Between 30% and 40 % ofU.S.households have at least one cat or a dog in residence. And although they may be our best friends, they may not be the best for the carpet, rugs, draperies and upholstery. Animal related issues and stains can be challenging to remove, so it’s best to attack them while they are fresh.
There are two types of reactions that can take place between the chemicals in an animal’s urine and those in the dyes and fibers of textile furnishings. The first type of reaction is immediately noticeable. The yellow color of the urine can change the color (s) of the fiber or fabric (especially light colors) as soon as it comes in contact with them.
The other reactions develop slowly over several days to several months and can result in permanent changes to the dyes and fiber. Not only can the dyes change but some fibers may become weakened or destroyed by the aged urine. The decomposing urine can also produce an objectionable odor. After cleaning, these areas are more obvious because the soils that hid the changed color and damaged fibers have been removed. Also, dyes weakened by urine may bleed especially on your fine wool rugs so if you see color transfer as you’re blotting up the urine, take the rug to a WoolSafe Service Provider in your area as soon as possible.
The next time you encounter a fresh urine “accident,” follow these simple steps:
1. immediately absorb as much liquid as possible with several layers of white terry or paper toweling.
2. treat the area with a neutral detergent solution (one teaspoon neutral white or colorless laundry detergent in a cup of lukewarm water). Make sure the detergent is free of bleaching agents (no chlorine or peroxide). Blot (don’t rub or scrub) that liquid with several layers of white terry or paper towel. Note: always test the solutions first by applying a small amount in an inconspicuous area to determine its effect on the fiber and dye. Wait thirty minutes to an hour to see if any color changes or other problems may arise.
3. apply the mild ammonia solution (1/2 teaspoon clear or sudsy, uncolored household ammonia in one cup of water ). Blot again.
4. apply the vinegar solution (one part white vinegar to two parts water). Blot.
5. finally place several clean, dry, white terry or paper towels over the area and weigh down with a plastic bucket or jug filled with water.
6. allow the area to dry a minimum of six hours. Repeat if necessary.
If you discover an old or dried urine spot, skip step #3. And remember, if the situation is more than you can handle or you have any questions, call a professional.
Normal pet feces tend to be easier to deal with than urine. Compact deposits can be quickly removed with a plastic bag. The surface should then be cleaned with the neutral detergent solution and blotted. Rinse the area with water and blot again. Follow this treatment with a mild disinfectant like dilute liquid Lysol®. A word of caution: some disinfectants may cause color loss. Test the area first!
Loose feces or vomit require the same clean-up procedure as described for fresh urine removal. This should also be followed with an application of disinfectant. If your pet’s food contains red dye to make it “look meatier,” this could leave a red stain at the site of the “accident” because it contains an acid dye which colors both nylon and wool fibers. We may be able to remove this with a specialty spotting chemical. The good news! If immediate action is taken to remove the animal deposits, little or no change in color should occur and that “accident” will not become apparent after your carpet or other textile has been professionally cleaned.
Remember, pet issues, if forgotten or never discovered, will return to haunt you. Dried urine will smell like strong ammonia when humidity is high or when the spot is rewetted. Feces and urine can contain harmful bacteria. A spot that is small on the surface is often many times larger on the underside. The urine can damage both dyes and textile fibers. Unfortunately, the change usually isn’t noticed until the textile furnishing is cleaned. The damage caused by aged urine generally required professional restoration, possibly color tinting, color removal, and sometimes removal of the contaminated carpet and cushion, and subfloor resealing.
WoolSafe-Approved Service Provider Companies have cleaning methods available to disinfect the contaminated area, reduce the odor and minimize the discoloration. Unfortunately, it is often impossible to completely restore the original appearance of a textile that has been damaged with untreated or aged pet urine. Go to www.woolsafe.org/usa to locate a Service Provider in your area.