As any pet parent knows, accidents happen. And all too often, those accidents result in nasty odors and unpleasant stains. Whether your favorite pup didn’t make it outside in time or your cat brought home a “present” and left it on the couch for you to find, it is important to know how to deal with disgusting messes to keep your home looking and smelling great.
While there isn’t a whole lot you can do to prevent your fur babies from making messes, there is a lot you can do to keep your home from looking and smelling like a zoo. Check out these helpful tips for removing household pet odors and stains.
Find the Source
Stains are usually easy to detect, but sometimes, determining the source of an unpleasant odor is a bit trickier. Follow your nose or use a blacklight to detect urine stains. When using a blacklight, turn off the rest of the lights in your home and shine it in all areas of the room. Because urine contains fluorescent molecules that glow under blacklight, you’ll be able to detect even old, dried stains. Once you have identified all of the stains and messes, outline them using chalk. This will help you remember where everything is — even those invisible dried urine stains.
Cleaning Washable Items
Start with washable items — like throw pillows, blankets and sofa cushion covers. Soak soiled items in an enzymatic cleaner. There are several types of enzymatic cleaners on the market, and they are formulated to eliminate unpleasant odors at the source rather than covering them up. If you have never used the product before, do a spot test in a conspicuous area first. Carefully read the instructions on the bottle and follow them closely to avoid damaging the item.
After soaking, wash the item in your washing machine as usual. For best results, air dry. If the stain is still visible or there is still an odor after the item is dry, repeat the process. Once the item has been washed, keep it away from your pet, if possible.
Tackle Your Carpets and Upholstery
If you are dealing with a fresh, wet mess, soak up as much as you can using paper towels and newspaper. Don’t scrub, as this could push the stain further into the fiber. Instead, use a blotting motion or put down a thick layer of paper towels and newspaper and stand on it. Repeat until the spot is barely damp.
Use clean, cool distilled water to rinse the area, then remove as much of the water as possible either by blotting or with a wet-dry vacuum. Next, apply an enzymatic cleaner. Read and follow the instructions to ensure the best possible results and to prevent damage to your carpet or upholstery. Once dry, use a blacklight to verify that the area has been thoroughly cleaned. If it still glows, repeat the process. If it doesn’t glow but there is still a visible stain, try a high-quality carpet or upholstery cleaner.
Eliminate Messes on Walls and Bare Floors
When you are dealing with a urine or another type of pet mess on your bare floor or a wall, start by soaking up fresh stains right away, then clean using an enzymatic cleaner. If the wood on your floor, baseboard, wall or furniture is discolored, the paint or varnish has been damaged. In this situation, you may need to remove and replace the damaged layer of paint or varnish. Talk to someone at your local hardware store to find the right products and learn how to tackle the project.
What Not to Do
When it comes to dealing with pet odors and stains, knowing what not to do can be just as important as knowing what to do. For starters, avoid using steam cleaners to treat urine odors on upholstery or carpet. The heat can set in the stain and odor by bonding the proteins to the man-made fibers. It’s also best to avoid strong cleaning chemicals, like ammonia. In addition to potentially causing damage, these products typically fail to eliminate or mask odors, and they can actually make your pet more likely to return to the scene of the crime.
If you are dealing with a stain or an accident on your tufted leather sofa, you need to be especially careful during the cleanup process. In most cases, it’s best to not use anything more than distilled water and a soft cloth to clean leather furniture. If you do need to use something a bit stronger, use a cleaner that is designed specifically for use on leather. Be sure to test it in an inconspicuous area first to ensure that it won’t cause any damage. Don’t ignore messes and accidents. No one ever wants to clean up a hairball or puddle that their pet left behind, but the longer you wait, the more difficult it will be to eliminate the odor. Dealing with messes right away also helps prevent stains.
Making Pet Stains and Odors a Thing of the Past
With a little know-how and the right products, getting rid of pet stains and odors is a breeze. Whether your pet has had an accident on your favorite chair or has decided that a corner in your bedroom is the perfect spot to urinate, the tips and tricks listed above will help you get rid of the stains and smells.
Once you’ve cleaned up, train your pets to stay away from certain areas. If your pet is soiling indoors or is getting sick more frequently than usual, it could be a sign of an underlying medical issue. Cats commonly urinate outside of the litter box, for example, when suffering from things like urinary tract infections. If your pet seems to be having more accidents or getting sick more often than usual, you may need to consult with your veterinarian to get to root of the problem.