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Cleaning Stains and Removing Odors

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When cleaning up after a pet has had an accident, the goal is not only to clean the area, but neutralize the odor to deter repeat visits. Because dogs and cats have a keen sense of smell, and because the ammonia smell of urine acts as an attractant, they will often go back to the same spot to eliminate.

Though you may think you've cleaned the spot and removed the stain that your pet left behind, you need to go one step further and treat the spot with an "enzymatic cleaner" to neutralize the odor. Pet odor is protein-based and cannot be removed simply by washing the affected area. An enzymatic cleaner "digests" the odor-causing protein and breaks down the chemical nature of the ammonia, getting rid of the smell that triggers pets from "marking" the spot again.

There are many enzymatic cleaners on the market today. Before using any enzymatic cleaner, it's important to follow the instructions for these products in order to ensure they are appropriate for the affected surface (carpet, wood, fabric, etc.). Following are general guidelines to conquer stains and odors.

Carpets
If the area is still wet, clean the area as soon as possible. Blot up as much of the wet area with clean paper towels until the area is no longer wet. Saturate the area with an enzymatic cleaner following the manufacturer's instructions. Let dry naturally for several days. Once the carpet is dry to the touch, about three to five days, check for odors. If the urine odor is still noticeable, repeat the above instructions until the urine odor is no longer present. You may have to pull up the carpeting and treat the padding or even the sub-flooring beneath the padding. If the damage is repeated and severe, you may have to replace the padding. You may also have to repeat the enzyme treatment to remove the entire odor.

Wood Flooring
If the area is still wet, wipe the area with paper towels. Apply a small quantity of the enzymatic cleaner intended for wood flooring to the area and cover with a paper towel to prevent rapid evaporation. Allow the area to dry naturally. Repeat this process once a day until the urine odor is eliminated. This is a slow process, but this is the only way to eliminate the urine odor.

If any discoloration or warping is evident, discontinue treatment.

Linoleum or Vinyl
If still area is still wet, wipe the area with paper towels. Clean area thoroughly and rinse with warm water. Wipe the area with a sponge dampened with an enzyme cleaner intended for linoleum or vinyl surfaces. Let the area air dry. Repeat treatment if necessary, following manufacturer's instructions.

Concrete, Bricks or Cement Floors
Use an enzymatic cleaner intended for the particular surface. Saturate the area with the enzymatic cleaner. Cover area with plastic to retain moisture. Let the area dry naturally for several days. Repeat treatment if necessary.

Household Fabrics
Spray the soiled fabric with an enzymatic cleaner intended for fabrics. Let air dry for two days and check for odors. Repeat if necessary until the odors are eliminated.

Clothing
Fill washer with just enough water to cover the stained clothes. Add an enzymatic cleaner intended for fabrics and agitate washer for several minutes. Leave the clothes in washer for 12-24 hours. Add detergent and finish wash cycle.

Yards, Grass and Flower Beds
Using a garden hose, thoroughly saturate the affected area. Liberally apply an enzymatic cleaner intended for outdoor use to the affected area. After 24 hours, saturate the areas with water again and let dry for several days. If odors are still noticeable, repeat the above steps until the odor is eliminated.

Smart Tips
Avoid using ammonia-based cleaning products. Ammonia is a component of urine and may make an area even more attractive for a pet to eliminate.

If you have pet odor problem, but are not sure where it's coming from, consider investing in a black light. Black lights illuminate urine stains that would otherwise be difficult to see.

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