How to Re-fluff Matted Carpet

A matted carpet not only looks unkempt and messy, but it may be harboring extra dust, dirt and debris that doesn't belong in the carpet. Fluff up that matted mess with moisture, an iron or a carpet rake.

Vacuum cleaner to tidy up the living room
credit: HaraldBiebel/iStock/GettyImages
How to Re-fluff Matted Carpet

Vacuum First

Before treating a matted carpet, vacuum it thoroughly. This will remove any loose debris, such as pet dander and dust. Vacuuming also helps fluff the carpet back up a bit, making it easier to notice which areas are really matted down and need more attention.

Rake That Ratty Carpet

A carpet rake or brush helps rejuvenate carpet that looks old, matted down and unkempt. A carpet rake is a bit like a comb with somewhat stiff teeth, while a brush has softer bristles. A rake is for carpet with a long or tall nap, such as an old-school shag carpet. A carpet brush is for short-napped floor coverings. Run the rake or comb through the carpet before vacuuming to help loosen debris and remove pet hair, then again after vacuuming to fluff the carpet up. Rake or comb the entire carpet to revive the entire floor covering, or focus specifically on high-traffic matted areas when short on time.

The Moisture Method

An ice cube or spritz of water can also help refresh areas that look flatter and more matted than the surrounding fibers. Rest an ice cube on a small dent, such as an indentation left behind by a chair leg. As the cube melts, run a stiff nylon brush over the area to straighten carpet fibers. For a larger area, spritz lukewarm water onto the fibers; use just enough to wet them without soaking through to the floor. Straighten carpet fibers with a nylon brush, your fingers or even the edge of a spoon bowl.

Mixing equal parts water and vinegar as a carpet spritzer also helps revitalize the fibers while removing inherent odors. As with the water-only method, spray just enough of the vinegar solution to make the area damp to prevent floor damage. Use a nylon brush to groom the fibers back into shape.

Steam Treatment

A clothes iron can also be used to revive a matted area of the carpet. This works really well for high-traffic areas. Wet a white lint-free cloth, wringing out excess moisture. Plug in a clothes iron and select a medium heat setting. Place the cloth atop the matted area, then iron the cloth gently to fluff up the matted carpet fibers. Move the cloth as needed to iron additional areas. If ironing a large area, use a large lint-free white cotton towel. You may need to moisten the cloth or towel again if working a large area. If the carpet fibers still look a bit matted, run your fingers through them or use a clean nylon-bristled brush such as a nail brush.

Kathy Adams

Kathy Adams

Kathy Adams is an award-winning writer. She is an avid DIYer that is equally at home repurposing random objects into new, useful creations as she is at supporting community gardening efforts and writing about healthy alternatives to household chemicals. She's written numerous DIY articles for paint and decor companies, as well as for Black + Decker, Hunker, SFGate, Landlordology and others.