Removing Dog and Cat Urine Stains and Odor
If you’re a pet owner, you know the look. (I know I've seen it too many times.) The look that says “Oops” while the dog is standing next to a puddle, or the cat slyly slinking away.
If the urine is on hard flooring, it’s not too hard to get it clean and any odors removed.
But if it’s on carpet, there are certain steps that you need to follow to prevent the stain and odors from setting in.
And if you’re dealing with an old stain, removing odors can be tough and might make the difference between using and not using a room in your home.
So as an (unfortunate) professional dog and cat pee expert, I'm here to show you how to be an expert pet stain and odor remover too. Are you ready to get busy then? Let's get busy cleaning!
What to Avoid when Cleaning Dog or Cat Urine:
Do not Clean Urine using Ammonia!
I see some people on the Internet recommending ammonia to remove pet stains. DON'T DO IT.
- Ammonia is highly alkaline, and is not good for carpet fibers.
- Ammonia will leave a residue that you will be unable to remove completely, and the sticky residue will end up attracting any dirt it comes into contact with in the future
- And the most important reason of all, if you have never had the pleasure of smelling wet dirty diapers that have been allowed to sit for a few days... They smell just like ammonia! So old pet urine converts to ammonia!
Why does Urine Eventually Smell like Ammonia?
The components of ammonia are in urine to start with: uric acid, uric salts, as well as other components.
Ammonia occurs naturally as part of the decay process of organic materials. So, as bacteria go to work on the urine, a chemical conversion happens and we have ammonia.
So the short story is, the ammonia will attract the pet back to the very same spot to do its business, because after all- that's where the pee is, right?
Or it smells like it anyway to your dog and cat.
It's not hard to remove pet urine and totally avoid odors to start with; there are just a few tips to follow.
Blot Fresh Stains Immediately:
- As soon as you discover the pet stain, you should begin to blot the affected area to soak up as much urine as possible.
- This may take quite a bit of paper towels, depending on the size of the accident.
- If the accident is on carpet, you need to take extra care to ensure that you get as much of the urine up as possible.
- Pat paper towels on the carpet and stand on them as many times as needed until urine no longer absorbs into the towel.
The only true way to eliminate the pet stain and associated odor for good is to use an enzymatic cleaner. The components of animal urine can create odors for years to come, even after the stain itself is removed.
- Purchase an enzymatic cleaner specifically designed for pet urine.
- Follow the directions on the bottle, even if they seem to be excessive.
- You need to completely douse the area, ensuring that there’s enough cleaner down to cover both the carpet and any underlying padding.
- I wouldn't overly saturate the area at the risk of spreading the urine further; just use your best judgment.
Plain White Vinegar:
Vinegar is a natural deodorizer and a mild disinfectant. The "sour" smell dissipates as it dries.
- Blot up as much urine as possible.
- Be careful not to completely saturate the carpet backing or padding, spray straight vinegar on the urine stain.
- Let the vinegar sit for a minute or so and blot with clean paper towels.
- Repeat 3-4 times or as many times necessary to remove the stain.
- Blot only, and not scrub at the stain, which can fray the carpet fibers.
Cat urine is particularly difficult to treat (as well as being extremely odorous). The proteins are extremely strong, and can actually take 2-3 weeks to completely remove.
- There are enzymatic cleaners designed specifically for cat urine that are best suited for this purpose.
- While these cleaners are working, it’s important to keep the cat away from the affected area. Otherwise, the cat will simply urinate again on top of the area and ruin your cleaning efforts.
- To keep the cat away, place aluminum foil over the area you cleaned.
- Weigh the foil down so the cat can’t move it and get to the spot. Cats in general dislike the sound of aluminum foil beneath their paws, and won’t want to walk or urinate in this area.
- You may need to keep the foil there for 1-2 months to permanently train the cat to avoid this area.
- While it may not look the best having a piece of aluminum foil covering a section of your carpet, it’s more than worth the temporary unpleasantness to avoid permanent cat urine odors permeating your home. You could hide it by putting something like a foot stool or ottoman over it.
Tough Urine Stains:
If All Else Fails, try Kilz. If you’re dealing with an old pet stain (cat or dog) or one that covers large portions of the flooring, you may not be able to salvage the flooring. This may be particularly true if you’re moving into a home with pre-existing pet stain odor problems.
- If you decide to remove and replace the flooring, you need to treat the sub-flooring to prevent the odors from coming back to haunt you.
- The best way to do this is to paint the sub-flooring with oil-based Kilz (the water-based version isn’t strong enough for pet odors).
- This will effectively lock away the odor for good so that you’re free to enjoy your new flooring for years to come.
Tough Urine Odors:
Still have urine odors? Use a Black Light.
If you’ve used an enzymatic cleaner on all stains that you can see and still have lingering pet odors, you’ll need to use a black light to find out if there are stains that you can’t see.
Any black light will do – if you have one from your teenager’s room or your glory days of old, that’s fine. Otherwise, most pet supply stores sell small, battery-operated, hand held models specifically for this purpose.
- Completely darken the room.
- Wave the black light over the flooring from about 12 inches away.
- The black light will illuminate pet stains (actually it illuminates all biological material), allowing you to know where else you need to treat with the enzymatic cleaner.
Pet stains, no problem!
No need to stress when nature calls your dog or cat. Now you are a pro and can clean up your pet stains and odor fast.
Image courtesy of yukariryu, CC.