Expert guest post by Jeff Voorhies, IICRC Certified Carpet Technician
I know my wife's all about reducing toxic chemicals in the home – and so am I. But as a carpet cleaner, I don't recommend using harsh commercial stain and odor removers for another reason too: they're the worst possible choice for the care of your carpet.
So let's talk about what to do when you climb out of bed in the morning and can't even make it to your coffeemaker before soaking your sock in a puddle. It's super important to take care of urine spots to prevent confusion during potty training and to maintain your carpet – one of the biggest investments in your home. It can be a big job, but the good news is that staying on top of those spots doesn't have to be costly – or toxic.
Now keep in mind that my favorite odor removal method isn't for the weak-of-heart; we're talking DEFCON 5 here! I'm pulling out the whole arsenal, so let's get to it.
Light It Up
Okay no. I didn't mean for you to toss a match on the carpet and be done with it! But you do need to locate any and all urine stains so you can be sure to treat every single area. If you have darker carpet and can't quite see them, try using a black light to make the spots more obvious. You can get an LED blacklight for about $15, and it's worth the investment when potty training.
Soak It Up
Blot the puddles up with a dry, absorbent cloth, but be sure NOT to rub at all so the urine doesn't end up getting pressed deeper into the carpet and pad beneath. Just keep blotting with additional dry towels until you can’t see any more yellow.
Mix 50:50 white vinegar + lukewarm water, then test the mixture in an inconspicuous area. The vinegar neutralizes the ammonia salts in the carpet fibers that cause the long-lasting odor. If no discoloration occurred, go ahead and pour a good amount on the affected area. Let it sit for 30 minutes then begin the cycle of blotting again until all of the liquid is soaked up.
Spray It and Vacuum
Although this is a natural formula, keep in mind that you're mixing together items that could have a reaction if left to sit for too long.
As with any product or DIY solution, ALWAYS test a small section of the carpet, hardwood floors or furniture to make sure that this formula doesn’t react negatively with your items.
Gather the following ingredients from your kitchen for a high-powered DIY solution:
- 4oz hydrogen peroxide (no stronger than 3% so you don't bleach your carpet fibers)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- 1/2 tsp castile soap
- 3-5 drops orange essential oil (Earth Mama Angel Baby‘s castile soap already has this essential oil in it)
Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle and shake gently to mix. Test a small area of the carpet again and watch for discoloration, then spray the area liberally and let it dry completely. When it turns to a powder, vacuum it up. You may need to repeat this process if you're dealing with a tough urine spot. Then be sure to properly dispose the leftovers.
If you're not up for making your own spray, I recommend trying Nature's Miracle (probably not the least toxic option in the world, but skipping the scented versions will help). It works well using digestive enzymes and alcohol for disinfecting. It's important to let Nature’s Miracle dry naturally (which can sometimes a couple of days) so that it reaches all of the stain, including carpet pads and subfloors where the stain and odor can spread far beyond what is visible.
The Dreaded Feline
I hate to say it, but sometimes even your best effort isn't enough to take care of the problem, especially with more potent feline urine. If the smell still lingers after a couple of attempts to clean it, you'll need to hire a professional to deep clean and deodorize the carpet.
About the Author
Jeff has been cleaning carpet in Kansas City since 2002 and enjoys being an expert in his trade. He works hard with his son, Kyle, to offer a truly deep, healthy clean and is one of the few carpet cleaners in the area to offer a green solution. Voorhies Cleaning has been an Angie's List Super Service Award winner for 4 years and running. You can learn more about his team and the services they provide at voorhiescleaning.com.