Carpet Cleaning Tips for Pet Owners

Updated: Aug. 05, 2019

Don't wait! Take 5 minutes to clean up the problem

FH12SEP_PETACC_01-3Family Handyman
Eliminate pet stains and odors quickly after the accident by using this simple vacuum technique plus special bio-enzyme cleaners. Solve the problem in 5 minutes.

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Video: Get Dog and Cat Urine Out of Carpet

Overview: Be prepared and clean up immediately

Many pet owners do exactly what they shouldn’t do when they clean up pet messes. But if you learn how to clean up the right way, with the right products, you can prevent a permanent stain. I’ll show you three tips that work with all pet messes and discuss a few cleaning products. You’ll get the best results if you have the products and a carpet extractor in hand when you discover the accident.

Clean up wet messes

The best tool for the job

Buy a handheld extractor to suck liquids from the carpet. It works much better than trying to absorb a mess with paper towels or rags. An extractor is made for this task and, unlike a shop vacuum, is easy to clean.

Using paper towels to blot up urine and vomit soaks up the surface liquid but still leaves a lot in the carpet. And stomping on those paper towels only makes it worse. That forces the liquid deeper into the padding and then into the subflooring. Instead, invest in a handheld carpet extractor (shown is the Bissel SpotLifter 2X; about $49 through our affiliation at Don’t use a shop vacuum—the smell will linger in the filter and it’s much harder to clean than a small extractor. Hit the carpet as soon as possible and vacuum like there’s no tomorrow.

Then to finish cleaning up a urine stain, fresh or dried, use a urine-specific bio-enzymatic cleaner (one choice is Nature’s Miracle Urine Destroyer; about $15 per quart from a pet store). It neutralizes the urea and uric acid and eliminates proteins and starches. Ordinary carpet cleaners can’t do that. In fact, using a carpet cleaner before a bio-enzymatic cleaner can set the stain permanently. Liquid messes spread as they’re absorbed into the carpet, so always treat a larger area than the original stain.

Clean up solid messes

Use a putty knife for solids

Sink the edge of the putty knife into the carpet at the edge of the mess. Then push it forward to scrape the solid waste up and into the dustpan.

Scooping up the solids with paper towels or rags can actually force them into the carpet. Instead, use a putty knife and dustpan to scrape them up as shown in the photo.

For all solid messes, saturate the stain with an oxygenated bio-enzymatic cleaner. Let it sit for 45 minutes to separate additional solids from the carpet fibers. Then clean up those solids. Bio-enzymatic cleaners take a long time to work. Just let the treated area air-dry. Then vacuum to raise the nap.

More About Cleaning Solutions

Home remedies that use vinegar and baking soda simply mask the odor for a short time and don’t eliminate the cause. Instead, buy a product made for your particular type of pet mess.

Commercial pet cleaning products range in price from a few dollars to more than $20 per quart. The least expensive products usually contain a carpet detergent for the stain and an odor-masking chemical. Since they don’t actually neutralize the substance, the smell usually returns on humid days.

Spend more to get a product with enzymes. These products are good for small surface stains. But if you’re dealing with a large stain, one that has soaked deep into the carpet, or one that has already dried, spend more yet and use a product with bacteria, enzymes and an oxygen booster.

Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • Putty knife
You’ll also need a hand-held extractor and a dust pan.

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here’s a list.

  • Bio-enzyme cleaners