3 Dog Tip: Cleaning Tips
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Abandoned Dogs -- Learning from One Sweet Lost Girl

By Robin Tierney

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Key Principles
Pet Hair
More Cleaning Tips
Cleaning Supplies
Related Articles

Key Clean-up Principles

* The faster you clean up the mess, the easier it will be...and the less likely stains will set.

* You need to clean as well as deodorize and remove the odor. That includes what you can't smell...remember that animals have a much greater sense of smell. If animals can detect a prior pet mess or marking, they may try to mark over it.

* Use nontoxic products that are specifically made for pet messes and pet odors. They are typically more effective, since they organically break down waste while neutralizing odors, and they are safer for homes with animals. But always check the label to be sure.

* There are nontoxic, inexpensive cleaning solutions you can make at home using standard ingredients such as baking soda, white vinegar and club soda.

* Treat stains properly to avoid permanent damage to carpets and upholstery.


It is important to remember that you must eliminate all odor. Even if you cannot smell it, companion animals can, and they will likely try to pee on or mark over the same area. They do that out of instinct, not spite. Follow these clean-up steps for wet or dried urine spots.

* Soak up urine with a white towel or paper towels. Blot, don't rub. Rubbing can damage carpet fibers. Clean starting with an area sufficiently outside of the stain ring, moving inward.

* Rinse the area with water to dilute the urine.

* Blot again using clean towels.

* Optional but reportedly very effective: rinse the area with club soda, then blot up.

* Absorb the remaining liquid with towels - stand on the towels or place heavy books over them. Be patient; it may take 6 hours to dry. To hasten the process, extract moisture using a wet/dry vacuum. If you let the carpet or upholstery stay damp, trapped moisture can lead to mildew and eventual crumbling.

* Apply a cleaner/neutralizer formulated for pet messes such as Simple Solution. See suggested products below. Some contain nontoxic enzymes or safe bacteria that digest the pet mess residue.

* If stains remain, try another commercial stain remover formulated for pet stains. However, do not use such products before applying enzymatic cleaners. Proper sequence is important.

* Do not use ammonia, since ammonia smells somewhat like urine to animals.

* Alternate cleaning/deodorizing method: cover pet accidents with baking soda, let it stand for at least two hours, then vacuum. Proceed with other steps above as needed.

Keep in mind...

* Liquid messes seep downward and outward so be sure to also clean the area surrounding the visible stain.

* If you are able to pull up the carpet, clean the carpet pad beneath the affected area.

* If spot cleaning results in the surrounding area looking dingy, use a steam vac to clean the carpet.

* If a stain reappears on the surface of the carpet a few days later, dilute the stain with water and clean again. Steam-cleaning can be a last resort.

* Commercial cleaners usually advise that you test a carpet's color fastness before applying a product to clean a spot. Do this by applying a small amount on a hidden part of the carpet, then wait 24 hours to see if the carpet has changed color. Of course, you don't want to delay cleaning up urine, feces, vomit or other organic stain - so test products right after you buy them, instead of waiting until you actually need to use them.


Scoop up solid matter, then blot up moisture with paper towels. Vacuum up loose bits. Then follow the procedure for urine removal above.


* The acid in vomit can stain fast, so immediately scoop up solid particles.
* Add a bit of water to help loosen stuck particles.
* Then coat the area with baking soda or salt.
* Let it dry, then vacuum.
* Repeat the baking soda and vacuum step.
* Next, pour club soda on the area, and blot with paper towels.
* If the area remains discolored, try Oxy Clean or a nontoxic cleaner/stain remover formulated for pet stains. Remember to give cleaners adequate time to digest stains.

* An alternate treatment: some folks successfully treat yellow vomit by spraying Lysol disinfectant on the rug, then rubbing the residue off with clean towels.

* Regular vomiting of yellow bile can indicate impacted anal glands. This can be very uncomfortable for your dog. Your vet can gently express the dog's anal sacs to relieve the pressure.

* In some dogs, vomiting results from lack of any food in the stomach. One solution is to give the dog a small biscuit or two before bedtime; also, feed the dog's first meal in the morning.

* Also see Urine "keep in mind" tips.

Pet Hair

* If your animal has favorite sleeping spots, place an easy-to-wash soft towel or blanket there to help absorb skin odors and catch the fur.

* Save those old rubber gloves. They are great for wiping dog and cat hair off furniture and clothes.

* Mix one part fabric softener to three parts water, put in spray bottle and spray on carpets and furniture. Wait two to three hours, then vacuum up fur.

* Spray upholstery with static guard then vacuum.

* Use a Bounce or other fabric softener sheet for picking up pet hair off furniture or clothing. But do not let your animals get ahold of these products; they can be dangerous.

* Roll some packing tape around your hand to remove fur from furniture, pillows and other surfaces.

* Brush your animal daily and you will have much less fur to clean up.

* Teach your dog or cat to tolerate the vacuum, and then work on acclimating them to being vacuumed themselves once a week. Some pets actually enjoy the sensation.


* Many people have success with the following approach. Spread a thin layer of boric acid, borax or diatomaceous earth on carpets, then let stand for one day and vacuum. The powders kill fleas and help dry up their eggs.

* Or salt your carpets when winter ends, before flea season. Let the salt stay on 10 minutes, then vacuum up.

* Another suggestion: sprinkle dried, crumbled peppermint over rugs, then vacuum.

