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10 Carpet Cleaning Tips for Pet Owners

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

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Family Handyman

Carpet Cleaning Tips for Pet Owners: Wet Messes

Our first carpet cleaning tip for pet owners is actually a tool: a handheld extractor. 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. It makes getting stains out of carpet much easier.

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Paper TowelsMediaProduction/Getty Images

Don’t Stomp on Paper Towels

Paper towels blot up the surface liquid but still leave a lot in the carpet. And stomping on those paper towels only makes it worse. That forces the liquid deeper into the carpet 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.

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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.

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Use a Carpet Stain Remover

If the stain remains after cleaning reach for a carpet stain remover. An enzymatic stain remover like Rocco & Roxie Stain & Odor Eliminator works best for pet stains. If there’s no success with that you can always try to cut out the chunk and replace it.

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Steam cleanjchizhe/Getty Images

Avoid Steam Cleaning

Steam cleaning will just further set the stains. The heat bonds the stain and the odor to the carpet.

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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. Getting the mess off the carpet first helps cleaners work.

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Rags Force Solids Into the 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 Pet Stain Cleaner

For all solid messes, saturate the stain with an oxygenated pet stain 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.

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vinegar baking soda cleaning suppliesShutterstock/JPC-PROD

Avoid the Temptation of a Home Remedy

Homemade cleaners 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.

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Clean Cat Stain On Carpet krblokhin/Getty Images

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.

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