The Best Ways to Revive a Matted or Flattened Carpet

Paige Bennett
Written by Paige Bennett
Updated May 4, 2023
Father and son sitting on the carpet and playing checkers
Photo: Cavan Images / Cavan / Getty Images


  • Matting is part of the natural wear and tear of carpets.

  • Regular vacuuming and professional cleaning can help fix matting.

  • Water, heat, or steam are also effective ways to unflatten carpet.

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You’ve decided to rearrange the living room furniture, only to find the sofa that’s been resting in the same spot for over a year has left some serious indentations in the carpet. Thankfully, you’re not cursed to keep your couch where it is for eternity, nor do you need to find a plant to hide the matted carpet spots. Armed with some common household items like ice cubes or a clothing iron, you can fix carpet matting and even prevent it in the future.

What Is Matted Carpet?

Visual comparison of regular carpet versus matted carpet

If your carpet feels a little stiff or looks flat, it might be matted. Matting happens naturally over time, just as the fabric on your sofa might start pilling after years of movie nights and TV marathons. Matted carpet can make a room look dated and worn out, and it probably doesn’t feel soft and plush when you walk across it barefoot.

What Causes Carpets to Go Flat?

There are many reasons for carpet matting. Carpets in high-traffic areas, like living rooms and bedrooms, will tend to go flat from general wear and tear. If kids or pets run into the house with muddy shoes and paws, the mud and dirt from outside can also cause the fibers to become dense and compacted. Extended pressure from heavy items, like a sofa or solid-wood dresser, can also compress the carpet fibers and cause matting. 

If you have a habit of neglecting to clean your carpeted floors, the buildup of dust and other debris can cause matting. But even mistakenly using padding that is too thin or thick beneath the carpet can contribute to this problem.

How to Fix Matted Carpet

Just as there are many reasons for carpet to become matted, there are also several ways to unflatten it. Stimulating the fibers with a brush or vacuum can help loosen things up and clear away dirt that weighs down the fibers, while heat or moisture can get the carpet fibers to stand upright once more.


If you’re just starting to notice some matting in your carpet, you may just need to give it a good vacuuming to refresh the fibers. Be sure to run the vacuum in all different directions rather than moving just back and forth.

Ice Cube

Matting can happen when the carpet fibers become stuck together, but moisture can often help detach them from one another. You can place an ice cube in spots where the carpet has matted, like where furniture legs have been resting, and let the ice melt. Then, use a small coin, spoon, or fork to brush up the fibers gently.

Hair Dryer

Heat is another powerful element to consider when you want to fix carpet matting. Use a hairdryer to blow hot air on spots of carpet matting, then gently run a fork, comb, or another small tool across the area to perk up the fibers.


If moisture and heat work on carpet matting individually, imagine how effective it could be to combine them. You can use a steam cleaner to fix matted carpet, but if you don’t have one available, your iron will also work. Place a damp towel over the carpet and run the iron, set on low, over the towel.

Carpet Brush

Closeup of a carpet being groomed with a carpet rake
Photo: BanksPhotos / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

You can use a carpet brush or rake to revive flattened carpet fibers. For high-pile carpets, use a carpet rake. Opt for a carpet brush for low-pile carpets. Carpet rakes cost about $15 to $50, and carpet brushes cost about $5 to $30.

You’ll run one of these tools across the carpet to loosen the compressed fibers and any accumulated dust or dirt. For best results, start by brushing or raking the carpet, then follow up by running the vacuum in different directions.

Call a Carpet Cleaning Service

If you don’t have the patience to brush out your carpets or your efforts have not helped liven up your rug, hire a carpet cleaning service near you. In fact, you’ll want to enlist professional help with an annual cleaning to ensure your carpet looks its best. Plus, regular carpet cleaning services will extend the life of your carpets and, yes, even prevent matting. If you have major matting or damage, you may want to take on the cost of carpet repair to ensure your space looks its best. 

What Types of Carpet Tend to Become Matted?

Just about any carpet can become matted, especially carpets in high-traffic areas. However, fluffy carpets, carpets made from polyester, frieze carpets, and other high-pile carpets tend to become matted more frequently.

How to Prevent Carpet Matting

Carpet matting is natural, but there are ways to help minimize the issue and prolong the life of your carpet. First, clean carpets regularly by vacuuming about twice per week and scheduling a professional carpet cleaning service at least once per year. To help keep dirt and debris out of your carpets, maintain a no-shoes-on-in-the-house policy, and keep doormats and towels near entrances to wipe feet and paws.

Moving furniture, even just an inch or two, can also help prevent permanent matting underneath the legs. Consider keeping heavy furnishings spaced apart to reduce stress on the carpet fibers.

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