A Simple But Effective Way To Clean Pet Stains From Carpet

I’ve been a cat owner for 17 years, and over that time you get used to cats getting sick, and when they do, it always seems to be right in the middle of the floor.  For years, I’ve tried various ways to clean up the mess, but more often than not, I’d still be left with a stain.  The worst was in my condo when I got new carpet that looked darker on the sample sheet than it was when they installed it.  Nearly white carpet simply doesn’t last too long with cats.

But our house has beige carpet.  It’s not in the best of shape, as it’s the original carpet that was put in 1999 when the house was built, but the previous owners actually took good care of it and we have tried to keep it up as well.

We’ve had it cleaned several times since we moved in, and I’ve used different carpet cleaning outfits that did an OK job, but none that really wowed me…that is until this past winter when I found a one-man operation who did an absolutely fantastic job!  His price was about half of what I was getting for full service (cleaning, ScotchGuard), and he spent twice as long in my house getting things taken care of.  As I watched him work, I noted that he worked on our carpets as if they were his very own.  My wife even observed that there were areas which had spots since we moved in which were now clean.

Since stains that go down into the padding tend to re-appear over time, I don’t expect miracles, but it was still nice to see our carpet look better than when we moved in, which is a pretty big feat since we had put five and a half years of wear, and quite a few kitty messes along the way.

As we talked about the cats and their effects on the carpet, he gave me some tips.

First, he told me that the way we had been cleaning up was wrong.  Our method had been to use a vinegar and water mix that I sprayed on, blotted off, and repeated as necessary until the mess was away.

What was wrong with this?  Well, he brought me up to a room that he was cleaning and as he was cleaning, he showed me every spot that I had cleaned with the vinegar-water mix as he could tell when the steam cleaner was pulling vinegar out of the carpet.

The problem, he said, when you use vinegar or other cleaners, is that they don’t come out of the carpet.  After they get done cleaning and stick around, the problem is that they then attract dirt, so in the end those clean areas will end up becoming dirty faster.  Many times when I saw stains where cats had gotten sick, it wasn’t stained from the cat mess, but stained from dirt attracted after the stain was cleaned.

Technically, he said, I could keep doing that and just add in some steps to make sure that the vinegar was rinsed out, but he then pointed out that his tried and true method did that anyways, and essentially skipped the entire use of vinegar.

What You Need

Paper towel or rags
A spoon
A large pitcher
A shop vac

How To Clean Up The Pet Mess

  1. Take your rag or paper towel, and get rid of as much ‘solid’ mess as you can.  Don’t rub it in, but try to soak it in.
  2. If you can’t get the solid mess up this way, you can use your spoon to basically pick it up.  (Wash the spoon, and you probably want to simply dedicate a spoon for this cause as I’m sure it would gross people out to know that a regular spoon was used for this, even if it was washed afterward).
  3. Once the solid mess is gone, fill up your water pitcher.  Use water from the cold water tap as warm or hot water will set the stain.
  4. Pour the water all over the stain.  Yes, you will feel odd dumping two or three cups over such a small area, but that’s OK.
  5. Let it soak in for a couple of minutes.
  6. Use your shop vac to suck up the water.   Work your way from the outside in, going in circles.  You want to be working the worst part of the mess at the very end. Otherwise, you could end up spreading the stain outward if you do it in reverse.
  7. After the first pass, you might have to repeat a time or two.  I usually do three passes, using slightly less water each time.
  8. Empty your shop vac

The strong suction of the shop vac will pull up most of the water so even though you’re dumping a lot water in, you’re not leaving it in long enough for it to soak through the padding.  By soaking it, you’re loosening the mess from the fibers, which coupled with the strong suction that a shop vac offers, allows it to pull up.

So far, since we’ve had the carpets cleaned a few months ago, I’ve had to use this method 4-6 times, and honestly, I can’t find the stains.

The quicker you address the stains, the better likelihood you’ll have of them not setting, but honestly, I had one small stain that sat there for at least a week (I pulled up the ‘physical evidence’ but the stain itself was still there), and I was worried that I’d waited too long, but it came up just fine.

This is great information and I’ll use it for every pet stain I have moving forward.  I only wish I had known about this for the first 16+ years of being a cat owner!

Readers, what method(s) have you used to clean up stains from pets?