Updated April 2022
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Buying guide for best carpet dryers

The primary purpose of a carpet dryer is to dry carpet, and nothing works better to clean up after a flood or a leak. Since carpet dryer prices can range from $80 to nearly $400, you want to make sure you choose the right model for your situation.

First, let’s take a look at how a carpet dryer works. As water evaporates, it changes from liquid to vapor. Much like a sponge, the air absorbs it. The more water vapor there is in the air, the slower the water will evaporate. (After all, you can't clean up a spill with a sponge that is already soaking wet.)

A carpet dryer is essentially a powerful directional fan that pushes away wet air and replaces it with dry air. The dry air sucks up water quickly, accelerating drying and encouraging water to evaporate until the carpet is dry.

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To be truly dry, the top and bottom of the carpet as well as the pad and flooring beneath must all be dry. If this is not the case, the carpet may begin to rot over time.

Key considerations


CFM stands for cubic feet per minute. In terms of carpet dryers, it addresses the question of how many cubic feet of air a dryer will move in one minute. The greater the CMF, the faster the carpet will dry.

The Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification recommends that you use one 2,800 CFM carpet dryer for every 300 square feet of wet carpet. If you have a larger space, you can purchase additional carpet dryers or consider a model with a higher CFM rating.

Horsepower (HP)

Horsepower (HP) refers to how much power a carpet dryer has. Even a high-powered commercial model only needs to be a 1-HP unit. For your home, you may want to consider something smaller (and quieter) such as a 1/4-HP or 1/3-HP unit.

It is important to note that horsepower doesn't necessarily line up with CFM rating. You could purchase a 1/4-HP unit with 750 CFM or a 1/4-HP unit with 3,000 CFM. In essence, it depends on how the fan moves the air. As mentioned, horsepower should not be your main concern when shopping for a carpet dryer.

Axial vs. centrifugal fan

There are two main types of fans: axial and centrifugal. An axial fan is a general-purpose fan, like a ceiling fan. The blade on an axial fan resembles the petals of a flower spinning around and around.

The blades on a centrifugal fan resemble the blades on a paddlewheel boat and operate in what could be considered a rolling motion. A centrifugal fan is enclosed and looks like a short cylinder. When operated, it creates higher pressure with a directed airflow (which is better for drying applications). However, it has a lower CFM than an axial fan running at the same horsepower — which is why higher horsepower doesn't always mean a higher CFM rating.

Putting it all together

Now that you have a basic understanding of how carpet dryers are rated and how the two main types of fans work, we can tie it all together. The ideal carpet dryer will be a centrifugal fan with enough horsepower to achieve the CFM required to dry the space needed. For example, a centrifugal fan with 1/2-HP and 2,800 CFM would be ideal for drying up to 300 square feet of wet carpeting.

The type of fan is the top priority; CFM is second. In most cases, you really do not need to consider the HP (unless, as previously stated, you require a quieter machine).

A carpet dryer isn't just for carpets. It is effective at accelerating the drying time of nearly any surface, including concrete, tile, linoleum, and wood.



Speed adjustments

While some carpet dryers have only one speed, most feature at least low, medium, and high speeds. At the higher end of the price scale, you will find carpet dryers with variable speeds. The more control you have over a dryer’s speed, the more versatile it will be.


Some carpet dryers feature a timer. While you should never leave a carpet dryer unattended, this feature can come in handy so you don't unintentionally run the unit too long and waste energy.

Built-in outlet

If you need to use more than one carpet dryer, having a built-in plug so you can daisy chain the units is invaluable. If you are unfamiliar with a daisy chain, it is how you connect several strings of lights: by plugging one into another.


The carpet dryer needs to fit in the space you're drying. This typically isn't a problem, but if you are working in a confined space, you may need to consider the physical size of the dryer.


Carpet dryers are awkwardly shaped. Some are heavy. To minimize portability concerns, consider a carpet dryer with a sturdy built-in handle.

Noise level

Carpet dryers have a tendency to be loud. If you cannot tolerate the noise, or if it is loud enough to cause hearing damage, look for a model that operates at a lower volume.


Most carpet dryers are brightly colored so they are easier to see in a darker environment. A bright color can help minimize a tripping hazard.


If you anticipate purchasing multiple units, it is best to consider stackable carpet dryers. You do not stack carpet dryers on top of each other while they are operating; this feature is only for storage purposes.

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The instant that you discover water damage (and determine the area is free of hazards), you should begin the drying process because mold can start to grow in a damp environment in as little as 24 hours.

Carpet dryer prices


The most affordable carpet dryers cost under $100. While these models aren't super-powerful, they may be enough if you are only drying a small area. These carpet dryers can feature up to three speeds.


From $100 to $240, you will find carpet dryers targeted at the average homeowner. At the higher end, these models feature 2,800 CFM.


Starting at $240 and rising as much as $400, you will find carpet dryers designed for the biggest, toughest jobs. Some units feature a variable speed dial for greater control. For the average home, a deluxe model like this might be overkill.

While you understandably want to dry your carpet as soon as possible, it is unsafe to leave a carpet dryer running unattended.



Everyone has a slightly different approach to drying a carpet. Some strategies are overly aggressive; others are a bit too laid-back. Fortunately, there is a general protocol to keep in mind when drying a wet carpet.

  • Check for hazards. Before stepping into an area that contains water where it is not supposed to be, make sure there are no safety hazards, electrical or otherwise.
  • Identify the source of the leak (if needed). Remedy the situation as quickly as possible.
  • Remove all water-damaged items from the area. It may be necessary to discard these items.
  • Use towels and a wet vac to remove as much water as you can. As you do this, try to walk on the carpet as little as possible. No visible pools should be showing.
  • Ventilate the area. If it is safe (there are no potential electrical hazards), position the carpet dryer where it can receive adequate airflow.
  • Keep the carpet dryer away from objects that could be pulled into its air intake. This includes long curtains. Remove anything that the machine could blow over before you turn it on.
  • Reposition the carpet dryer every hour or two to ensure uniform drying. After the carpet is dry, if possible, lift it to check the pad and flooring beneath. If needed, continue drying.
  • After completing the aforementioned steps, give your carpet a thorough cleaning and dry the area again.
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To give a carpet dryer a helping hand, consider increasing ventilation or adding a dehumidifier to the mix. If you do not have a dehumidifier, turn up the air conditioner.


Q. How long does it take to dry a carpet?

A. The answer depends on your situation. If you just gave your carpet a thorough cleaning, it will probably dry in a couple of hours with a carpet dryer. If you were flooded, it could take two or three days (or more) of constant attention to dry out a carpet and padding. If you still have wet carpet after three days and no new moisture has entered the equation, you might want to consult a professional.

Q. Do carpet dryers offer benefits beyond drying?

A. Yes. A wet carpet creates an environment where mold and bacteria can thrive. A carpet dryer creates an environment that is inhospitable to these undesirable elements. If any allergy sufferers live in your home, they will greatly appreciate this side effect.

Q. When should I cut my losses and toss wet carpet?

A. Carpet can be expensive, but there are a few situations in which you’re better off getting rid of it and starting over. If sewage or contaminated water is involved, it is better to dispose of the carpet. If your carpet has reached the end of its useful lifespan or already has a mildew smell, it is an excellent time for an upgrade. And if water has saturated the carpet for days on end, it may be too late to save it.

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