This article was crafted with the help of Absolute Carpet Care, Inc.

There are over 85 million households in the United States that include cats and dogs among their members. That’s over 85 million carpets, rugs, and floors with the potential to be ruined with pet urine stains and odors. But with the help of a professional carpet and upholstery cleaning company, homeowners can prevent pet accidents from turning into flooring disasters.

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The Problem Runs Deep

There are a few reasons why pet urine stains are so difficult to remove:

Pet urine contains uric acid crystals

Traditional products containing soap and strong chemicals aren’t able to work because they do not break down the acid. While some home remedies can give quick relief, deep cleaning and professional decontamination methods are usually required to remove the stains and odors caused by pet waste altogether.

A small stain is hard to find

As the Humane Society points out on its website, you must find all the spots where your pet has marked before you can begin to retrain him to eliminate in acceptable places. Marcus Krohn, vice president of Absolute Carpet Care in Northern Virginia, notes that it can be difficult to find the whole source of the odor. 

“The real trick is working with the homeowner to find where all these spots are.” Using a black light is recommended if you are not sure of all the places where your pet may have made himself at home.

The stain is the tip of the iceberg

“A lot of the waste goes not only in the carpet but down into the carpet padding and the sub floor,” says Marcus. And most homeowners don’t realize how much bigger the soiled area becomes once it sinks through the carpet. “That padding is like a sponge, and the spot just spreads out,” he says. 

“The rule of thumb taught when a carpet cleaner gets certified is that the spot in the padding is going to be three times the size of the one on the carpet.”

Cleaning Up

puppy sitting next to carpet stainAttacking pet stains when they are fresh is the best way to avoid permanent carpet stains and that lingering odor of Eau du Rover. Most pet experts, including the Humane Society, recommend using an enzymatic cleaner to treat pet stains and odors, but you must use the soap correctly to get the best results, and the process, described below, can be very involved.

  1. Gently remove any solid waste. Do not rub the carpet fibers as that can set a stain.
  2. Soak up as much fresh liquid waste as possible by blotting with a layer of paper towels. Do not rub the spot.
  3. Use a high-quality enzymatic cleaner. While slightly more expensive they provide more effective cleaning.
  4. Thoroughly soak the affected area with the cleaner. One of the most common mistakes homeowners make, Marcus says, is not using enough cleaner to treat the spot. “They may not use enough of it to really get into contact with the padding below,” he says. “They just put a little bit on the carpet, but they have to realize that a spot that’s the size of a softball on top of the carpet is going to spread to the scale of a beach ball when it hits the padding.”
  5. Cover the affected area with a piece of cardboard and let it sit for the amount of time recommended on the container. To be most effective, enzymatic cleaners need to maintain contact with the soiled area to break down the odors and lift them away.
  6. After the recommended time, blot any excess moisture from the carpet with a thick paper towel topped by a layer of newspaper. You can stand on this pad to help wick up the moisture, and you may need to change the paper towels several times.

Call in the Pros

If the stains and odors are older and set in the carpet, you will need professional help to alleviate the problem. Hot water extraction is considered the best treatment for pet stains and odors, and the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification recognizes a four-step professional process for cleaning up pet waste:

  1. Remove the source of the odor.
  2. Thoroughly clean the surface.
  3. Treat with appropriate odor counteractants.
  4. Seal restorable surfaces.

Marcus points out that the process used by a professional cleaner is going to be more rigorous than what the average homeowner could achieve on his or her own. “Homeowners just don’t have the extraction tools that professionals do. 

So much can be rinsed and sucked up with a high-powered vacuum from a truck-mounted carpet cleaning system; homeowners don’t really have that capability.”

Furthermore, the work needed to clean the carpet so that the odor is completely removed for good can be daunting. In addition to replacing the soiled section of carpet padding, the subfloor should be cleaned and sealed with an encapsulating material, and both sides of the carpet should be cleaned as well. 

“We actually treat that glue behind there that’s harboring some of the odor and then reinstall the carpet,” says Marcus. “So, it’s basically everything short of replacing the carpet.”

Good Help is Easy to Find

When it comes to carpet cleaning, there are a lot of companies out there, but the life and beauty of your flooring will depend on locating a well-trained and experienced professional. Marcus recommends asking a couple of important questions when looking for a carpet cleaning service:

  • Are the technicians IICRC certified as individuals? — certification means they’ve been through formal training to learn the science behind carpet cleaning
  • How much experience have the technicians had with pet stains on carpet? — the job is complicated, so it matters whether they have completed fifty of these jobs, or only five Accidents will happen as a part of pet ownership, but with a little bit of vigilance and some professional assistance, any homeowner can keep Spot’s spots from marring the beauty of their carpets and rugs.

This article was crafted with the help of Absolute Carpet Care, Inc., a Northern Virginia expert in Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning. While we strive to provide relevant information to all homeowners, some of the material we publish may not pertain to every area. Please contact your local Best Pick companies for any further area-specific advice.