If you’ve found this blog, ‘urine’ luck! OK, joking aside, pet accidents happen. That doesn’t mean you have to get rid of your carpet – OR your four-legged friend. Just follow our five steps and remove set-in urine stains from your carpet and rugs, fur-ever.
Why Do Animals Wet Our Carpet and Rugs?
If you have pets in your home, chances are you’ve had to deal with at least one accident. Pet urine gets you twice over. There’s the stain that pee leaves behind. And then there’s the lingering smell and bacterial growth. There are many reasons our dogs and cats have accidents in our home. And while puppies are usually the biggest mess makers, even our adult animals can have physical or behavioral causes for urinating on floors and furnishings. When it comes to addressing pet pee, you have to start at the source then circle back. To remove pet urine for good, it’s not just a question of cleaning but of follow up and future prevention.
Urination Habits May signal a Health Concern
Let’s assume a dog or cat has easy access to a yard or a litter box and to a water bowl. That means they can hydrate and eliminate as needed. In that case, the reason why a pet pees in the “wrong place” may be a medical one. Urinary tract infactions, kidney or bladder stones, diabetes, kidney disease, thyroid or hormonal disorders can all cause involuntary incontinence – where your pet simply can’t hold it in. To remove pet urine problems, it’s best to start with a veternarian who can run the necessary tests to rule out any undiagnosed health issues.
Wetting can also Be A Behavioral Issue
When we say “behavioral” we don’t mean good behavior or bad. It has more to do with pet psychology. Accidents can signal pet anxiety. Separation anxiety, environmental changes in your household, the addition of new pets or people and loud noises like thunderstorms or fireworks can all cause puppy puddles. In almost all cases your pet makes a mess because he or she is in pain, afraid or confused and not trying to make you mad. Incomplete housebreaking or a reversion to older behaviors can cause a dog to have an accident. Some additional training can cur-tail that problem. And some dog breeds are more prone to potty problems than others.
In contrast, cat urine problems can often be tracked back to their litter box. If too many cats use the same box or the box is not cleaned daily, cats may feel unsafe there. What’s more, unaltered male and female cats may engage in marking behaviors. This is a natural, if disgusting, habit and it rarely occurs in a litter box. It all comes down to this. Once an area – a carpet, area rug, or even wood floor has been marked, pets will tend to mark the same place again and agaiin. That’s why, if you want to avoid pet urine problems going forward, a thorough cleaning is very important. Keep in mind, a fresh pee spot is much easier to remove. Always address new urine right away, See Step 2 below for our Rinse-and-Blot strategy.
So, How do you Remove Set-in Urine Stains from Your Carpet?
First, Track Down the Pet Spots
It’s one thing to find a pee spot if it is “fresh” and still in its liquid state. If you catch your kitty or pup peeing on your carpet or rug, chances are they’ve piddled somewhere previously. In this case, they may have left behind a mess you haven’t noticed. Walk your home – even the rarely used areas – to try and locate those messes. If you dont’ see anything at first, darken your rooms and shine a black light across the carpet or rug. You may be surprised. Sometimes those old puddles are hiding in plain sight.
Second, Rinse-and-Blot. Alot
Let us start with a distinction between “fresh” and stale pet urine. When a pee spot is fresh, the chemical profile of that urine is easier to remove. Remove fresh first! Start with a small wet vac or spot removal machine if you have one. Then remove as much of the moisture as you can. Even a pile of white paper towels will do. Just lay down the paper towel and press firmly down on the spot, using your hands or feet. Always remember, always blot, never scrub! Scrubbing can change your carpet’s texture forever. Switch out the soiled paper towels with clean ones and repeat this cycle until you are getting no moisture on the paper. The key is to blot or suck up the majority of the pet urine before it soaks past the carpet backing and into the carpet pad.
When urine is “set-in” or stale, you’ll need to change things up. Start by rinsing with a small amount of plain, cool water. Once the spot is damp, wet-vac or blot that area as explained above. Start with 1/4-1/2 cup of water. Don’t overwet the spot and don’t be surprised if this process makes the area smell WORSE to start. You are reactivating the old urine in order to remove it. Multiple repeats of this rinse-and-blot strategy will start the removal process.
Third, Introduce Gentle Cleaners
Make sure you know your carpet or rug! If it is a natural textile – especially wool but also cotton, silk blends or grass materials – you are likely going to need a very mild cleaner that will not damage or discolor the fibers. You best bet is to call a reputable local cleaner and see what sort of cleaning protocol they suggest. Even if you are dealing with synthetic carpet or rugs, you’ll want to be very careful what cleaning solution you choose. When removing urine, remember, even if the discoloration is gone there is still bacteria left behind which can cause contamination and that tell-tale smell. Some cleaners claim to be effective on urine stains but you can’t always take their word for it. And the wrong product can cause permanent damage. Beware anything that contains ammonia or bleach. Bleach combines with the chemical make-up of urine to create a poisonous mix. One really effective and common household cleaner is white vinegar. Blend distilled white vinegar and water which can be sprayed on the spot then blotted up after a short wait.
