How To Get Wrinkles Out of Carpet Without a Stretcher

By Fortino Rosas / December 28, 2021 / 0 Comments

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    Wall-to-wall carpets may start to bubble or wrinkle over time or due to poor installation, but not everyone has a carpet stretcher to fix the situation. The good news is that we’ve found out how to get wrinkles out of carpet without a stretcher.

    Carpet ripples or bubbles are a safety hazard especially if you have children that run around the house. What’s more, carpet bubbles can be unsightly. The methods we’ve provided in this article will show you how to fix carpet ripples quickly and easily without spending too much money. Ideally, you want a carpet that’s flat so that it doesn’t look untidy. 

    Keep reading to find out what could cause your carpet to ripple, how to fix it, and how to prevent it from happening again. 

    The Cause Of Ripples In Carpets 

    Ripples in carpets can be extremely frustrating because it makes it difficult to clean your floors. It’s not easy running a vacuum cleaner over your carpets that have bubbles in them. 

    There are several common factors that cause ripples in carpets. Once you know the cause, you can use the correct method to get wrinkles out of carpet without a stretcher. 

    Incorrect Installation 

    One of the main causes of carpet wrinkling is incorrect installation. A carpet starting to ripple within a year of installation is an indication that it wasn’t installed correctly. If a carpet isn’t properly stretched, it can cause the carpet to pull away from the nails. 

    Wrinkled Carpet
    Wrinkled Carpet from a poor installation

    Most carpet installation companies use a high-powered stretcher to install a carpet; however, there are some companies that still use an old knee kicker method. With the knee kicker method, the carpet isn’t fully stretched and in a few months will start to swell in spots. 


    Some homeowners choose to steam clean their carpets too often or wash them with excessive water. If the room is closed up, the carpet can’t dry properly. The moisture then causes the carpet to swell and wrinkle. 

    Humidity and Excess Heat 

    Before installing a carpet, it’s important to allow the flooring to acclimate to the environment. If you don’t allow the carpet to acclimate, it can be affected by the humidity or heat inside a room. Excessive heat and humidity can cause the carpet to ripple or swell. Before installing a carpet, leave it out for one or two days to acclimate properly. 

    Heavy Furniture 

    Constantly moving heavy furniture across your carpet can cause the flooring to stretch or pull away from the nails. When the carpet stretches it can cause large ripples or creases in the middle or sides of the carpet. Sliding chairs on the carpet can also cause it to bubble in smaller spots. 

    Old Carpets

    Over time, carpets will start to lose their elasticity, which causes the carpet to warp and bubble. This is especially true if the carpet is installed in an area with high foot traffic. If your carpet is old, you may want to replace it with a brand new one, and have it stretched correctly so that it doesn’t wrinkle over time. 

    Poor Quality Carpet

    Another reason your carpet may start to wrinkle is because of poor quality. Cheaper carpets have low upfront costs, but you’ll land up spending more on trying to get the wrinkles out of it. Low-cost carpet tends to be lighter, which can cause it to lift in certain places. That’s why it’s always best to purchase a high-end carpet that has some weight to it. 

    Carpet Pads 

    Improper padding can cause your carpet to wrinkle and it may even void the warranty. Consider hiring a professional to install your carpet and padding so that it doesn’t cause wrinkles in the long run. 

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    Tips On How To Fix Carpet Wrinkles Without A Stretcher

    Do you want to solve the problem of fixing your carpet wrinkles without a stretcher? There are some DIY methods that may work well. If you don’t have a stretcher or don’t know how to use one,  the methods below will show you how to fix carpet that has bubbled. 

    Use Pliers 

    First, you’ll need to remove all furniture from the room. Use a strong pair of pliers to pull out the carpet from all corners of the area. Carefully pull the carpet from the tack strips. Try not to damage the tack strips or you’ll have to replace them. 

    Now stand a foot away from the wall, then jump forward on the carpet to slide it close to the wall. You can place a weight where you were standing afterward to prevent the carpet from shooting back up again, then tack the end of the carpet to secure it. Repeat the process until you’ve tacked the entire carpet to the wall, then trim off any excess carpet. 

    Use a Knee Kicker 

    Remove all furniture from the room, including cupboards or other items that may prevent you from fixing your flooring correctly. Inspect the flooring and look for all of the carpet wrinkles, and remove the threshold from the carpet. 

