by Jeremy Strickland
In the carpet cleaning business, pet “accidents” are considered job security! However, it may be possible to deal with some pet and pet odor problems without calling in the pros. I have consulted with our Senior Technician, Mike Sheridan, and below are the inherent problems with the spots & odors as well as possible remedies. A few of these topics have been covered in detail in prior posts, but here, I’ll try and keep it short. Follow links for additional information.
1) Cat & dog urine:
Problem: Urine is acidic, but it becomes alkaline and ammonium salts form in the residue it creates. Typical cleaning solutions will not break down these salts, and they can not be rinsed away with hot water. Also, urine spots are like icebergs; what you see on the surface may be but 1/5 of of the problem. The other 4/5 is underneath the carpet, onto and/or into the padding and perhaps even on the sub-floor.
(NOTE: If more than 20% of the carpet in a room has been affected, the carpet may need to be replaced.)
Potential Remedy: Sop up as much of the liquid as you can with a clean towel. Mix a solution of equal parts hot water and vinegar. Wet a towel and scrub the spot with a circular motion. If it still smells when the spot’s dry, try it again. If the odor improves, but the spot still looks ugly, mist Hydrogen Peroxide onto the spot and rake it in with your fingers. No need to soak the fibers, just make sure they are coated. (NOTE: Don’t use peroxide on wool or other natural fibers.)
If a male cat’s spraying is the problem, you may also want to consult your vet for advice on curtailing the bad behavior. Neutering oftentimes ends spraying habits.
2.) Lingering Pet Smell:
Problem: Your dog’s lingering odors are, in large part, body odors. Body odor is caused by bacteria, so not only do you need to deodorize, you need to kill the bacteria, which is tough to do without hiring a Professional Carpet Cleaner or renting an Ozone Machine.
Potential Remedy: Sprinkling baking soda on your carpet at night and then vacuuming it up in the morning may help. Baking soda won’t kill bacteria, but it may absorb odor (like when you put an open box in your refrigerator). If this doesn’t work, there are many products on the market, many of which are also designed to sprinkle on, then vacuum away.
3.) Pet hair.
Problem: Hair needles it’s way into soft surfaces, making extraction difficult.
Potential remedy: You’re probably doing the right thing already. The question is, are you doing it enough? See, vacuuming is the key here. Vacuum early, vacuum often. Vacuum every day if you can; it doesn’t take long. Pay special attention to those areas prone to trampling. Make sure the bag or cylinder or whatever receptacle your vacuum has is emptied. Vacuum. It’s not just for scaring the dog anymore.
Problem: It’s easy to panic and exacerbate the problem.
Potential remedy: Let the poo dry, then remove the solid bits. Mike recommends that you “Scrape any excess off the top, then dilute a small amount of dish soap in hot water, mixed with a cap full of ammonia.” Clean the spot(s) with a disposable towel dipped in this solution. Scrub in a circular motion. Careful not to get things too wet. ”White vinegar and water mixed 50/50 after the ammonia and dish soap solution should neutralize the PH so it doesn’t brown as it dries,” sayeth Mike. (Vinegar also kills germs. It’s not quite as effective as chlorine bleach, but for household purposes, it does the job just fine and isn’t as harsh or disastrous to colors as bleach is.) Finally, when the mess is clean and you’ve dried it as best as possible, put a spray nozzle on your brown hydrogen peroxide bottle and give the area a good misting (don’t saturate). Peroxide is great for organic stain removal, and it also helps prevent browning. After you’ve misted, use your fingers to rake it in.
Unfortunately, these are not Be-All-End-All solutions. Sometimes, it is potentially cheaper and/or less damaging to call in a professional. Every house and every problem with odors has variables that make it unique. What works in one home, may not make much of a difference in another. On that note, it’s best that I add that when you clean your own carpet, you do so at your own discretion.
Randy’s Carpet Care is available for free estimates. If you have any questions or concerns about the pet odor in your home, call us at (616)392-1400!