Carpet Cleaning 101 for Pet Owners

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It’s amazing how much a pet can give you just by simply existing. According to the Centers for Disease Control, owning a pet can help increase your fitness level, lower stress, help improve your health and generally make you happier. And, although not specifically mentioned by the CDC, any pet owner can add a few more contributions, like urine stains on the carpet, fur clinging to every surface and the occasional hairball (unless your pet is a fish, then all bets are off).

For owners of terrestrial animals, cleaning the carpet is going to be a necessity sooner rather than later. And doing it right means not having to do it over and over again (hopefully). Because animals tend to do their business where they’ve done it in the past, getting that particular smell out of the rug is an important art to learn if you intend to share your life with a cat or a dog.

First, About Carpets and Liquids

There’s a lot of very bad advice online about how to clean up your pet’s urine spots. You know the ones. You walk through the bedroom at night and — bam — there it is. Some random bloggers would have you put down a paper towel and then basically try to absorb the liquid by stomping it out. Unfortunately, that’s about the worst thing you can do.

Carpets are really absorbent, but much of that absorbency is down below, in the pad, which is covered up by the rug. So when you stomp on a liquid mess, what you’re really doing is spreading it further through the pad, creating an even wider puddle in a place where your flimsy paper towels can never go.

Unless you’re prepared to rip up the carpets and deal with the puddle, consider purchasing a tool that can extract fluid from rugs, like a handheld extractor, a floor cleaner with an extract-only mode or, in a pinch, a wet/dry vac (this one is harder to get smelling fresh and clean again). Any of these tools is far more effective than a paper towel — or even a whole roll.

When it comes to cleaning urine out of carpet, always follow the same procedure:

  1. Use an extractor to pull as much fluid as possible out of the carpet and pad. Remember that the small spot on top of the carpet may be hiding a lake of urine that’s locked in the pad. Keep extracting in a wide arc until nothing else comes out.
  2. Treat your carpet with a bio-enzymatic cleaner like Nature’s Miracle Urine Destroyer. Don’t use a carpet cleaner first or you may lock any stains in to the carpet permanently.
  3. If a spot remains, use a stain remover to help break it up. You’ll want to be sure the enzymes have finished doing their thing, though.

Of course, liquids aren’t the only gifts your pets will leave behind. When it’s a bit more solid, you’ll want to follow similar guidelines, except when you clean the solids, use a putty knife to avoid pushing the solids deeper into the carpet. If it’s any serious kind of solid, you’ll want to swap the bio-enzymatic cleaner for one that’s also oxygenated.

So Much Hair, Everywhere

You love your pet. You do. But he has so much hair and he’s just carelessly leaving it wherever it happens to fall. This is why it comes to you to clean up behind what may be the worst roommate there has ever been. Pet hair in carpets can require a lot of effort to keep cleaned up, but if you can’t choose between the pet or the carpet, give these tips a try:

  1. Wrap masking tape around an old paint roller attached to a broom handle. You’ve literally just built a giant lint roller, now go forth and roll all the hair off the surface of the carpet. You’ll still need to vacuum afterward, but you might not have to empty the bin as often.
  2. There’s a device called a carpet rake that is basically what you might imagine. Choose one with rubber bristles, like this one, then run it over the carpet collecting hair until you regret having purchased a carpet rake.
  3. Choosing a high powered, pet-focused vacuum with a HEPA filter is probably the best general purpose tool you can get for dealing with hair in carpet. You’ll need to vacuum frequently, as much as three times a week, to keep ahead of your favorite hairball.

Ultimately, many pet owners decide that they spend way too much time cleaning up after their pets instead of interacting with them and install hard flooring. Sure, the dog hair may start piling up in the corners and behind the doors, but those ten hours a week you could be spending with him rather than cleaning up after him are a pretty important part of his short life.

Keep the Carpets and the Pets…

Even if you become the master of carpet cleaning, you’ll want to have a professional come out at least once a year to give your rugs a good once-over. You can find the name of a random carpet cleaner online or in the Yellow Pages, but how do you know if you can trust them? Those coupons they sent don’t say a thing about their skill level.

I, however, can tell you a lot. For example, if I have recommended a carpet cleaning company, you can be sure that it’s one to be trusted. I have staked my reputation on my recommendation, and I use the place ourselves. I believe that recommendations mean a lot more than reviews — I stake my reputation on it every day!