How to Clean a Pet Stain
Whether your pets stay indoors all the time or are indoor-outdoor pets, stains on carpet and furniture are bound to happen. To clean a pet stain–whether it’s from urine, vomit, or another source–the right cleaners are essential. Not every cleaner is effective against pet stains, and some actually do more harm than good.
It is easiest to clean pet stains if you reach them quickly, while they are still wet or ‘fresh.’ Solid or semi-solid matter, such as vomit or feces, should be scooped up and disposed of in the toilet or trash can. A spoon or even a dust pan makes it easy to lift the soil off of the floor or furniture. If you’re lifting soil from carpeting, it’s important to avoid scraping the carpet fibers since this can tear them and cause irreparable damage.
Once the solid matter is removed, any liquid should be absorbed from carpets and upholstered furniture using clean, dry, white cloths. It’s best to use white cloths to avoid any possible dye transfer from a colored cloth onto the surface being cleaned. Applying strong pressure, possibly by standing on the cloths, will help absorb more liquid. Once no more liquid can be absorbed, the cleaning products can be applied.
Removing Urine Stains
After the majority of the urine has been absorbed, the area should be rinsed with cool water. The water can be poured onto the area, taking care to wet without saturating the carpet. Alternatively, plain water can be placed into a carpet cleaner’s tank and then sprayed onto the carpet. It’s important to use cool water and to ensure that the machine’s water heating feature is turned off. Warm or hot water may actually cause the stain to set, which may make it impossible to fully remove.
The rinse water can be soaked up with cleaned towels using the same procedure as when absorbing the urine itself, or the carpet cleaner can be used to extract the water. A wet-dry vac will also work to extract the rinse water.
Often, a thorough rinsing will remove all traces of the urine and staining will not become a problem. If desired, however, a general stain remover designed for carpets can be applied according to the label directions. It can be helpful to choose an enzymatic product designed specifically for pet urine stains, though this is not always necessary if the soil is rinsed completely while it is still fresh.
If a lingering odor is detected later on, it likely means that the area wasn’t thoroughly rinsed or that some of the urine wasn’t well-absorbed. In this case, the rinsing process can be repeated. It may also be a good idea to apply an odor neutralizer to the area. These products are specially designed to target the proteins and bacteria present in pet urine that cause an unpleasant odor. They should be used according to the exact label directions for best results.
In most cases, feces is actually much easier to remove than urine and does not usually cause a lasting stain. Even if it’s not discovered right away and the feces dries, though, the cleaning process is the same. As mentioned above, the matter should be lifted from the carpet or furniture and disposed of first.
If you own a carpet cleaner, it can be used with your regular cleaning solution to clean the affected area. Otherwise, a damp cloth can be used to moisten the area before applying a general-purpose carpet cleaner. The product directions should be closely followed.
If an odor remains or if your pet repeatedly soils in the same area, it may be helpful to apply one of the odor neutralizing formulas discussed above. Both cats and dogs have a greater sense of smell than humans and may detect even the slightest lingering odor.
Removing a Vomit Stain
Depending on your pet’s diet, vomit may leave an unsightly stain or may clean up without much fuss. As with a feces stain, a commercial all-purpose stain remover can work well to lift any discoloration off of the carpet or upholstery. If the stain remains, it may help to wet the area with clean water and apply an oxygen-based cleaner. The oxygen actually penetrates each individual carpet fiber to better remove the stain.
Cleaning Old Stains
Sometimes you may smell an unpleasant pet odor but not be able to see any stains. A fluorescent black light is the perfect tool for locating urine spots that are no longer visible in ordinary light. After dark, the lights in a room should be turned off and the black light turned on. Any urine, no matter how old, will appear a glowing white or yellow color. It can help to outline the stain with chalk, which is simple to remove later, to make it easy to find when the lights are turned back on.
An old, dried urine stain can be more easily removed by flushing it with cool water before cleaning. Using a pitcher, water can be poured over the stained area. Enough water should be used to wet the area well without deeply saturating it. The water will loosen the urine’s hold on the carpet fibers and make it easier to remove. After wetting the area, clean towels should be used to absorb the liquid as if it were a fresh stain. This method, as well as the cleaning process itself, is described more fully above.
When trying to clean a pet stain, ammonia is one cleaner that should be avoided. Because pet urine of any type contains ammonia, an animal can easily misinterpret the smell of this cleaner for the smell of urine. For some pets, this is an open invitation to soil in a specific area.
All cleaners should be tested on a hidden area of carpet or upholstery before use. The product can be applied according to its label directions, and then the area should be checked for any changes in color or texture. If any changes occur, that cleaner should not be used.