How to Get Pet Urine Odor Out of Carpet or Upholstery.

Even the most well-trained pet can have an occasional accident in the house. Having a pet urinate on a carpet, or a piece of upholstered furniture, is something just about every pet owner will experience at one time or another. We don’t need to tell you that cat or dog urine in carpet or upholstery can make the entire house stink. You and your family might even become nose-blind to the smell. It will be the first thing any guest notices when visiting your home, though. There is a lot of advice on the internet about how to clean up the mess and hopefully get rid of the smell.

As a house cleaning service, we have a lot of experience on the subject.

STOP! Before you do anything to clean up the pet urine, make sure you understand what you are up against. Using the wrong cleaning agent or the wrong water temperature can set the stains and odor!

Hopefully, you found the accident before the urine dried. It’s a lot easier to get urine cleaned up (and prevent a smelly problem) if you catch the accident when it first occurred. Once the urine has had a chance to sit, it begins to grow bacteria. This bacteria only adds to the odor problem. Urine crystals are also more difficult to extract from the carpet, carpet padding or upholstery once the urine has had a chance to dry.

For Accidents That Have Not Dried:

If you catch the accident before the urine has dried, the first step is to get as much of the urine out of the carpet or upholstery as possible. This is where one of those mini carpet spot cleaning machines can come in super handy.  You want one with a hand-held attachment. Here at Ocean State House Cleaning, we recommend the Little Green Portable Carpet Cleaner by  Bissell.  If you do not have a spot cleaning machine, you can use a wet/dry vacuum.  If using a carpet cleaner do not use any cleaning solution when sucking the urine out of the carpet or upholstery.

Use plain cool or cold water.

Use plain cold water to help flush the urine out. We cannot stress this enough.  You can inadvertently set the stain (and the smell of urine) into the carpet or upholstery by using the wrong cleaning agent or by using hot water or steam.  The heat from the hot water or steam will bind the proteins in the urine to the man-made fibers in your carpet or upholstery. If this happens you will never get the smell out.

Don’t use vinegar or ammonia.

There is a lot of information on the internet advising a vinegar and water or ammonia and water mixture to remove urine and its odor.  Not only have we found this to be totally ineffective, but the American Humane Society states that the strong scent left behind from these cleaning agents may actually encourage your pet to continue to use that area as a bathroom.  We advise that you use only plain cold water in a portable carpet cleaner to help flush the urine out of the carpet or upholstery.

Removing all the urine is very important.

Once you have removed as much of the urine as possible, blot the area with cotton towels. This will help to soak up the rest of the moisture left behind. It is helpful to stand on the towel, putting as much pressure on the area as you can. Replace the towel with a dry one and keep repeating until you’ve gotten as much of the moisture up as you can.

Use an enzyme cleaner.

For the second step in the clean up process, we recommend you use an enzyme cleaner specific to pet urine.  Here at Ocean State House Cleaning, we have used enzyme cleaners with great success.  The product we recommend is Odormute.  Odormute can be found on Amazon for less than $10 for a 3-ounce package. This stuff goes a long way. Unless your pet has frequent accidents, a small package should suffice. A 3-ounce package of Odormute will make 4 gallons of solution.  What we love most about Odormute is the fact that it is unscented.  This product will not leave behind a heavy perfume smell, unlike other products we have tried in the past.

We recommend Odormute.

Odormute is a powder that you mix with warm water to activate the enzymes.  The enzymes will eat the odor-causing bacteria that cause that pet urine smell.  If used before the area has a chance to dry, it will prevent the odor from ever occurring in the first place.  Be careful when mixing that you do not use water that is too warm.  Water temperatures above 140 degrees Fahrenheit will kill the enzymes and make the product ineffective.  Once mixed, apply the product liberally to the affected area and allow the product to dry naturally. You want the product to sit for a while so the enzymes can do their job. Don’t apply a fan to try and make it dry faster. You’ll only defeat the purpose.

You can use Odormute on wood floors.

We have also used Odormute to help get urine odor out of wood floors with some success.  If trying to get the smell out of wood, you will want to clean the area first. Use a spray bottle to spray enough to apply the product without soaking the floor.  Soaking the floor will cause the wood floor to swell which can damage the flooring.  You may have to repeat the treatment a few times to get all the odor out when treating wood.

