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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.