Most of us just love our big and little pets. What we don’t love is the maintenance it takes to keep flooring and furniture looking and smelling good. If you own a dog or cat, then you know exactly what I mean, and finding pet proof rugs is easier said than done!
Between the regular doggie sweat/odor, the occasional hacking up something that shouldn’t have been eaten in the first place, or the (hopefully rare) piddle spots that they so lovingly leave behind….. is it any wonder that there is a constant search to find the perfect pet proof rugs?
Well, friends, I am here today to lend a helping hand… er, I mean advice. If you know what type of rug to look for when making a purchase, you can eliminate most of the issues that you find with rugs. We’ll tackle that topic. But even more important, I am going to share with you my favorite rugs and how I manage to keep them looking great.
(This post may contain affiliate links (*). That means that I make a small commission from sales that result through these links, at no additional cost to you. You can read my full disclosure here.)
Pet Proof Rugs – Materials NO!
There are some types of rugs out there that just are not the best when it comes to pets. In fact, many people frequently purchase some of these materials thinking that they will hold up well. Unfortunately, they end up with a stained nightmare. So, let’s first take a look at some of the less pet-friendly rugs that you probably want to avoid.
(Photo by Michael Abrams Limited via Houzz)
Viscose – It is extremely beautiful and feels almost like silk. The sheen from the fiber gives the rug a luxurious feel. BUT, it is not pet proof.
I know, I wish it were. However, a viscose rug will stain very easily, and when I say stain, I mean set-in, won’t budge, requires an act of Congress to get it back to its original state. But, if your four-legged friend is very well-trained, and you do not worry about accidents, then, by all means, try one out.
(Photo by Pk Studios Inc via Houzz)
Jute/Sisal/Seagrass* – Now, I am sure that you have likely heard that jute rugs are easy to clean. So now you are wondering, why I am including them in the NOT list. Well, yes jute is easy, but only from certain things.
They are great for catching dirt, sand, and other particles without absorbing the material. You can literally turn them over and beat the particles out. They are popular for their tensile strength. However, they are not so good at releasing odors or urine.
They are a natural fiber, which in itself tends to attract some dogs to do their business on them. Now, you may be able to get rid of the stain left by your fur baby, but odds are that the odor will hang around till the end of time.
In addition, the fibers themselves can be affected by water or cleaning agents. They tend to expand and contract when cleaned, which can wear out the fibers. They also may suffer from cat claws. Can we say “scratching post?”
Hook and Loop (or should I say continuous loop). – These type of rugs (think Berber) can be a nightmare on a home with pets. Why you ask. Well, if little precious gets a claw caught in the fabric, instead of a single piece of fiber being pulled loose, you could end up with an entire run.
Tufted – some faux woven rugs are actually tufted. You can usually tell if a woven rug is a true woven by the bottom. On a real woven rug, you will see the pattern on both sides. On a tufted rug, the bottom is usually covered with a rubber/latex backing. Now, there is not anything wrong with tufted rugs, per se. But, they are not a good choice for pets. And, you’ll see why in the section (below) on backings.
Chenille – Well, I don’t think that it is too hard to see that chenille wouldn’t be the best choice for pets. It is soft, though, and so comfortable on the feet. But, it’s just too delicate. Most people wouldn’t even choose this material for anything other than small throw rugs, which can be tossed into a machine. So, we will skip this issue for now.
Pet Proof Rugs – Bad Backing…
In addition to the rug material, you will want to know what type of backing the rug has.
(Image provided by Pelletierrug)
Latex/Rubber – Probably one of the worst backings that you can get. The backing is intended to hold the threads in place and to prevent the rug from slipping around. However, urine odors tend to absorb into the adhesive and NEVER let go.
Urine will also speed up degradation on the latex, and the solid backing also prevents being able to do a thorough “flush” clean on spots that need them. (I use a SpotBot* to assist me in spot treatments. Read more on those here ).
