Removing Pet Stains and Odors from Carpets and Upholstery

We love our pets, but there’s always a training period, isn’t there?  Animals don’t understand initially where they should “go” and where they shouldn’t.  It’s up to us as responsible owners to teach them where.

Yet there’s a learning curve, and in between the time they’ve learned and the time they’re still ‘getting it’,  we have the inevitable messes to clean up!  How do we clean properly and well enough that they don’t head back to that same spot?  Or what if you clean and clean, but you still can’t get rid of the smell?

Where did it happen?

You need to find the soiled area and then re-train them to avoid eliminating them.  To do that, the spot(s) need to be cleaned and cleaned well.

Here are the steps you’ll need to take:

Use your nose and eyes.  If that doesn’t work or the scent is just too overpowering, making it difficult to spot exactly where, use a black light, which you can buy at a home supply or hardware store.  These lights will usually show even old urine stains.  Turn out all the lights in the room and use the light to identify soiled areas; lightly outline the area with chalk.

Cleaning up

To be successful, you need to follow all these steps.  If you fail to completely clean the area, your re-training efforts will be useless.
As long as your pet can smell his personal scent, he will revisit that “accident zone.”  Even if you cannot smell traces of urine, your pet can.  Your most important job is to follow these steps to neutralize the odor:

To Clean Carpeted areas and Upholstery

For accidents that are still wet:
Soak up as much of the urine as possible with a combination of newspaper and paper towels.  The more fresh urine you can remove before it dries, the easier to remove the odor.  You basically want to make a “sandwich” with the carpet; the paper will be the “bread.”  Place a thick layer of paper towels on the wet spot and cover that with a thick layer of newspaper.  If it’s possible, put newspaper under the soiled area as well.  Stand for about a minute on this padding, helping it to absorb as much moisture as possible.  Repeat until the area is barely damp.

Rinse the “accident zone” thoroughly with clean, cool water.  After rinsing, remove as much water as you can by either blotting or using a wet vac.

For stains that have already set:
Consider renting an extractor or wet vac to remove all traces of heavy stains in carpeting. You can rent these from any local grocery store or to a hardware/home store.  These machines do the best job of forcing clean water through your carpet and then forcing the dirty water back out. In using them, follow all instructions carefully.  Don’t use any chemicals with these machines; they work much better with plain water.

Use a high-quality pet odor neutralizer once the area is really clean (available at pet supply stores). Again, follow all instructions carefully and test a hidden area ahead of time to be sure the fabric doesn’t stain.

Neutralizing cleaners won’t work until you’ve rinsed every trace of the old cleaner from the carpet if you’ve previously used cleaners or chemicals of any kind on the area.  Even if you haven’t used chemicals recently, any trace of a non-protein-based substance will weaken the effect of the enzymatic cleaner.  The cleaner will use up its “energy” on the old cleaners instead of on the protein stains you want removed.

Try any good carpet stain remover if the area still looks stained AFTER it’s completely dry from extracting and neutralizing.

Avoid using steam cleaners to clean urine odors from carpets or upholstery.  The heat will bond the odor protein into any man-made fibers, and you will have a permanent stain and odor.

Avoid using cleaning chemicals, especially those with strong odors such as ammonia or vinegar.  Pets can still detect their previous odor, and it may encourage them to reinforce the urine scent mark in that area.

Your job will be more difficult if urine has soaked down into the padding underneath your carpet.  In some cases, especially after repeated offenses, you may need to take the drastic step of removing and replacing that portion of carpet and padding and possibly sealing the floor underneath.

Your local humane society will have more tips on the actual training of your pet and reinforcing good behaviors.  For all the joy they bring us, good training is certainly worth it!

Visit for more information.

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