does NOT have control over all of these factors. So let's take a look at what factors go into dry times and which factors are important and which factors are not so important.
What Factors Influence How Long Carpets Take After Cleaning
1. The method. The method of carpet cleaning plays a big role in how fast your carpets are going to dry, but do not let this mislead you into choosing a carpet cleaning method that gets FAST dry times, but does a poor job of actually getting your carpet clean.
In most cases, not all, if you use HWE (hot water extraction) to clean your carpets you are going to have dry times in the 6-12 hour range. While these dry times might not be as fast as you would like, there is a good reason for this which we will explain later in this article.
2. The level of soil in your carpet. If you carpet is lightly soiled then your professional carpet cleaner is not going to need to be as aggressive in cleaning your carpet. And in most cases not being as aggressive means not using as much water (no matter what method is being used).
If your carpet is heavily soiled then your cleaner is going to have to use more water to flush the soil from the carpet, and therefore dry times are most likely going to be a little longer. Even if your carpet was really soiled a good professional carpet cleaner should be able to clean it well and get you dry times of 12 hours or less. If not, then the drying phase of the carpet cleaning was probably not done properly.
3. The type of carpet. The type of carpet, mainly related to the fiber type but also the construction of the carpet, can play a large role in how long your carpets take to dry after getting them cleaned.
A nylon carpet that is not too thick (density) will dry faster than a heavy wool carpet. A carpet made out of olefin (polypropylene) will most likely dry faster because the fiber itself does not absorb much moisture. So carpet type plays a big role in carpet dry times after cleaning.
4. Humidity inside and outside of your home. This factor might actually be a larger factor in carpet dry times than the type of carpet but we will leave it at number four. We are not going to get into the science of why humidity plays such an important role in the dry times of anything, but it does play a big role.
If the air in your home is humid (lots of moisture in it) then the carpets are simply going to take longer to dry than if the air is drier, all other things being equal. Humid air slows down the drying process as there is not as much dry air for the water in the carpet to evaporate into. Now that might not have been the most scientific explanation but we think you get it!
Dry air allows for more and faster evaporation to take place, and this is a GREAT thing for carpets drying faster. Also, the humidity outside of your home directly effects the humidity in your home unless you are using appliances of some sort to control humidity levels inside.
Example: If you live in a dry area, let's say Arizona, and have your carpets cleaned you are going to getting faster dry times than if that same carpet was cleaned in Vancouver, Washington on a wet day.
And...having your carpets cleaned on a warm summer day in Vancouver is going to get you faster dry times than having your carpet cleaned on a wet rainy day with temps in the 40's. You know those days...right?
5. Airflow in your home and around the carpet. And finally we get to airflow in your home. If the airflow in your home is stagnant then carpet dry times can be increased. This is why opening your windows when having your carpets cleaned is a good idea if the weather is good.
Opening your doors and windows when it is raining hard, and the temps are low, is NOT going to help your carpets dry faster. Warm dry air holds more moisture than cold wet air. If the weather is good then open those doors and windows and get air flowing through the home.
Moist air moves to dry air, so if the weather outside is good then the moisture that is moving from your carpet fibers into the air will also move to the warmer drier air outside, which is where you want it.
Another factor in airflow is the air that is directly flowing above your carpet fibers. When air moves over a surface it actually pulls moisture from that surface and moves it away, allowing more moisture to leave the surface.
Here is a good example of that: If you take a straw and blow over the straw you will see the liquid the straw is in start to move up the straw. This same thing happens when air moves over a carpet surface. The moisture is pulled from the surface.
In the case of the carpet fibers the moisture moves UP the carpet fiber, and to the outside of the carpet fiber, and evaporates much quicker. So airflow is very very important to how long your carpet will take to dry after having them cleaned.
So What Can You Do To Make Sure Your Carpets Dry As Fast As Possible?
Your first concern should be having the carpets cleaned properly. It is super easy to have the carpet dry fast if very little water is used and the only part of the carpet cleaned is the surface. But this is not considered good carpet cleaning! Do not fall for the low moisture cleaning methods that many carpet cleaners try to peddle to their clients! Do you really want to leave a bunch of soil in your carpet just to get a couple of hours faster dry time?
Not a good idea...unless...you are just cleaning for appearance and need the carpets to dry quickly. The main reason to just clean for appearance would be if you were a business and needed the carpets to look good, and dry fast, so your customers would not have to deal with a wet carpet.
Or, if you have a special gathering of some sort at your home and you didn't have time to plan to have your carpets cleaned and that gathering was within a 24 hour time frame. Unless that is the case do NOT EVER just clean for appearance!
You should be looking for thorough cleaning and good appearance after cleaning. Why pay to just have the surface of your carpet cleaned and leave a bunch of soil and contaminants in your carpet? Doesn't make a lot of sense.
So, you have gone for maximum soil removal and great appearance; now what do you do to guarantee fast carpet drying?
You make sure you get airflow to your carpet.
Most good professional carpet cleaners use air movers to expedite dry times. And these air movers can work wonders! If the proper amount of air movement is used then dry times as fast as two hours are very common, especially if the humidity outside is low.
The key to really fast dry times, even with hot water extraction, is to extract as much water as possible during the cleaning and get air movement on the carpet IMMEDIATELY after cleaning. And when we say immediately after cleaning, that is what we mean!
Once a quarter or half of the room is done being cleaned it is time to get air movement on that carpet. If a carpet cleaner does that you are almost guaranteed, in ANY carpet cleaning situation, of having dry carpets in less than six hours. Many times faster.
Also, if the weather outside is good then open those windows. Open them in a few different rooms, keep the interior doors open, and open them upstairs (if you have an upstairs) and downstairs.
Basements, because of the way most are constructed, can be naturally damp and therefore cause some issues with dry times. The same fast drying techniques for the first floor and any upstairs floors is doubly important for basements.
Open the windows, get air flowing over the carpet fibers, and open the door(s) to the basement. Doing these things will make a big difference in how fast your carpets dry.
Conclusion: How Long Should Your Carpets Take To Dry After Cleaning
Here it is in a nutshell. How long should your carpets take to dry after they have been cleaned?
In almost every case your carpets should be dry to the touch and be able to be used in 12 hours or less. In many cases, with the right drying times, that number should fall to 6 hours. And if your carpet cleaner is really focused on getting your carpet dry we think most carpets should be dry in to the touch in less than 4 hours.
As we said in this article, there are many factors that go into carpet dry times. But if the conditions are right you can also get your carpets dry in two hours or less, and that is with very aggressive carpet cleaning.
If you are in the need of high quality carpet cleaning and also want fast dry times please give us a call today.