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An Effective Pet Odor Cleaner

Carpet Cleaning, Rug Cleaning, Upholstery Cleaning
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No matter how much we love them, no one can deny that pets often leave unpleasant odors in a home. Whether the smells are on carpeting, furniture, clothing, or pet beds, a good pet odor cleaner can help remove them. Urine odor is the most common culprit and can be treated with both commercial and homemade cleaners.

Removing Pet Odor in Laundry

To deodorize washable items--like clothing and pet beds--a half cup of baking soda can be added to the wash water along with the normal amount of detergent. Baking soda is a natural deodorizer and will also work to boost the detergent's cleaning power. It's often most effective to wash these items in the hottest water that is safe for the fabric. The product label should specify the safest washing temperature.

If desired, a half cup of plain white vinegar can be added to the rinse cycle as an extra odor remover. With its antibacterial action, vinegar can help kill the odor-causing bacteria from the urine. It will also help eliminate any remaining traces of detergent.

For best results, allow washable items to air dry instead of placing them in the dryer where the hot air may actually set the odor (and any stains) and make it harder to remove. Once the fabric has dried, it can be checked for a lingering odor and re-laundered as necessary.

Locating Pet Odor in Carpet & Upholstery

If pet odor is emanating from carpet or upholstery even though no stain is visible, the urine has probably soaked deep into the carpet padding or the furniture's fiber fill. Though this makes odor removal somewhat more difficult, it is not necessarily impossible.

The first step will be locating the exact spot where the urine is located, and this can be easily accomplished with an ultraviolet light bulb. Ideally after night fall, all lights in the room should be turned out and a black light shined around the room. Previously invisible urine spots will now glow a bright white or yellow color. If needed, the spots can be outlined with chalk or a long string of yarn. Chalk can easily be brushed off of the surface after cleaning.

Prep the Area

Before trying to remove the pet odor, the area should be prepared by flushing with cool water. As urine dries, it becomes bonded to carpet and upholstery fibers. The flushing process will weaken this bond and begin to dissolve the urine, which will make it easier to fully remove. The more urine that can be removed, the less likely it is that any odor will remain.

To flush the urine, cool water can be poured over the area--taking care not to saturate it--or water can be applied using a carpet cleaning machine. At this point, only plain water should be used--no cleaning solution.

As much water as possible should then be absorbed using clean white towels. It's important to use white because colored dyes may bleed into the carpet or upholstery. The towels can be layered over the area and then pressed firmly to absorb the liquid. New towels should be used until no more liquid can be absorbed. Remember, the more urine that is removed now, the less chance you have for a lingering odor.

Commercial Pet Odor Cleaner

The best commercial cleaners for removing pet odor contain enzymes that can literally eat away at the odor-causing bacteria. The product label will state "live enzymes," "enzymatic," or something similar. The unpleasant odor is actually a waste bi-product created by the bacteria left from pet urine. Once these bacteria are digested by the cleaner's enzymes, the odor should disappear.

Homemade Pet Odor Cleaner

Baking soda, nature's odor eliminator, can be applied to carpets and upholstery to absorb and neutralize odors. You have two options:

  • Sprinkle a heavy layer of baking soda over the damp area after flushing it with water as described above. The baking soda should be left sitting anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours and then vacuumed.
  • Create a paste by combining a cup of baking soda with a cup of water. The paste can be gently scrubbed, in a circular motion, over the affected area. It can then be left until all of the water has evaporated, and the baking soda can then be vacuumed.

Lingering Odors

If an odor remains after one or both of these cleaning treatments has been applied, an odor neutralizer should be used. These commercial products are designed to counteract the bacteria and may even mask the odor with a scent that is not detectable to humans but is very unpleasant for cats and dogs. This can help prevent resoiling of the same area.

In extreme cases, no pet odor cleaner will completely remove the smell. This is especially true if it has soaked through carpeting and into the subfloor beneath. It may be necessary to peel the carpet and padding away from the floor and clean it. A wood subfloor can be sanded to remove the urine spot, and a concrete floor may be scrubbed well with bleach water. Care should be taken not to get the beach on the carpeting, however.

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