Having a dog or cat, like having a child, means your flooring stands to see increased traffic and possibly some stains over time. You can take steps to prevent stains, like house-training your animals from the time they arrive home, but even that is not a foolproof plan. So when accidents happen — and they will — you need to know how to remove the stain quickly and efficiently before it irreparably harms the flooring. Here are some tips on getting stains out of common flooring types:
#1 Fabrics (carpets and upholstery)
If you can catch the accident early on (while it’s warm), start by using towels that can absorb liquid from the fabric. Replace them with dry ones, if needed, to get as much of the stain out as possible. Once you’ve done that, start using a commercial pet stain cleaner with enzymes. Enzymes are good at removing the bacteria that causes stain to give off a bad odor. Enzyme-based cleaners also have detergents that help to get the stain out without hurting the coloring of the fabric.
If you don’t want to use a commercial cleaner, you can make your own with:
● 1 ⅓ cup water
● 1 cup vinegar
Pour cleaner over the stain, just enough to get the surface wet without oversaturating it. Then place a waterproof material over it to give the cleaner time to sit and get into the carpet to remove the stain completely. If you don’t get to the stain before it settles, you can always have a carpet cleaning professional get it out for $100 to $250.
#2 Laminate flooring
If you happen to find a pet stain on your laminate flooring — old or new — there are ways to remove the stain from the flooring. It depends on whether your flooring still has the protective coating. With older stains, you’ll need to take extra steps to remove the stain in addition to cleaning it off with a solution. Follow these steps:
1. Wipe with a damp cloth until dry.
2. Sprinkle baking soda and gently scrub with a stiff-bristled brush. Let sit for a few minutes.
3. Spray with white vinegar and watch it foam.
4. Wipe the area with a cold cloth to remove remaining vinegar.
5. Blow dry to dry floor and subfloor.
6. Refinish the floor to avoid letting the stain destroy the laminate.
If you don’t have a protective coating over your laminate floor, you will need to apply one after cleaning off the stain. You can hire a flooring professional to re-stain your laminate floor which will help protect against future stains.
#3 Hardwood floors
With hardwood floors, you’ll need to treat pet stains with a specialized wood bleach. Make sure the bleach you use is specially designed for wood flooring. If you don’t want to invest in wood bleach, you can also use two-part peroxide bleach.
When treating your hardwood flooring with bleach, be sure to keep pets away and use rubber gloves and goggles to protect yourself because it can cause serious injury. However, it shouldn’t harm your hardwood flooring if used correctly. If you’re worried about the potential damage, you can use a mixture of vinegar and baking soda.
#4 Wall cleaning
Cleaning pet stains off your walls depends on whether you catch it early or late. If you see it happen, you can use a wet cloth to wipe it off the wall.
For older stains, you might need to use a mixture of bleach and warm water. You’ll need to keep the pets away to prevent them from licking the wall. However bleach can damage paint or wallpaper, so try the enzyme-based cleaner for stains in such cases. Just read the label to make sure ahead of time.
How to prevent future accidents
Once you know how to handle accidents, how do you prevent future ones? It comes down to figuring out the why, really. There are a few reasons your pet could be having accidents:
1. They can smell past accidents, which makes it comfortable to continue having accidents.
2. They don’t have a personal space.
3. They’re left alone for too long or get nervous.
4. With older dogs, sometimes their bladders are not functioning as well as they used to.
You should do the best you can to keep an eye on your dogs and take them out for potty breaks regularly to avoid accidents. You can even install a doggy door and train them how to use it. Get your backyard fenced in so they can come in and out as they please. Clean up past accidents thoroughly so they don’t develop bad habits. And of course, the more you train them to know where to go and where not to go, the less likely accidents will happen.
Written contribution by Andrea Davis, Home Advisor