Cleaning Pet Messes

The time has come to talk about something gross. Something that can be embarrassing. Something that can be a major headache.

Pet messes.

Our beloved Molly is a fully-fledged member of our family — she’s just the furrier, barkier fourth child. And, just like all of her furless siblings, she has had her fair share of accidents. I was inspired to write this post by a recent incident where someone (OK, OK, fine, it was me) fed Molly too soon after she had been out in the yard running and playing with the kids. Soon after, we were all treated to an unfortunate reappearance of her dinner on the living room carpet.

Gross, right? But if you’ve got pets, you know it happens. And you know that it can stain your carpets and, in the case of urine, prompt your dog and any furry company you may entertain to re-mark the spot if not cleaned properly.

When Steve and I decided to adopt Molly, I knew the messes were coming, and I knew I didn’t want to be mad at her every time it happened. There are lots of enzyme cleaners on the market specifically made to break down pet stains and odors, but my friend showed me this super easy method, and it has never let me down. Since it uses common household products, I’m always armed against Molly messes. It is easy not to get mad at her when the inevitable happens because I have this trick up my sleeve.

Your arsenal:
Baking soda, distilled white vinegar, paper towels, heavy books

That’s right! Baking soda and vinegar, not just for volcanoes anymore!

  1. If necessary, clean up solids. For this, I recommend the tried-and-true hand-in-a-plastic-bag method.
  2. Sop up as much liquid as possible. Layer paper towels, or towels, over the spot and apply pressure by standing on the towels for a few minutes or putting some of your old college textbooks to good use. If you use the books, put them in a plastic bag first to protect them from any liquid. Cycle out for fresh towels as liquid is absorbed. If you use regular towels, immediately wash them in hot water to remove your dog’s scent.
  3. After blotting up as much as possible, liberally sprinkle baking soda over the whole area. And I do mean liberally — there’s a reason I buy the giant bag! It will not only draw the remaining liquid out of the carpet but also break down odors.
  4. After about 10 minutes, clean up the baking soda. To avoid clogging your vacuum, scoop most of the baking soda into the trash before vacuuming up the rest. You may notice that is has clumped together. That’s the moisture that it drew out of your carpet!
  5. Mix two cups of white distilled vinegar with two cups of lukewarm water in a spray bottle and spray over the area. Don’t worry, the vinegar smell will dissipate. Let that sit for another five minutes before blotting with a soft cloth.
    Variation: Spray the vinegar mixture directly onto the baking soda. Aside from providing some entertainment for the kids (and for you, of course!) the fun volcano action will actually help to break down the stain, especially if it’s a mess that you don’t discover right away.

This formula has never let me down. It even works great on other spills and messes. You’ll be amazed at how much liquid the baking soda sucks out of your carpet!

As always, please test new cleaning methods on an inconspicuous spot on your carpet or fabric before using them to clean a mess. Though unlikely, they may stain or discolor your carpet or fabric.

So what do you think, fellow clean geeks? What do you use to clean up after your furry friends?