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Will Professional Carpet Cleaning Remove Pet Odors? Are There Better Options?

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By Nicole Cosgrove

woman cleaning carpet

Pet stains and loose hair scattered around your home can make your residence smell like a kennel, but do you have to rely on professionals to clean your carpet? Yes, professional cleaning is necessary if you have stains that have saturated the carpet pad and flooring underneath.

While you can use DIY techniques to reduce the staining and odor, but you cannot eliminate the smell if the waste has penetrated the carpet pad. However, you can remove minor stains and deodorize your carpet with ordinary household products.

DIY Methods of Removing Pet Odors

Baking Soda Vinegar Solution
Image Credit: FotoHelin, Shutterstock

Cleaning a fresh stain is much easier than removing one that’s dried, but we’ll show you a few simple methods for treating both types. Before starting a cleaning project, you’ll need to gather these supplies:

  • Paper towels
  • Newspaper
  • White distilled vinegar
  • Enzymatic cleaner
  • Water
  • Baking soda
  • Blacklight
  • Wet/dry vacuum

Wet Stains

A pool of urine soaking into your carpet is not a welcome sight, but it’s preferable to treating an ancient stain. Before cleaning the stain with household products, you have to soak up the urine with several paper towels. Since you’ll be handling and throwing away multiple urine-soaked towels, it’s best to wear gloves and move your kitchen trashcan near the stain site.

First, lay several towels on the liquid and gently press down to absorb the urine. You can also cover the towels with newspaper and stand on the paper briefly to quicken the absorption process. Avoid pressing too hard or trying to scrub the stain. This will only force the urine deeper into the carpet.

After soaking up as much waste as possible, saturate the area with cold water. You can use a wet vac to remove the water, but you can also use the paper towel method to absorb the liquid if you do not own a vacuum.

Next, mix equal parts of vinegar and warm water and cover the stain with the solution. Let it sit for ten minutes, then vacuum the remaining liquid. If the spot still smells, you can sprinkle baking soda on the stain and allow it to sit overnight. When the baking soda has dried, you can remove the solids with a standard vacuum. You may have to go over the spot several times to remove the fine powder.

Dry Stains

vacuum clean the carpet
Image Credit: kropekk_pl, Pixabay

If you smell urine in your home but cannot locate the source of the smell, turn off the lights and walk around with a blacklight to find urine remnants. You can lay a long piece of string around the spot to highlight the area you need to clean. You may be tempted to break up the dried stain with a scrub brush or pad, but this will only force the uric acid deeper into the carpet and flooring.

First, flush the stain with cool water and use the wet vac to remove the liquid. After repeating the process several times, douse the spot with an enzymatic cleaner. Ordinary carpet cleaners will not remove all of the odor, and some products contain ammonia which can tempt your pet to revisit the area.

An enzymatic chemical does not mask the odor. It eats up the crystalline uric acid that has settled into the carpet fibers. Leave the cleaner on the stain and do not rinse it with water. If the odor remains, repeat the process several times until the smell is gone. We suggest purchasing a small bottle of enzymatic cleaner if you only have a few stains to treat. Unlike other cleaning products, enzymatic products have a limited shelf life.

Dog Hair Odor

Your lovable companion unknowingly spreads hair and dander around your house, and unfortunately, this causes a foul stench in your home. Luckily, dog smell is much easier to remove than urine stains. After vacuuming, sprinkle baking soda on the carpet and allow it to sit overnight. Vacuum the house thoroughly and repeat if the odor remains.

Tips for Using Professional Carpet Cleaners

stick vacuum
Image Credit: Viacheslav Lopatin, Shutterstock

Carpet cleaning businesses use several techniques to clean carpets and remove stains, but some of the methods are not suitable for pet odors. When you hire a cleaning service, be sure to mention that your carpet requires pet stain and odor removal. Steam cleaning effectively treats standard stains and scents, but it should not be used for pet stains. The heat from the process can reactivate odors from deep stains and make your house smell worse. Depending on the severity of the staining, carpet cleaners typically use three methods for removing pet odors.

Topical Treatments

For minor pet staining, professionals use commercial-grade enzymatic cleaners to draw out urine for extraction. The carpet and pad are removed so that both materials can be treated with the chemicals. After an extractor eliminates the waste, the rug is shampooed and dried.

Flooding Method

If you have multiple pet stains on your carpet, a technician will saturate the entire carpet and pad with enzymatic cleaners and allow them to sit for 30 minutes. Then, the carpet is dried with a wet vac, and the technician will check the pad and carpet with ultraviolet light to ensure the odor and stain are eliminated.

Carpet and Pad Replacement

Animals who frequently urinate indoors can ruin the carpeting, and in heavily stained areas, the carpet and pad must be replaced. Although carpet replacement is more expensive than cleaning, it’s the only way to remove stubborn odors that lurk underneath the rug. If stains have saturated the carpet pad, technicians will usually apply oil-based paint to the floorboards to prevent odors embedded in the wood from escaping.

Final Thoughts

Professional cleaning is the best option for removing abundant pet stains, but you can use household chemicals to treat minor accidents and odors. Steam cleaning is an excellent method for eliminating ordinary stains and odors, but it can reactivate hidden scents from embedded urine stains. Carpet flooding is a lengthier process than steam cleaning, but it removes caked-on stains from the pad and carpet and prevents odors from resurfacing. Flooding is successful for most pet owners, but severe cases may require new carpeting and pads.


Featured Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

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