Why Are Pet Stains So Challenging?
April 04, 2018
Posted by D. A. Burns
It's true that pets are like children. They love unconditionally, bring endless hours of joy and sometimes have unavoidable accidents. About those accidents ... the spots left behind can be difficult to remove, and if left untreated, can turn into permanent stains.
OK, so why are pet stains so challenging?
- Biological matter will differ by pet biology and diet.
- Textile fibers vary in their resistance to staining, and some fibers are more sensitive to staining than others.
- Bodily fluids are typically warm and acidic when they contact carpet and rug fibers. With some exceptions, fibers are dyed using heated, acidic dyes, so the pet accident works similarly as the dyeing process in sending color into the fiber. In addition, pet foods and medications may have added dyes, adding color to urine or vomit.
- Bodily fluids contain bacteria, and if an animal deposit is left untreated the bacteria will digest food sources in the fluids. The bacteria will then give off ammonia as waste, which eventually changes the acidic stain to an alkaline stain. Alkalines are the chemical opposites of acids, so they allow those acid-set dyes to “lose their grip” on the textile fibers, often resulting in the migration (bleeding) of the fiber dye into adjacent areas of the carpet or fabric.
- If a pet urinates in the same area multiple times, uric acid salts can build up and make removal even more difficult.
What can you do to prevent permanent staining? ACT FAST!
Quickly blotting up as much liquid as possible is important. Follow liquid removal with an application of a mild detergent, a rinse with water, another blotting of the rinse and you may prevent a permanent stain. A mild carpet spotter like D. A. Burns’ Spot Off Carpet Spotter is the simplest solution, but in a pet-pinch you can try a ½ teaspoon of liquid dishwashing detergent and a cup or two of cool water. Apply to the affected area and blot until no “bio” color or odor remains. (If you happen to have a household wet-vac or mini-carpet cleaner, you can rinse the area even more effectively.)
Refresh the stain protectant coating periodically. Stain protectants make every spot easier to remove and will lessen the impact of an unnoticed spill. Almost all carpeting, and many upholstery fabrics, are treated with a stain protectant at the point of manufacture, and that factory applied protectant will wear away with use.
Treat as above, with a note of caution: Many rugs are designed for their appearance appeal, with resistance to damage from spills or wear a low priority. Your rug may contain water sensitive dyes, or rayon and silk fibers, that may be permanently altered when a spill or accident occurs. Look for the manufacturer’s care recommendation or call D. A. Burns for help.
With the exception of fabrics made for outdoor or commercial use, there are few upholstery fabrics that can be safely spot cleaned. We recommend blotting the spill as much as possible, and calling D. A. Burns for advice.
Some of the toughest pet accidents to treat are the ones you don’t see (or smell) until much later. At times, pets may hide bad behavior, perhaps using a closet or going behind furniture. Since this may only be discovered when an odor begins, the challenge of stain removal is greater.
If an odor is present, you may want to begin by saturating the area with one of the widely available enzyme-based pet stain removal products. These work in a manner similar to what caused the smell in the first place, with enzymes digesting the source of the odor. Follow the instructions on the product. (NOTE: make sure the product is safe for the textile fiber. Some solutions can damage wool and silk fibers.)
Some residual discoloration may be improved with repeated application of household (3%) hydrogen peroxide.
Overlooked animal accidents are not always unsalvageable, but if color and/or odor remain, the area may need professional intervention. Whatever the situation, we at D.A. Burns are happy to advise you on possible solutions. With decades of experience tackling the most complex cleaning issues imaginable, chances are we’ve confronted the challenge you’re facing.
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Though we wish our pets didn’t make messes, the good news is that there are solutions that can restore damaged carpets and rugs to their original glory. At D. A. Burns, we do our best to help deliver those solutions. Contact us today for a complimentary consultation.