There are three typical components we see due to pet urine damage: odors, staining and color bleed.
Let’s cover the odor issue first as that is one of the largest problems we deal with every day.
PET URINE ODOR
There can be many factors that determine how strong urine smells. The construction of the carpet, density, fiber type (synthetic or natural-wool, cotton, jute) and the diet of the pet, all of this relates to how much salt the carpet hangs onto.
Many people don’t realize that the residue that is left behind from urine are salt crystals, when the moisture evaporates the crystals are left behind. Those salt crystals react with moisture in the air which produces a gas and that is what we smell, is the gas coming off of the salt crystals.
You may notice if you have urine spots in your area rugs that at certain times of the year seem to be stronger. Most homes have less humidity in the air in the winter time with the heat cranked on, cool dry outside air and low humidity. In spring and early summer our heating systems in the home are used much less, doors and windows are left open to let in fresh air. The fresh air has moisture or humidity which causes the odor to be stronger.
Without removal of the salt crystals urine spots can give off odors for many years. It is not the kind of thing that you can air out like a musty piece of clothing from your closet, by hanging outside in time the air will remove the odor, urine salt crystals need to be removed out of the fiber.
There are many products available on store shelves that “claim” they will remove pet urine odor from rugs, but most all are cover ups or perfumes IE; Febreeze, Natures Miracle and Clorox pet odor removers, to name a few. These deodorizers cover the offending urine orders by putting a even stronger scent on top, this is a very temporary solution.
There are other products that have an enzyme, the enzyme in a perfect circumstance can digest the urine salts. The problem with enzymes that the temperature has to be correct, the PH of the area rug has to be correct and cannot have any lingering spot cleaners left in the fiber. The enzyme needs to saturate the affected area while staying wet for 24+ hours.
The enzyme product can leave a sticky residue as well as saturate the backing of the rug which can cause damage and break down of the backing of the rug.
The most effective method for urine removal is to be able to “clean” out the urine, or remove the urine salts completely.
To do this a low PH cleaning agent is used to help dissolve the urine salts and allow them to be absorbed back into water, the rug is then rinsed with clear water and dried quickly.
In many cases this process has to be repeated many times before all of the salts are removed. The goal is to NOT LEAVE anything in the rug to cover up the urine smell, leaving the carpet fibers very clean and fresh smelling with no added chemicals or perfumes.
DO IT YOURSELF TIPS
Once you notice the first urine stain-rinse the area thoroughly with clear water. Use a wet/dry vacuum with the wet filter installed to extract the moisture from that area, repeat the process two or three times. Put a fan on the area and be sure to protect the floor underneath regardless of whether it is carpet or a hard-surface, moisture from the backing of the rug can cause damage to the floor.
If you would like to attempt to use an enzyme product, contact one of our experts for product recommendations.
Be cautious of color bleed or potential texture change, always test the area rug first to make sure you are not causing additional damage.
STAINING OR BLEACHING
We typically see urine stains in lighter colors; white, beige and light blue. Urine has the ability to pull tannins or a darker color dye out of natural fibers such as cotton, wool or jute.
You will often see where a pet has had an accident leaving a light brown ring with the appearance that someone has spilled a cup of coffee in the area.
The first step in removing this stain is to try a neutral spotting agent such as our spot cleaner; Spot Begone or a detergent vinegar solution (Free Spot Cleaning Guide): Blot up the surplus spillage. Use the detergent solution, work from the outer edge of the stain, using a little at a time and blotting up with dry cloths frequently.
For many of these stains a normal cleaning procedure will lighten or remove the brown stain.
If normal cleaning doesn’t remove the discoloration or stain, the next step would be to use a mild acid such as vinegar over the area, let the vinegar sit 5-10 minutes then use spotting solution again and re clean. It will leave a vinegar like smell which will dissipate over time as it thoroughly dries.
A further option to remove this staining would be to use a mild oxidizer or bleaching agent, this is you probably where you would want to get a professional involved because it is easy to go to far and remove color from the underlying fibers.
Caution: normal household bleach can actually disintegrate wool and cotton fibers, using the right type of products are essential.
Some over the counter pet urine products have bleaching agents that cause color loss which you cannot see immediately.
Be aware, as more often then not the bleach is not activated until it is touched by water.
We unfortunately quite often have a rug come in for cleaning, only to run it through our wash system and discover the rug owner used a product that caused a bleach stain after being touched by our water.
Not all urine stains can be removed.
This is a situation that occurs on patterned multi colored area rugs. The urine salts are highly alkaline and when left for long periods of time will soften or loosen the dyes of the rug, we typically see reds and blues bleed or move, but it can happen with any color.
When we see dye bleed it shows itself due to the darker color dyes take over the lighter colored area. Example; a white flower run over by red will become a pink flower.
This might not be noticed in a rug until after cleaning, when moisture is introduced and dyes are able to move. If you have this condition on your rug currently there are a few options.
Use a high temperature cleaning system, may even involve using steam to re-loosen the fugitive dyes or the dyes that have bled. This works in 10-15% of cases.
- Use heat assisted dye removers, these dye removers can be used with a steam iron or small steam generator. This takes a practiced hand, like the oxidizers that are used for pet stain removal it is easy to go to far and lighten colors.
- The final is to re-dye or re-color the affected stain areas. There are a lot of variables; depending on how long the urine has sat on the rug, the fiber type and the colors that need altering will determine whether the dye process can be used.
Treating pet stains as quickly as possible will help to avoid odor, staining and color bleed.
Sometimes the issue can rear it's head without even knowing it, IE; a rug that does not show staining, yet after time of continuous wetting, it can't help but present itself all of the sudden with a strong odor. Or perhaps it is a room that is not visited very often, only to notice one day that there are stains taking over one corner of the rug.
Whatever the situation or problem a majority of the time a solution can be remedied based on options given and a decision based on the rug owner to meet their expectations of results and costs.
Leaving you to love your pet!