Since we are one of the few true GREEN cleaners in the Dallas Fort Worth metroplex, we see more than our fair share of pet issues. Most pet owners aren’t even fully aware of the extent of the problem or if one exists at all. It’s extremely important to do a thorough inspection of any home with pets (or a history of pets) prior to any clean. Then we can devise a plan for dealing with any odors or stains.
UV Black lights can be a valuable tool in identifying urine contamination, but may not work in all circumstances. Brightly lit rooms, certain color carpets and diligent homeowners that have tried to clean up accidents may make urine contamination difficult to identify. This is why it’s important to confirm contamination with a moisture meter. Urine can continue to be visible under a blacklight even after treatment even years and multiple cleanings later. It only takes a microscopic amount of urine proteins to continue to be visible under UV light even though there is no odor, bacteria or visible evidence with the naked eye. Urine is usually a SUBSURFACE problem, not limited to just the carpet fibers. This is why a typical surface steam clean isn’t enough to remove odor. While the surface may have been sanitized, the pad, backing and sub-floor are the source of continued odor. A proper steam clean should never wet the pad or backing, so subsurface urine goes untreated. Additionally, urine in the pad and backing typically dries to a “salt”. If you pulled the carpet back you often reveal areas that look similar to a sweaty ball cap. This salt acts as a desiccant, pulling moisture from the surrounding air. It’s not enough moisture to “feel,” but it will often trigger the meter indicating it is enough to support mold growth. This is why a surface treatment for urine is usually not enough. The urine salts attack carpet glues and backing and can support mold growth. They need to be neutralized and/or flushed out whenever possible.
Oxidizers, Enzymes, Pairing Agents, Disinfectants and Encapsulates can all be effective methods to attack urine contamination when performed properly. Treatments MUST be tailored to the severity, location, fiber type, age and quantity of contamination. There is no “one-size-fits-all” spray and leave treatment for most urine issues. As a homeowner, the best you can do is use a wet dry vac and follow the “wet spill” info on our Tips Page until you can get a professional out to properly deal with the problem. Notice that nowhere have I mentioned “deodorizers or perfumes” as an option. Why? The answer is simple….THEY DON’T WORK. Many of you have payed big bucks for a “pet treatment’ that was simply a heavy perfume that masked the problem for a few days. Odor has to be attacked at it’s source and either killed, modified at a molecular level or neutralized and removed. Masking urine odors with cherry or lemon scent is a short term solution that ultimately leaves you with a lemony urine stench at best.
Our preferred method is to saturate the carpet, pad and sub-floor with a powerful oxidizer, let it do it’s work for 15-30 minutes and then use special flood extractors to flush and remove. This attacks stain and odor in one shot, but is also the most expensive method. If the problem is chronic and widespread, enzyme treatments may be a more cost effective option. While they take longer to work and may not be quite as effective as the oxidizer they do offer some residual value. Enzymes don’t die when they run out of food (urine) and moisture, they simply go dormant. If the pet returns, they reactivate offering some residual impact. While enzyme injection is a cost effective treatment, it does have one drawback – it could trigger “wicking.” This is where pad contamination that may not be visible to the naked eye but is visible to with the nose or blacklight might be activated by injecting something to kill the bacteria and odor. As the carpet dries, a visible stain can appear through a process called wicking. Generally this indicates an area of more significant pad contamination that could require the more thorough oxidizer flush treatment or a low moisture touchup if there is no odor but there is a visible stain (at additional cost). We guarantee the Oxidizer Flush because we are attempting to flush all pad contamination out. We can’t guarantee the injection but it is all that is needed about 80% of the time or at least it significantly limits the number of areas that need additional treatments at additional cost.
Another often missed aspect of urine contamination is the effect on factory and aftermarket stain protectors. Urine is a great stripper of stain guard. It is therefore, very important to treat contaminated fibers with a stain guard immediately following treatment or future accidents may leave permanent stains. While we may be able to address future odors, if you are left with yellow polka dotted carpet, what does it matter? It’s a relatively inexpensive deterrent for permanent staining. We utilize the world’s first EPA Certified Green carpet protector!
Remember, pet treatments are much more involved than a typical clean and will yield extended dry times. Fortunately the products used to treat the urine also inhibit musty or mildew odors. The longer the products have to work, the more effective they are. Avoid foot traffic on treated areas because you can trigger wicking of any minor residual contaminant. By compressing the pad, you essentially force anything left in the pad to the surface. This happens naturally as the carpet dries, but is exacerbated by foot traffic. Minor wicking is a common issue with pet treatments and may require a touchup clean when the carpet it dry. If you solve the ongoing problem with potty training or removing the pet from the affected areas, it’s a good idea to have a thorough clean to remove any treatment residues and get the carpet back to it’s pre-contaminated state. We are a soap and residue free cleaner and are very aware that ANY residue attracts soil. It’s a necessary evil when dealing with pet issues, but if the problem has been solved, it’s a good idea to have a thorough residue free clean to remove any remaining treatment products.
Unfortunately there are no miracle cures for pet urine sold at your local pet or feed store. And PLEASE don’t use vinegar on your carpets, no matter what the internet has told you. Vinegar sets dyes. If ANY color exists in the stain, you will likely set the stain permanently. Simply spraying or pouring vinegar on urine, feces or vomit WILL NOT WORK!
Give us a call. Advice and estimates are free, mistakes can be costly.