Did you know that the global rug market (along with carpets) had an estimated value of $32 billion in 2020? By 2026, experts forecast that to grow and reach $38.8 billion! Even more impressive is that the U.S. accounts for almost a third of the market.

Rugs, after all, don’t only improve room ambiance and aesthetics; they can also help warm a home. They even reduce noise, increase safety, and cover floor imperfections.

Unfortunately, a dirty rug can counter all those benefits by making your space look dingy. Even worse, it can contribute to health woes.

To that end, we created this guide listing the top signs you have a dirty rug that needs TLC. So read on, as the last thing you want is a floor covering that can make you ill.

It’s Your Pets Favorite Spot

If you’re part of the 90.5 million families in the U.S. with a pet, your rugs are likely among their favorite spots. That’s especially true for dogs and cats that love to roll around these floor coverings.

The problem is that rugs, like carpets, are a catch-all for human and pet dander. After playing outside, your furry pals may also track in dirt, debris, and dust from their fur and paws.

Those contaminants can then transfer to your rugs. From there, your and your pets’ weight can make them sink deeper into the floor covering.

A professional rug cleaning service can help restore the cleanliness of your rugs. Deep cleaning can also bring back your floor coverings’ majestic appearance and texture.

It’s Got a Gag-Inducing Odor

Your beloved furry family members can sometimes use your rugs as their bathroom. Even house-trained dogs and cats do this, especially if they can’t go outside to do their thing.

If your rugs smell pungent, it may be your canine or feline pal’s urine. If you see it while it’s still wet, DIY rug cleaning with paper towels may still work.

Don a pair of gloves ASAP, and then soak up as much urine as possible with paper towels. Then, spray it with small amounts of water and use fresh non-dyed towels to blot it up. Repeat these steps until the urine smell disappears.

If the odor lingers, spread baking soda, a non-toxic deodorizer, over the “accident” site. Leave it undisturbed until the rinsed area dries to let the powder neutralize the odor. Then, sweep it off or vacuum it.

If the urine smell remains, it may be time to hire a professional dirty rug cleaning service.

It Smells Musty

Musty-smelling rugs are often due to mold and mildew deep within their fibers. These fungal species, in turn, love humid environments, organic materials, and oxygen. Give them all three, and they can grow and spread quickly.

Your rugs can harbor mold and mildew if they become damp due to spilled food, drinks, or pet urine. Fungi can also treat those, as well as organic materials like dander, as food.

Add oxygen, which is always present in your home, to the mix, and it’s easy to see how your rugs can house fungi.

So if you’ve noticed those musty smells, take them as a sign it’s time to clean a dirty area rug.

Sniffles Abound

Even if you don’t have pets, your rugs can still catch your dander, along with insect feces and husks. They can also hide dust, soil, molds, dust mites, and bacteria. All these classify as allergens, substances that can trigger allergic reactions.

Once your rugs become so filthy, they disperse the contaminants when you step on them. From there, they mix with the air, which you, in turn, can inhale.

Allergens are particularly harmful to the 50 million people in the U.S. with allergies. However, they can also cause eye, nose, throat, and lung symptoms in otherwise healthy folks. For instance, they can induce sneezing, wheezing, coughing, and excessive mucous.

If you’ve developed such symptoms while on or near your rugs, that likely means they’re filthy.

You’ve Gotten Sick

According to a 2016 study, about 80% of shoes could be pathogen vectors. Pathogens are disease-causing organisms, such as bacteria and viruses. Shoes, in turn, can carry many germs, including salmonella, E. coli, and listeria.

The same pathogens cause some of the most common foodborne illnesses. However, you can also bring them into your home if you track germ-filled shoes all over your rugs and carpets. They can survive on your floor coverings for hours, even days.

You can then get sick if you drop a food morsel and think it’s safe because of the five-second rule. Nope, it’s unsafe because germs can quickly transfer to that dropped food.

Foodborne illnesses can have minor symptoms but can also cause violent diarrhea. They can also cause vomiting, muscle aches, and other flu-like symptoms.

So, it might be safer to leave your shoes in a mud room rather than wear them all over the house. Never trust the five-second rule, either. Finally, vacuum your rugs and carpets weekly, and have professionals clean them regularly.

You Haven’t Vacuumed It In Months

Even after a few years of use, a high-quality wool rug won’t look filthy. That’s because wool fibers bend light, which allows them to camouflage soiling.

However, just because your wool rugs don’t look dirty doesn’t mean they’re clean. So if you haven’t been vacuuming them at least once a week, they’re likely full of filth.

On the other hand, synthetic fiber rugs can’t hide soil and stains. They’ll look the part if you don’t vacuum them weekly and have pros clean them every six months.

So, cleaning dirty rugs should be a regular, scheduled activity. Washing them only when they look filthy can degrade their fibers and cut their lives short.

Never Delay Cleaning That Dirty Rug

From stinky smells to allergies and even diarrhea, all these are signs you have a dirty rug. So, as soon as you notice or experience these symptoms, give your floor coverings some TLC ASAP.

However, it’s always better to vacuum rugs weekly and have them cleaned by pros regularly. Doing so prevents them from becoming dirty and ugly. Most importantly, it keeps you from getting ill.

To read more educational guides like this, browse our recent news and blog posts!

By Manali