By Teri Olcott
We all love our fur babies until we come home to find an “accident” has occurred, leaving a stain in the middle of the living room carpet and the odor of urine or worse wafting throughout the house. Whether you have a new puppy, aging senior pet, or just didn’t get home in time, Felix or Fido’s little mishap can be cleaned up fairly simply with natural products you probably already have.
Blot Up the Stain
Removing pet urine and feces from a carpet is easier if you happen to discover the incident while it’s still fresh.
For urine, you will want to blot and soak up as much of the puddle as you can. Use some old towels and blot the stain by standing or pressing down on the towels. Don’t scrub the stain as that will just spread it further into the carpet fibers. If you don’t have a lot of old towels, newspaper is very absorbent and easy to throw away. Place the newspaper on top of the towels, not under, as newsprint can bleed into the carpet and make an even worse stain. Keep blotting the stain until the towels and/or newspaper are dry. This may take a little time, but any urine left in the carpet or the padding underneath will result in a urine odor later, so it’s worth it.
For urine stains that have partially or totally dried, fill a spray bottle with water and mist the area. Water will dissolve the urine molecules and make the stain fresh again. A fresh stain is easier to remove than an old stain.
For feces, use rubber gloves or a plastic bag to pick up the mess. You can put a plastic bag over your hand, grab the poo, then invert the plastic bag to capture and dispose of “everything.” Treat any stain left behind like a urine stain.
Neutralize the Odor
Once the offending substance has been thoroughly removed from the carpet, you will need to neutralize the area to eliminate all odors. The simplest method is a vinegar and baking soda spray. Depending on the size of the stained area, mix 1 cup white distilled vinegar, 1 cup warm water, and two tablespoons of baking soda in a spray bottle. It will fizz! Test the mixture for color-fastness in an inconspicuous area such as a closet before spraying it on the stain.
If the closet test is successful, thoroughly spray the stained area and let it sit for about five minutes. Then gently blot the area with a clean towel or soft cloth.
You can also sprinkle baking soda on the stain and then spray it with the diluted vinegar mixture. The results will be the same, but the fizzing action will be more dramatic. Baking soda and vinegar have the natural ability to neutralize odors and lift dirt.
Once the area has dried, vacuum the carpet thoroughly to remove the baking soda residue.
Like vinegar, hydrogen peroxide is another natural product for breaking down urine molecules and removing stains. If you’re out of vinegar, but have a bottle of hydrogen peroxide handy, do the closet test to make sure hydrogen peroxide won’t bleach your carpet.
After absorbing all the urine from your carpet, sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda over the stain. Mix a half-cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide and 1 teaspoon of any dish liquid together in a bowl. Slowly pour the hydrogen peroxide solution over the baking soda. Gently scrub the mixture into the carpet with a clean cloth or a mild scrub-brush. Once the area is dry, vacuum thoroughly to remove all the baking soda. Your carpet is now clean with no lingering odor of pet pee.
Make Your Own Enzyme Cleaner
If you’ve had a pet or pets for any length of time, you probably have a bottle of store-bought urine remover which boasts of its bio-enzymatic formula to permanently remove urine odors and stains. Many cat owners claim this is the only product that works to effectively remove the smell of cat urine from their home. This product does work, and you can buy a bottle from the store or, with a little patience, you can make your own.
To make your own enzyme cleaner you’ll need:
1. 7 tablespoons of brown sugar
2. 2 cups of lemon, lime, grapefruit, or orange peel (any citrus fruit)
3. 4 cups of water
4. A clear plastic bottle
Put the brown sugar and citrus fruit peel (peel only) in the plastic bottle. Add the water and tightly cap the bottle. Shake well to mix it all around. Loosen the cap and leave it loose to allow fermenting gasses to leave the bottle. If you put the cap on tight, the bottle can explode. You will not be injured, but it will make a big mess. It will take approximately three months for your natural enzymatic cleaner to create itself. Check the bottle daily and give it a shake and loosen the cap to release any gas. After approximately three months, strain the liquid from the bottle and put it in an airtight container. You now have your very own natural enzyme cleaner. Dilute it 50/50 with water and put it in a spray bottle to use as a pet odor remover and cleaner.
Coming home to an unexpected mess is never a pleasant experience, but don’t be too hard on Fido or Felix. Pets stains are not permanent, and with a few household items and a little bit of elbow grease, your carpet will be clean and odor-free in no time.
Images used with permission, courtesy of Teri Olcott and www.dreamstime.com