Wool is naturally resilient, water-repellent and dirt-resistant, but dog urine can alter the fibers and the rug dyes if it is allowed to sit. If the day comes that your normally well-trained dog has an accident on your prized wool rug, rapid response is half the battle. Having a “mess kit” of towels and cleaning supplies ready ahead of time is essential. You'll also need to understand the properties of wool and the cocktail of chemicals in dog urine.
Cleaning the Spot
Don rubber gloves. Place a thick pad of paper towels directly over the wet spot to draw out the moisture as quickly as possible. Do not press on the paper towel pad, as doing that would spread the puddle beneath the rug. This is especially important if the rug has padding under it. Discard the paper towels as they become saturated, and replace them with dry ones.
Place additional thick pads of paper towels around the perimeter of the spot. Working from edge to center to avoid spreading the puddle, carefully blot up the urine until dry paper towels no longer can pick up much moisture.
Put cool water in a bucket, and add about 1 tablespoon of distilled white vinegar per cup of water. Carefully dampen the stained area with the solution to neutralize and dilute the urine.
Place a folded white towel over the center of the spot. Starting at the edge of the area as before, blot the wet spot with additional white towels until they absorb all of the water and vinegar solution.
Dry the rug by propping it from beneath to allow airflow. You can use a hair dryer or fan to speed the drying.
Deodorizing the Rug
Mix a solution of 1 quart of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup baking soda and 1 teaspoon of mild liquid soap. This formula was invented by chemist Paul Krebaum to eliminate skunk odor, but it works on pet urine in the same way, using oxygen to chemically neutralize odor-producing proteins.
Test your rug for colorfastness before applying the solution, because hydrogen peroxide is a mild bleach. To test, apply a small amount of the solution to an inconspicuous area of the rug, and let it sit for several minutes. Rinse it with clear, cool water, and blot it dry. If the spot looks OK, proceed to the next step. If there is any fading or color bleeding, do not use this solution. Instead, consult the manufacturer of your wool rug for recommendations.
Use a saturated sponge to apply the solution liberally to the affected area, and allow it to soak for about 10 minutes. Blot the wet spot with clean, white towels. Rinse the spot with clear, cool water, and immediately blot it dry again with fresh white towels.
Dry the rug completely, using a hair dryer or fan if you wish. Vacuum up or sweep away any residual baking soda that may adhere to the rug. Restore the nap by brushing the rug lightly with a soft brush.
Wool quickly deteriorates if it is allowed to remain wet. Make sure the rug is completely dry before putting it back in place after cleaning.
Avoid rubbing stains, as rubbing may damage the rug's fibers. Pat or blot instead.
The staff at Premium Rugs, a rugs emporium in Athens, Ga., suggests taking small, colorfast rugs outside and rinsing them with a garden hose or bucket of water, then drying them over clean grass in the shade to prevent sun-fading of colors. The company also suggests placing urine-saturated areas over a bucket or dishpan when flushing with water, to avoid soaking the rest of a larger rug.
Items You Will Need
- Rubber gloves
- Paper towels
- Distilled white vinegar
- Thick terrycloth towels -- several, clean and white only
- Hair dryer or fan, optional
- Hydrogen peroxide, ordinary household 3 percent solution
- Baking soda
- Mild dish detergent
- Vacuum cleaner or broom
- Soft brush
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