How to Clean Up After Pets
By Cathy Sandberg
As much as we love our household pets, they can create cleaning headaches. Between muddy paws, fur on upholstered furniture, odors and occasional accidents, we can spend quite a bit of time and effort cleaning up after our furry friends.
Minimize the mess Since cleaner pets make a cleaner house, bathe and brush your pets regularly to minimize pet hair and pet dander and to help manage odors. Keep a lint brush or damp sponge handy to quickly pick up loose pet hair. A light mist of spray-on cooking oil on your pet’s dishes will make them easier to wash out and will add shine to the coat.
Removing pet hair On carpeting, plain vacuums don’t generate sufficient lift to pick up all the pet hair from the floor, so use a vacuum with a good beater brush or brush roll.
You can speed removal of pet hair from fabrics and upholstery with a pet rake, which is a brush with crimped nylon bristles. Velour brushes, tape rollers and even tape wrapped around your hand will work, too. Pet supply and home stores sell “pet sponges”, which are used dry on both upholstery and carpets. They can be a good option for hard-to-reach corners and edges. As long as dampness won’t harm the fabric, you can use a slightly dampened sponge or even the rubber bottom of a clean tennis shoe.
For a pet urine stain, dilute the spot using a cloth dampened with water. Then, clean the area with an acid solution consisting of one quart water mixed with one teaspoon white vinegar. If necessary, apply a pet bacteria/enzyme digester according to directions. You can find these products at any pet store; they effectively offset both stain and odor. Even if the stain has disappeared or our human noses can no longer smell anything, a pet will repeatedly return to the same spot if it can still smell his own odor. Here are keys to using a digester:
Be sure to use enough bacteria/enzyme digester to penetrate both the carpet and pad.
Digesters work well but slowly. Leave the solution on as long as indicated.
After applying the solution, cover with plastic and step on the spot several times until the area is well saturated.
Keep the plastic on the entire time the digester is working to make sure the spot doesn’t dry out.
Older stains may be nearly impossible to remove, but try the digester. If the specific area has been spotted multiple times, the bacteria breaking down the stain may actually create a super-alkaline state that interferes with the digester’s intended action. In this case, follow these steps:
After the bacteria digester has been working for about four hours, neutralize the spot by mixing a solution of one cup of vinegar to a gallon of warm water.
Rinse the area with the vinegar solution.
Apply a fresh batch of bacteria/enzyme digester solution.
Another option is to get a hypodermic needle from a pharmacy and fill it with a perfume or potpourri. Inject both the carpet and the pad. If you still have a problem, have the carpet cleaned by extraction. Plus, it may be necessary to replace the pad underneath.
If your pet has an upset stomach on your carpet, cleanup may be trickier. The extremely acidic nature of vomit can affect the acid dyes in the carpet, resulting in permanent damage. It is essential to neutralize or at least dilute the acid as quickly as possible to bring the carpet back to a neutral pH. Here’s how:
Treat the affected area using a professional carpet detergent.
Rinse the area with clean hot water.
Extract the soiled solutions away from the carpet.
If the stains cannot be removed, carpet dyeing may be an option. While not as permanent as factory dyeing, spot dyeing will solve the problem of bleached carpet.