Pet Stain & Odor Removal - What You Should & Shouldn't Use
Removing Pet Stains
Removing pet stains in carpet is a huge factor in encouraging your dog not to go to the bathroom in the house. There are a number of methods suggested when it comes to cleaning pet stains, however many of them will not resolve your issues.
The most often shared advice is to clean with either vinegar or ammonia. However, this is probably the worst advice that could be given to anyone who owns a pet. Both vinegar and ammonia are acidic in nature. Because of this, they are good at breaking down stains. There is no arguing this fact. The level of acidity is just high enough to break down stains without damaging carpet or upholstery. Both are also inexpensive, making it a staple in many homes for cleaning. The problem with either as a pet urine cleaner is that they are acidic. Both are comprised of some of the same compounds found in urine. Animals can smell these similarities much more so than humans. The similarity in the scent of vinegar or ammonia can draw your pet to that spot as a desired location to do business. While you may have removed a visible stain using vinegar or ammonia, you have also laid down a perfect foundation as to where your dog should be going to the bathroom. With the progression of time, the accidents will continue and your frustration will be maddening.
Cleaning With Enzymes
Enzymes line the aisle of every pet store. There are countless numbers of enzymes and cleaners that claim to be miracles. Enzymes are often praised for their natural ability and are hailed as being a green cleaner. This is because they operate on the principal that they biologically break down stains using rapid decomposition upon their introduction. In theory, it sounds simple enough. Allow the bacteria from the enzyme cleaner to be introduced to the stain, and watch it break it down. If only it were that simple. Being a biological process, it is far more complex. Often, to simplify the explanation of how enzymes work, they are compared to a lock and key situation. A lock requires a specifically cut key to open it. There could be a thousand keys around, but only the correct key will open the lock. All the other keys could be right there, but if used, nothing will happen. Enzymes are like keys, while stains are like locks. For them to interact, there has to be a perfect match. Too many variables prevent enzymes from working. These include temperature, the surface of the material being cleaned, the introduction of any other previously used cleaner, the health of the pet, the acidic levels of the urine, the food found in the waste... the variables are endless. To find the right enzyme to react favorably with a stain is very much like finding the right key to a lock.
Generally, enzymes seem to remove the stain upon first using them. However stains typically reappear after a number of days. In addition to the stain, the smell also tends to linger, and in some cases worse when enzymes are used. Because enzymes are really a form of bacteria, they do not remove any odor permanently. Nor do they kill any bacteria that may be in the carpet. In the first few days after using an enzymatic cleaner, the area may seem clean, but it does not take long for your dog to find the spot and start all over.
Household cleaners are probably the most readily available tools in combating pet stains. Everybody has some sort of carpet cleaner under the kitchen sink, and they are usually the first thing used in the attempt to clean pet stains. This can be a terrible mistake for several reasons. These cleaners are typically designed to clean small surface areas. Pet stains do not just stain the surface of carpet, they get below the surface and can even spread into or under the padding. A traditional spray type cleaner will not get deep into the carpet. They might remove some visual staining, but they will not impact the odor created. There is also a possibility that the chemistry in the cleaner may cause staining or discoloration. They are also soap based. The soaps will actually promote stain buildup. Rather then break apart the stain, they can trap stains in the carpet fibers. In the photo to the right, several attempts were made to combat pet accidents. These accidents did not just include urine marks, but also marks where food was regurgitated by pets and the dye from the food left marks. For the most part, the traditional spray cleaners did remove colored stains, but in the wake of cleaning, they left gray blotches of their own. They made no impact on the scent coming from below the surface at all, and the odor was intolerable.
Removing Pet Stains
The frustration with training a new puppy more often comes from different cleaners not working. There are so many options available for cleaning. When they don't work, it affects the training process and you are more likely to have your dog continue to go to the bathroom in the house. However if the area is properly cleaned, not only do you feel better, but your dog is not mislead to go in an area where it shouldn't.
However in our example, the stains are gone, the odor is gone, and no more accidents occurred there. This leads to the question "How did you get rid of the pet stains and smells???"
Carpet Cleaning Directions
To properly remove pet stains, the best method is to do so using a surfactant based cleaner like Genesis 950 in a steam cleaner or carpet cleaning machine of some sort. This will allow the cleaning solution to get deep into the carpet rather then just the surface as spot cleaning does. Remember, when your puppy leaves his mark in the carpet, anything that spreads below the surface will release odor your dog can smell... even if you can't. It is for this reason that a cleaner that deodorizes is so important. Removing that odor will prevent your dog from being attracted to that spot again.
When using a surfactant cleaner like Genesis 950, mix it in the machine at the proper ratio. Some tanks will have separate tanks for solution and water. These machines automatically mix the two based on your machine settings. Some machines have 1 compartment where you mix the water and solution. A 1:7 ratio of Genesis 950 to water is recommended, however this can be increased to a 50/50 mix for large or older stains.
Go over the area with the mixture allowing it to saturate the stained area. Allow it to sit for 10 - 20 minutes. This will allow the 950 to break down everything in the carpet. In extreme cases, the mixture can even sit overnight to really break everything down. Just don't let it dry or everything broken down will just adhere to the carpet.
After the area has been given time to sit, go over the area again with only water in the machine. Doing so will flush and remove everything that has been broken down. When first using a surfactant based cleaner, you may notice the water being returned being a brownish or black color. This is everything that has been pulled from below the surface of the carpet. You can rinse repeatedly until the water being returned starts appearing clear. In addition to removing the stains, it will also kill any bacteria which in turn deodorizes and removes any previous odors. This will deter your dog from being attracted to any prior urine stains that would invite the dog to pee in that spot again.
After you have rinsed, go over the area again only extracting water. Try removing as much moisture as possible. To help dry the area, you may also use fans or dehumidifiers. Avoid walking on the carpet as it dries.
Stop Your Dog From Going In The House
Potty training does not have to be a never ending battle. The key is to attend to accidents when they happen and remove the odor. If the odor is removed from the carpet, the attraction for your dog to go in that spot is also eliminated. Naturally, there is some work required in creating a pattern for your dog. Continually take the dog outside and establish an area that is acceptable where your dog can go to the bathroom. In many situations where time does not allow for constant trips outdoors, crate training is a helpful means of preventing your dog from going on the floor. With a new puppy there will be accidents, but with proper cleaning and lots of patience it can be a success.