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February 6, 2021

How to Choose the Best Carpet for Pets

a multicolored image of a dog paw print.

Paw prints on a mosaic carpet

Americans love their pets. We adapt our schedules to our pets, feed them like royalty, and make them members of our extended family. In return they give us love and affection, and the occasional problem of pet stain removal.

No one like cleaning up after an accident on the carpet, but you can make your life a lot easier if you choose the type of carpeting in your home with an eye toward easy pet stain removal. All carpeting isn't identical, and a high price tag isn't necessarily a guarantee that carpet cleaning will be easier than discount brands. Here's a handy checklist of things to look for when shopping for pet-friendly carpeting:

Know Your Piles

The material your carpet is made from is very important, but the type of pile is even more important if you have a pet. Most carpets have either looped pile or cut pile. If you have pets, especially if you have a cat, you should opt for cut pile. Cut pile is a series of strands that is sheared to make it all the same length. Looped pile is made with a loop that comes out of the backing and then goes back in. Every single one of those loops will be a perfect opportunity for your pets to snag a nail.

It's not just a comfort issue for your pets. When a pet's nails tug at a looped pile carpet, the carpet quickly frays and begins to look shabby. In extreme cases, it can even become threadbare in patches. Once the fibers are pulled loose, the strands will make extremely attractive chew targets as well. Always choose cut pile carpeting for pets.

What's It Made From?

Carpeting can be made from any number of fibers, including natural fibers like cotton and wool. Wool carpeting, for instance, is very eco-friendly, naturally flame-retardant, soft to the touch, and makes pet stain removal easy, including odor control. It's very expensive, however. That's why upwards of 99 percent of all the carpet made in America is made from some form of synthetic fiber. For most consumers, the choice is between nylon or polyester.

Both of these fibers have good points for pet owners looking to install carpeting in their house. Polyester is more stain-resistant, which will make both pet stain removal and overall carpet cleaning easier. Nylon fibers aren't as stain resistant, but stain treatments applied to nylon rugs can close the gap between them. If you're a stickler for indoor air quality, these treatments might affect the quality of the air in your home, however. Polyester is a safer bet for you and your pet.

The Backing Is as Important as the Pile

Wall to wall carpeting can make pet stain removal difficult because you can't easily get to the backing after the rug is soiled. That's a recipe for lingering odors. Look for carpets that have a waterproof backing. You'll have an easier time diluting and removing the offending stain using steam cleaning or other low moisture carpet cleaning techniques. Waterproof backing is tougher than other backing, and will withstand more vigorous scrubbing, too.

Color and Pattern Can Save You

If you want your carpet to look its best between carpet cleaning sessions, you'll do better to choose colors and patterns that don't highlight areas that have been spot cleaned for pet stain removal. You don't necessarily need a really dark color or a heavy pattern, but beware really light, plain rugs if you have a dog or a cat. It's smart to take the color of your pet's fur into account when choosing carpeting. A white Angora cat and a black rug is bound to keep your vacuum running daily.

Stay Away From Thick Piles

Even if the carpet you're considering isn't a looped pile, shag carpeting is almost always a mistake if you have pets. Low pile carpets have less material between your scrub brush and the backing when you're doing a pet stain removal chore, and the carpets has a smaller chance of tangling your pet's claws.

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