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Pet Urine Stains

By Michael Hilton

Even owners of the best trained pets will occasionally encounter the remains of urine in inconspicuous areas of their carpet. Often, pet owners realize a problem exists only when the carpet has been removed for replacement.

The type of carpet damage attributed to pet urine can vary widely, depending on the makeup of the urine. Urine removes body waste from animals. Urine content will change over time, depending upon diet, medications, age, health, sex, and reproductive cycles of the pet. Because of these variations, not all urine stains can be removed and possible damage cannot be anticipated.

Pet Urine and Carpet

Pet urine, left unattended, can damage carpet in several ways. Moisture from urine can weaken adhesives, allowing separation (delamination) of the backing material. Many pets are often attracted to seam areas, where the most severe damage can occur. After repeated exposures to urine, seam adhesives and other bonding materials can weaken to the point of seam separation. Unfortunately, separation of the seams by pet urine is among the most common complaints by pet owners.

Urine also can affect the dyes used in carpet, although not all occurrences will result in a permanent stain. The degree of removal of pet stains is dependent upon the content of the urine, the dyes and finish used on the carpet, and the time that has elapsed since the urine was deposited. Some urine stains may be immediately noticeable, while with others, it may take weeks or months for reactions to develop. Often, dyes change color immediately after contact with urine. When immediate color loss is experienced, color sometimes can be restored by treating the area with a solution of two tablespoons of a clear, non-sudsy ammonia to one cup of water. While this treatment is not always successful in restoring color, the ammonia can be effective in removing urine content and reducing objectionable odors.

Over time the dyes and carpet fibers may be permanently damaged. Often this damage is hidden until the carpet is cleaned, which may reveal the reaction by allowing the dyes to bleed. In beige carpet, for instance, blue dyes are often attacked by pet urine, leaving behind the red and yellow dyes. The resulting stain may appear red, yellow, or orange.

Treating Urine Stains

To treat urine-damaged areas, blot damp areas with plain white paper towels as soon as the urine is detected. Apply a solution of one teaspoon of a liquid dishwashing detergent, that does not contain bleach or lanolin mixed with one cup of lukewarm water. Do not use automatic dishwashing detergent or laundry detergent that may contain bleaches or optical brighteners. Absorb solution with paper towels, rinse with warm water, and repeat the application of detergent. Continue rinsing and blotting with the detergent solution and water as long as there is a transfer to the paper towels or improvement in the stain. Follow the detergent application with a solution of two tablespoons of ammonia mixed with one cup of water. Rinse with warm water, repeat, and then blot dry. Using paper towels, blot the area with a solution of one cup white vinegar to two cups water, and blot dry. Apply a half-inch layer of paper towels to the affected area, and weigh down with a flat heavy object. Continue to change paper towels until completely dry.

Another problem associated with pet urine, specifically cat urine, is odor. With cat urine, unless the urine can be completely removed, there will be little chance of completely removing the odor. A number of products have been marketed for the removal of pet urine odor, but, in many cases, these deodorants simply "mask" the odor until the deodorant has exhausted itself. In times of high humidity, urine odor may reappear despite the effectiveness of deodorant solutions. If urine odor problems cannot be resolved, consideration should be given to removing the damaged area of carpet and reinserting a portion of carpet from scrap reserve. If replacement of carpet is necessary, replacement of cushion and even subflooring material may also be necessary.

Recently, enzymes have been developed that assist in removing many pet stains. Enzymes are available at many pet stores, but they are more effectively used in the hands of a carpet cleaning professional. Before using any enzyme or other cleaning substance, ensure that the substance is approved by the carpet manufacturer and that its use will not void any warranties. When working with urine stains always consider contacting a carpet cleaning professional for assistance.

About the Author
Michael Hilton was the original creator of Carpet Buyers Handbook. Having owned and operated a carpet wholesale company, Hilton has a vast knowledge about all-things carpet related as well as other types of flooring.

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