If you’re wondering how to get pet stains out of carpet, it may already be too late.
Read our complete guide to learn what to do when your pet soils the carpet and when it’s best to call a pro.
How to Get Pet Stains Out of Carpet
When a pet has an accident on the carpet, it can lead to unsightly stains and, perhaps worse, unsavory odors, both of which can be hard to get out.
So getting pet stains out of carpet immediately is critical.
To avoid having a permanent reminder of your pet’s slip-up:
- Clean the spot quickly before it has time to dry.
- Blot or scrape as much of the spill as possible.
- Apply spot cleaner generously using a spray bottle.
Using a clean white cloth, blot instead of rubbing. Rinse as necessary and apply an odor remover. Dry and vacuum the spot.
Pet Spot Cleaning Tools
If you let the accident sit a little too long, follow these steps to get the pet stain out of your carpet. But first, gather your materials:
- Rubber gloves
- Spatula or another scraper
- Plenty of clean white cloths or paper towels
- Spot remover, either homemade or commercial
- Spray bottle
- Cold water for rinsing
- Odor remover, homemade or commercial
Spot Remover Options
Once again — don’t waste time! Waiting makes the job harder and perhaps impossible, according to The Carpet and Rug Institute.
Other than speed, the most important part of removing a pet stain is your spot remover. You can use commercial spot remover kits or make your own cleaning solution from common household chemicals.
You can buy commercial spot remover kits from carpet retailers, home improvement stores, and other retailers. These typically contain a liquid detergent solution or, in some cases, a dry-cleaning compound.
If intended for pet messes, it will also likely have an odor neutralizer solution to apply. These kits usually come with spray bottles. Especially if a mess has dried, you may want to consider a carpet cleaning machine.
You can rent one of these at many groceries and home improvement stores. However, avoid steam cleaners, as the high heat they generate can cause the protein in pet stains to permanently bond to manmade carpet fibers.
Do It Yourself Cleaners
Homemade spot cleaners can often do as good a job as a commercial kit. Because you likely already have the materials, they generally cost less and often don’t require a trip to the store.
Since you know exactly what you put in them, they’re also more appropriate for people who want to avoid harsh chemicals. You can try any of the DIY pet stain removers below.
- Vinegar is something most kitchens have, and it can be an effective cleaner. Household vinegar is usually a 5 percent solution of acetic acid. Mixing a cup of white vinegar with two cups of water creates an inexpensive and readily available cleaner that rivals many commercial solutions.
- Liquid dish detergent has a lot of cleaning power, and you only use a small amount. Mix just a quarter of a teaspoon of liquid dishwashing soap with a cup of lukewarm water. Dish soap cleans well but requires a lot of rinsing after the spot is gone to remove the sticky residue. This causes the spots to reappear. Note: Don’t use laundry detergent, as they often have brightening agents that can dye carpet fiber. Also, avoid automatic dishwashing detergent because it may have bleaching chemicals.
- Hydrogen peroxide can add gentle bleaching action to a do-it-yourself cleaning. Use only 3 percent hydrogen peroxide to reduce the chances of removing color from your carpet. Test on an inconspicuous spot to make sure it won’t harm the carpet.
- Ammonia, also found in many home cleaning closets. Mix a tablespoon of household ammonia with a cup of water. Test first on an out-of-the-way area of carpet to make sure it won’t change the color.
With all these spot removers, spray down the spot with fresh, clean, cold water and blot well to remove the traces of stain as well as sticky left-over residues.
You may have to repeat the application several times to get all of the stains out. When you’ve cleaned and rinsed to your satisfaction, put clean white cloths or paper towels on the spot. Now step on them to blot up the moisture.
The Low Moisture Carpet Cleaning Association suggests leaving a thick white towel weighted with a book or other heavy object on the spot overnight to ensure complete moisture removal.
Removing Pet Stain Odor
Removing the visible stain is one thing. Removing the smell left behind is another.
To accomplish this, sprinkle several tablespoons of baking soda on the spot. Let it sit for an hour or more, then vacuum.
The baking soda will absorb the odors and leave the carpet smelling fresh. If baking soda doesn’t get the job done, a commercial odor remover might. Buy commercial odor removers from the same places you get spot removers.
Because they may use several different chemicals, it’s important to read the label before use. For instance, some odor removers are not intended for wool rugs and carpets.
When to Call a Pro
If you have tried homemade and commercial cleaners and odor removers and your pet’s stain still offends your eyes and nose, you may want to consider hiring a professional carpet cleaner.
Professional cleaners have specialized equipment, more powerful chemicals, and vastly greater experience at removing stubborn carpet stains, including those left by family pets.
A friend or family member’s personal referral to a carpet cleaner they have used and trust can let you hire a cleaner with confidence.
When all else fails, the final step may be to replace the carpet. If the accident occurred in an out-of-the-way spot where you didn’t notice it until it had soaked in and dried, the carpet and pad may not be cleanable.
Depending on the specific carpet style and material, and the location of the stain, it may work to replace only the damaged portions.
Preventing Pet Stains
You could consider cleaning up a pet stain every now and then as an acceptable and unavoidable price of pet ownership.
But if the accidents occur too often, you may want to take steps to try to prevent future stains.
Cleaning represents an important first step. Unless and until you remove the pet’s personal scent from the area, they will continue to return to the same spot.
Cleaning can erase that odor signal, preventing future accidents. Sometimes even careful cleaning and deodorizing doesn’t do the trick. Stains may occur repeatedly in a particularly undesirable area, such as the middle of the living room.
In this case, the Humane Society suggests making the location physically unavailable to the pet. Another way to approach the problem is to make the area where the pet is supposed to be doing their business more attractive.
For example, using positive reinforcement in the form of tasty treats and lavish praise can motivate your pet to restrict problem activities to the location you prefer, such as outside or in a litter box.
Finally, if your pet’s staining issues just won’t go away, consider mentioning it at your pet’s next health checkup. Ask the veterinarian to make sure no medical issues are causing your pet to be accident-prone.
So, How Do You Get Pet Stains Out of Carpet?
Cleaning up pet stains requires a speedy first reaction.
The longer the cleanup is delayed, the harder it will be to get the stain and odor out of the carpet.
But most stains can be adequately removed using either homemade or commercial cleaners.
Be sure to blot rather than rub, rinse well to remove residues, and repeat as necessary. For stubborn cases, consider commercial equipment, cleaning solutions, and cleaning services.