How to Treat Pet Urine Odor in Carpet

How to Treat Pet Urine Odor in Carpet

Have you ever visited the home of a friend or family member and noticed first thing as you walked through the front door the unmistakeable smell of cat or dog urine? Chances are your loved one is either unaware of the problem or already aware but unable to find a solution. This article explains the dangers of pet urine odor, as well as how to eliminate the problem.

Why People Don’t Notice Pet Urine Odor

There’s a reason people can become oblivious to the smell of pet urine in their homes. The human sense of smell adapts and loses sensitivity over time with consistent exposure to certain odors.

Pamela Dalton, a cognitive psychologist at Monell Chemical Senses Center, explains,

When our odor receptors are repeatedly exposed to the same smells, they stop responding. Spending so much time in the same environment means that we are constantly smelling the odors within our homes. Odor adaptation differs from such other senses as hearing. Most people can tune out a noisy street sound, but if they pay enough attention, they can bring those sounds back into their awareness. On the other hand, when we adapt to an odor, it smells much weaker or not at all, and we cannot will ourselves to smell it again. In fact, depending on how long we’re exposed to the odor, we may need days or weeks to recover our sensitivity to it.

People may be fully aware of a pet urine odor problem, but they do not have success in treating pet urine odors. Eliminating pet urine odor is easier said than done. A pet accident may look like a small spot on the surface of carpet, but the urine can spread out in the carpet padding underneath, and even the subfloor can get saturated. No amount of carpet cleaning can eliminate this problem, especially if this type of contamination is present in multiple areas throughout the home.

Dangers of Pet Urine Odor

All urine contains ammonia. Obviously, in an ideal situation, pet urine in a residential environment is prevented or eliminated before it becomes a problem. In homes with carpeting, pet accidents may be cleaned improperly or go unnoticed altogether. Whether one has cats, dogs, birds, rodents, or other animals, the presence of urine in a residential setting can cause the same irritation to humans as that of an open container of ammonia. Symptoms may include a burning sensation in the eyes, nose, and throat, along with coughing and allergy symptoms. In addition, pet urine odors can worsen the symptoms of asthma and other respiratory problems.

How to Eliminate Pet Urine Odor

In very extreme situations, carpets, carpet padding, upholstery may need to be replaced. In cases of animal hoarding or neglect, even the subfloor may need to be replaced. Most of the time, pet urine odor problems can be resolved with two basic steps. First, identify and eliminate the cause of the problem (while keeping the pet), and second, treat the affected areas. Let’s take a closer look at each step.

Identify and Eliminate the Cause of the Problem

Pets have accidents for various reasons, including improper training, urinary tract problems, and stress or excitement. Consult with your veterinarian or an animal behavior specialist, if needed. Once you are sure that the cause of the problem is resolved, you can then treat the affected areas.

If your pet continues to urinate on the carpet, then the only way to eliminate the pet urine odor problem will be to replace your flooring. Nonporous flooring will not hide or absorb pet accidents. As long as pet accidents are thoroughly cleaned as soon as they happen, then there should be no problem with lingering pet urine odor.

Treat the Affected Areas

Note: Do not use carpet powders and air fresheners that mask pet urine odor. Do not use baking soda, because although it may help neutralize odors and clean the carpet, it leaves an abrasive residue that can damage carpet fibers.

If you are treating the pet urine odor yourself, follow these steps.

  • Identify the contaminated areas. If trouble spots are not obvious, purchase a UV light, black out the windows or wait until evening, and then examine your carpet under the UV light. Urine-affected areas will glow yellow or green.
  • Thoroughly vacuum the carpet, if it is dry. When urine dries, moisture evaporates and salt crystals are left behind. Vacuuming will remove some of that solidified material from the carpet fibers.
  • Use a digestive enzyme on the spot. Digestive enzymes can be purchased at your local pet supply store. This will neutralize the odor using beneficial bacteria that break down organic matter.
    Clean the spot. Select a spot cleaner that is appropriate for your type of carpet by comparing details from the carpet manufacturers information with the spot cleaner product label. Follow the directions on the label precisely. Use the appropriate amount of cleaner, because too little can be ineffective and too much can leave a film that attracts and traps dirt and contaminants.
  • Use a clean, dry white towel to blot up any excess moisture. Let the carpet dry thoroughly and vacuum once more to fluff up the carpet fibers.