For Accidents that Have Dried:

Removing odors from dried urine can be a bit tricky.  The first thing you need to do is to neutralize the urine crystals by flushing them out of the carpet or upholstery.  You will need a carpet cleaner for the process. We advise that you do not use a cleaning solution until you know all the urine crystals have been removed.  Do not use hot water or steam during this process. Use cold or cool water to help rinse the urine out of the affected area.

Use a high-quality pet stain remover to remove any stains.  Any product  used must be for pet stain and odor removal.  Random carpet cleaning solutions may contain ingredients that can set the odor of urine into the carpet or upholstery.  We recommend Odormute if you prefer an unscented product or Nature’s Miracle if you want a scented product.

Trying to Find the Source of The Odor:

If you have an odor caused by a pet accident but you have been unable to find the source of the odor, we recommend the use of a blacklight flashlight.  The light waves of a black light will cause the proteins in the urine to glow so they can be easily detected.  It is easiest to do this at night because the darker the room, the easier it will be to see the stains.  You can also use this method to make sure that any enzyme cleaner you have used has done its job.  If the area still glows after treatment, you will want to repeat the treatment to avoid any urine odor from returning. You can buy one of these lights on Amazon. Some even come with a pair of tinted glasses which help you to see the affected area easier.

A Word on Area Rugs:

If the pet accident has occurred on an area rug, you will need to be extra careful.  Many less expensive area rugs (like the ones from Job Lot, for example) have a backing that will disintegrate when it gets wet leaving a powdery mess behind.  As the rug dries it will buckle leaving the area wavy.  You will never get the rug to lay flat afterwards.  Unfortunately, in cases like this, your best bet is to throw the rug out and buy a new one.  Any attempts at cleaning the rug with water will only worsen the disintegration of the rug backing.

If your rug is an antique or otherwise highly valued, we recommend you get advice from a local area rug dealer before attempting any type of cleaning on it.  The dyes in many antique rugs can run if not cleaned properly. Wool and other natural fibers can be easily damaged by the wrong cleaning product. Your local area rug dealer will be able to guide you in the proper direction and many offer rug cleaning services that are reasonably priced.

Remember these tips when attempting to clean pet urine out of carpet or upholstery:
  • Do not use vinegar or ammonia
  • Do use lots of plain cool or cold water (never use hot water or steam)
  • Clean up the urine first and worry about the stain later
  • Do not use any cleaning product on the affected area unless you are certain that all the urine crystals have been flushed away
  • Use a product containing enzymes geared towards pet urine odors such as Odormute
  • To avoid setting the stain, only use a pet stain and odor neutralizer if the stain does not come out with plain water
  • Do not attempt to clean an antique or otherwise highly valued rug on your own
  • Some area rug backings will disintegrate if they come into contact with water so be careful
  • When all else fails, call a professional carpet cleaning service

Of course, sometimes no matter what you try, the smell of pet urine just will not come out.  The stain and/or odor may have been set by prior attempts at removal of the urine-soaked through padding and sub-flooring making clean-up impossible.  You can try the service of a carpet cleaning company who will have access to professional carpet cleaning equipment and stronger cleaning products that might do the job. If going this route, make sure that the company understands that you want the source of the odor removed from the affected area and not just deodorized.  Once the deodorant wears off you’ll find yourself with the same stinky problem.

Unfortunately, the only solution in some cases is to remove the old carpet and padding and replace it. If upholstery is the issue, you may be able to get the odor out of the fabric but not the padding.  In that case, you may be able to obtain replacement cushions from the manufacturer. If not, replacing the damaged piece may be your only option.

Ocean State House Cleaning can help keep your home with pets tidy.

As much as we love our pets, they do make keeping the house clean and tidy a bit more difficult.  If you love a clean house as much as you love your pet(s), but don’t have the time (or desire) to tackle all the cleaning tasks yourself, give Ocean State House Cleaning a call at 401-732-MAID.  You can also get an estimate on our website using our super easy and quick estimate request form. 

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