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Because of their size, area rugs are always tough to clean—but after a fire your time is valuable. The best solution is to have a professional carpet cleaner remove the rug for cleaning and drying elsewhere.

If you can’t do that, remove as much water as possible using a “wet vac” vacuum cleaner. These can be bought or rented at home supply stores or specialty companies. Never use a regular household vacuum cleaner on wet carpet; this will break the vacuum and expose you to electric shock. Even when using a “wet vac,” keep plugs and cords away from standing water.

Vacuum the carpet until no more water can be removed. Much of the water can be removed from the face of the carpet—but try walking on it. Is there a sopping sound? That means there’s a large amount of water underneath.

If so, pull the carpet up at one of the corners and pull back the installation strips. If the pad is wet, the entire carpet and pad will have to be removed. This is will let the floor dry, preventing wood buckling and mold growth. Once the floor is dry, the pad and carpet can be reinstalled.