The easiest and best way to treat affected areas is to schedule services with us. Your professional carpet cleaning technicians have the knowledge, tools, and experience to locate and treat problem areas. When you contact us, be sure to mention the pet urine odor problem. Your technician can examine your carpeting and, if possible, resolve the problem. Be aware that replacing portions of carpet padding may be necessary, depending on the severity of the problem.

This article is one of a series of articles written and published on behalf of SurpHaces PRO Partners.

Filtration Soiling

Filtration Soiling

Have you ever noticed dark, dirty areas along the edges of your carpet? This is a common problem known as filtration soiling.

What Causes Filtration Soiling?

The carpet in your residence or business acts as an air filtering mechanism, catching pollutants from the environment such as dirt, dust, smoke, pet fur, cooking residues, and ash from fireplaces. Filtration soiling occurs as a result of this debris collecting and settling along carpet edges.

In buildings that have convector systems instead of air ducts, the soil filtration is a result of air drafts. For example, elevators moving up and down, cause air drafts throughout the building. The same is true for windows or anywhere air is flowing.

So How Do I Prevent It?

Prevention is often better than the cure, so here are some tips to help minimize the problem.

Clean Air Ducts

For starters, if your residence or business has air ducts, keep them clear of dust and debris. Cleaning your air ducts at least once a year can minimize unwanted substances from being spread throughout the space.

Change Filters Regularly

The general rule is to clean or change your filter every two to three months, depending on how often you run your heat and air conditioner. Some filters are reusable; others need to be replaced.  It’s a good investment to buy a high quality filter and check the instruction manual on the longevity. The more regularly you clean or change the filters, the lower your chances of air pollutants escaping the filters and spreading through the air ducts.

Eliminate the Causes
  • Place doormats at every entrance to minimize any dirt tracking from outside.
  • For your residence, ask family members and guests to smoke outside. If you own a business or residential complex, consider investing in an air door or air curtain. This device prevents smoke and other contaminants from entering the building. In addition, installing double doors at entrances will minimize air drafts.
  • Vacuum and dust on a regular basis to keep your home as pollutant-free as possible.

We Can Help

If you are experiencing filtration soiling, we can help. Give us a call.


Candles, Incense, and Unsightly Carpets

Candles, Incense, and Unsightly Carpets

Candles and incense create a warm, inviting atmosphere and scents associated with pleasant memories and feelings, but some candles and incense can be a real problem in homes or businesses, especially those with carpeting. Harmful effects include diminished indoor air quality and an unsightly graphite film on carpeting that can be notoriously difficult to remove. Read on to learn more about these problems and discover healthier, cleaner ways to create the ambiance you want.

Harmful Effects of Candles and Incense

According to the Environmental Protection Agency,

The estimated total sales of candles in 1999 varied between $968 million and $2.3 billion, while imports were $486 million. The U.S. imports and exports of incense in 1999 were $12.4 and 4.6 million, respectively. The scientific literature review gathered information regarding the emission of various contaminants generated when burning candles and incense, as well as the potential health effects associated with exposure to these contaminants. Burning candles and incense can be sources of particulate matter. Burning candles with lead-core wicks may result in indoor air concentration of lead above EPA-recommended thresholds. Exposure to incense smoke has been linked with several illnesses, and certain brands of incense also contain chemicals suspected of causing skin irritation.

Heavily scented oil candles and ordinary incense create graphite pollution, a type of indoor air contamination that can be compared to cigarette smoke. These products may mask odor, but they contain cancer-causing chemicals associated with migraines and sinus problems. They can trigger symptoms in people with COPD and other breathing-related conditions.

Carpeting and upholstery are highly absorbent. The soot left behind by certain candles and incense can infiltrate the fibers of your carpets, rugs, and upholstered furniture. It can cause a carpet problem called filtration soiling, that is, a graphite film that creates dark, dirty areas along the edges of carpet and around HVAC vents. Once this problem develops, it can be difficult to resolve without damaging the carpet, even with professional carpet cleaning.

