The Toughest Dog Stains and How to Deal with Them
As you may already know, dog stains and odors can be tough to get out of upholstery, carpets, clothing and pet bedding. But fortunately for pet parents everywhere, dog stains are organic and they can be easier to remove than inorganic stains such as ink or paint. Urine stains are an exception to the rule, as they can be very resistant to cleaning, especially if they've been around a while.
For most organic stains, something like an enzymatic cleaner can break them up, allowing you to then lift the stain with a surfactant (a surface active substance) or detergent-based cleaner. With acidic organic stains such as urine, it is necessary to neutralize them first with something like baking soda. In some cases, you can remove an odor while removing a stain but often it is necessary to remove the odor separately.
Before you use these stain and odor removal tips, I highly recommend investing in a black light. A black light can detect dog stains you can't see, especially urine stains. These can be found at pet stores and hardware stores. To use one, turn off the lights and place it over the area you're checking. Use something (say, a wash cloth) to mark the stains that show up.
The following tips offer simple solutions for common pet stains. Please note that these tips work best for immediate stains that don't have time to set.
It's common, when you own a dog, to find small spots of blood on the carpet or upholstery. Pets often get small scratches when outside or even in the home. First, check your dog for injuries. Treat small ones at home but call the vet if it seems bad. As for the stains, an enzyme-based cleaner will work best for this task.
Process: With blood, you want to press down on the stain and gently wipe it off. If you can, test a piece of the carpet or fabric with peroxide to ensure there is no fading, then put a small amount of equal parts peroxide and water on the blood stain and blot. Next, apply your enzymatic cleaner, let it sit, blot it and repeat. Pets can smell even minute spots of blood and it can excite them, so try an odor removal tip too (see our suggestions below).
Perhaps the toughest pet stain to remove, you are far better off getting this up immediately. If you come home to a urine stain that is already set, try a steam vacuum as recommended below. Avoid putting any heat on the stain as this will cause it to bind with the fibers.
Process: Try to keep diapers on hand and use them to soak up the urine. Don't wipe it up as you will just spread the stain and smell. Wear rubber gloves. Next, neutralize the uric acid and start squelching the odor. Rubbing alcohol works well as does vinegar. Clean the stain with your cleaner of choice several times. Use the additional odor removal tips below.
Vomit can be tricky to get up because it is usually chunky and slimy. (Gross, we know!) There is a lingering odor, usually something akin to (ugh!) what your dog threw up. Pick up your favorite all-purpose cleaner for this.
Process: It's important to get vomit up as quickly as possible because it is acidic and can harm floors and fabric. To get the solid bits out of the slimy stuff, place a few paper towels inside a plastic bag and use it to pick up. Have a trashcan or trash bag close by to dump this in. Next, put sawdust or baking soda on the remaining liquid, enough to absorb it. When dry, dump that and grab your cleaner.
Feces is the most dangerous of the substances listed because of the germs it leaves behind. Make sure you wear gloves and that you clean the area of the accident and the area around it. Check your pet's feet to make certain he didn't step in any and retrace and clean his steps if he did. Try an enzyme-based cleaner with bacteria that eats up feces.
Process: Using a sturdy, hole-free plastic bag and wearing gloves, scoop up the solid feces. If there is also liquid, pull out that sawdust or baking soda again and leave it til it solidifies, then throw away. Using a light touch, clean the area with a sponge and soapy water. Now, use your cleaner which should also be a disinfectant.
Tips for Odor Removal
- Cover dog stains with baking soda. Let it stand for about two hours, then vacuum.
- Apply a solution of half white vinegar and half water. The vinegar smell will dissipate.
- Apply a neutralizer after cleaning.
- Apply a disinfectant.
- Use a spray on the stained area and around the house.
- Use botanical extracts to neutralize odors in products.
The dog stain and odor removal tips mentioned here will help you deal with many different dog accidents and the smells that come with them. Organic, environmentally-friendly and dog-friendly cleaners usually work very well. However, some stains are extra tough or have been left for too long and you may find a chemical-based cleaner is needed. As an alternative, if you find you need even more cleaning power, consider investing in a steam vacuum.
Dogster readers, what tips would you add to this list?