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

how to remove pet stains

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We love our pets but not the stains and odors that come from urine, poop, and vomit. Whether you have cats or dogs or both, accidents happen. Urine from cats and dogs and spraying from cats leaves stains but it is usually the odor that is most troublesome. Of course, the sooner the stain is treated the more successful the stain removal will be. You can remove all evidence of a pet mishap, and, in most cases, you can do it easily with supplies you have on hand as your secret weapon.

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

Project Metrics

  • Working Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 to 8 hours (for tough stains)

Before You Begin

Lift any solid matter from a fabric, carpet, or upholstery surface with a dull edge like a kitchen knife or scraper. Never rub a stain because it can make the stain larger and more difficult to remove.

While there are shelves full of commercial pet stain removers, you can easily make your own with the simple ingredients.

If a dry-clean-only garment gets stained, blot away urine stains with a white cloth or paper towel. As soon as possible, head to the dry cleaner and point out the stain. If you have upholstery that is vintage or silk, consult a professional cleaner for stain removal.

If you decide to use a home dry cleaning kit, be sure to treat the stain with the provided stain remover before putting the garment in the dryer bag.

What You'll Need

Supplies

Tools

  • Water faucet
  • Dull knife or scraper (for solids)
  • Soaking basin
  • Washing machine
  • Paper towels or white cloths (optional)
  • Outdoor clothing line (optional)

How to Remove Pet Urine Stains and Odors From Clothes and Bed Linens

  1. Flush With Cold Water

    Begin by flushing the area with cold water. Hold the wrong side of the fabric under a running faucet and let the full force of the water flush the urine out of the fibers.

  2. Machine Wash With Laundry Detergent and Vinegar

    Launder as usual using the hottest water temperature recommended for the fabric and a heavy-duty detergent. (Tide or Persil are the highest-rated brands with enough enzymes to break apart the stain molecules.) Add one cup white distilled vinegar to the wash water to help reduce odor. 

  3. Soak Overnight in Vinegar-Water Solution

If the stain is old and the odor is strong, mix a solution of one gallon of cool water and two cups of white distilled vinegar. Completely submerge the fabric and allow it to soak overnight. Wash as recommended above. 

Tried But True Odor Remover

In many parts of the U.S., clothing lines have become a thing of the past, but line drying items outside with the full force of the sun and air will also help get rid of odors.

How to Remove Pet Feces and Vomit Stains on Clothes 

Fresh pet feces and vomit stains should be treated as soon as possible.

What You'll Need

Supplies

Tools

  • Water faucet
  • Dull knife or scraper (for solids)
  • Soaking basin
  • Washing machine
  • Soft-bristled brush (optional)
  1. Remove Solid Matter

    Begin by removing as much solid matter as possible with a dull edge like a dull knife, spatula, or plastic scraper. Do not rub the stains with a cloth because that will drive the stains deeper into the fabric fibers. If the stain is dried or old, scrape or brush off any crusted matter.

  2. Flush Under Running Water

    Once the solids are removed, hold the wrong side of the stained area under a cold water faucet and let the stream push the stain out of the fibers.

    Water Temperature Matters

    Never use hot water at first. Just like boiling water cooks an egg, hot water starts to cook the protein that is in the stain; this sets the stain and makes it harder to remove.

  3. Soak in Oxygen-Based Bleach Solution

    Mix a solution of cool water and oxygen-based bleach by following package directions. Mix enough so that the entire item can be submerged. Allow the stained item to soak for at least four hours or overnight.

  4. Machine Wash and Dry

Machine wash in the hottest water recommended for the fabric with a heavy-duty detergent. Check the stained area on a garment before drying it. Never place a stained item in a hot dryer. Instead, repeat the stain-removing steps until the stain is gone. 

How to Remove Pet Stains From Carpet and Upholstery

Animals can sometimes have accidents on your best home furnishings. The key to removing the stains and odor is to treat the stains as soon as possible. Accidents left untreated can permanently discolor carpet and upholstery fibers.

Most of the same cleaning solutions and techniques used on clothes can be used to remove pet stains from carpet and upholstery. Since you cannot run carpets and upholstery under running water, the cleaning methods have been modified. Extra care must be taken to avoid over-wetting upholstery because it is difficult to remove moisture from the cushions and padding, and that can lead to the formation of mold and mildew.

What You'll Need

Supplies

Tools

  • Paper towels or white cloths
  • Dull knife or scraper
  • Spray bottle (optional)
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Wet/dry shop vacuum (optional)
  • Conventional vacuum
  1. Remove Solids and Soak up Liquids

    As quickly as possible, remove solids with a dull knife or spatula and soak up urine stains with white paper towels or an old cloth. You can also soak up the moisture with a wet/dry shop vacuum. If using a cloth, press it firmly into the stain using an old shoe and keep moving to a dry area or new paper towel to absorb as much liquid as possible.

  2. Make Your Own Pet Stain Cleaner

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

  3. Saturate and Brush Stain With Pet Stain Cleaner

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

    Protect Flooring Underneath Rug or Carpet

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

  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.

  5. Use Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide Mixture

    When the carpet is dry, sprinkle the cleaned area of the carpet with baking soda. Mix one-half cup hydrogen peroxide with two cups cool water. This should be mixed fresh each time because hydrogen peroxide turns to pure water after exposure to light. Spray or pour this solution onto the baking soda and use a soft-bristled brush to work it into the carpet.

  6. Blot and Air-Dry

Blot or use a wet/dry vacuum to suck away the moisture. Allow the carpet to air-dry away from direct heat. Repeat the steps if needed and once the stain is removed and it is completely dry, vacuum to lift the fibers.