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Accidents happen. Even the most well-trained pet can have an accident in the home due to any number of different causes. If you own area rugs and pets, it’s important to understand the four ways that urine can damage your rugs as well as what you can do to protect your rugs from damage.

Urine can cause permanent fiber damage, and this damage isn’t always visible from the top. Urine salts attract moisture to the cotton foundation of a rug, and this moist environment can cause the cotton foundation to rot and mildew. Bugs also use this environment as a food source, and if left alone, this will result in a hole in the rug.

The ammonia in urine can damage dyes. This leads to bleeding colors and color loss, especially on silk rugs. As the urine decomposes, it releases an odor. We become accustomed to smells, and urine odor gets worse over time. So commonly, rug owners don’t even realize that the odor is as bad as it is.

In order to eliminate the odor, all the urine salts and bacteria must be washed out of the foundation of the rug. To clean a rug with carpet cleaning equipment won’t work because the source of the odor is in the base of the rug, in the foundation.

Tufted rugs with a backing like can be cleaned with standard cleaning equipment. These rugs are cheaper to make, but they are made with a layer of latex to glue the fibers in place. Urine can penetrate and bond with the latex in these rugs, and it can get very difficult if not impossible to completely remove the odors.

Finally, decomposing urine can stain rugs. As urine sucks into a rug, it spreads out in the bottom layers of the rug. These stains are like icebergs: they are small on top but much larger underneath and inside. Here are five things you can do to make living with pets and rugs easier:

Have a spot removal plan. You want to clean up pet stains and other spills quickly. Your rug cleaner should be a partner in this process. And we can teach you what to do if you have a problem and if you come home to a pet catastrophe, we’re just a phone call away. When possible, buy rugs that can be washed. Buy woven rugs with colorfast dyes. Get a busy design to hide stains and spots better, especially if you have less cue pads. Get pads under your rugs to protect your floor. Apply fiber protector to suspend spills and give you more time for cleanup.

Also, if you have pets, you should have your rugs washed every 1-3 years. If you have any questions about proper maintenance of your rugs, call (732) 244-8080, and we’ll be happy to help you out. And please let us know if you like this video.