There’s a Better Way…

Your family, guests, employees, or patrons can enjoy soft, flickering candlelight and clean aromas without harmful health effects and negative consequences to your carpet and upholstery. Here’s how:

  • Do not use ordinary oil-coated incense with a bamboo core. This type of incense creates a lot of soot. Instead, use incense made with cosmetic-grade oil and no bamboo core.
  • Do not use paraffin-based candles. Paraffin is a harmful petroleum byproduct. Clean burning alternatives include candles made with soy wax, palm wax, or liquid wax. The best alternative, by far, is beeswax candles. They actually produce negative ions that, when burned, purify the air. Beeswax candles burn longer than other types of candles, too. You may also consider battery powered or rechargeable flameless candles.
  • Use candles without large wicks. Thick wicks produce heavy soot. Thin cotton or wood wicks produce the least amount of soot.
  • Use unscented or naturally scented candles. If you must use scented candles, look for brands that use 100% naturally-derived essential oils.
  • Vacuum often. This simple practice inhibits contaminants from settling and bonding into the fibers of interior textiles. The longer contaminants remain, the more likely they are to cause damage to carpet and upholstery dyes and fibers.
  • Clean air ducts once per year. This will minimize the spread of contaminants.
  • Change or clean air filters often. To lower chances of pollutants escaping your air filtration system, your air filters should be changed or cleaned every two to three months. Use high quality disposable or reusable air filters.
  • Clean and dust hard surfaces on a regular basis. This will help keep your space as pollutant free as possible, which can help prevent offputting odors.
  • Have your carpets and upholstery periodically professionally cleaned. As a general rule, your interior textiles should be cleaned once or twice per year. You may need to adjust the frequency depending on the level of traffic and use your fine surfaces get. Professional cleaning will help eliminate odors so you won’t feel the need to mask them.

With proper care and a few simple precautions, your space can remain fresh, clean, and inviting with or without candles and incense.

How Does Sand Get Under Carpet?

How Does Sand Get Under Carpet?

People who replace carpeting or carpet padding are usually surprised to see a thick layer of what looks like playground sand underneath the carpet. A bit of sand is inevitable, but too much of it can cause premature carpet wear. How does this happen? Is there any way to minimize the problem?

Let’s Dig Into This Sand Problem

The layer of loose granular material under your carpeting is not quite the same as sand on a beach, in the desert, or in a playground sand box. All kinds of additional components can be found in the dusty stuff under carpeting, including the following:

  • Airborne dust particles(road dust, pollen, pollution, etc.) can come in through open windows. Carpeting acts like a filter, trapping the particles, which eventually accumulate and settle.
  • Pet and human hair and dander, composed of skin flakes, gets trapped in carpet fibers.
  • Insectsusually do not live in carpeting. They can get trapped in carpeting or die and fall down to the floor.
  • Microscopic organismscan actually live and die on almost any surface, including carpeting.
  • Carpet adhesive, over the course of time and in certain conditions, can become very hard and brittle. Foot traffic breaks up and dislodges little bits of this material.
  • Textile fibersfrom paper products, clothing, draperies, upholstered furniture, and carpet pile can settle in and under carpeting.

Without proper carpet care, all these components settle down to the lowest level in and, eventually, under carpeting.

Are Hard Floors Better?

One might imagine that the sand problem can be resolved by getting rid of carpeting altogether and installing a hard surface, but there are other factors to consider.

If sand remains on a hard surface, it will be unpleasant underfoot, give the floor a dirty appearance, and eventually result in dullness and scratches. If sand remains in carpeting, it will result in premature wear of carpet fibers. People tend to notice sand on a hard surface whereas carpeting disguises the problem. Either way, the sand problem must be addressed.

Hard flooring must be swept and mopped often and periodically professionally cleaned.

Carpeting must be vacuumed often and periodically professionally cleaned. Carpeting, unlike hard flooring, dampens sound, feels soft underfoot, creates a cozy, welcoming atmosphere, and can improve indoor air quality. Dr. Michael Berry, an environment and public health educator, writer, and science advisor, noted in the Journal of Cleaning, Restoration and Inspection that “six different field demonstration studies over the past twenty-five years indicate that a properly designed and scheduled carpet cleaning program that emphasizes extraction” will ultimately improve indoor air quality.

Tips to Avoid and Remove Excess Sand

At home, remove shoes, if possible, before entering. For residences where shoe removal is not preferred and for commercial properties, place high quality mats at entrances. Excess sand and grit will be deposited on the mats instead of your carpeting.

Vacuum upholstery and carpeting often, and if possible, use a rotating brush. The bristles help dislodge embedded particles from textile fibers.

Avoid using DIY carpet cleaning machines. The wrong type or the wrong amount of cleaning solutions can result in residue on carpet fibers that will act like a dirt magnet. Improper cleaning methods can drive sand further down into the carpet pile and backing.

Have your carpets professionally cleaned every six month to a year, adjusting the frequency according to the amount of traffic in and out of your home or business. Professional technicians use powerful and effective cleaning equipment and methods to remove sand from carpeting and achieve the best possible results.