Latex/Rubber backing is often used on tufted rugs to give the look and feel of a woven rug (as mentioned above). They will eventually break down, especially if exposed to repeated urine and water baths. Once they begin to break down, they can really do a number on your flooring. They can generally be bought for a cheap price, but if you have pets, it is not worth the hassle.
Just look at what happened to this hardwood floor above. That is the result of the backing deteriorating from trapped moisture. It was a major job to repair the wood floors.
Jute – (Sorry, no photo available to show jute backing). Probably one of the strongest and highest quality backings. It tends to come on high-end wool rugs. However, just like the jute rug will hold onto odor, so too will a jute backing.
In fact, hidden jute fibers placed within a supposedly 100% wool or even polypropylene rug can cause serious issues. This is because jute can hold onto odors through multiple washings. Also, they tend to bleed a dingy color. (think of steeping a tea bag). You may end up cleaning your rug only to have a stain or odor wick back up to the surface once it dries.
Woven – Woven rugs are the kind of rugs that show the pattern on the backs. Sometimes they are referred to as backless. Actually, they have probably gone through a heating process to hold everything in place. The weft can be made from cotton or polyester. So long as the weft does not contain any jute fibers, these are the best at releasing odors – at least as far as construction goes.
Pet Proof Rugs – Materials Yes!
When it comes to finding pet proof rugs, there are just a few types that seem to be acceptable at deflecting and releasing odor, urine, fur, etc. Typically, you will hear that a wool rug is the best and highest quality rug that you can get. And for the most part, that is true. However, there are some things that you should know about wool rugs.
Number one, they are expensive, or at least, all of the high-quality ones are. So, you may want to consider how dangerous your pet may be to rugs, and whether you are okay with taking the chance.
It is true that wool does have its own form of moisture resistance (lanolin). So, if a puppy pees on the rug, you may be able to catch it and remove it before it soaks in. However, many wool rugs have jute backing and/or rubberized adhesive centers.
So, if by some chance you miss little precious’ has an accident and it soaks into the fiber, well… here lies the problem. The jute will stubbornly resist your efforts to deodorize it, and if you try to flush the area with anything, you could end up releasing the color from the jute. This will then wick up to the surface, leaving an unpleasant stain.
Synthetics – These include polypropylene, acrylic, polyester, olefin,* etc. The best of these would be a 100% heat set polypropylene. Barring that, any degree of heating the polypropylene improves its quality.
These rugs should not stain or retain odors. You can find the easiest to clean by purchasing an indoor/outdoor rug.* Amazingly, the choices for indoor/outdoor rugs have come so far that it is easy to find ones that mimic other materials such as jute, or wool. Just watch out for any that have jute wefting beneath the surface threads.
But if you want the most resistance with a high-end look, go for an indoor rug made from 100% heat-set polypropylene. I have had the above rug* for 6 years now. It is a Couristan rug which is by far my favorite brand for rugs.
I am not affiliated with the brand in any way, I have just tested many brands over the years and find these to be at the top of the line. FYI – I do always buy their heat-set polypropylene and have never been dissatisfied. So, my referral at this time is restricted to those made from their trademarked polypropylene fiber.
This particular rug has seen its fair share of accidents. My dogs have gotten sick multiple times on it. My kids walk back and forth across this rug to enter and exit the mudroom.
I have also been known to accidentally leave one of the dogs out running free when I go running errands (typically they are confined to a safe room). So, they have had some piddles here, as well. I would buy this one again without hesitating for a second. If you like it, you can buy it here.*
So far, all I have done to keep it clean is rent a cleaner 2X per year and spot clean as needed. It still looks great, and there are no stains or odors left behind after cleaning. For those who are wondering – It is a Courtisan rug from their Everest Collection.* I have several from this line and all perform wonderfully.
The rug in the DIY Professional Cleaning video is also from that line. I have this rug* in my living room. The color scheme goes perfectly with the damask rug. Both have the same beige and black tones.
