Pet Stains
by Lorene Bartos, Extension Educator

Pet Stains

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Anyone who has a pet may be faced with the possibility of having a urine stain on their carpet or floor. The success of the cleanup depends on several factors including the content of the urine, the dyes used on the face of the carpet, and how long before it is cleaned up.

Most urine stains can be removed if caught within the first couple of hours. Excess liquid should be blotted with a clean, white, absorbent material. Pour water on the area and then sponge as dry as possible. Mix a teaspoon of neutral detergent or non-alkaline detergent (such as a hand dishwashing liquid) with a cup of lukewarm water. Work small amounts of the solution into the pile with your finger. Sponge and flush with water. Sponge again, followed with a vinegar rise of equal parts of white vinegar and water. Then dampen the area and allow it to remain for a few minutes. Sponge as dry as possible. Place a one-half inch layer of dry, absorbent material over the area and weight it down to absorb extra moisture. If the absorbent material becomes wet, replace it. Dry for eight hours before brushing the area with your hand, to blend the pile into the surrounding carpet.

You may also use a disinfectant cleaner solution, water soluble deodorant, carpet shampoo, or products that are safe for your carpet. Pretest to avoid problems. There are also speciality cleaners available in pet stores and from some veterinarians for cleaning urine. For truly effective odor control completely remove the odor source by thorough carpet cleaning, followed by a disinfectant cleaner. Deodorant and disinfectant cleaners can be obtained from professional carpet cleaners or janitorial supply outlets. Pet stores and veterinarians may also have specific products for cleaning.

Air circulation and sunlight may have a neutralizing effect on odors.

If all of the urine is not removed, the remaining urine in the pile can produce a delayed effect. Work a little longer and prevent this possibility. All stains cannot be removed, nor will all accidents result in a stain.


A stain may slowly develop as a discoloration. The color is generally not due to the color of any materials or chemicals found in the urine but, rather, due to a very slow reaction that has taken place between the carpet dye and the urine. This is why some old urine stains cannot be removed. There is nothing to remove. The only way the color can be restored is to apply dye. Products are sold to remove urine stains. They should remove fresh stains, but they cannot restore a dye loss. Sometimes the area can be cut out and replaced with another piece of scrap carpet.


It is possible to remove the urine from the face of the carpet so no stain will develop but you may still have a problem with an odor. If a large amount of urine was present or the pet accident occurs frequently, it may have penetrated into the underlay and even into the floor. It is extremely difficult to flush the urine from the back of wall-to-wall carpet. The solutions which are added do not penetrate into the backing fibers to remove the odor-producing materials. In some cases, the carpet may have to be pulled back so removal procedures can be tried on the back. If the odor is in the underlay, cut the area out and replace it. If it has penetrated into the floor, some of the household disinfectants usually will kill the odor. Before going to the trouble of lifting the carpet, try deodorants. They may kill odors or the pleasant scent may mask the odor as the urine is slowly vanishing. Another option is to contact a professional carpet cleaner.

Wood Floor

If cleaning does not work, the urine may have penetrated the finish resulting in odors and wood stains. Since most of the odor is probably concentrated in the top layer of the floor, this layer may need to be removed by scraping or power-sanding to get rid of the remaining odor. Seal the floor with a varnish or other floor sealers. Some people have had results by spraying the floor with undiluted white vinegar or acetic acid. Three or four applications may be needed, letting the spot dry in-between. Wood floors may need professional restoration.

Remember, treat pet accidents and other stains immediately for best removal.

(This resource was added April 2, 2006 and appeared in the Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper Sunday edition. For information on reproducing this article or using any photographs or graphics, read the Terms of Use statement)

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