This article is one of a series of articles written and published on behalf of SurpHaces PRO Partners.

Tips for Products Commonly Used on Carpet

Tips for Products Commonly Used on Carpet

There are many products on the market today that people commonly use on carpet, from deodorizers and powders to stain sprays, protectants, and antistatic treatments. Some of these products may adversely affect carpeting. Here are some tips for avoiding carpet damage or premature wear.

Powdered Carpet Deodorizers

The most common cause of carpet damage and premature wear is dirt and grit. Any kind of abrasive particles, such as those found in the ingredients of powdered carpet deodorizers, act like tiny shards of glass that break and sever carpet fibers. Although the majority of powdered deodorizers are vacuumed up, some of the powder residue will inevitably remain in your carpeting. That’s part of the reason why the scent stays put long after you vacuum. The perfumed grit is activated when it is jostled around by foot traffic, and although it masks the odor problem, it doesn’t resolve the problem at all — and it creates a new problem. So when you sprinkle that pleasant scent, remember that you are, in effect, sprinkling damage and premature wear all over your investment.

How to Deodorize Your Carpet

Carpet odors are caused by contaminants, such as pollen, dander, food crumbs, and the like, that are trapped in your carpet fibers and backing. Thoroughly vacuuming your carpets on a regular basis, even when the carpet does not look dirty, and having your carpets periodically professionally cleaned should help keep odors at bay. You may also consider that the source of odors is something other than the carpet. Try using a HEPA filter in your HVAC system and make sure your home is properly ventilated, leave shoes in a mudroom or outside, keep your pets clean, and investigate any other potential odor sources.

Baking Soda

Nahcolite is a mineral commonly known as baking soda. Sprinkling your carpet with baking soda is essentially the same thing as sprinkling your carpet with minerals or sharp little rock ingredients. The potential abrasive damage is comparable to that of powdered carpet deodorizers. Baking soda is popular for DIY cleaning, and rightly so, because it can be highly effective, but it is not ideal for regular use on carpets.

If you choose to use baking soda on your carpet, we recommend that you only use it mixed with water to spot clean a small area. Once you are finished, you will also need to clean the treated area to remove any residual mineral particles. Apply enough plain water to moisten the treated area (do not saturate), blot dry with paper towels or a white cloth, and repeat this process several times. Once the carpet is completely dry, vacuum the treated area thoroughly.

Pet Odor Treatments

Sometimes, even after thoroughly cleaning a pet accident, odors persist. The uric acid in pet urine binds tightly with absorbent substances like carpet fibers and backing, and in the worst cases, the padding. Foot traffic or any change in humidity can reactivate the odor. The best way to get rid of persistent pet odor is to have your carpet professionally cleaned. Ask your carpet cleaning technician to do a spot treatment in trouble areas. If a pet accident penetrates too deeply into carpet padding, the odor can only be removed if the padding is replaced.

Spot Cleaners

If you choose to use a spot cleaner for your carpet, be sure to select one that is appropriate for your type of carpet by comparing details from the carpet manufacturers information with the spot cleaner product label. Use the appropriate amount, because too little can be ineffective and too much can leave a film that attracts and traps dirt and contaminants. This extra layer of residue can be unsightly and cause premature wear.

Anti-Static Treatments

The ingredients in anti-static treatments on carpet fibers can act like dirt magnets. Use a humidifier instead.

Harsh Chemicals and Abrasive Cleaners

Any product not specifically designed for carpet cleaning and care can cause damage. If you are going to use a chemical or cleaning product not specifically designed for carpet cleaning, be aware that you are taking a risk. White vinegar, mild dish detergent, peroxide, and OxiClean™ may be appropriate in some circumstances, but always test the product in an inconspicuous area first.

Carpet care products can cause carpet damage or premature wear. Follow the tips in this article to help preserve the life of your investment. For more information on carpet care, download our free Carpet and Interior Textiles Care Guide, and we are always just a phone call away.

How to Get Dye Stains Out of Carpet

Dye stain? No worries. Dyes can be removed from carpet.

Dyes are found in many foods, drinks, and other items, such as magic markers, health and beauty products, cleaning solutions, and decorative items. When dyes end up on your carpet or upholstery, they can be difficult to remove if improper methods are employed. Here are our PRO tips for getting dye stains out.

Blot. Blot. Blot. Then Blot Even More.

