How to Remove Pet Stains From Clothes, Carpet, and Upholstery

How to Remove Pet Stains and Odors from Clothes, Carpet, and Upholstery

The Spruce / Joules Garcia

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 1 - 3 hrs
  • Total Time: 2 mins - 12 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $10

If you own a pet, an occasional animal-related stain is to be expected. However, urine, feces, and vomit accidents on clothing, carpet, and upholstery are inconvenient but are treatable in most cases. As always, the sooner the stain is treated, the more successful the removal will be. Accidents left untreated for long periods can permanently discolor and damage any fabric. Remember never to rub a wet stain into the affected fabric, as it can make removal more difficult. Read up on the following reliable stain-removal methods using items you likely already have in your home. 

Stain Type Protein-based 
Detergent Type Heavy-duty laundry detergent
Water Temperature Cold water

When to Call a Professional

If a pet has stained your vintage upholstery or silk, consult a professional cleaner for stain removal. Delicate fabrics may require unique care.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

Urine Stains on Clothes

  • Dull knife or spatula
  • Water
  • Soaking basin
  • Washing machine
  • Paper towels or white cloth
  • Outdoor clothing line (Optional)

Feces and Vomit Stains on Clothes

  • Dull knife or spatula
  • Soaking basin
  • Washing machine
  • Soft-bristled brush (optional)

Stains on Carpet and Upholstery

  • Paper towels or white cloths
  • Dull knife or scraper
  • Spray bottle (optional)
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Shop vacuum (optional)
  • Conventional vacuum (optional)

Materials

Urine Stains on Clothes

  • Water
  • Heavy-duty liquid laundry detergent
  • White distilled vinegar

Feces and Vomit Stains on Clothes

  • Water
  • Oxygen-based bleach
  • Heavy-duty liquid laundry detergent

Stains on Carpet and Upholstery

  • Water
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Hydrogen peroxide

Instructions

items for removing pet stains
The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa

How to Remove Urine Pet Stains From Clothes and Linens

Urine damage from pets can be very frustrating. Fortunately, there are effective, at-home measures you can take to treat the stain. Sometimes, the odor from the urine stain is worse than the stain itself.

  1. Flush With Cold Water

    Flush the stained area with cold water. Turn the fabric over and place it under a a cool, running faucet.

    flushing fabric with cold water
    The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa 
  2. Machine Wash With Laundry Detergent and Vinegar

    Launder your garment as you usually would, using the hottest water temperature advised by the care label. Add one cup of white distilled vinegar to the wash water to help reduce any odor that may accompany the stain. 

    garment with detergent and vinegar
    The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa 
  3. Soak Overnight in Vinegar-Water Solution

    Mix a solution of 1 gallon of cool water and 2 cups of white distilled vinegar. Completely submerge the fabric and allow it to soak overnight. In the morning, wash your garment as advised above. This is especially useful if the stain has already dried.

    letting the garment soak in a vinegar solution
    The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa 

Tip

Line drying items outside is an effective way to lift odors from stained fabrics without the harsh heat of a machine dryer.

How to Remove Feces and Vomit Pet Stains on Clothes 

Pet stains on clothes, especially feces and vomit, should be treated as soon as possible to avoid permanent damage and lasting foul odors.

materials for getting rid of pet stains
The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa
  1. Remove Solid Matter

    Remove as much solid matter as possible with a dull-edged object like a butter knife or spatula. Be careful not to rub the vomit or feces with a cloth, as it will drive the stain deeper into the fabric's fibers. If the stain is dried or old, scrape or brush off any crusted matter.

    using a dull knife to remove solid matter
    The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa
  2. Flush Under Running Water

    Hold the underside of the stained area beneath cold water from a running faucet and let the stream run through the soiled area.

    flushing a garment under water
    The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa
  3. Soak in Oxygen-Based Bleach Solution

    Mix a solution of cool water and oxygen-based bleach according to the instructions on the back of the cleaning product. Submerge your garment and allow it to soak for at least four hours.

    soaking garment in an oxygen solution
    The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa
  4. Machine Wash and Dry

    Machine-wash your garment with heavy-duty detergent in the hottest water advised by its care label. Never place a stained item in a hot dryer. You must ensure that the stain is gone before doing so. 

    Washing the garment on the hottest acceptable setting

    The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa

Tip

Don't apply boiling water to your stained fabric, as it cooks the protein in the vomit or feces stain, sets it, and makes it more difficult to remove.

How to Remove Pet Stains From Carpet and Upholstery

Since you can't flush carpets and upholstery under running water, you must modify stain-removal methods. Avoid over-wetting upholstery because excess moisture in the cushions and padding can lead to mildew.

materials for removing pet stains from carpet
The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa
  1. Remove Solids and Soak up Liquids

    Remove any solids with a butter knife or spatula, or dab wet urine with white paper towels or an old cloth. If using a cloth, press it firmly into the liquid, but don't rub. You can also remove some of the moisture with a shop vacuum.

    soaking up urine stains with a cloth
    The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa 
  2. Create a Cleaning Solution

    Mix a solution of one part distilled white vinegar and one part cool water. For easy use, place the solution in a spray bottle.

    homemade pet stain cleaner with vinegar
    The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa
  3. Saturate the Stain With Cleaning Solution

    Pour or spray the mixture onto the stain. Use enough to thoroughly saturate the carpet, all the way to its backing. Use a soft-bristle brush to work it deep into the fibers.

    using a brush to work the stain cleaner in
    The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa
  4. Blot and Allow the Area to Dry

    Blot the solution away using paper towels or a shop vacuum and allow the area to air-dry.

    blotting the area dry
    The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa 
  5. Add Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide Mixture

    Sprinkle the clean, dried fabric with baking soda and a mixture of 1 half cup of hydrogen peroxide and 2 cups of cool water. Spray or pour this solution onto the carpet or upholstery and use a soft-bristled brush to work it into the fabric.

    saturating the area with baking soda
    The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa 
  6. Blot and Air-Dry

    Blot or use a vacuum to absorb excess moisture. Allow the fabric to air-dry away from direct heat. Repeat the steps if needed, and once the stain is removed and completely dry, vacuum again to lift the fibers.

    allowing the carpet to air dry
    The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa

Tip

If the stain is on an area rug covering wooden floors, lift the rug while cleaning to prevent damage to the wood underneath.

Additional Tips for Handling Pet Stains

While there are many commercial pet stain removal products, you can easily make your solution with natural ingredients you likely already have in your pantry. Try a variety of at-home methods before consulting a professional cleaner. If a dry-clean-only garment gets stained, blot away urine stains with a white cloth or paper towel before heading to the dry cleaner.