Much as we love them, pets can drive us mad with the stains and mess they leave behind! Most pet owners agree that they feel like they spend half their lives cleaning after their pets. Knowing the right way to deal with pet stains can really make a difference – making the clean-up job faster, more efficient and effective. So here are the most common pet stains you will encounter and how to deal with them:
Every dog owner knows the drill – your dog comes in from the garden, wagging his tail, and leaves a trail of mud in his wake! Before you can say “Grab a towel!”, he has redecorated your living room carpet in a pattern of brown paw prints and is happily running around the house, spreading mud everywhere.
First of all, don’t panic. Unlike other stains, this is one that you don’t actually have to tackle immediately. In fact, with most mud stains, it is best to leave it to dry and then vacuum or sweep the dried particles away. This will usually remove most of the marks. Trying to scrub at mud stains while they are wet will only push them deeper into the carpet fibres. Of course, you have solid flooring, such as tile or wood, then there is less danger and you can wipe the muddy prints away immediately.
Follow a similar rule for mud on upholstery. If your lounge suite is covered with a delicate fabric and is severely stained, you may want to apply a solution made of 1 tbsp of liquid dishwashing detergent in 1 cup water, using an eye dropper, and then rinse and blot dry with clean cold water and lots of paper towels. Of course, the best advice would be to cover your lounge suite with washable covers in this case – or choose a lounge suite in a more durable material.
House-breaking not going quite as planned? Don’t worry – with the right treatment, you should be able to remove urine stains effectively. The main thing to remember with urine stains is to NEVER use ammonia-based cleaner to clean it – the smell of the ammonia will actually attract the animal back to the same spot.
If you catch the stain while fresh, just rinse it thoroughly with cold water (if it is on carpet, dab with cold water and then soak up with paper towels, repeat until the area comes up clean). If the stain is on a washable fabric, use a biological laundry detergent.
For older urine stains, soak the fabric overnight in a weak solution of hydrogen peroxide and water, then wash with a biological laundry detergent. Salty water is a good alternative if you do not have hydrogen peroxide handy. If the stain is on carpet, this can be a bit more tricky as you cannot soak carpets. The best thing is to always act quickly (particularly with cat urine which can really leave a lingering smell) – treat the area with soda water immediately as this will minimise staining. Then, after blotting up the excess urine, sponge the area again with salty water, rinse with clean water and the blot dry. To try and combat odours, sprinkle bicarbonate soda on the stain and leave to dry, before vacuuming away.
Just like children, pets have a tendency to bring up what’s in their stomachs at the most inappropriate times and places. A big part of deciding how to tackle a vomit stain is working out what was eaten before the vomiting – with pets, this may or may not be easy, depending on whether your pet has a tendency to steal food from places without your knowledge.
As usual, it is crucial to act quickly – especially if the stain is on carpets or mattresses, to prevent it soaking in. Remove as much of the excess solids as you can with a spoon and then use cold water to rinse the area and blot dry. If the stain is on a washable fabric, use a biological laundry detergent (not wool or silk). For stains on carpets, sponging the area with a solution of warm water and borax (or warm water and special wool detergent) will help. Follow by rinsing thoroughly using the dab and blot method.
Again, use bicarbonate soda to combat any lingering smells
The most dreaded stain of all – hopefully, if your house-breaking training is going well and your animal is not sick, this is not a stain you should have to deal with often. The good news is that it is relatively easy to remove – treat it in a similar way to vomit: scrape off excess and soak with a solution of warm water and detergent or borax. You may need to follow with carpet shampoo. For fabrics, use a biological laundry detergent and wash on the hottest cycle possible.
If you find that you’re having to deal with this stain often, then it may be worth seeking the services of a pet behaviourists who will be able to help you tackle the source of the problem and teach your pet to toilet outside or in appropriate places (eg. the litter tray).