    The best way to fix carpet wrinkles without a stretcher is using a knee kicker. It’s much more affordable than buying or renting a carpet stretcher, and it’s ideal if you’re fixing carpet ripples the DIY way. Immediately after removing the carpet from the tack strip, place the knee kicker on the floor and push the tool from one end to the other. 

    Repeat the knee kicker process until the carpet is fully stretched and flattened. If you find any excess carpet by the wall, simply trim it and secure it with the tack strip. The knee kicker method is ideal to use on newer carpets. 

    Weigh it Down 

    A temporary method to get wrinkles out of carpets is to weigh them down with another piece of furniture such as a table or a bed; however, this is only a temporary method because it won’t remove the wrinkles indefinitely. If you don’t want to use furniture you can use heavy potted plants or books to smooth out carpet wrinkles. 

    Use Ice Cubes 

    For minor furniture dents or wrinkles you can use the ice cube method. Inspect your carpet for any dents left behind by heavy furniture. Place an ice cube over the affected area and leave the ice to melt. 

    Ice Cube Method
    The Ice Cube Method is a simple and effective option

    You don’t want to soak the area with water; the ice cube provides enough water for the carpet fibers to spring back to their original form. Once the ice cube has melted, blot the area with a paper towel to remove any excess water. Use a coin or a spoon to brush the fibers up again. 

    Steam Your Carpets 

    One way to fix flattened carpet fibers or ones that have wrinkled is to steam the floors; however, steaming can only be done on natural fiber carpets. High heat can melt or damage synthetic carpets such as nylon. See our analysis of the best carpet steam cleaners.

    Start by placing a wet towel over the wrinkled area. Fill your iron with water and turn it up to the highest setting with an increase in steam. Carefully run your iron over your towel as if you’re ironing creases out of it. Don’t stop moving the iron over the towel because it may cause burns. 

    Remove the towel and use a hair dryer or fan to remove moisture from the carpet. You can also run a soft bristled brush over the area as you’re drying it. 

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    Preventing Carpet Ripples 

    If you’re planning on installing carpets or you’ve just completed the job, there are methods you can follow to prevent carpet ripples. Take a look at the tips below. 

    Place Carpet Pads Under Furniture 

    Place pads or rugs under heavy furniture such as tables and cabinets to prevent them from wrinkling your carpet. You can choose glass mats to place under office chairs to prevent the wheels of the chair from pulling on your carpet. You can also add glass mats under small tables or cupboards. 

    Don’t Drag Heavy Furniture on the Carpet 

    One of the reasons homeowners place mats under heavy furniture is because it makes it easier to move the furniture around without damaging their carpets. 

    Don’t drag heavy furniture across your carpets if they don’t have mats underneath them. Dragging furniture across the floor will cause your carpet to stretch and pull away from the wall which can cause it to lift and bubble. 

    Clean Up Liquid Spills Immediately

    As mentioned before, moisture can lead to carpet wrinkles so if you spill liquids on the carpet it’s important to clean it up immediately. Try to wash your carpets on a hot, windy day and leave the windows open so that the carpets dry faster and moisture doesn’t get trapped underneath the flooring. 

    Follow the Manufacturer’s Care Instructions 

    Another way for you to prevent carpet wrinkling is to always follow the manufacturer’s maintenance and care instructions. Every carpet brand will have its own instructions to prevent your carpet from tearing or wrinkling. Always adhere to these instructions because the manufacturer’s know what works to prevent your carpet from getting damaged. 

    Purchase High-Quality Carpets and Padding

    Carpet Styles
    Choose a more weighted carpet

    As mentioned before, the cause of carpet wrinkles could be because the carpet is poor quality. Always purchase your carpets from a high-end flooring company that uses top-of-the-range products to manufacture their carpets. Ideally, you want a carpet that has a bit of weight to it so that it doesn’t lift in certain areas. 

    Additionally, you must purchase high-end carpet padding that won’t wear under the carpet. The padding should also have some weight to it so that it doesn’t lift. Get a professional to install your carpet padding as this needs to be done correctly to prevent wrinkling. 

    See our in-depth carpet buying guide to learn more about top brands and pros/cons.

    Consider Professional Installation

    You may avoid the option of professional carpet installation because you don’t want to spend more on labor costs. However, if your carpet isn’t installed correctly, you’ll spend more money on trying to fix wrinkles. Professionals know how to install carpets correctly to prevent wear and tear as well as unsightly wrinkles and ripples. 

