Pet Urine Cleaning Tips and Facts

Why Pet Urine Does Not Belong in Carpet.

Pets. Oh, how we love them. In fact, new figures just released from APPMA's 2015-2016 National Pet Owners Survey (NPOS) show pet ownership, in the United States, is currently at its highest level, with 67 percent of all U.S. households owning a pet which equates to more than 79.7 million households. That's up from 64 million in 2002 and 51 million in 1988 when APPMA's tracking began.

79 Million Dogs are keeping carpet cleaners busy

According to the 375-page survey that tracks hundreds of pet ownership trends, Americans own approximately 79 million dogs and 95 million cats. (that's approximately 200 million yawns each hour, or 425 million catnaps each day!)

With all those pets living in American homes, it's inevitable that Fluffy and Fido will occasionally have an "accident." What you do when the inevitable does happen, can have a lasting impact on the appearance and odoriferous emanations (smell) of your carpeting, area rugs and even your hard surface floors.

Puppy piddles and tabby tinkles

For the rest of this article we'll focus our attention on "soft" surfaces such as carpets and area rugs. However, be aware that hard surfaces such as grout joints, natural stone floors and hardwood floors can also absorb these pet accidents and create an odor problem down the line.

Speed is critical here. When your puppy piddles, or your tabby tinkles, you need to get on it right away. The longer the urine sits on your carpet or rug, the more difficult it will be to remove the stain and the odor. Obviously the size of your pet and even its gender will factor into the equation. A fully grown female golden retriever will create a bigger problem (no pun intended) then a male Chihuahua.

Pet urine 101 - everything you need to know

As urine dries the liquid evaporates, leaving urine crystals which consist of bacteria, urochrome, uric acid, urea, proteins and hormones. (Sounds lovely, doesn't it?) If the urine is allowed to sit on the carpet long enough to sink deep into the fibers and penetrate the carpet backing, the urine crystals become very difficult to remove.

Most carpeting installed in homes today is nylon. When nylon carpeting is manufactured, a hot, acid based dye solution is applied to the carpet fibers to give them the desired color. Nylon carpet fibers are designed to accept these acid dyes. A stain resistant carpet, such as Dupont's Stain Master brand, is a nylon carpet that has a special soil repellant and dye blocker applied to the fibers after they are dyed.

When a pet urinates on the carpeting, it deposits a warm, acid based liquid to the carpet, putting the carpet through a process similar to the original dye process. Most new carpet, stain warranties exclude pet urine stains, because urine is often strong enough to penetrate the stain resistant treatment and permanently stain the carpeting.

The sex, breed of the animal, its health and its diet, all play factors in whether or not a urine spot will become a permanent stain. The urine of a female dog is often more acidic than a male dog, and thus more likely to leave a permanent stain.

Wicking is the issue

Have you ever noticed how you can clean a urine spot one day - seemingly removing it - only to have it reappear a couple of days later? Urine crystals are usually to blame. When you clean up a urine spot that has dried, you can often remove all traces of the urine on the surface fibers. But, the urine crystals, deep in the carpet fibers and backing, will slowly wick back up to the surface, causing the spot to once again show up. You can clean the spot until your arm falls off, but still not permanently remove it.

P.U.D factor

Urine odor. Yuck. If your friends and family members have quit visiting you, don't blame your spouse. It might be the aroma of Muffy's mistakes.

The average cat will deposit 2-3 ounces each time it tinkles, the average dog, 3-4 ounces. (The average Great Dane? You don't want to know) Multiplied by several times a day, you can have a major problem on your hands in a very short time. We call it the Pet Urine Deposit (PUD) factor.

Cleaning alone may not solve the problem

Once urine saturates the carpet backing, it may no longer be a matter of simple spotting, but a major restoration, sometimes requiring the carpet to be pulled up, both sides extracted and treated, the pad replaced, the sub-floor sealed, the tack-strip replaced and the walls and baseboards scrubbed and re-painted! I have seen many cases, where a pet owner simply replaced the carpet and pad, only to discover the urine odor was still there.

DIY spot cleaning tips

What can you do? If your pet is currently well behaved, hug them and thank your lucky stars, but don't trust them. It's inevitable that eventually, for reasons only they can understand, they will have an accident. When it does happen, follow these spotting directions as soon as you can:

  • Blot up as much of the urine as possible. Do not scrub; you might fray the carpet fibers.
  • When you think you have as much of it up as possible, blot the area again using a towel soaked in warm water. Be careful not to get the area too wet—you may force the urine deeper. Blot the area again with a dry towel.
  • Next, apply a low-residue carpet spot remover, let sit for 60 seconds and again blot the spot.
  • Finally, fold a dry towel to several layers, place over the spot and apply at least 10 pounds of weight. Let it sit overnight. When you remove the towel, fluff the carpet up and allow to dry. If the spot returns after a few days, repeat the last two steps.

After the carpet dries, stick your nose down to the carpet and give it a good whiff. Any odor? If so, please be very careful what you use. The only products that we recommend that a homeowner can purchase to remove pet odors themselves, are natural, enzyme based products available at most pet stores and veterinarian clinics. These only work in mild odor situations. Don't over-use them; you may do more harm than good.

For more information about pet urine odor and stain removal, please call the Zerorez® office at 949-387-2222 or visit We have many specialized products and services designed to tackle even the toughest urine problem. We're experts in carpet pet urine removal.


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