I love animals, I really do. Growing up I had every type of pet from boa constrictors and iguanas to guinea pigs and ferrets and everything in between. I am not really sure why my parents indulged me in this passion of mine but they did and it made me one happy kid. Currently I have three cats and a dog (I just lost my parrot of 18 years this past November) so I have a pretty good idea about how messy pets can be. Ironically the night I wrote this post I woke up to my beagle barfing on my bedroom floor at 5am just to assure me of my authority on the subject. The good news is, with a couple of key ingredients and a little know how, dealing with pet stains and odor can be (almost) painless.
If you are cleaning your home using only homemade green cleaners you’re already a step ahead of the game. Not only can you use the same ingredients to clean pet stains from carpet, but you are protecting your pets (and you!) from the toxic chemicals found in conventional cleaners. These include but are not limited to:
- Ammonia – Found in many de-greasers for ovens, glass and stainless steel (NEVER use an ammonia-based product on pet stains as it can encourage the pet to come back and re-offend the area)
- Chlorine – Found in disinfectants, toilet bowl cleaners and automatic dish detergent
- Glycol Ethers -Found in glass cleaners, carpet cleaners and spot removers.
No matter what animal(s) you choose to keep in your home, there will be some kind of clean up and odor control necessary. This is just how it goes. Prevention and quick attention to stains will make life a lot easier but more about that later. Vinegar and baking soda will play a huge role in both of these pet problems for all sorts of pets.
How to clean pet stains the non-toxic way
If you own a dog or a cat, you most likely have some urine stains on your carpet. It happens. Before you run out in a panic to purchase an expensive, toxic product to remove the pet stain, head into your kitchen, grab the baking soda and vinegar and follow these steps:
- Soak the stain with full strength white vinegar
- Sprinkle a small amount of baking soda directly on the vinegar soaked stain.
- Listen to the crackles of cleaning action
- Let the spot dry for a day or two before sweeping up and then vacuuming (cover the spot with a bowl to keep little feet off if necessary)
Cat urine stains are particularly vile and difficult to remove. Try the above method first and if the smell remains try pouring some peroxide directly on the stain, let dry, then flush with some warm water and blot dry. You can also add a few drops of Listerine to some hot water and pour it directly on the stain. If all else fails, you might have to call in the big guns and get an enzyme based product specifically formulated for cat urine stains. My favorite is Natures Miracle Urine Destroyer. My aging cat had an accident on my microfiber couch and this was the only product that removed the yellow stain and odor. If all else fails, your carpets have multiple or old stains you might want to save that job for the carpet professionals and have it steam cleaned.
If you are unfortunate enough to be dealing with a poop/vomit stain on your carpet
- Gently remove all solid matter. Do not rub!
- Mix one tbsp of Dawn dishwashing detergent and one tbsp of white vinegar with two cups of warm water.
- Gently sponge the stain with a microfiber cloth soaked with your detergent/vinegar solution.
- Blot with a dry cloth until the liquid is absorbed.
- Repeat as necessary until the stain disappears
- If the stain is stubborn or old apply hydrogen peroxide to the stain (avoid using this on dark carpets and always test a hidden spot for colorfastness)
- Allow to dry then flush with some water. Blot dry with a clean cloth. Repeat as necessary until the stain is removed.
Birds are particularly sensitive to chemicals so you must be extremely carful with what you use around them. Whether you have a large Macaw walking around or a teeny tiny finch in it’s cage if you have a bird, you will have bird poop where you don’t want it. To remove from carpets and upholstery:
- Scrape off any excess bird droppings carefully. Avoid rubbing in.
- Mix a solution of two cups cool water and one tbsp dishwashing liquid, apply to a clean cloth and sponge the stain. Do not rub!
- Blot the damp area with a clean, dry cloth until excess moisture is absorbed
- Pour straight white vinegar on the stained area then blot dry with a clean white cloth.
- Repeat until stain is removed
- If the stain remains, apply hydrogen peroxide with an eye dropper to the stained area. Wait a few minutes and then rinse well with plain water. Once again, when using hydrogen peroxide on fabric, upholstery or carpeting, always test in an inconspicuous area to make sure it does not harm the fabric or carpet.
Removing bird poop from walls and painted surfaces can be tricky. Avoid the urge to just scrub it off as you will remove the paint along with the poop. A 50/50 vinegar/water solution or straight peroxide works well. Spray the area and wait until the poop is completely softened then gently wipe away with a microfiber cloth. Repeat as necessary.
There you have it. Now you can sit back and cuddle with your furry or feathered loved ones instead of worrying about how you are going to clean up that inevitable mess in the morning : )
Now that you have your pet stains under control, how are you going to control pet odor? Tune in next week for non-toxic ways to keep your home from smelling like a wet dog or a giant litter box.