Fido or Kitty left you a present again? Or maybe you found an old surprise when you went to rearrange the furniture? Regardless of when the deed was done, rest assured that you can restore your carpet or surface to its former glory. All you need is some cleaning know-how and a little elbow grease. Just because you have a pet doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your beautiful house. You can learn to address new stains, old stains, and use home remedies to help keep your home clean.
Cleaning New Stains
Absorb the mess. Use wet towels or paper towels, layered and topped by some kind of weight, to quickly absorb fresh puddles. Run the towels under cool water, then wring them out so they’re damp but not dripping, and place them over the stain completely. Put something heavy on top, like cans of food, a pair of shoes, or a book. The moisture will help soak up the urine, while the weight presses the towels down into the carpet. Leave it on for at least 10 minutes.
If you want to use heavy books for your poultice, put a layer of plastic wrap or aluminum foil on top of the wet towels first, to avoid wetting and staining the paper of the book.
If the spot has been wet for more than 10 minutes, it’s probably soaked into the carpet pad. Make the towel 50% wider than the area of visible stain, as well as using more towels, more water, and a heavier weight.
Re-wet the spot with water. After you’ve lifted up the towel, pour a small amount of cold water over the spot again. Start pouring just outside the perimeter of the stain, slowly moving toward the center. This will prevent the water from spreading the urine out into an even wider circle. Allow the water to work through the stain for about a minute.
Spray enzyme cleaner over the area. Non-toxic and effective, enzymatic cleaners work by breaking down stains into their basic elements, eliminating the compounds that create smells and stains. Using an enzymatic cleaner is the best way to help break down the proteins left over from the urine, removing the smell as well as the impulse for the pet to urinate in the same spot again.
You can buy enzymatic cleaner at most pet stores, or you can make your own with clean water, brown sugar, and orange peels.
Most enzymatic cleaners need to be kept on a wet area for several hours. However, some might use a different process, so be sure to read the instructions on the label. If you’re cleaning wool carpet, make sure the cleaner is wool-safe.
Apply another towel and absorb the cleaner. After soaking the spot with cleaning, follow the same procedure as with the first absorbing, and put a fresh towel over the enzymatic cleaner to absorb it and thoroughly cleanse the area. Weight the towel with a heavy object and leave it alone.
Allow the towel to sit overnight. When you pull it up in the morning, the visible stain should be gone, as well as the smell.
Clean or dispose of the towels. Because the towels you used for absorbing the urine will have faint traces of your pet’s scent, it’s important to keep your pet from marking them again. Help your pet avoid the temptation by discarding the towel.
If you used paper towels in your poultices, be sure to seal them in a garbage bag and get rid of them as soon as possible, so that your pet doesn’t try urinating on them, or digging them out of the garbage.
If you used cloth towels, put them into the washer immediately and run with hot water to clean them thoroughly, if you don’t want to discard them completely. Wash the towels twice to be sure.
Consider steam-cleaning the carpet. If the enzymatic cleaner didn’t remove the stain completely, consider renting a steam cleaner or hiring a professional to do the job for you. Make sure to ask if they have a product to add into their solution designed for pet stains. Stains are a lot easier to remove when they’re fresh, so try to decide quickly if this is what you need to do.
Large volumes of concentrated alkaline salts and strong odors that come from bacteria feeding on the waste products contained in the urine can make professional cleaning necessary. The alkaline salts can create a very high pH environment (10 – 10.4) and destabilize normally stable dyes that cause bleeding. This is very difficult to address without steam cleaning and specialized cleaner.
Cleaning Old Stains
Find old stains. You might have a general idea of where old stains might be from the odor. If you think there might be old stains in an area, explore using a sweeping motion, gradually moving farther away from the generally smelly location. The pet urine that you’re looking for should show up as a yellow or greenish color. Try looking in the following areas: Bookshelves
Objects that appear to have holes, such as inside portable heaters
Clothing that your cat may be able to access
Other small areas your cat could squeeze into
Consider using ultraviolet light to explore more thoroughly. If you want to be thorough, buy a UV or fluorescent black light of a portable size. Look for a long bulb so you can cover more ground at much, preferably longer than 12 inches (30cm). Cheap bulbs with the housing included can be found at most hardware stores. Although pet stores sell the lights as well, they’re usually smaller and more expensive. They can also be purchased at a reasonable cost online, depending on how much time you have to wait around living with the odor.
Search at night or in complete darkness. Pet urine can be difficult to see, especially when old, so maximize your search efforts by taking advantage of darkness. Either wait for night, or make the room as dark as possible.
Mark each spot that you find. If you’re on the stain-finding warpath, make sure don’t get ahead of yourself and forget where all the stains are. Keep a roll of blue painter tape on you while you’re looking around, and mark each spot that needs to be cleaned with a small strip of blue tape. When you’ve found all the stains you want to clean up, go back with your cleaning materials and find your stains easily.
