Help! My pet had an accident!

 

Most people have pets, and many have more than one. How about you? One dog? Two? More? What about cats? Multiple? If you answered yes, you know that these members of your family make your home happier. Until, that is, an accident. Maybe you are getting up for work in the morning and literally step into something that happened the night before. Or you come home to find that they wanted to show that you were missed. These can be frustrating. But… STOP. Now is not the time to clean this up hastily. If you clean it incorrectly, you may be left with more than a memory. So, how do you clean it up? What do you do?

First, you need to understand why care and urgency must be shown in cleaning up urine. When urine is in liquid form it cleans up like any other liquid. You can soak it up and be done. The problem is when it dries! When urine dries, it changes. It creates urine salts, or crystals, on the carpet fibers and backing. Bacteria will immediately begin to grow and hence, the odor. The problem is that these salts do not dissolve with normal cleaners. Other spots will break down when exposed to soap, but not urine. When allowed to dry urine will have an odor that can last literally for years. Also, because of it’s composition, urine will often leave a yellowish stain that is usually permanent. So, as you can see, getting to it quickly is important.Let’s start with a fresh spot. Perhaps you catch your pet ‘marking’ an area or you can see it has just happened.

First, blot up as much as you can with a towel. Do this by using your weight or by standing on it. Do not scrub! This will only push it down further. Continue doing this until you are not getting any more moisture. This is perhaps the most important step, so take your time.

Second, use a carpet spotter to clean the spot (You can also use white vinegar in this step). Follow the directions on the cleaner. This will remove most of what is left. Again, use weight to BLOT UP the cleaner.

Third, spray with an enzyme deodorizer. Enzymes will break down and digest whatever is left in the carpet, eliminating the source of future odors. Enzymes take a while to work (sometimes up to three or four days) so be patient. Because it is a new spot, as an alternative, you can wet the spot with white vinegar. Then put a towel that is folded up over the spot and weight it down with books. This will continue to break down the urine and the towel, with pressure on it, will wick up any remaining urine.

So, now comes the more difficult problem: the old spot. Many times these are areas that may have been used for some time before you find them, having, perhaps, dozens of ‘deposits.’ What now? In these cases you must understand that this is not a surface problem. Because urine is warm when it hits the carpet and also based on the amount, often it penetrates into the backing and goes down to the padding and even subfloor. Many times these problem areas require professional help. We can do this. If you want to attempt this here’s what you do:

First, identify the size and scope of the problem. If at all possible, pull up the carpet and look at the backing and padding. Is it only a few square feet? Or does it span an entire wall length? Upon inspection you may immediately know if you can handle this or not. If it is more than a few square feet, we highly recommend calling us to help.

Second, replace contaminated padding. You cannot save this and it is not expensive to replace.

Third, does the subfloor need to be cleaned and/or sealed? A spray polyurethane will work nicely for this. What about the wall, trim, and any furniture? Does that need to be cleaned or removed? Often urine is not limited to the floor.

Fourth, clean both sides of the carpet. Start with white vinegar. Use plenty of it. This dissolves the urine salts. Let is sit in the carpet for 20-30 minutes to allow it to work, then blot or extract. Follow up with a carpet cleaner and again clean both sides according to the directions.

Fifth, treat both sides with an enzyme deodorizer. Again, use it liberally. It needs to get as deep as the urine did. Allow it to work for a few days.

Sixth, assess the situation after a few days. Can you still smell it? Than you may need to repeat steps four and five. Urine is stubborn; be patient. (With urine, odor and stain are two different problems. Often the odor is treatable but the stain is not.)

Hopefully, with these few tips you can be in a better position to react the next time an accident occurs.

Why get your carpet cleaned at all?

If you have carpet you know that it’s inevitable that something is going to happen: someone walks in with muddy feet (“I’m just walking a few feet!” as if dirt doesn’t have a chance to come off); Rover gets sick and has an accident; someone at your dinner party spills a drink. When that happens, it’s obvious – it’s time to clean the carpet. But what about when it’s not so obvious, when it’s been maybe a year or two and ‘they don’t look that bad?’ Why get them cleaned? There are a couple of good reasons to do this.