I wouldn’t hesitate to re-purchase this one either. My dogs lie on it all day and it has suffered a few accidents, as well. No one would ever guess.
Break it Down…
In a perfect world, we would want something that doesn’t stain, doesn’t hold odors, cleans easily, and looks great. Ok, so let’s break down my picks by price, quality, and pet resistance.
If price were no concern, this would be my rug of choice. Perhaps if I didn’t have kids or small dogs, or maybe just one large well-behaved dog, then I would splurge. Occasional spot cleaning on these is generally okay. But, you want to prevent the solution from going beyond the face fabric. Otherwise, get a professional cleaning done.
- Cleans Easily – Sort of, but with a professional cleaning
- Releases Stains/Odors – so long as there is no jute backing
- Highest quality, but not really pet proof unless you have perfect house trained pets.
100% Heat-Set Polypropylene*
My second choice for getting a higher end look without quite as much expense as the wool rugs are just what I have in my own home, heat set polypropylene. (Damask rug available here.)
I will admit that I am partial to the Couristan brand. They use their own proprietary polypropylene fibers called Coutron, which I love. It feels and looks like a plush wool rug. But my favorite feature is that I have never, not once, been unable to get these rugs back to like new condition.
- Price $$
- Cleans Easily – can spot clean, rug doctor clean, or professional cleaning.
- Releases stains and odors easily.
Many rugs now have a degree of stain resistance. It says so on the label. They are usually constructed from a mix of polyester and polypropylene that has been treated in some way to provide protection, usually, it will have a percentage of heat-set polypropylene. These rugs can be anything from cheap and almost worthless, to a quality rug with a good price.
You should expect the lower priced rugs to be of lesser quality. But, this is definitely something to consider if you want a rug that falls below the price of high-quality polypropylene, but above the aesthetics of an indoor/outdoor.*
- Price $-$$
- Cleans easily – uses the same methods as 100% polypropylene
- Releases stains easily – odors depend on the backing used.
At one time, indoor-outdoor rugs* came in just basic (and frankly, quite unattractive) designs. However, today we have so many great options from this category. If you are looking for something that is low-priced, looks good, and is super easy to clean (plus, you won’t be out a lot of money should you ever end up throwing it out), this is the way to go.
If you don’t know where to pick one up, they have a nice selection available at Macy’s, *which is where I like to shop for rugs. You can also find a lot of name brand rugs on Amazon.* The plus to those is you can check the reviews to see what people think before you purchase. Just remember that most people will be ranking them based on their outdoor use and not necessarily based on use with pets.
- Price $-$$
- Cleans easily
- Releases stain/odor easily – they are mostly made of synthetic materials, which are known for their resistance.
Carpet Tiles – Carpet tiles* can be a great way to let your artistic style show. But, the great thing about them is that you can take up individual tiles and carry them to a sink. Replace any that are too far gone with a fresh tile. (Just make sure to buy extras for later).
- Price – $
- Cleans easily – outside or in a sink.
- Stains/Odors – most brands are great at releasing stains and odors; however, it really depends on the stain.
There are a few other things to consider when looking for pet-friendly rugs. Keep in mind, if your dog is a shedder, that you may want a color that blends well with his/her fur.
If your dog had a tendency to have accidents, go with a multi-colored rug, preferably one with patterns that will camouflage the location. Also, avoid white or off-white rugs. These are the most likely to reveal a stain.
Consider the texture of the rug to determine if it is a pet-friendly rug. Rugs that have large nubby designs will be difficult to clean. In addition, avoid shag rugs and animal skin rugs. (This rug, above, is a nightmare waiting to happen) :-)
Always use a rug pad* beneath your rugs to protect the floor. Even if they already have a pad, an extra will help to keep the rug from sliding around and keep any accidents from making its way to the wood or tile below. If you have any other great tips for pet proof rugs, feel free to share!
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