When rugs come in our shop that are gosh-awful smelly, the usual suspects are: PETS, FLOODS, or BAD LATEX.
#1) PET PUDDLES
With pet urine, this hits a wool rug, penetrates those face fibers, and gets absorbed deep into the innermost cotton warp and weft foundation threads. Ever run for hours and take off those sweaty cotton socks? Then you know how much moisture cotton can hold. A LOT.
So lots of urine absorbed into the middle of your rug, it’s not good news.
Specifically, besides the odor, pet urine can create dye migration or loss that is permanent, as well as yellowing that often is permanent damage as well. (Rug owners are shocked when I explain their $10,000 rug is no longer worth that because of some puppy puddles. They would never pay full price for a bridal gown with a urine stain on it… yet they seem unaware of the devaluation from urine stains on their rugs.) It also, if left unaddressed for months, can lead to dry rot and a nice big hole where the problem is.
Surface cleaning a rug in the home with a portable or truck mount is only cleaning the surface and not the MIDDLE where the problem is. (By the way, cleaning rugs in the home, especially wool rugs, is a huge NO-NO. We will get into that in detail in a future post, right now we are talking odors only.)
Rugs with odors, especially pet odors, need to be WASHED.
If you do not use thorough rug washing methods, you will not remove the source of the odor. You will lessen it. Maybe some will use a fragrance to try to cover it up (ever get a whiff of a sweaty man using cologne to hide it? yeah… it’s not much better having a “floral” pet urine smell in your rug…). These are not solutions to the problem.
Moral of the story is – pet problem, wash the rug. And use a professional for it, otherwise the rug could have more damage done than the puppy did to it.
Rugs that get improperly wet can get a musty, moldy odor as mildew sets in. We see this mostly with rugs not prepared properly for storage, and the unit gets damp, or has a flood. Or, an unskilled cleaner does not verify the rug is 100% dry (by using a moisture probe) and rolls up a rug that feels dry, but isn’t.
Neighboring planters that leak are also a BIG creator of water damage to rugs, because again that innermost foundation is made up of absorbent cotton, and it sucks up that water you spill over sometimes, and it leads to mildew, dye bleeding, and over time dry rot. I’ve seen a rug literally have a big hole crumble apart from long term water exposure. In fact, here’s one:
Rugs improperly exposed to water need to be properly washed to remove the contaminants from those foundation fibers and the face fibers. If you step in a puddle, you don’t wring the sock, wipe it off, dry it, and it’s clean enough to wear again. (At least I hope you don’t do that!) You wash it.
Same with rugs. You need to soak the rug in the proper sanitizing solution, and then thoroughly clean it. This needs to be handled by professional rug cleaners who are experienced at handling flood-affected contents, and bringing them back to pre-loss condition.
#3) BAD LATEX:
With some tufted rugs (these are the rugs that you do NOT see the same design on the back as the front because instead you see a material backing) – there can be some odor issues.
Due to a lack of consistent quality control, some latex used to hold these cheaply made rugs together can end up souring, and not be properly cured. This gives off a VERY bad smell that is best described as a combination of sweaty old socks, rubber, and livestock.
Nice, huh? Here’s one of these culprits, a tufted rug from India:
When you are looking at a new tufted rug, and it smells bad when you put your nose to it, then just RUN! It is a “Rug To Run From.”
When you try to clean it to make it smell better, it will get WORSE. The water activates the odor-causing elements more.
I would say about 10-15% of the tufted rugs we see from India have this problem. And I always tell my clients to take the rugs IMMEDIATELY back to the store they bought it and demand a replacement (that doesn’t smell) or their money back. This is a manufacturing flaw.
I have read some comments from retailers that say the odor is nothing to worry about. It’s not “dangerous.”
Do you think someone might say this in order to keep people from getting refunds?
Yeah, I think so too.
Here’s what I know… when something smells really bad, my natural instinct is to move away quickly and make a really ugly face.
Your body does that to PROTECT you. If my nose tells me to “get away” – then I know it is harming me.
What is really scary is that many of the tufted rugs I see on the market today are made for kids. They have goofy designs on them, and some are cute… but the ones with the odors, I certainly would not want any kids around those.
Cleaning does NOT improve this odor. So watch out.
There you have it – 3 typical smelly rug sources, and a little insight on what can and can’t be done with them.
I think I’ll go out now and get some fresh air…