Use a white cloth or paper towels to blot as much of the dye as you can. Follow this with putting a few drops of cold water directly onto the dye stain. The water will help dilute remaining dye. Continue with blotting, using a clean section of the cloth or towel each time. Do not rub! Just blot, drip a little water, and blot some more, over and over until no more of the stain is transferring to the cloth or towel.


Don’t forget to test: Of course, your stains don’t always cooperate by appearing in inconspicuous areas, but do keep in mind that it is always recommended that you first test any cleaning solution on a portion of carpet or upholstery that is out of the way, such as a closet or the under side of furniture. Do not use these methods on wool, leather, or silk carpeting or rugs.

The following methods are great for dyes and a host of other tough stains. You will likely need to repeat the process several times to completely remove the dye. Stain removal takes patience and persistence.

The Dish Soap and White Wine Vinegar Solution Method

  1. Pour two cups of warm water into a bowl. Stir in a tablespoon of white vinegar and another tablespoon of dishwashing liquid.
  2. Dip a sponge into the bowl and wring out well. Then begin applying the solution directly onto the dye stain. You should see immediate lifting of the stain, but continue blotting until the stain has lifted completely.
  3. Follow with blotting the area with clear water, then blotting dry with a clean white towel or paper towels.

Peroxide and Dish Detergent Solution Method

  1. Pour two cups of warm water into a bowl. Stir in half of a cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide and a tablespoon of dishwashing liquid.
  2. Dip a sponge into the bowl and wring out well. Then begin applying the solution directly onto the dye stain. You should see immediate lifting of the stain, but continue blotting until the stain has lifted completely.
  3. Follow with blotting the area with clear water, then blotting dry with a clean white towel or paper towels.

OxiClean™ Carpet & Area Rug Stain Remover

  1. Spray enough of the product to saturate the dye stain.
  2. Allow the product to dwell for 10 minutes.
  3. Blot the area dry with a clean white towel or paper towels.
  4. Follow with blotting the area with clear water, then blotting dry with a clean white towel or paper towels.

Let your carpet and upholstery cleaning PRO help: On your next scheduled cleaning, show your technician the area. Any remaining stain residue can be treated and cleaned.

This article is one of a series of articles written and published on behalf of SurpHaces PRO Partners.

Carpet Spot Removal Can Create New Spots

If you own carpeting, you are probably familiar with the idea that spots should be removed right away before they turn into permanent stains. Sometimes spot removal, especially if you are removing several spots at once, gives carpeting an inconsistent appearance. Here are the details about what causes this problem and what you can do about it in the future.

Too Clean

With successful spot removal, the soiling substance is removed, leaving the treated area clean and fresh. The problem is that if the surrounding carpet looks dull and dingy, you’ve simply exchanged one kind of spot for another, a dirty spot for a clean spot. Obviously, a clean spot is not a stain. Nevertheless, due to the noticeable difference between the clean area and the rest of the carpet, it might as well be. The solution is to have your carpet professionally cleaned. Dust, dirt, and contaminants that stubbornly cling to carpet fibers can be extracted with professional carpet cleaning, leaving the entire carpet clean and fresh. Note that you will also need to increase the frequency of vacuuming, because it is not always easy to see how dirty carpet really is.

Spot Remover

When inappropriate DIY cleaning methods or improper cleaning solutions are used for spot removal, carpet fibers may become discolored or bleached, causing an inconsistent appearance. With discoloration, professional cleaning may resolve the problem. However, don’t delay in scheduling services, because the substances causing discoloration can set into the carpet fibers permanently. With bleaching, professional cleaning will not likely help. The reason for this is that bleaching removes color from the carpet, and there is no way that professional cleaning will put the color back.

Aggressive Methods

Scrubbing spots too aggressively or using abrasive cleaners, scouring pads, or stiff brushes for spot removal can result in damage to carpet fibers. When carpet fibers are bent, frayed, or missing in the treated area, but the carpet fibers in the surrounding area are still in tact, there can be noticeable variation in the appearance of the carpet. Professional carpet cleaning will not resolve this problem, but it may help disguise the problem by lifting and freshening the carpet fibers in the damaged area.

Protective Treatments

If spot removal is frequently necessary, and your carpet is more than two or three years old, you may also consider having us apply a protective treatment. New carpets are usually treated with stain and soil resistors, but these wear off with time and use. Consider having a us re-apply the treatment after professional cleaning, because it can help make spots easier to remove and less likely to turn into stains.

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about spot removal or to schedule services after a spot removal mishap.

This article is one of a series of articles written and published on behalf of SurpHaces PRO Partners.