First, cleaning your carpets before they look as though they need it will make them last longer. Sand, grit and dirt is often not visible in your carpet. But every time it’s walked on it acts like a tiny piece of sandpaper, wearing at the carpet. Also oils will attach themselves to the carpets. Oils come from a whole host of sources from us, animals, even cooking. The oils can attract dirt and cause a carpet to lose the ‘shine’ it had when it was new. A properly cleaned and maintained carpet should last 10-15 years. We clean some that are over 40! Do you really want to replace the carpet before you have to?Second, it’s good for your air. Carpets are like filters. They trap allergens, pollen, pet dander, and other things. Believe me, this isnot a bad thing. Because of your carpet these are things that will not be getting into the air and consequently into your lungs. But, there is a limit. If a carpet is not cleaned regularly, it’s ability to hold dust and dirt goes down. Cleaning it is the answer. Vacuuming is necessary, but so is a deep-cleaning.

If it’s been over a year, seriously consider having your carpets cleaned. You’ll be glad you did.

What kind of carpet should I buy?

I would say that a week doesn’t go by without us getting asked, “I’m thinking of buying new carpet. What kind is best?” Many want us to give them a manufacturer and a brand. But, this is not a question that can be answered in a word or even a sentence, although that’s what most want. So what is the answer?

It seems to me that many people have the opinion that ‘carpet is carpet’, that all carpets are pretty much the same. Unfortunately, that could not be farther from the truth. Let’s compare carpets to something else we all have, automobiles. Are all vehicles the same? Of course not. Not only are there different brands but also categories. What’s best: a sedan or a pickup truck? A sports car or a minivan? Let’s face it, it really depends on what you’re using it for. Each one has a place and is suited for specific needs. It’s the same with carpets.

Carpets are made with as much variety as cars and trucks. To determine what’s best you really have to decide on what you’re going to use it for, what your family is made up of and their habits, and what you expect from it.

For instance, a three-season room is very different from a formal dining room, a bedroom from a family room. Also, who’s in your family: kids? pets? how many of each? The harder you will be on a carpet, the tougher it has to be. Also, how long will you be using it? If you’re planning on moving in the next five years you may not want to purchase a carpet designed to last 20 or more years (yes, they will last at least that long!).

Although there are countless brands and lines of carpet, we can look at carpets by what they are made of. There are primarily four types of materials are used in carpet production: nylon, polyester, olefin(polypropylene), and wool. Each one has very different characteristics and properties, just as a pick-up is different from a car.

Nylon: the best overall material for carpets. It has excellent abrasion resistance so traffic patterns don’t develop quickly, is fairly stain resistant, especially with Scotchgard Protection, and responds very well to steam cleaning.

Polyester: very stain resistant, but, we’ve noticed it crushes or mats fairly quickly and only lifts temporarily after cleaning. This carpet lasts a very long time. We clean some polyesters that are over 40 years old.

Olefin: the most stain resistant carpet. Some are bleach proof (although we don’t recommend it for cleaning). This is an excellent carpet for indoor/outdoor settings, or areas where you need a lot of stain resistance, like a play room. These mat or crush almost immediately, so take that into consideration. It has been far overused in home settings. Personally, I think this is one of the reasons that people have torn out their carpets and installed other floor coverings in recent years.

Wool: no man-made fiber is a soft as natural wool. It resists crushing, is good for long term wear, is naturally fire-resistant, and usually offers rich colors. Unfortunately, it is pricey.

This is just a very short list on carpets. Within each category are numerous ‘levels’; the type of material (nylon 6,6, PET, etc.), the density and backing just to name a few. I highly recommend the Carpet Guru’s website, at www.carpetguru.com, for a very comprehensive but easy to understand explanation of carpet, padding, and manufacturing. Read it over before you purchase any carpet. Just like you do your homework before you purchase your car, do your research before you buy your carpets. You’ll be glad you did.