Dogs and cats may be our best friends, but not necessarily the best friends of our carpeting, draperies and upholstery. Neglected animal stains have been a problem ever since people and animals bonded together in companionship.
Urine: There are two types of reactions that can take place between the chemicals in an animal's urine and those in the dyes and fibers of textile furnishings. The first type of reaction is immediately noticeable. Some dyes can change color as soon as urine comes in contact with them. Often the original color can be restored by immediate application of the standard ammonia solution.
The other reactions develop slowly over several days to several months and can result in permanent changes to the dyes and fiber. Not only can the dyes change but some fibers may become weakened or destroyed by the aged urine. The decomposing urine can also produce an objectionable odor. After cleaning, these areas are more obvious because the soils that hid the changed color and damaged fibers have been removed. Also, dyes weakened by urine can be removed or bleed during cleaning.
The next time you encounter an animal accident, immediately absorb as much liquid as possible. Treat the area with the standard detergent solution. Absorb this into white tissues or toweling. Then blot the area with the standard ammonia solution. Again absorb this into toweling. Then blot the area with the standard vinegar solution. Absorb the area with toweling until it is as dry as possible. Place several dry white terry cloths over the area and weight down. Allow to dry a minimum of six hours.
Feces: Pet feces tend to be easier to deal with than urine. Compact deposits can be quickly removed with a plastic bag. The surface should then be cleaned with the standard detergent solution and blotted dry. Rinse the area with water and blot again. Follow this treatment with a disinfectant recommended by your veterinarian.
Loose feces require the same clean-up procedure as described above for fresh urine removal. This should also be followed with an application of disinfectant. If your pets' food contains red dye to make it look meatier, this could leave a red discoloration at the site of the accident. A professional cleaner may be able to remove this.
A word of caution: some disinfectants may cause discoloration of textile furnishings.
General Information: If immediate action is taken to remove the animal stains, little or no change in color should occur and that accident will not become apparent after your carpet or other textile has been professionally cleaned.
However, if the pet accident is forgotten or never discovered, it will return to haunt you. Dried urine will smell like strong ammonia when humidity is high or when the spot is rewetted. Feces and urine can contain harmful bacteria. A spot that is small on the surface of carpeting is often many times larger on the underside. The urine can damage both dyes and textile fibers as described above. The change usually isn't noticed until the textile furnishing is cleaned. The damage caused by aged urine generally requires professional restoration, possibly color tinting, and sometimes removal of the offending carpet and cushion.
A professional cleaner has methods available to minimize the discoloration, disinfect the area and reduce the smell. It is often impossible, however, to completely restore the original appearance of a textile furnishing that has been damaged with aged pet urine.
Standard Solutions: Test these solutions first by applying a small amount in an inconspicuous area to determine its effect on the fiber and dye. Wait thirty minutes to an hour to see if any color changes or other problems may arise.
Standard white vinegar solution: one part white vinegar to two parts water.
Standard ammonia solution: one tablespoon clear or sudsy, uncolored household ammonia in one cup of water.
Standard detergent solution: one teaspoon neutral white or colorless detergent in a cup of lukewarm water. Make sure the detergent is bleach free.