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    Removing Wrinkles Out of Area Rugs 

    Rugs tend to wrinkle or lift. This is because they’re not secured to the floor with tack strips, so they may pull up or bend in certain spots. Rugs are ideal if you want to protect your hard floors from damage; however, if the rugs wrinkle it can be a safety hazard. Here are tips on how to remove wrinkles from rugs: 

    • Roll them up: The first method would be to simply roll up the rug and leave it to sit for 24 hours. Rolling up the rug may remove creases and wrinkles that cause the rug to lift in certain spots.
    • Use the sun: Another method is to leave the rug out in the sun. The heat from the sun may cause the rug to smooth out.
    • Iron the rug: You can place a towel over your rug and use a hot iron to smooth out wrinkles, as long as it isn’t made from a material that will be damaged by heat. 
    • Hair dryer: The heat from a hair dryer may work to flatten your rug, but be careful not to go too close to the fibers, especially if it’s a synthetic rug. The heat may melt synthetic fibers, so if you’re worried about melting you can place a towel on the surface of the rug before exposing it to heat. 

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    Is a carpet stretcher expensive? 

    A carpet stretcher can be expensive if you’re renting it for the day. The average cost of a carpet stretcher is $60 per hour or $0.30 per square foot. If you use a stretcher yourself, you won’t have to factor in labor costs. Carpet stretching is important because it helps prevent the flooring from wrinkling, but if you don’t want to use a carpet stretcher you can use a knee kicker. 

    Should you remove wrinkles from an old carpet? 

    The reason old carpets wrinkle is that they’ve lost their elasticity. You can remove wrinkles from an old carpet, but they may return after a while. This means that if you don’t want to continue to stretch it, you’ll have to replace your old carpet with a new one or use weights to flatten stubborn carpet wrinkles. 

    Can you iron wrinkles out of carpet? 

    Yes, you can iron out carpet wrinkles, but only on natural fiber carpets. High heat will melt carpets that are made from synthetic fibers. Even for natural fiber carpets, you’ll need to place a damp towel over the area to prevent the iron from burning the carpet. 

    Is a knee kicker the best way to get wrinkles out of carpet? 

    If you don’t have a stretcher, the best tool to use is a knee kicker to flatten or stretch bubbles or wrinkles out of carpets. Knee kickers are affordable tools that you can buy from any hardware store. They’re also easy to use, so you can smooth out carpet wrinkles yourself instead of hiring a professional to assist you. 

    Should I get a professional to remove wrinkles from my carpet? 

    If you are worried that you might damage your carpets, you can hire someone to fix carpet swell and wrinkles. They may use a carpet stretcher for the job to prevent your carpet from wrinkling again, or they may use a different method. On the other hand, you can smooth out carpet wrinkles the DIY way if you have the correct tools. 

    How do you know if your carpet is stretched enough? 

    You’ll know that the carpet isn’t stretched enough if there are still wrinkles and creases on the flooring. If there are no wrinkles, you can test the carpet by pulling on the fibers in the middle of the carpet. The carpet won’t lift much if it’s stretched properly; furthermore, the carpet will snap back into place when you let the fibers go if it’s stretched enough. 

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    Final Thoughts 

    Carpet wrinkles are unsightly and they can cause damage to your carpet, so it’s important to fix the problem before it gets worse using one of the methods mentioned in this article. As you can see, you don’t need to purchase or rent an expensive stretcher to smooth out carpet wrinkles. For best results, use a knee kicker to prevent carpets from lifting. 

    If you install a wall-to-wall carpet without the assistance of a professional, make sure you follow the manufacturer’s requirements. Every carpet brand will have specific instructions on how to install their carpets to prevent future wrinkles and damage. 

    If you have any comments or first-hand experiences on how to get wrinkles out of carpet without a stretcher, please post them below or share your pictures via our social media. 

    About Fortino Rosas

    Chief Floor Critic, 32 years of experience in flooring installation and sales

    Fortino Rosas is an independent flooring contractor with 32 years of experience in residential and commercial flooring installation and sales. He joined the Floor Critics team to share his expertise with our readers. Fortino has acquired vast knowledge and skills in the areas of product selection, space planning, and installation. He has installed flooring in residential, government, and commercial office projects in the Midwest. Visit Website.

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