How to Choose a Pet-Friendly Rug for Your Home

When it comes to our beloved pets, there are times when we would all love to have a world-renowned dog trainer or therapist on speed dial. At least that’s how I felt when I was desperately trying to potty train my two toy poodles—in the middle of winter, no less.

After many frustrating months of finding stains left on every carpet in the house, I managed to get the dogs to ring a bell when they needed to go outside. Sadly, it was too late for most of my carpets, and I ended up replacing them with hardwood.

While the gleaming hardwood floors are lovely, my rooms had an empty, unwelcoming echo that only the addition of area rugs could fix. Before I invested money into more floor coverings, I did some research to find out which rug fibers are the most pet-friendly—and which ones to avoid. Here’s what I discovered.

Get to Know Your Fibers

Let’s cut to the chase: Not all rug fibers are created with pets in mind. Natural fibers such as wool, cotton, silk, sisal and jute all have a high-absorbency rate, meaning they will naturally soak up stains and spills—including pet accidents.

This is not to say that these fibers are a no-go when it comes to pet-loving homes. Some of these natural fibers, such as wool, are very resilient to the residue of oily build-up from bare feet and stain removers, but all natural fibers should come with a warning when it comes to pets.

Ideally, the best rug that will keep you and your pet happy is made of synthetic fibers. However, not all synthetics are created equal, so here’s a quick breakdown of the most common synthetic fibers:

  • Nylon is a strong, resilient fiber that stands up to heavy use, but it’s very absorbent, so look for rugs that are pretreated for stains.
  • Polyester is less expensive than nylon and has a closed-cell fiber, making it more stain-resistant than nylon, but it’s usually not as durable as nylon.
  • Olefin is highly stain-resistant but not highly soil-resistant (Soiling is caused from residue build-up of oils or cleaning solutions). Its durability is only rated “medium” when compared to its synthetic counterparts, nylon and polyester.

Bring the Outdoors In

You already know that outdoor rugs are great for adding color and texture to a porch or patio. But did you know they’re also perfect for pets? Outdoor rugs are made to be water- and stain-resistant—not to mention attractive and comfortable—so why not bring them indoors?  

Let’s be clear: I’m not talking about those fake, green grass-looking rugs that our parents used to use (unless that’s something that appeals to your eclectic tastes). Rather, imagine a bold black and white chevron rug in your kitchen, or a soft, muted floral or paisley rug in your more formal rooms. Today’s outdoor rugs offer these styles and more—and no one will ever guess it’s an outdoor rug.

Improve Your Stain-Fighting Powers

Accidents happen, but we can still do our best to avoid them. Even with a keen eye, the experts at Pet MD note that puppy accidents will happen, but it helps to follow their suggestions on how to respond.

Since some accidents are unavoidable, here’s how to quickly rid your rugs of pet stains and odors:

1. Address the stain as fast as possible. The longer it sits and soaks into the fibers, the more damage is done.

2. Use absorbent towels to soak up as much of the accident as possible. Repeatedly stand on towels until the moisture is gone.

3. Spray on a rug cleaner with odor-killing enzymes. (Be sure to read the packaging to make sure it is safe for your rug fibers).

4. Do not rub or scrub at the fibers. Instead, stand on more clean towels until the cleaner is absorbed and the rug is dry to the touch.

5. You may need to repeat steps 3 and 4 again.

If the stain is resistant to these steps, then it may be time to call in a pro—especially if you think there is a lingering odor. If the odor lingers, it is a calling card for the pet to strike that area again.

Do you have any successful training or cleaning tips that have worked for you in the past? 

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