How to Get Rid of Nasty Pet Smells

If your home still has the marks and scent of previous residents’ animals, Chris Cole has good and bad news for you regarding those stubborn pet odors. Cole works for Arizona Carpet and Tile Cleaning in Phoenix, which specializes in pet stain and odor removal.

The good news: plenty of widely available products can eliminate the smell of dogs, cats and their waste. For more serious problems, professional companies offer heavy-duty chemicals and equipment. The bad news: some odors will survive even an industrial-strength attack. He said the smell lingered in about 20 percent of cases he has confronted, and homeowners were forced to replace carpet, padding or other material.

For the other 80 percent of cases, follow this step-by-step approach to remove the scent of a previous homeowner's best friend.

1. Supersoak stains

Of course, it’s best to soak up pet urine spots and stains before they dry, but that’s not an option when you move into a house with dry, stained floors. The next best thing is to flush out the urine from carpets with a wet vac. These can be rented at many hardware stores and some supermarkets. They flush water through the carpet and suck it back out. Make sure to remove all the water to avoid mold problems.

If you can’t see the spots, turn out the lights and look for discolored spots under a black light. Lightly mark the spots and try to flush them out with the wet vac.

2. Employ enzymes

Wet vacs work best with only water, but stubborn pet stains and odors will likely need an additional chemical attack. Cole recommends a heavy dose of enzyme-based cleaners on carpets after a thorough wet vac flush. He said most homeowners fail to use enough of these chemicals, which are typically available at pet stores. They work slowly and require fairly large volumes. Pet stain cleaners for concrete and tile floors also are available.

Test any cleaner first on an inconspicuous spot to make sure it does not stain. Be sure to thoroughly rinse out any chemical residue. Also be careful using ammonia and some other strong-smelling chemicals if you have new pets in the home. These cleansers may mask the pet odor to the human nose, but a dog might still smell the spot and be inclined to mark it again.

3. Hire a professional cleaner

If a chemical attack fails, call in the pros. Some cleaning companies, such as Cole’s, specialize in pet stains. They often use similar chemicals to those sold in pet stores, but in higher concentrations. Cole explains that the machinery is also different. His company blasts stains with 250-degree water under high pressure.

Finally, if all else fails, the pet odor may be a good excuse to update the flooring. Consider exposing the hardwood under your carpet, and maybe getting some washable rugs.

Updated August 29, 2018.

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