Try an enzymatic cleaner to start. Wet the area with cool distilled water, pouring a small amount around the perimeter of the stain, moving from the outside of the stain toward the center. Spray an enzymatic cleaner on the wet spot, and allow it to sit overnight. If your carpet is wool, make sure you’re using a wool-safe cleaner.
Wet paper or cloth towels with cool water, and lay them over the spot. Put a heavy object on top of the wet towels and leave the towels overnight. When you remove it in the morning, you can assess whether or not you need to take more extreme measures.
Steam-clean old stains. A rented cleaner can produce steam that’s hot enough to sanitize the carpet, after which the water can be vacuumed up again. Alternatively, if the spot is particularly large or stained, you can hire a professional cleaner to manage it.
Try cleaning without detergent at first. If you find that you’re still not pulling up the stain, ask the representatives at the rental center what they recommend, and try to use as little detergent as possible.
Wool can be damaged by steam cleaners, much like a wool sweater shrinks if you wash it in hot water. If the stain is on wool carpet that you don’t wish to damage, seriously consider hiring a pro.
Use oxidation if necessary. One alternative to using a steam cleaner on an old stain is oxidizing it. Products that release oxygen are effective odor removers, and you can make a solution yourself at home.
Mix up ½ teaspoon (2.5 grams) of bleach with 1 quart (32 ounces/950ml) of distilled water. Do a patch test on a part of the carpet you don’t usually see, and make sure you won’t damage the color. Then saturate the area and allow the solution to soak into the carpet for at least 10 minutes.
Use a shop vac or a towel (as described above) to pull up the solution. You might need to do oxidate the carpet several times to remove a stain. Let the carpet dry completely between treatments.
Oxidizing products should never be used on wool or silk carpets. The treatment is only appropriate for synthetic fibers.
Using Other Remedies
Try the vacuum method. Pour some cold water on the stain and immediately vacuum it up with a wet/dry vacuum. Repeat at least twice, or as many times as is necessary to remove the discoloration. Do not let the water sit; suck it up immediately (within seconds) of each application.
For tough stains, add a bit of salt to the water, but never add soap. The residue left over in the carpet will attract dirt.
Use the baking soda and vinegar method. Spray the area with vinegar, then sprinkle on enough baking soda to thinly coat the area of the stain. Cover the stain with a towel for 24 hours, then wash the area thoroughly with cold water. This mixture should absorb the stain and cleanse the area thoroughly, and cheaply.
Use the hydrogen peroxide and dish soap method. Start by dusting the stain with a thin coat of baking soda, then mix up about a cup of hydrogen peroxide with a tablespoon of dish soap in a spray bottle. Mix gently to combine. Then, saturate the baking soda and the stain thoroughly. Use an old toothbrush or your fingers to massage the mixture gently into the carpet, then let the mixture sit until it dries. Vacuum up the mess and clean it again with cool water.
Hydrogen peroxide can damage some kinds of carpet, making it important that you spot test this mixture in an out-of-the-way area of the carpet to make sure that it won’t stain the carpet irreparably.
Avoid ammonia. High in alkaline, ammonia should never be used to clean pet stains. It will leave a sticky residue in the carpet and damage the carpet fibers, attracting dirt and other debris. It will also attract pets back to the same area, because ammonia contains the same uric acids and salts that are present in urine, making it all too tempting for your pet to remark the area. Never use ammonia on pet stains. 
Replace the padding underneath. For stubborn stains that you suspect may have soaked through the carpet into the padding, replacing the padding itself will help a lot. Pull up the carpet, cut a sample of the padding and bring it to a home improvement store to find padding of equal thickness. Cut out the stained padding and replace it with a piece of the new padding.
Some pets hate the smell of vinegar, even after it is has dried. Vinegar can also help to mask odor for your own nose, so a few drops of this over the affected area may help to deter future use by the pet.
Purchase a repellent spray if your pet keeps urinating in the same area. There are a variety of sprays available for different types of pets, such as dogs and cats. Search for one that fits your household needs (such as being safe for use in houses with children) and won’t damage your particular type of carpet.
Household chemicals generally won’t get rid of urine stains and smells. Buy an enzyme cleaner made specifically for this task.
Patience is the key. It’s better to do any process a few times and let it dry in between than to try to do everything at one time.
Follow label directions on the enzyme digesters. Always test for color fastness before using any oxidation deodorization method.
Clean an area that’s a bit wider than the actual stain. As you can see in the diagram below, the urine can soak into the carpet pad at a wider diameter.
Avoid Oxy-Clean like products, which work by making hydrogen peroxide which has more available oxygen and can last longer than chlorine which can cause damage to carpets.
If the accident just happened quickly absorb it from the carpet with toilet paper…keep rolling up paper and stepping on it over the accident until it’s dry. Re wet the stain with febreeze and again lift it up with toilet paper. Then pour baking soda over the spot…let it dry overnight. You will see the urine comes up into the baking soda…why? I have no idea…when it’s dry..scrape it up ( I use the back of the dust pan brush) sweep it up into a dust pan and thoroughly vacuum. Voila..stink and stain gone. If it’s old..this will not work.
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Sources and Citations
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