Pet urine is one of the most common problems that prompt our clients to call. Wool rugs are increasingly common. So, it should not surprise you to get a call about pet urine in a wool area rug.
Urine decontamination on wool carpet or rugs differs in a number of ways from treating pet urine on synthetic carpets. One reason is the natural absorbency of wool and other natural fibers that may be present in the foundation. Wool is sensitive to strong alkalinity. One of the by-products of urine decomposition is ammonia which is highly alkaline. In addition, wool face yarns, cotton foundation threads or the dyes used are sensitive to many products used commonly for cleaning, odor control or stain removal on synthetic fibers.
As with treating urine on synthetic fibers, you should consider variables that can guide you toward the best option in each situation. Questions to be answered include – Will pets continue to have access to the carpet / rug after cleaning has been completed? What is the client’s level of tolerance? Is complete correction of odor and stain desired? What is the client’s budget? Are there time constraints?
A key piece of advice – Never guarantee 100% of stains or odors. It will not always be possible when natural fibers are involved. Urine may have done permanent damage before you even have the opportunity to begin the cleaning process. It is better to under-promise and over-deliver and be thought a hero than the reverse situation.
Be sure to follow standard precautions to inspect rugs, test for color-fastness, pre-existing damage and other potential issues before proceeding with any cleaning.
For installed wool carpet with pet stains, the preferred cleaning procedure is almost always hot water extraction. But rugs may be cleaned on-location, in your mini-plant or a full scale rug cleaning plant. Even within those broad categories there are lots of variations. So, I won’t try to cover every potential situation. But I do want to discuss what products are generally safe to use on wool and which should only be used with caution.
TCU Neutralizer is an acid side product to dissolve alkaline salts and assist in emulsifying lipids there were present in the urine. TCU Neutralizer is safe for almost any rug that can be safely cleaned with water. By removing the lipids, any water-based cleaning afterward will get better results.
Wet the affected area with TCU Neutralizer. Allow dwell time. Flush thoroughly with warm water using a Spot Lifter, Flash Spotter or similar tool. I like to put a valve on the end of my solution hose and introduce a controlled water flow around the outside of the stain. For some rugs, you may add water from the front and extract from the back of the rug pulling the contamination through the pile. Continue until the water being removed flows clear. Get the carpet or rug dry.
If odor is the concern more so than discoloration, Hydrocide and new Hydrocide Xtreme are great choices and safe on wool fibers.
Either of these two products work safely and effectively when used in rug soaking pits.
When you need to get more aggressive with your pet stain removal process, there is at least some chance of damage to the rug or the color. Often urine remaining in the rug is a greater threat to damage the rug than cleaning, but your client should understand what you are about to do and that this is a restoration attempt, not a standard cleaning procedure. Be sure your client is OK with this. A signed disclaimer is a good idea.
Bio-Modifier is a bio enzyme product that is normally safe to use on wool. Still it is always a good idea to test in a small are before treating an entire rug. Spray apply the Bio-Modifier leaving the fibers damp. Allow dwell time for the enzymes to do their work. Depending upon the severity of the odor, this may be as long as overnight.
A relatively mild oxidizer, such as PetZONE for stains and odors, is often helpful. But there is danger of lightening some colors or yellowing of white or light colored fields. Use PetZONE with caution! Pay attention for any signs of color issues and rinse immediately if such are seen.
Stain Magic for Wool is safe to use on pet stains if used as directed by the manufacturer.
Stronger oxidizers including StainZONE and Urine Stain Remover are usually not safe for use on wool.
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