To help in finding the best pet friendly carpets and rugs for homes with cats and dogs, we can start by looking at how the 5 most common fibers rank for the 5 fiber characteristics that specifically relate to living with pets.
The 5 major carpet and rug fibers are Wool, Nylon, Polyester, Olefin, and Acrylic. Blends of these major fibers, as well as additions of other fibers such as Rayon and Silk can also be found, especially in area rugs. The percentages of the individual fibers will offer clues as to what to expect from the blend.
It is always possible that new fibers will enter the market. If you have any questions, please feel free to call our office at 607-272-1566.
This is the ability of the carpet or rug fiber to return to its original state after a thorough vacuuming and/or a professional carpet cleaning. It is also descriptive of the strength of the fibers.
Fibers with excellent resiliency and durability are Wool and Nylon. Acrylic and Polyester are moderately resilient and Olefin has poor resiliency. Fibers such as Rayon and Silk can not stand up to pet abuse.
This describes the ability of the fiber to be cleaned to a satisfactory level.
All of the 5 major fibers (Wool, Nylon, Polyester, Olefin, and Acrylic) have good to excellent cleanability under normal circumstances.
Affinity to Oil
Oil-based stains such as dog oils may be very difficult to remove, if at all, from a fiber that has a high affinity to oil.
Olefin and Polyester have high affinity to oil. Nylon and Acrylic have moderate affinity. Wool has low affinity to oil-based stains.
This characteristic describes how easy or hard it will be to remove ordinary spots and spills from the carpet or rug. It also describes the ability to repel water-based spills.
Olefin and Polyester have excellent water-based spills and stain repellency. Nylon, Acrylic, and Wool have good stain repellency.
This is especially important when choosing pet friendly area rugs. Although every precaution can be taken to avoid the ‘accidents’ that can happen with pets in the home, it is comforting to know certain types of rug fibers will be less expensive to replace should that option become necessary.
Acrylic and Olefin tend to be relatively inexpensive. Nylon and Polyester are moderately expensive. Wool is the most expensive of the fibers.
For wall-to-wall carpets, first look for a type of carpet specifically manufactured with pets in mind, one that is both stain and odor resistant, if possible. Smartstrand and Stainmaster brand carpeting may be viable options. (Please be aware that carpet warranties may not cover urine stains.)
Choose cut pile rather than looped pile. Pets can get their claws caught in the looped pile and their hair can get embedded more easily. Never choose a Berber style of carpet for this reason.
Look for a carpet color that will closely match your pet’s hair or a patterned carpet design to camouflage the hair. The main color of the pattern should be similar to the animal's hair color.
Rayon (and Rayon fibers blended with other fibers) would be a poor choice as fibers for pet friendly carpets and rugs. Rayon, a man-made fiber, neither wears nor cleans well. Read about rayon fiber and rugs here.
The biggest advantage to having area rugs in a home with pets is the machine made synthetic rugs are generally less expensive to replace than wall-to-wall carpets. Area rugs of intrinsic value such as Oriental and other handmade rugs (usually made of wool), can be successfully deodorized, cleaned, and repaired in a rug cleaning plant such as ABC.
CAUTION: Please avoid the following types of area rugs in homes with pets:
Avoid rugs with a glued on backing at all costs! These are known as tufted rugs. The pile is hand or machine-tufted onto a foundation. Glue is then used to hold a backing material to the foundation of the rug. Urine and other liquids can go through to the glue that holds the backing onto the rug and cannot be removed effectively by any method. Learn more about tufted rugs here.
Rayon area rugs are to be avoided as well. Rayon is a man-made fiber developed to look and feel like silk. Rayon rugs are neither durable nor easily cleanable and not good choices for pet friendly rugs. Read more about rayon rugs here.
Pet urine odor and stains in a carpet or area rug are the most common reasons why pet owners call professional rug and carpet cleaners. The procedure to successfully remove the urine odor (stains may be permanent) for wall-to-wall carpets and loose lay area rugs (both machine-made and handmade) are different:
From Wall-to-Wall Carpets
For carpets in the home, urine cannot be effectively removed with just cleaning. The odor can be mitigated for a short time with a sanitization treatment while the carpets are being cleaned professionally, but the odor will return eventually.
The urine odor itself is caused by urine salts, which are the end result of urine which has dried. These salts attach to the back of the rug and are microscopic. They have to be dissolved and thoroughly rinsed out to remove them and the odor they cause. High humidity will always activate the urine salts, producing the distinctive odor. This is why the odor is so pronounced in hot, humid weather. Dry weather, such as in colder times of the year when the heat is on, has lower humidity and the odor is usually not as noticeable.
The procedure to remove the urine salts from a carpet installed in a home involves pulling the carpet up, removing the pad, cleaning and possibly sanding and sealing the floor, installing a new pad, cleaning the back of the carpet, reinstalling the carpet, then cleaning the carpet pile. The process is labor-intensive and expensive. Replacement of the carpet is usually recommended.
From Oriental and other Handmade Area Rugs
We guarantee the thorough removal of urine odor from area rugs that go through a urine decontamination procedure in our plant. (Rugs with a glued-on backing are excluded). The procedure is labor-intensive and is the only way the urine salts can be dissolved and totally rinsed out without causing harm to the rug.
From Machine Made Area Rugs
In general, we do not recommend treating machine made area rugs for total urine odor removal unless the fiber is Wool (or the rug has sentimental value). Nylon, Olefin, Polyester, and blends of any of these fibers generally do not retain their value and the urine odor removal treatment may exceed the value of the rug. We can put them through a sanitizing treatment while they are being washed. This will help with the odor but only for a limited time.
Urine stains can be caused by pigments in the urine, especially Urochrome, which gives urine its yellow color. Staining can also be influenced by the age, the diet, and any medications given to an animal. Urine can also destabilize dyes, causing color bleeding. Any urine that is allowed to accumulate can cause a condition known as dry rot, which further damages the textile.
Because most of these conditions are not 100% reversible, we cannot guarantee urine stain removal.
Pet friendly carpets and rugs make life easier in homes with cats and dogs. Unfortunately, though urine is a major stain and odor causing problem, pet feces and vomit can also cause permanent stains. Dyes in the food and stomach acids can affect the final outcome. Follow carefully the directions outlined in our ABC Spot Cleaning Guide or call our office at 607-272-1566 for more information.
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