In our house, we have both cats and dogs. Most pet owners in America own either a cat or a dog, some have both, and some have other animals. In my experience, nothing is worse than pet urine smells. They’re hard to get rid of, can’t be covered up, and are just plain nasty.
Small, curious animals like cats, members of the weasel family, and loose rodents are the worst simply because they can get into (and routinely visit) places in your home that you can’t get to yourself. Small dogs might be this way, but most of the time, dogs are pretty much restricted to roughly the same traffic areas we are.
So how do you get rid of pet urine and its odor without resorting to nasty chemicals or replacing your rugs and furniture?
For starters, the sooner you get to the accident, the better. If it just happened, you can usually neutralize the entire problem simply by washing it up with soap and water quickly. When this is done before the nastiness has a chance to soak in and set up shop as a stink center, the problem is usually solved without a lot of fuss.
That’s not always possible, however, so here are some other methods that you might find helpful.
All-Purpose Simple Method
I’ll start with a sort of all-purpose cleaning method that uses natural, safe, and non-toxic stuff you probably already have in your house anyway. Your first step is to identify where the stain is. Solid floors like hardwood or tile are, obviously, very easy and just a quick one-two with a mop with water and vinegar in it will do the job. For carpets, furniture, and other cloth or softwoods that have soaked well, this won’t cut it.
Try soap and water first, of course. Diluting the urine goes a long way towards cutting its smell. Wash and rinse with soap, clear water, and repeat two or three times. If the stain hasn’t been there too long, this will probably do the job.
If not, dab some vinegar (white is cheaper, but white or apple cider are fine) on an area out of sight on the carpet or furniture to make sure it won’t bleach it. Let it dry and check. If all is well, mix a 25% vinegar and water solution and either pour or squirt and dab it into place. Soak it in well (especially on thick carpets) and rub vigorously with a wash cloth. Then use straight water to rinse, dabbing again and again. Put a towel over it and soak it up until mostly dry, then air dry. Repeat this again if necessary.
Let it dry for two or three days and see if the smell lingers. If so, it will be very light. To complete the job, sprinkle baking soda on and around it (making a radius 2-3 inches wider than the stain). Take a dry cloth or use your hand and rub it in a little. Let it sit for half a day (at least a couple of hours, anyway) and then vacuum.
Most pet accidents and their smells will be taken care of with the above steps. With dogs, remember that thoroughly removing the smell is important or the area could become a designated “potty spot.”
More Thorough, Deep Cleaning Method
For really bad, hard to remove, or just plain nasty potty stains, the above method will get you started, but probably won’t get the worst of it out of your carpet underlayment and pad. For this, you have two choices: replace the carpet and padding or get extreme with your cleaning.
You’re going to need a steam vacuum. It’s my opinion that anyone who owns more than two pets should own a steam vacuum anyway. They’re almost essential for a halfway clean house, whether your pet is prone to indoor accidents or not. If you have a toddler, you definitely need a steam vac.
Do as above and then make a hot water mixture with 10% vinegar, a dash of soap, and a rendition of your favorite prayer. Load up the carpet machine and concentrate on the bad spot. Move back and forth continuously, alternately scrubbing, vacuuming, soaking, etc. You may have to do this twice over a two or three day period. Usually the first time does the job, though.
Break Out the Arsenal, I Don’t Care If I Ruin the Carpet
If you can’t afford to replace the carpeting or couch and you just can’t get rid of that smell, then you’ll have to break out the big guns and run the risk of bleaching and/or ruining the stain area. If you have pets in the weasel family, this one is for you (that smell is hardest to get rid of).
The big guns I’m talking about are hydrogen peroxide and citrus juice. Go with the peroxide first. It’s easiest, fastest and cheapest. Spray or pour it on. Rinse with water and soak it up. I don’t care what the smell is, this will kill it. If not, then you probably are attacking the wrong source for the odor. It’s somewhere else.
Be warned, however, peroxide will most likely bleach out whatever your carpet or furniture is made of. Even leather bleaches with peroxide, so you know. Do not use peroxide on hardwood or stone flooring either. With wood, you’ll strip the wax coatings away and with stone, it can permeate and ruin the color and strength.
Citrus is not much better than peroxide and will likely stain or bleach whatever it contacts. You can also run the risk of the citrus “going bad” and making its own nasty stink, though this isn’t too common. I listed peroxide first merely because it’s cheaper and faster. The method for using both is the same, just let the citrus sit longer before rinsing away.
Pets Are People Too
Of course, all of this can really make your pet’s life miserable too. Some of these (actually all of these) cleanup methods can make your pet’s eyes water and hurt their nose. Give them an escape route so they can be out of the room or house when you use these cleaning methods. That goes double for peroxide.
Hopefully, these methods will give you a clean, natural, non-toxic way to take care of the occasional accident without resorting to nasty chemicals and treatments.
What are your favorite methods? Comment and tell us!