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.