Fourth, Switch Up Your Strategies
Be very careful what cleaning solution you choose. Even after most of the urine has been removed, there is still bacteria left behind which can cause contamination and that tell-tale smell. Beware anything that contains ammonia or bleach. Bleach combines with the chemical make-up of urine to create a poisonous mix. An alternative is to sprinkle a modest amount of baking soda (1/4 cup) and leave it on the spot overnight then vacuum up. Other professionals suggest working with a diluted solution of hydrogen peroxide. Again, beware of the fiber type of your rug or carpet as peroxide can cause discoloration and damage. If you are working with a synthetic fiber, you can apply the peroxide blend and gently agitate then rinse and dry the area. As always, never scrub or rub.
Fifth, Take Time for Enzymes
Still noticing a smell or discoloration? Whether this is a new or old pee spot, apply an enzyme cleaner. Enzymes actually eat up bad bacteria and that helps prevent lingering odors. Always test any cleaning solution on an inconspicuous area to be sure how your textile will respond.
Why Does a Carpet Sometimes Smell Worse After Cleaning?
As homeowners, we may regularly vacuum our carpets and rugs but it takes an extra investment of time and effort to perform a deep cleaning. Sometimes we even turn the work over to a professional company and we very naturally assume that our home will be cleaner and smell fresher after the job is done. But what if our carpet smells worse after a professional cleaning? It might be that old stains have been re-activated by the introduction of warmth and moisture. This post-clean pungency is especially likely in the case of old pet urine contamination.
You may not even have a fur friend of your own. But if the previous homeowner did, you could still be dealing with the evidence of that cat or dog’s occupancy. One common mistake is to deodorize the carpet with some general-use product. Unfortunately that only masks the smell. And if you do have a pet in residence, chances are they will smell the old pet urine under the deodorizer and contribute their own pee spot to the area. Professionals can advise you as to your best options for addressing that post-clean funk.
All pet urine is unpleasant, but many fur parents claim that cat pee smells stronger than dog pee. Turns out, they’re right. Housecats have evolved from wild felines that originated in hot, dry habitats. By reabsorbing the water from their urine, the cat species learned over time to survive extreme dehydration. But the side effect of this adaptation is that your little leopard eliminates darker, more concentrated and pungent urine than its canine siblings. Hormones and marking behaviors are a further complication of cat urine. If you are seeing this sort of issue, you may need to consider spaying or neutering your indoor feline. Although dogs may pee repeatedly on a rug or carpet, cats are particularly likely to keep marking or spotting the same area of your home due to natural habits. For that reason, it is absolutely necessary to remove set-in urine stains on your carpet as thoroughly as possible. That means cleaning away the spot and, especially, the smell, as much you can. How do you do that? Let us walk you through the best pet urine removal strategies.
When Should You Call in the Pros?
When it comes to more than just a pee spot or two, a DIY response my not be able to address the problem. That’s where a professional cleaning company can make all the difference. Professionals know how to remove set-in urine stains on carpet but they’ll need some information from you up front. When you call a reputable, local cleaner, ask about their urine treatment services and be prepared to tell them about your situation – whether you are dealing with dog or cat pee, whether your concern is carpet or area rugs. It will be helpful if you can describe how intensive the contamination is and what percentage of the stains are over a day old.
Be prepared for a professional to explain what they can (and can’t) do. Also know that for heavily damaged carpet, the only response may be to rip out the carpet and the pad below, which acts as a sponge over time and collects old urine. It is possible that the urine has penetrated even the subfloor, so your project may involve more significant mitigation. Just know that there are a range of resources to help you remove pet urine damage in your home.
An Ounce of Prevention is worth a ‘Pound’ of Pee.
So what’s the takeaway? When urine is dealt with immediately, it is only a matter of blotting, rinsing, and treating. So if the issue is a random accident or two, it is possible that DIY efforts can address the problem – especially if the pee spot is fresh. Older spots and more serious contamination require more intensive efforts but you can remove set-in urine stains from your carpet. The key is to assess the situation and to determine whether you need the pros to help you tackle your pet pee problem.
Once you’ve spent the time and money to remove those unpleasant spots and stains, there’s one very important step to take. Consider ways to help your pet avoid future accidents! That may require more training for the youngest pets or puppy pads and diapers for older dogs. It may mean cleaning the litter box more regularly or neutering and spaying cats that engage in spraying and marking behaviors. If you don’t have a furbaby and don’t intend to introduce one to your household, a deep cleaning and odor treatment may be enough. But if you do have a cat or dog who has been leaving pee spots on your carpet or rugs, hopefully, the removal of old urine will keep them from using the same areas going forward.
With the help of your vet and some extra attention to your furry friends, you may be able to get to the underlying causes and ‘eliminate’ them. Be patient and remember this. Our pets don’t want to make us mad. Dogs and cats don’t have words so they have to get our attention in whatever way they can. A puddle is just a puddle, after all. It’s a small price to pay for all the puppy love and kitty cuddles we get from the ones who love us most.