Accidents happen; here's how to clean up and eliminate the smell
Having pets in your home is great but you know how dirty they can be. Shedding hair and pet dander and even worse urine and feces. Not all animals are equal some shed less and go outside, but we all now most of the time there will be hair and other pet spots.
First thing Is to make sure to vacuum at least twice a week if not everyday, most important is to use a high quality vacuum such as dyson or shark. Pet hair gets embedded in the carpet fibers and if not constantly removed there will be such a build up of pet hair it will start to wear down your carpet fibers. Make sure to come back slowly when vacuuming to make sure you removal the most amount of dust and hair.
Next is to watch out for spots on your carpet, you know how it goes: Your pet decides that your carpet's the perfect place to relieve himself. Or perhaps you walk into your bedroom and catch a whiff of something. You first want to soak the area down with a white vinegar and water mix, 1 part vinegar to 1 part water. Generously soak the area down and blot gently with a dry towel, Repeat process until the smell of urine is removed and there is no longer yellow transfer to the towel.
Follow a master plan
First, determine which areas are soiled. Then clean those areas completely. As long as your pet can smell his personal scent, he'll continue to return to the "accident zone." And even if you can't smell traces of urine, your pet can, so you must be sure to remove (neutralize) that odor—this means following all the recommended cleaning steps. If you fail to completely clean the area, your re-training efforts will be useless.
Once it's clean, make the accident zone unattractive and/or unavailable to your pet and the appropriate "bathroom" area attractive.
How to find the soiled area
This may seem obvious, but in some cases the spot will have dried invisibly and be hard to locate. Follow these steps:
- Use your nose to sniff out soiled areas. Cats urine is much stronger than dogs, also much tougher to remove as it will continue to eat its way to the bottom of carpet and into subfloor. There will be instances where you will have to seal the subfloor and replace the carpet backing when dealing with heavy cat urine damage.
- Examine the suspect area closely to catch hard-to-find soiling. You might want to use a black light (which you can purchase at a home-supply store) to discover even old urine stains. Turn out all of the lights in the room; use the black light to identify soiled areas, and lightly outline the areas with chalk.
How to clean machine-washable items
Machine wash as usual, adding a one-pound box of baking soda to your regular detergent. It's best to air dry these items if possible. If you can still see the stain or smell the urine, machine wash the item again and add an enzymatic cleaner (available at pet supply stores) that breaks down pet-waste odors. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's directions carefully.
If your pet urinates or defecates on the sheets or blankets on a bed, then cover the bed with a plastic mattress cover when you begin the re-training period. It's machine washable, inexpensive and unattractive to your pet.
How to clean carpeted areas and upholstery
For "new" stains (those that are still wet):
- Soak up as much of the urine as possible with a rags or towels. The more fresh urine you can remove before it dries, especially from carpet, the easier it will be to remove the odor. Place a thick layer of paper towels on the wet spot, and cover that with a thick layer of newspaper. If possible, put newspaper under the soiled area as well. Stand on this padding for about a minute. Remove the padding, and repeat the process until the area is barely damp.
- If possible, put the fresh, urine-soaked paper towel in the area where it belongs—your cat's litter box or your dog's designated outdoor "bathroom area." This will help remind your pet that eliminating isn't a "bad" behavior as long as it's done in the right place.
- Rinse the "accident zone" thoroughly with clean, cool water. After rinsing, remove as much of the water as possible by blotting or by 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 (get one from a local hardware store). This machine works much like a vacuum cleaner and is efficient and economical. Extracting/wet vac machines do the best job of forcing clean water through your carpet and then forcing the dirty water back out. When you use these machines or cleaners, carefully follow the instructions. 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). Be sure to read and follow the cleaner's directions for use, including testing the cleaner on a small, hidden portion of fabric first to be sure it doesn't stain.
- 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 carpet or upholstery. The heat will permanently set the stain and the odor by bonding the protein into any man-made fibers.
- Avoid using cleaning chemicals, especially those with strong odors such as ammonia. From your pet's perspective, these don't effectively eliminate or cover the urine odor and may actually encourage your pet to reinforce the urine scent mark in that area. White Vinegar is a good alternative, kills bacteria and is organic.