I provide carpet cleaning in Portland and sometimes I get interesting calls for cleaning. A customer called the other day that just acquired a new dog from the animal shelter. Said dog had relieved himself on the entryway floor mat. They had tried to soak it up, but now after a week the evidence of lingering urine met their noses. “Sean, what can we do? It smells to high heaven.”

I don’t sugar coat things with my customers. My goal is to help people, so I told her the truth. “Probably, the best thing you can do is to throw it away and buy a new one. The primary advantage of jute lies in its low cost and biodegradability. In essence, they are the perfect throw away item.”

Jute is an amazing, plentiful, low-cost fiber that is part cellulose (plant fiber) and part lignin (wood fiber). Most jute comes from India and has for ages. In the past poor villagers used jute for clothing. Ouch! It had limited use in industry mainly in roping and sacking materials.

Jute throw rugs with their coarse fiber have some distinct advantages as a dirt catcher. The fibers knock grit and sand off the bottom of the shoe and trap it in the fibers below. Every few days you can take it outside and beat it against a sidewalk to remove the sand. Softer fibers like cotton would do little to remove dirt and tend to absorb rather than trap dirt. Durable, UV resistant, color fast, anti-static and renewable jute is the perfect throw at the humble home or magnificent mansion.

Manufacturers have done a great deal of experimentation with jute in an attempt to create the perfect textile. In a world of shrinking resources and increasing pollution jute has made great gains. They have come up with some fascinating uses for this lowly Indian fiber including soft sweaters and warm cardigans. Jute even has its own designation as a geotextile. Have you ever driven along an interstate and seen an entire bank covered with canvas like material? Geotextiles, usually jute, holds the soil against erosion until plants can take hold. The jute eventually decomposes in the soil leaving the plants to take over control on the bank.

Jute definitely has earned its place in the textile world. However, jute has its disadvantages too. Jute as a natural fiber decomposes quickly in the presence of water. If you leave it exposed to water, it will rot in a few months. Jute easily absorbs liquid and readily retains odor. You will find it almost impossible to remove pet urine smell. Unfortunately, pets like natural things as much as you do and given the choice will go to the bathroom on jute over nylon. It also yellows easily. On a dyed, jute rug water will quickly bring yellow from the jute’s inner fiber to the outer surface. The brittle fiber jute does not do well with bending or twisting. As it ages you will start to see jute fibers scattered all over your entryway or porch. For these reasons carpet cleaners often do not offer to clean jute rugs.

You still want to try to clean your jute throw? That’s fine. Here’s a link on How to Clean Pet Stains from Jute. Give it a shot, but prepare yourself to replace the jute throw rug just in case.

Hope this information is helpful. Until next time….Sean!