If you are like us, you love your animals, after all, they are an important part of the family. However, sometimes … We don’t like the way that they make our homes smell. A house that smells like pets can create all sorts of problems. You might be embarrassed to have people over, or you spend less time inside. Don’t worry, pet odor is something you can tackle with a few simple actions and changes. They key is focusing on the source before addressing any lingering odors. The severity of the situation will determine how much work and effort will be required to eradicate the smell from you home. So, if your cat has gone wild through your entire house then you are likely in for quite a bit of work ahead of you. There are two basic approaches that you can begin with:
The Short Term ApproachYou can use this approach in low-medium affected cases as well as when the pet is still going to reside in the home. Why? Pets will typically re-mark the areas they have already soiled. Applying a long-term solution to this would likely result in wasted efforts as it would re occur.
- Clean up after your pet as soon as possible. A faster response to clean-up will help keep the urine from soaking deep into the materials such as carpet underlays and the sub floor. The deeper the soiling penetrates the materials the harder it will be to clean up.
- Use store bought pet and odor removers to assist in spot-cleaning the impacted areas. Once the solution has been applied you can try doing a warm water rinse. Soak up the water with a towel or such soon after you rinse it, so it does not soak too deep.
- Have your carpets professionally cleaned. as you see fit, maybe once or twice a year could do the trick. Professional carpet cleaning services will be able to apply deep cleaning techniques and counter acting chemicals which will target pet odors and staining, and typically would use hot water and high-power extraction. Unfortunately, household carpet cleaners cannot match the cleaning power a professional unit. So, if you want a thorough, deep clean of your rugs and carpets its best to have it done professionally.
The Long-Term ApproachIf you are looking for a long-term solution to remove pet odors. The long-term approach will likely cost you more as it could require the repair or replacement of certain building materials. There will be situations where you won’t always know where the contamination has happened. Perhaps you are a property manager and the previous tenant had cats that soiled throughout the property, how are you supposed to know which areas to try and clean?
To find the areas that have been contaminated you could:
- Use a UVA light (black light) to easily find the soiled areas. This technique works very well, so if possible, get a hold of one of these.
- Moisture testing meters (with pins)can also be used. These are typically used for finding and measuring moisture in building materials such as wood. However even if the soiled area is not still wet it will still alert you of where urine has been. This is because of the salty residue left behind by the urine, they act as an electrical conductor of sorts and thus allowing moisture meters to work for this application. You could pick up a basic pinned moisture meter from a hardware store for under $100.
- Use bright lights to help you find the areas, if you use bright enough lighting and look closely enough you should be able to notice differences in the shading/coloring where staining has occurred.
- If the carpeting or rugs you are trying to clean are heavily soiled (30-50% or more of the total area) it may be best to dispose of it and replace with new as the underlay beneath the carpeting will also be contaminated and it is very difficult to clean by yourself. The carpet underlay is cheap enough that it is worth replacing it as you will spend a lot of time and effort trying to clean the large areas and the results will not be guaranteed.
After you have tackled the above steps you can reassess the situation and see if the odor is still an issue.If it is, then it is likely that the actual building materials such as the sub flooring below the carpeting has also been contaminated. It could be a wood or concrete sub floor, either way it will need to be treated.
Steps to decontaminating sub flooring:
Step 1 – Pull the floor covering back, including the underlay so that you can see the sub floor. You should be able to see staining and spotting. Those are the spots where urine has contaminated and will need treatment.
- Concrete sub-floors are easier to treat. You can apply the pet cleaner formula you have (acid based) to the affected areas and that should do the trick. Make sure to follow the instructions on the bottle in order to allow for proper dwell and dry time etc.
- Wood sub floors will require more work as it will naturally soak up the urine deeper into the material. The first step should be to spray it down with the cleaner as you would a concrete sub floor. Depending on the severity it may require you sand some of the areas that are darkest and most affected. Then, re spray the cleaning application.