Pet Urine In Carpet

How To Get the Pet Urine Smell Out!

One of the most difficult odors for homeowners and carpet cleaners to remove has always been pet urine. Pet urine registers on the acid side of the pH scale, as the liquid evaporates an alkaline salt residue is left. The Alkaline Salts attract moisture activating the odor molecule. Technology in the past prevented total removal of the odor molecule usually leaving a perfume/ammonia smell. Today the technology has advanced to a point odor is not detected after proper treatment.

To Remove Odor, Remove Source

Rule number one of per urine deodorization in carpets has always been “to remove the odor, you must remove the source.” However, with carpet and pet odor that is not always possible. Depending on the level of contamination in  the carpet, padding and sub-floor correction can be as simple as pouring a neutralizing product on the contaminated areas to total removal and replacement of the carpet and padding including sealing sub-floor surfaces.

The odor molecule from pet urine can remain active for up to 10 years and is activated by heat and moisture. The biggest challenge in odor removal is how much contamination is there and how deep did it penetrate. The average wall to wall carpet has 4 to 6 layers of absorbent materials to hide odor, the carpet fibers you walk on, 2 backings and yarns in between, padding and sub-floor. As the liquid enters the carpet it spreads into the yarns between the two backing materials.

A spot three inches in diameter on the surface of the carpet can end up being three foot in diameter in the back of the carpet due to spreading out.

If there is enough liquid passing thru the carpet then the padding and sub-floor materials can become contaminated.

Treat Every Contaminated Surface

Every surface that is contaminated has to be treated or the odor molecule will breathe back thru the other treated or even replaced surfaces. If the floor is contaminated and the carpet and pad is replaced without sealing the floor surface the odor molecule will penetrate thru the newly replaced surfaces causing an unpleasant odor. This is especially noticeable when temperatures rise and humidity levels increase.

Odor neutralizing products have shown to be effective in neutralizing the odor molecule. There are various products available and most work the same. Always follow manufacturer’s label directions when applying.

For localized contamination (1 spot at a time)

Today there are over the counter products homeowners can purchase that can be applied to the affected carpet neutralizing the odor molecule. These products can usually be purchased in pet stores or where pet supplies are sold. Follow label directions when applying and be sure to apply enough to cover the entire contaminated area/s. Once the product has evaporated, and the surface is dry, smell the area to ensure total removal of odor. If odor is detected reapply product and repeat as needed. Cleaning the area will help remove the stiff crunchy feel; however, the surface is not bacteria free.

For excessive contamination (25% of the carpet or more)

If the contamination covers 25% or more in one room that is attached to a whole house of carpet then salvaging the carpet in the one room might be justified. if there are multiple rooms where the contamination covers 25% or more of the carpet then replacement might be the proper course of action.

Carpets that have 25% or more in contamination usually should go into a bath to dissolve the alkaline salt residue that traps the odor molecule. The problem with this process is backings are glued together with latex adhesive which can become weakened during the bath causing separation of the backing materials.  Then other problem is the carpet worth the expense of the deodorization process.

Pet Stains

Once the odor is under control then comes the problem of the physical stain. The yellow discoloration is usually permanent and removal takes a professional who is trained in “suspect color” removal. During the “suspect color” removal process original color may also be removed, if this occurs color restoration can replace the missing color/s.


Pet odor is best controlled “as it happens”, flushing with plain water,  blotting out excess liquid, followed by application of “odor neutralizing” products. It is always recommended to follow up with a clear water rinse, this remove as many surface contaminants as possible. Success is determined by smelling the surface and determining if there is any residual odor.

Yellow pet stains are usually permanent and require a professional who understands “suspect color” removal process. There are professional grade products that actually cause complete or partial loss of the carpets original color. Not all professional carpet cleaners know how to prevent or correct such color loss.

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