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Dog Pee, Poop, and Puke: Why the Wet-Vac Is My Best Friend

I discovered a brilliant way to clean even the nastiest dog accidents -- behold, the humble wet-vac.

 |  Jul 8th 2014  |   2 Contributions


I was eight years old when I cleaned up my first pile of dog poop in the house. And 30 seconds older when I cleaned up my first puddle of human vomit. I still remember what I had for breakfast that day.

My stomach has gotten tougher since then, and my experience with not only dog poo but also pee and puke has been greatly expanded. And my No. 1 discovery? The humble wet-vac.

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Uh, no, Isis, you can't come in. (Photo by Caroline Coile)

Poop plops

For firm piles of poop, the solution is pretty straightforward: Pick it up, throw it away. And then open the windows.

It's those plops and puddles on the rug, which used to take hours to get out. Not anymore. I discovered this when visiting my brother and coming back to my car to find the driver's seat drenched in diarrhea! Oh crap! He pulled out his wet-vac and demonstrated what to do: 

  1. Pour a couple of inches of water in the recovery tank.
  2. Fill a cup with water.
  3. While pouring a small amount of water from the cup on the diarrhea, suck up both. This ensures the poop part flows freely.
  4. Continue doing both at once until the spot is clean.

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My dogs at home. (Photo by Caroline Coile)

And yes, it turns out perfectly clean because at no point are you shoving the bits of poop deeper into the carpet or upholstery. It sits on top, and the water you pour on it never has a chance to soak it in deeper because you're sucking it up immediately.

The technique works on carpet as well as upholstery, and on puke as well as poop. Pee? Well, that's a multi-step process.

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It's coming for your poop. Dog eyes vacuum by Shutterstock

Pee puddles

I recently tried the wet-vac method on fresh urine in the carpet. I started with straight urine, pressing the nozzle down deep into the carpet. A surprising amount was lifted out. But not all. So I added just a little water and sucked it up as I was pouring it on. I didn't want to add enough to flush the remaining urine down deeper. 

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Cleaning up after your dog may drive you to drink. Woman vacuums up dog by Shutterstock

By the time I followed up with traditional methods, the area was almost fine. But when it comes to pee, almost isn't enough.

I used an enzymatic cleaner, spreading the carpet fibers so it reached as deep as possible. Most enzymatic cleaners need to be damp to work. In dry climates, this may mean you need to cover the area with plastic so it doesn't dry too fast. Usually, though, you can blot up some of the liquid, then place an absorbent towel, or even a disposable baby diaper, over the area. Put something heavy on top to weight it down, and change it out for a dry one should it become saturated.

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Dog flees vacuum by Shutterstock

For old urine, first locate spots using an ultraviolet ("black") light. Wet the spot, blot up the excess liquid, and treat as you would fresh urine -- even using your friend, the wet-vac! If the area has been repeatedly soiled, the ammonia content may be so high that it will interfere with the enzymatic cleaner's action. In this case, after a few hours pour a solution of one cup white vinegar to one gallon water on the spot, blot up the excess, and start again with the enzymatic cleaner.

Puke piles

Act quickly to remove vomit because the acids in it (or dyes in the foods ingested), can affect the color of some carpets. Once you have as much solid removed as possible (see poop plop instructions above), proceed as you would with fresh urine.

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Retro vacuum cleaner by Shutterstock

More tips:

  • If you don't have a wet-vac, but still have a liquid puddle of poop, use two pieces of cardboard to scrape it up between them.
  • If it's semi-solid, you may be able to lift the whole plop up as one if you use a big paper towel.
  • Give the enzymes time to work. Don't drench the area. It's better to do multiple applications than one flood, which tends to soak the problem into the carpet pad. If the odor keeps coming back, it has spread out in the pad. Treat a much wider area, repeatedly.

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Young woman cleans giant dog by Shutterstock

  • Don't mix chemical cleaners and enzymatic cleaners. The chemicals kill the enzymes!
  • Use white vinegar (1/4 cup vinegar per quart of water) as a last step to rinse the area. It helps extract any remaining cleaner.
  • Do not use detergent to clean pet stains. The residue remains and attracts dirt, so the stain keeps coming back. 
  • Never use ammonia to remove the stain as it smells like urine to animals and will attract them to the area again.
  • Baking soda and water is an inexpensive and very effective deodorizer.
  • Consider a doggy door, pee pads, or diapers!

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Your dog might not need a diaper. Dog scolded after accident by Shutterstock

Do you have tips for cleaning up accidents? Tell us in the comments!

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About the author: Caroline Coile is the author of 34 dog books, including the top-selling Barron's Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds. She has written for various publications and is currently a columnist for AKC Family Dog. She shares her home with three naughty Salukis and one Jack Russell Terrier

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