There will come a time when you will spill something on your rug, and the question will come to mind — “what should I do?” Rug fibers, especially wool, are very resilient to spills…but they are also very reactive to harsh chemicals…so you want to keep your spill system quick, simple, and safe.
Rug First-Aid Kit = Club Soda + Cotton Towels
Rug First-Aid Kit Instructions = BLOT, RINSE, BLOT
1a) LIQUID spill: Immediately BLOT with cotton towel (do not scrub the fibers or you’ll distort and potentially damage them.)
1b) NON-liquid spill: immediately scrape up material with spoon, and BLOT with cotton towel.
2) Look at the towel for two things:
- Is the spill absorbing into the towel?
- Are any of the rug’s dyes absorbing into the towel?
3) If the rug’s dyes are absorbing into the towel, blot a bit more and then STOP. No more work can be done to this area without causing this area’s dyes to bleed together. This type of damage can devalue your rug, so you want to stop before you make it worse. You can pack the area with CORN STARCH to help absorb more.
4) If the rug’s dyes are not absorbing into the towel (only the spill is seen), then place a folded towel underneath the affected area. Take a bowl of CLUB SODA and then use a sponge to get the location of the spill wet again — not soaking wet, just enough so the fibers are damp.
5) Take a new towel and blot the top of the rug to continue pulling out the spill from the fibers (the club soda helps to keep the spill “suspended” so you can grab it with the cotton towel when you BLOT).
6) When no more spill material is visible in the towel, create a “sandwich” with a folded towel under the spill and one on top, and either stand on this area or put a heavy book on it for about 10 minutes.
7) Remove the towels and elevate the damp area so that it can dry completely. Most rugs have a cotton foundation that is very absorbent, so you have to be absolutely certain this “skeleton” of your rug is 100% dry so mildew will not grow. Use a hair dryer (on cool or warm setting) on the front AND back of the rug to help quicken the process, or keep it propped up to “air dry” for at least 24 hours for a small spill, and longer for larger ones (or if your rug is thick).
Add to Rug First-Aid Kit: Add vinegar and an enzyme treatment like Vet’s Trust, which is something we sell if you need some.
Of all the possible spills to happen to your rugs, pet urine and pet vomit are the worst. Because they go on hot and acidic, they actually re-dye the fibers, and “set” them at the same time — so if you are not quick these will become permanent stains that will devalue your rug. You need to follow the spill steps in the previous section (blot, rinse, blot). If the rug has dyes that show up in the towel in the first blotting step, then substitute a 50/50 Vinegar and water mixture for the Club Soda AND get the area only slightly damp — NOT wet. For pet feces, you must pick up as much as you can before you begin the Club Sod process.
As far as the odors associated with all of these pet “emergencies”, misting the enzyme on the areas helps to remove some of the odor-causing bacteria. Resist the urge to saturate the rug with this because pouring any product on a rug is never a good idea. With pet urine, if it is a substantial amount then it has (because it’s hot and acidic) penetrated the wool or silk fibers and has been absorbed into the rug’s cotton foundation. In this case, the only way you will be able to remove the odor will be to have the rug get a bath and be soaked completely in an enzyme or deodorizing solution. You need to find a Textile Pro rug care specialist to do this.
A different set of problems arises with “old” pet urine stains. When a pet urine stain is “fresh” it is a strong acid stain. After it has dried completely, and has sat in the fibers for several days, it becomes a strong alkaline stain. The problem with high alkalinity and wool is that it yellows the wool, and it also counteracts the mordant process that holds the dyes on to the wool fibers. It essentially makes the dyes “dissolve”. Even a rug with colorfast dyes will bleed and fade in areas that have old pet urine stains. So, the key in handling all pet stains is getting to the area as soon as you can (and use the spill steps so that you can minimize the damage).
Protector Chemicals (like ScotchGuard®) will not protect your rugs from pet stains, and actually, some have a high alkaline pH that may cause yellowing and dye migration with certain rugs. Whatever is used, make sure that it is approved for use on wool because most of these products are meant for synthetic fibers.
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