While you may have heard the cliche that dogs are a man's best friend, statistics confirm it. Between 38 percent and 48 percent of Americans have one or more dogs. Dog ownership has undeniable benefits, including reducing risk of depression, improving your physical health, and even preventing allergies.
But owning a dog also means facing this fact: healthy dogs pee and poo up five times each day. If it ends up on your floor, the best-case-scenario poop can just be picked up, bagged for the trash, cleaned up, and forgotten about.
But what about the unfortuate accidents that end up in your house?
Just like human poop, all that dog poop is full of nasty bacteria, and potentially even parasites. If you don't clean up dog poop outside, it can lead to algae blooms. If you don't clean it up inside, you will either own a stinky house or potentially lose your pet deposit if you're renting. To help pet owners get a handle on pet stains and the odors that come with them, we asked cleaning experts for advice. Here's what they said:
1. Speed is important
"The best advice is to handle pet messes as soon as possible," says Melissa Witulski, a home-cleaning expert at Merry Maids. "The longer they sit, the harder they are to remove."
2. Clean pee with the detergent, vinegar, and water method
When cleaning up your dog's accidents, "Along with the stains, you have to think about removing the smell and stains too," says Dean Davies, Cleaning Supervisor at Fantastic Services. "For pet urine,you can try removing the pee stains using detergent, vinegar, and water.
- Start off by blotting the excess urine from the furniture with a paper towel or cloth. Be careful not to press too hard, because that can spread the urine further.
- Mix 1 tablespoon of your dishwashing liquid with 2 cups of water. Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Dip a microfiber cloth in the solution and sponge the stain from the outside towards the centre.
- Rinse out the detergent by blotting the area with a damp cloth.
- Use a dry microfiber cloth to dry the area."
Davies adds, "Make sure you test the cleaning solution on an inconspicuous area first." Starting with a small dab in an out-of-the-way area makes sure that you aren't making a bigger problem trying to tidy-up.
3. The wonders of baking soda
"Use baking soda to clean their ‘gifts’ on the carpet; poop is sometimes hard to clean," suggests Abe Navas, the General Manager of Emily's Maids, a house cleaning service in Dallas, Texas. "Baking soda will make it a breeze. You simply put a lot of baking soda on the poop, and you remove it from the carpet. It will eliminate the odor and make the scrubbing so much easier."
4. Try an enzyme digesting cleaner
Melissa Witulski is a home-cleaning expert at Merry Maids. She shares this tried-and-true method for cleaning up pet stains:
"Things you need: towel or absorbent rags, bacteria/enzyme digester, plastic wrap, vinegar, water
- Blot up any liquid by placing towels or absorbent rags over the spot and stepping on them. Start with gentle pressure and increase.
- Change to fresh rags or towels, until no more liquid comes up.
- Apply a bacteria/enzyme digester from a pet store to the stains by following the directions. It's the only way to deal effectively with both the stain and the odor. Bacteria/enzyme digesters work slowly, so leave the solution on as long as the directions say.
Urine has probably penetrated the carpet and pad, so use enough solution to reach as far down as the stain. Once the solution is applied, put plastic over it, and step on the spot several times until the area is well saturated. Then, leave the plastic on the whole time the digester is working to make sure the spot doesn't dry out.
To neutralize stain odors, mix a solution of one cup of vinegar to a gallon of warm water. Rinse the area with this solution and apply a fresh batch of bacteria/enzyme solution."
5. Club soda to the rescue
Club soda can work wonders when it comes to cleaning up your pet's leftovers.
- "Remove any remaining feces with a moist towel or sponge using a pinching motion.
- Pour club soda onto the stain and allow it to bubble.
- Blot the stain with a white cotton towel, and then repeat with another dose of club soda.
- Blot again and repeat until feces are removed.
- Mix one teaspoon of clear liquid dish soap with a cup of water and rub until the stain until removed."
Sarah Brunette, Brand Director of Molly Maid, suggests club soda for liquid stains as well:
- "To remove a tough pet stain, put undiluted soda water directly on the stain and blot the area with a clean white cloth.
- Repeat until the majority of moisture is absorbed.
- Then, place a new, clean white cloth on the area and place a heavy object over the towel to soak up the remaining moisture."
6. Pet stains vs. hard floors
What about saving your hard floors from pet stains and the bacteria that come with them? "When removing pet stains from hard surface floors, wear gloves," advises Witulski.
- "Blot any liquid with a paper towel or remove any stools with a paper towel and place in disposable bag that can be placed in the outside in a trash barrel.
- Mix 1 Tablespoon liquid detergent with 2 cups of cool water.
- Dip cloth in washing solution, rinse cloth, fold cloth and wash floor.
- Turn cloth to a clean surface and wash floor.
- If no color is transferring to cloth, that’s a sign the floor is clean."
"The same solution may be used on upholstery," she says, "blot the stain using a clean side of cloth until cloth remains clean.
General stain removal tips
"While only a professional cleaning by a trained specialist can completely remove stains, undesirable odors, pet dander, entrenched allergens, bacteria and other things hiding in your carpet," White advises, there are still a few things to keep in mind when DIYing your own carpet stain removal. This general advice should help you to make sure that the process is as easy as possible, while preserving your floors, rugs, and upholstery.
- "Don't rub," says White. "Rubbing drives the stain deeper and can possibly damage your carpet or upholstery. Blot instead."
- Don't start at the center of the stain. Rather, he suggests, "Work from the outside in. If you start from the center, you could spread the stain more."
- Don't use hot water. "Hot water can set the unwanted stain," says White, "possibly bonding it with the surface of your carpet or upholstery."
- "Don’t use a steam cleaner on fresh stains," advises Witulski. "It can be tempting to pull out your fancy steam cleaner or steam vacuum to tackle pet stains. Unfortunately, the steam can actually bind urine and waste into the carpet fibers and make it all the more difficult to remove."
- Lastly, always be aware that "harsh cleaning solutions may damage your carpet," says White. "If gentle alternatives fail to remove set-in stains, contact the experts."