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10 Carpet Cleaning Tips All Pet Owners Need to Know

Pet messes are inevitable, but you can still keep your carpet looking like new with these expert cleaning tips.

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Family Handyman

Clean Up Wet Messes

Buy a handheld extractor to suck liquids from the carpet. It works much better than trying to absorb a mess with paper towels or rags. An extractor is made for this task and, unlike a shop vacuum, is easy to clean. See how to battle other stains like red wine and tomato sauce.

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Don’t Stomp on Paper Towels

Using paper towels to blot up urine and vomit soaks up the surface liquid but still leaves a lot in the carpet. And stomping on those paper towels only makes it worse. That forces the liquid deeper into the padding and then into the subflooring. Instead, invest in a handheld carpet extractor. Don’t use a shop vacuum—the smell will linger in the filter and it’s much harder to clean than a small extractor. Hit the carpet as soon as possible and vacuum like there’s no tomorrow. Follow these tips to maintain a long-lasting carpet.

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Find a Bio-Enzymatic Cleaner

Then to finish cleaning up a urine stain, fresh or dried, use a urine-specific bio-enzymatic cleaner (one choice is Nature’s Miracle Urine Destroyer; about $15 per quart from a pet store). It neutralizes the urea and uric acid and eliminates proteins and starches. Ordinary carpet cleaners can’t do that. In fact, using a carpet cleaner before a bio-enzymatic cleaner can set the stain permanently. Liquid messes spread as they’re absorbed into the carpet, so always treat a larger area than the original stain.

Photo: Via Amazon

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Use a Carpet Stain Remover

If the stain remains after cleaning reach for a carpet stain remover. If there’s no success with that you can always try to cut out the chunk and replace it.

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cleaning carpet

Avoid Steam Cleaning

Steam cleaning will just further set the stains. The heat bonds the stain and the odor to the carpet. See how to get wax out of carpet, too.

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Use a Putty Knife for Solids

Sink the edge of the putty knife into the carpet at the edge of the mess. Then push it forward to scrape the solid waste up and into the dustpan.

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Rags, Paper Towels Force Solids into Carpet

Scooping up the solids with paper towels or rags can actually force them into the carpet. Instead, use a putty knife and dustpan to scrape them up.

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Find an Oxygenated Bio-Enzymatic Cleaner

For all solid messes, saturate the stain with an oxygenated bio-enzymatic cleaner. Let it sit for 45 minutes to separate additional solids from the carpet fibers. Then clean up those solids. Bio-enzymatic cleaners take a long time to work. Just let the treated area air-dry. Then vacuum to raise the nap. Tackle other carpet issues like working wrinkles out of it.

Photo: Via Amazon

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vinegar baking soda cleaning suppliesShutterstock/JPC-PROD

Avoid the Temptation of a Home Remedy

Home remedies that use vinegar and baking soda simply mask the odor for a short time and don’t eliminate the cause. Instead, buy a product made for your particular type of pet mess. Here’s how to make some home cleaners that really work.

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limes citrus enzyme cleanserswasanajai/Shutterstock

Enzymes, Enzymes, Enzymes

Spend more to get a product with enzymes. These products are good for small surface stains. But if you’re dealing with a large stain, one that has soaked deep into the carpet, or one that has already dried, spend more yet and use a product with bacteria, enzymes and an oxygen booster. Enzyme cleaners are just one tool to clean without chemicals, check out some others.

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by The Family Handyman editors, who aim to highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners. We frequently receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We welcome your feedback. Have something you think we should know about? Contact us, here.

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