When you have a furry friend living with you, occasional accidents may happen. These little "mistakes" can be especially tricky to clean up when they happen on a carpet, but a combination of immediate action and deep cleansing can restore your carpet to pristine condition again—and behavioral preventative measures can help prevent future mishaps.
Take Immediate Action When Pet Stains Occur
If you spot the accident while the area is still wet, then immediately try to soak up as much of the moisture as possible. The more urine you can get up before it dries, the easier and more successful the entire process will be.
- Start by dropping paper towels on the affected area, and then pressing them firmly down into the carpet. Old newspapers can be used for this as well, although with lighter-colored carpets you may have a problem with the ink smudging.
- Remove the paper towels, then put a fresh set down and press firmly once more. Repeat this until the area is only slightly damp.
- Place a final layer of paper down over the stain, and apply heavy foot pressure for at least a full minute. (Make sure that you are wearing shoes for this!).
- Remove the paper towels or newspapers then thoroughly rinse the area with cool, clean water. Make sure that the water flushes completely through the fibers in the carpet.
- Now soak up as much of this moisture as possible, using a clean dry cloth towel, or several paper towels. The use of a wet vac may also be helpful in this situation.
Set-In Carpet Stains
Sometimes you will miss a pet stain when it occurs, or won’t notice it until it has dried and set into the carpet. This will make it much more difficult for you to get the area clean, but don’t despair. The following tips will help you to neutralize the smell and remove the stain. All of these carpet cleaning processes can be repeated as many times as necessary to remove the stain and eliminate any residual odors. When cleaning pet odor stains from a carpet, never use harsh chemical cleaners that have a strong, caustic smell. These rarely remove the urine smell and may actually cause pets to remark the same spot.
Finding pet stains: Usually, the site of an accident will be fairly apparent visually. If not, you can often locate affected areas by smell. If both of these processes fail, a black light can be used to detect areas where accidents have occurred. It’s important to locate all pet stains and clean them thoroughly. Unless you remove all traces, the pet may continue to use that spot to relieve himself.
The vinegar solution: A first solution to try is a solution of 50 percent white vinegar and 50 percent water. Applied the solution liberally to the stain so that it soaks down into the carpet throughout its thickness and into the pad. A scrub brush can also be used to really work it into the fibers. The vinegar will act to neutralize the urine, eliminating much of the caustic smell. When complete, blot the area dry with a clean cloth or several paper towels.
Hydrogen peroxide and baking soda: This carpet cleaning process starts by dropping a generous handful of baking soda on the stained area. Make sure that a small mound rises above the center of the marking, covering the entire affected area.
Next, mix a half cup of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide with one teaspoon of plain dishwashing detergent. It’s important to use a plain detergent that is not caustic in any way. Spray or pour this solution over the baking soda, then work it thoroughly into the carpet using a scrub brush.
- Tip: You may want to test this process out on a small, out-of-the-way section of carpet first, to ensure that it doesn’t discolor the material.
- Important note: Never use hydrogen peroxide is a concentration higher than 3 percent. Make sure the area is well ventilated when applying the solution and while waiting for it to dry.
Leave the solution to dry over the course of an hour or two. This will leave behind dry baking powder, which can then be vacuumed up. If the baking soda has clumped up, these clumps can be broken apart into powder and then suctioned up.
Using a Wet Vac Carpet Cleaner
A wet vac carpet cleaner is a machine that both flushes the carpet with clean water with force and simultaneously vacuums out the resultant dirty water. This is particularly useful for pet stains, as the machine can force water down deep into the carpet and then draw out any residual waste particles that remain behind. You can usually rent these machines from your local hardware store or home improvement center.
- Important note: NEVER use a steam cleaner to deal with pet odors and stains. The heat from this process will set the stain on the carpet, making it permanent.
Pet Odor Neutralizers
Once you are sure that the carpet is thoroughly cleaned of any stains and odors, it's a good idea to sprinkle or spray some pet odor neutralizing powder on the affected area. This can usually be purchased from your local pet products retailer.
Preventative Behavioral Techniques
Keeping your carpet free of pet stains is an ongoing process. A variety of behavioral techniques can help train your pet to relieve themselves in the way—and in the place—that you want.
- One technique for this is to place towels and paper products stained with the pet’s urine in places where that behavior is allowable. Dogs and cats react very strongly to smell, and by placing those odors in that area, they are likely to take the suggestion.
- Make extensive use of positive reinforcement. Whenever the pet relieves himself in an acceptable way, reward him extensively. This will ingrain the good behavior, but it requires patience, as it can take quite some time to train your furry friend.