Sooner or later, every dog owner has to deal with urine accidents in the house. Whether housetraining a puppy, caring for an older/incontinent dog, or dealing with male dogs who mark, it’s going to happen. I’ve experimented with many methods and products over the years, and have come up with a system for cleaning dog pee off the carpet that really works.
The most important thing when cleaning up a dog pee stain is to get as much of the urine out of the carpet as possible. Odor-fighting treatments and cleaning chemicals will not work if there’s urine in your carpet, padding and flooring.
When a dog has an accident in the house, the liquid enters the carpet, than soaks down and spreads. The size of the spot you can see is smaller than the size of the spot under the carpet, on the floor and padding. The best way to get it up is to use towels and pressure. Place a folded towel over the spot (I use bath size to get as much of the urine as possible out). Then step on the towel right over the center of the spot. Put your full weight on that foot and stand there for several minutes. I have read home cleaning advice that says to put a heavy book over the towel and leave it there overnight. I find that unless you have a 60-pound book, that’s not enough pressure. I stand on tip-toe on the towel to concentrate as much pressure as possible.
The towel wicks up the moisture, pulling it from below. It’s like dipping a towel into a glass of water. The water immediately begins to soak upward into the towel. Flip your towel over and see the big wet area that has been created by what you’ve pulled out of the carpet. Use a second (dry) towel and do it again. Repeat until the towel is dry or nearly dry when you flip it over. Take as long as you can for this step, because nothing else will really be effective if there’s still pee under the carpet. For a stain from my 70-pound dog, I usually see a fairly dry result on the third bath towel.
Leave your last towel over the stain because by now, it may be difficult for you to see where it was, and you’ll need to know exactly where it was when you treat it. There are all kinds of enzyme-based treatments, high-tech cleaners and nifty machines that will do the job, but I usually use an old-fashioned formula and I’ve never found anything that works better.
In a measuring cup, combine water and distilled white vinegar in a 1:1 ratio. Do not use apple cider vinegar. I suppose it would work in a pinch, but might leave a stain on lighter carpets. If you have big dogs like I do, you might want to use half a cup of vinegar and half a cup of water. For smaller dogs, reduce to a quarter cup of each. Pour the water/vinegar mixture over the pet stain. As you pour, the mixture will soak right in to dark areas where the urine was, and sit on top of the carpet initially where the carpet was not previously wet. Using this visual guide, make sure you pour the vinegar/water over the entire spot where the dog urinated. It will seem like a lot to pour over your carpet, but remember how big that stain is under the carpet.
Let it soak in for several minutes, then use the towel method to soak it back up. Yes, your carpet – and your room – will smell like vinegar. But only until it dries. Vinegar is very good at eliminating odors, and once it’s dry, the room will smell like neither urine nor vinegar IF you soak up the vinegar with towels until the towel comes away dry. If you leave some in the carpet and padding, your room will smell like vinegar a bit longer.
For older stains, use the same method, although you may not be able to get as much out of the carpet as when it’s fresh. However, the stain under the carpet will be larger, since it’s had more time to soak into the padding. Take up as much as you can with towels. If it’s dry, just add the vinegar and start there, then agitate the carpet surface with a towel to loosen the stain a little. Let the vinegar penetrate the carpet for 10 minutes, then wick it up with towels. Ever notice how urine smells different when it’s fresh vs. when it’s a day or two old? That’s because bacteria in the environment breed in wet spots, causing the “pee smell” we all know so well. So with an old stain, you may need to repeat this process with an enzymatic cleaner, which attacks the bacteria that breed in urine. These are widely available and can help eliminate the smell on an older stain.
A ceiling fan will help to finish drying the carpet and get the vinegar smell reduced.
So, to recap, here are the steps:
- Wick with as many towels as it takes by standing on a towel over the spot
- Soak with 1:1 mixture of vinegar and water and let sit for 5-10 minutes
- Wick with as many towels as it takes to get the spot damp-dry
I’ve trained two puppies, had two male dogs in the same house (marking) and have cared for two elderly/incontinent dogs, so I’ve cleaned up hundreds of pet stains using this method. When my husband and I were considering selling out house, we had some real estate agents over to evaluate the house. They all said the house smelled good, which was important for first impressions. I was not using a candle, had not baked anything or used any air fresheners. That’s just how the house smelled. You’d never know how many messes I’ve cleaned up over the years.