Knowing how to remove pet stains on carpet and upholstery can save us time, money and possible embarrassment.
As every animal lover knows, dogs and cats have an unfortunate habit of creating unsightly and foul-smelling messes around the house.
This short guide gives you several quick, time-tested techniques on keeping your household clean and comfortable for both you and your furry friend.
Determine what sort of stain it is
Different types of stains require different cleaning strategies. Mucus stains, often caused by the ingestion of grass and hair, are relatively quick and easy to clean up with simple dish soap and water. Little if any odor is left behind.
Fecal or vomit stains, on the other hand, can be trickier and often require a little more time and preparation, which I cover below. The discoloration and odor caused by dog urine and cat urine stains fall into another special category, also covered below.
Think about re-usable
When possible, it's always best to use washable cloth cleaning rags which you keep specifically to remove pet stains. They're more absorbent than paper towels, better for the environment, and cheaper in the long run.
However, when in a hurry or in a situation in which outdoor garbage facilities are not available, many people minimize indoor odors by cleaning up using paper towels. The towels can then be wrapped tightly in a plastic shopping bag before disposal in an indoor garbage can. An air freshener or spritz of essential oil in the vicinity of the can may also be a good idea in a small apartment or poorly ventilated home.
Choose a natural cleaning product
Different cleaning products are appropriate to different types of stains on different surfaces. Mucus stains generally require only water and a teaspoon of mild soap. Dish soap works fine.
To remove cat urine or dog urine stains, a mixture of 1 cup of warm water and two tablespoons clear white vinegar works well to eliminate odor. Simply mix in a bowl or plastic spray bottle, apply to the stain, and rub with a cloth rag or paper towel. The vinegar scent will linger briefly but will soon fade, taking the pet stain and urine scent along with it. The odor is nullified in the reaction of the acid in the urine with the acid in the vinegar.
Modern enzymatic spray cleaners work well and quickly on all sorts of stains, particularly those which are dark colored, bloody, or persistently bad smelling. However, many people find them too expensive for everyday use. Still more people simply prefer natural alternatives. For these people, extended treatment soaking may be a good cleaning strategy to remove pet stains.
A warm water extended soak treatment
An extended treatment is generally not necessary with pet urine and mucus stains, but for removing pet fecal stains, vomit stains, or any kind of stain which involves blood, a period of soaking with warm water is often necessary. First (without rubbing) pick up and remove as much of the mass of the pet mess as possible. Don't try to scrape it all up at this point - you might only rub it in.
Once the stained surface is as clear and dry as you can make it, take one cup of warm water and mix in either two teaspoons of cleaning product or soap, or two tablespoons of baking soda. Mix until the liquid is entirely blended, but not until it froths over.
Take a soft cloth or dense mass of paper towels, and saturate it with your cleaning fluid. Lay the cloth or towels across as much of the surface of the pet stain as possible. Allow it to become highly saturated with fluid to give the particles time to loosen.
For a fresh, damp stain, allow the cloth to sit for at least five minutes. For old, hardened stains, let sit ten to fifteen minutes. Gently lift up the cloth, plucking up as much of the remaining residue as possible. Using a fresh cloth or fresh towels, rub the moistened residue until it is clean. If any discoloration or odor remains, repeat the soak treatment a second time.
Options for pets with persistent digestive or urination issues
If your pet has chronic diarrhea or vomiting, making messes more than once a week, it is important that you take a stool sample to your veterinarian to test for worms. This is particularly urgent if your pet's situation seems to be making him or her uncomfortable.
While older animals do tend to develop digestive issues late in life, most such symptoms are treatable with probiotics. There may be very simple changes you can make to your pet's dietary routine to solve their problem. Don't treat the issue as an unsolvable problem - it is very likely that there is something you can do to help your pet feel better.
Animals with persistent urination issues - particularly cats - may be acting out because of stress. Changes in your pet's routine and the arrangement of your home may be enough to wean him or her of the habit of marking.
If you do have a pet with seemingly intractable mess issues, buying or renting a steam cleaner may well be a practical choice for removing pet stains. Steam cleaners can be particularly useful for older individuals or those with limited mobility, who may have difficulty with the amount of getting up and down involved in the soaking step.
Because a steam cleaner is a large investment, you should study reviews carefully before making your selection. Don't just buy the cheapest thing. You may be using this device for some time, and it's important to choose one that's both durable and suitable to your personal needs. Be sure to consider whether you'll be using it primarily on carpet or upholstery; whether you want an upright or hand cleaner; and whether your cleaner is a good size and weight for your needs and strength.
If you think you'll only need the cleaner occasionally, it may be better to hire a cleaning service on an as-needed basis. Check your phone book to see what's available in your area.
Replacement carpet and upholstery swatches
Some stains, particularly bloody ones, may prove intractable. If you have swatches of your original carpet or upholstery available, you may be able to take them to your local home furnishings store and have them matched with replacements. Alternately, some cleaning and carpeting services may be able to send a technician to your home for a quote on repair and replacement of pet stained carpet or fabric.
While it may be frustrating to remove pet stains, we have plenty of options both cheap and simple. Let's not give up on our beloved pets. There's plenty we can do.