Removing Pet Odor from Rugs

Removing pet odor from rugs can be very challenging if you don’t understand how to do it. But a rug cleaner should be able to safely take care of the problem … and guarantee it. After all, pet odor is one of the primary reasons rug owners decide to have their rug cleaned.

Damaged oriental rugYou may not imagine it’s possible. Or perhaps you’ve had a bad experience where a carpet cleaner employing all of his skills and the “special” product made just for this problem failed to remove the odor – and damaged the rug in the process. (See the photo on the right.) Maybe you’ve tried the organic, all natural “Miracle” product with the label that guarantees urine odor will go away like magic. But the pet odor is still there.

Guaranteed Pet Odor Removal

To remove pet odor, a rug cleaner has to wash the rug.

Here’s why. Oriental rugs, handmade rugs and most fine area rugs are made of these natural fibers; wool, silk, cotton and jute. These fibers are absorbent. Liquid spills and accidents penetrate the fiber. When the water in the urine evaporates, the contaminant remains inside the fiber. That contaminant provides food for bacteria. The odor you smell and associate with urine is the byproduct of the life cycle of the bacteria.

You may not know…

Due to its structure, wool can hold up to 3 times its weight in water – and still feel dry. So you may not even know Buster has had an accident on the rug. But Buster’s sense of smell is far better than yours and he knows just where that spot is. And so does Rascal, your friend’s dog that comes over for a visit. So the next time there is an “accident” it could very well happen in the same place. Buster’s nose tells him “here is the spot where we do this and get away with it”.

It gets worse

Now add this into the mix: there are 5 or 10 times (I’m guessing here) the number of fibers and yarns in the foundation of the rug than you can see on the surface. And the urine penetrates all of those absorbent fibers under and around the spot.

rug yarn dyes stripped out by urinerug yarns not exposed to urineSo if you notice the pet odor, it’s past time to have your rug cleaned.

Left in the rug, urine will degrade and damage wool fibers and dyes. The two photos show a repeating floral motif found in the border of a rug we washed. Long term exposure to urine caused the dye in the tips of the yarns shown in the  photo on the far right to vanish.

The majority of the rugs we clean have been subjected to numerous pet accidents. We can guarantee odor removal because the multiple steps we take in the rug washing process remove the source of the odor. And that’s why “Odor-Free” is part of the guarantee. If when we’re finished cleaning your rug, it’s not odor-free, the cleaning is free.

We don’t use deodorizers or place the rug in an ozone chamber. It’s odor removal, not odor treatment or odor cover-up.

This applies to hand knotted rugs, hand woven rugs, machined loomed rugs, rag rugs, braided rugs, hooked rugs, embroidered rugs and flokatis. If we can wash the rug we can guarantee odor removal.

What we can’t guarantee is urine stain removal. Often we can improve the discoloration. But sometimes the discoloration is a combination of a urine stain, dye migration caused by the urine, and dye that is absent (e.g. pile that was once dark blue is now light blue).

There is a type of rug, sometimes referred to as “oriental”, that can’t be washed without losing its structural integrity. It is actually a hand tufted (also known as “gun-tufted”) rug. You can identify it by looking at the back. It will have a blue, gray, tan or brown canvas-like material glued to the back. It’s held together with synthetic latex adhesive that dissolves in water.

Call or contact us with your questions or to schedule a rug pick up for cleaning.

rug cleaners

Cara and John Eliason

Woolsafe Certification

Our Hours

At the plant

Mon, Wed, Fri:  8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Tue, Thu:        12:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Call before coming. Sometimes deliveries run into the afternoon.

RealClean Rugs


On Tuesday and Thursday mornings we pick up and return rugs in the Upper Valley.

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