Of all the reasons for cleaning an oriental or area rug, urine odor removal is clearly the most requested at ABC. Yes, we can successfully remove urine odor from all hand or machine-woven, natural fiber rugs. This is because the urine odor is removed by eliminating the source, not by masking the problem with enzyme digesters or deodorizers.
Why is there an Odor?
First, it is important to understand why there will still be an odor, even after a rug is thoroughly washed and dried. The explanation is that when urine dries, microscopic urea crystals or salts are formed which adhere tenaciously to the foundation (back) of the rug as in handmade rugs, or in the backing and glues of a machine-made area rug. These urea salts cannot be removed by cleaning alone but must be soaked out in a special labor-intensive process. (Please see the warning below about rugs with backings.)
Untreated urine (urea crystals) in rugs leads not only to odor (especially when it is hot or humid), but the urine stains will become darker the longer they remain in the rug and this can lead to dry rot which weakens the rug's foundation. In addition, urine can attract moths.
The urine odor comes from bacteria eating the urea crystals and then those bacteria become a food source for more bacteria. For bacteria to grow, four contributing factors must be present: a warm temperature, lack of light, moisture, and an organic food source.
With these factors in place, a perfect incubator for bacterial growth has been created under your area rug and the urea crystals become their primary food source. The urine odor itself is caused by the release of gases (off-gassing) during bacterial growth. When 1 or more factors are missing, such as lack of moisture in colder months, the odor may not be easily detected because the bacteria will be dormant.
Can the Odor be Removed from any Rug?
ABC's urine odor removal process CANNOT be guaranteed for area rugs with secondary backings or rugs with latex adhesive used to apply backing such as in tufted rugs, some hooked rugs and olefins. These adhesives do not release the urine once it has penetrated the rug, making complete removal impossible.
Can the Stains be Removed?
ABC's urine odor removal process CANNOT remove urine STAINS. We can sometimes lighten them, preventing them from becoming darker and causing dry rot.
Is it Safe?
The urine odor removal process is perfectly safe for your rug, your children, and your pets. The solution we use is completely biodegradable and non-toxic. There are no chemicals such as deodorizers or enzyme digesters left in the rug to provide a residual effect. Rugs are thoroughly flushed with water after treatment and then washed, rinsed, and dried in our climate-controlled dry room. The procedure actually revitalizes wool's natural sheen, giving the rug a lustrous look and feel.
Is there Anything the Homeowner should do before Bringing the Rug Home?
Remember to replace the pad unless it is one that can be washed and clean, and if necessary, seal the floor before placing your rug back in your home. A rug fiber acts like a wick and will pull any remaining urine crystals up from a contaminated pad or floor.