* Use Frontline, Advantage or other modern flea repellants on your animal during flea and tick seasons. For other remedies, including holistic approaches, see www.paw-rescue.org/PAW/PETTIPS/DogTip_InsectPrevention.php


* For an inexpensive odor remover, mix baking soda in water and saturate the area. Let stand a few minutes, then blot with paper towels and allow to air dry.

* Smelly vacuum cleaner? Some folks suggest placing a fragrant dryer sheet inside the vacuum near the exhaust vent.

* Also see More Cleaning Tips below.


For fresh stains, try soaking with cold water. Avoid warm or hot water, which can set the stain. It can also help to rub an ice cube over the stain, then rinse with cold water and clean or launder.

Hydrogen peroxide is one of the best ways to remove blood stains. Apply the hydrogen peroxide to the stained area, letting it bubble. Repeat this until stain is gone. Following by dabbing the area with water, then dry. Or if clothing, launder it. Keep in mind that hydrogen peroxide has a limited shelf life; you may need to replace your bottle annually.

Pour some milk over the blood stain to loosen the blood, then blot it up.

Mix corn starch and water into a paste, then apply it to the stained rug or fabric. Rinse with cool water and blot dry. Afterwards, use a brush or vacuum to remove the remaining corn starch.

Mix meat tenderizing crystals with cold water, then apply this paste to the area. Let stand for an hour, then rinse in cool water.

Rubbing with ammonia sometimes works, but remember that ammonia smells somewhat like urine to animals, so your pet may try to mark on the spot.

More Cleaning Tips

In addition to some of the tips in the Urine section, which also apply to vomit and other messes:

* Never punish your dog or cat for having an accident. Dogs do not potty indoors out of "spite." If you catch a pup or dog in the act of pottying indoors, state firmly "Nah-ah-ah!", scoop him up, put on his leash and/or carry him outside to an approved potty spot. And if you do not catch him "in the act," and discover the mess after the fact, just clean it up. Scolding doesn't work; in addition, dogs don't remember what they did even a minute ago.

* Do not let your dog watch you clean up the mess, since some dogs can get the mistaken idea that "person cleaning up my mess" is a game. Put her in another room (that is, after you have given her a chance to finish her potty business if she might need to finish "going").

* If your dog or cat suddenly have potty accidents, see the vet. The problem could be a treatable bladder infection, worms or other easy-to-treat condition.

* If your pup or kitten is not yet housetrained, watch him closely when you are home, and keep him in a safe, confined areas when you are not there to supervise. See the articles on the PAW website, including the Dog Tips index. Get a recommended book to guide you in effective, humane housetraining.

* Neuter and spay your pets to reduce and even eliminate unwanted marking, spraying and blood during estrus (heat) cycles.

* Have an incontinent dog? Simple Solution now makes a washable Diaper Garment designed for puppies, incontinent dogs and females in season. It has adjustable velcro closures and is made of comfortable cotton. It can be used with or without absorbent liners.

* Low on paper towels? Newspapers are very absorbent. They will stain your carpet, so start with a couple of layers of white paper towels, then place the newspapers over the towels, and stand on them (or apply a level, heavy weight such as big books) to absorb liquid during the cleaning process.

* Baby diapers are great for absorbing pet mess. Over time, diapers can be cheaper than paper towels.

* Standard white vinegar mixed half and half with water gives you a great, inexpensive, multi-purpose, nontoxic deodorizer and cleaner.

* Yet another homemade formula for cleaning urine and other organic messes: mix equal parts water and white vinegar with a couple squirts of gentle dishwashing soap.

* Foaming shave cream can remove many pet stains. Spray on, gently rub in, allow to dry, then vacuum.

* A dab of toothpaste gets out some stains on fabric and can also minimize the appearance of rings and stains on wood furniture and floors.

* Try Windex for kitty stains on rugs and fabric.

* Place a small towel or pad under water and food bowls to absorb drips and dribbles. Launder the towel weekly.

* Plastic bowls absorb germs and get smelly. Instead, use stainless steel or coated ceramic bowls.

* Clean cat litter boxes frequently. Change the litter and wash the box. Try a covered box if your cat sprays litter all over.

Cleaning Supplies

* Paper towels and/or old cloth towels
* Spatula, cardboard or sturdy disposable (paper or plastic plates). Useful for scooping and scraping up as much solid matter as possible before cleaning and treating.
* Baking soda or salt
* Club soda
* Pet odor cleaner/neutralizer
* Stain remover formulated for pet stains
* Rug and upholstery cleaner
* Hydrogen peroxide (3 percent, and make sure it is fresh)
* Bucket of water and mitt, towel or washcloth by the door. Clean wet and muddy paws, salt and sand.
* Recommended: small steam-vac. Some folks substitute their shop-vac.

Note: Since animals and humans can have reactions to most any commercial product, carefully read labels before using any product. Keep in mind that a crawling child or a pet could pick up residue off a floor, then ingest it when licking hands or paws.

Many people are reducing their use of commercial cleaning products. Instead, they use commonly available, simple ingredients often recommended in Hints from Heloise, including water, baking soda, white vinegar, lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide, club soda and cornstarch. Properly used and combined, these products can clean just about anything. In addition, the natural cleaning alternatives as well as pet mess-specific products such as Simple Solution typically work quite effectively for a wide range of cleaning needs. Some folks also keep ammonia and bleach in their arsenal. Never mix ammonia and bleach, since that combination is dangerously toxic.

Widely available products:

Oxy-Clean Simple Solution
Nature's Miracle
Odor Ban

Some new and novel products:


Planet Urine

Petastic Pet Laundry Detergent

Parvo Disinfectant

Sea-Yu Petrotech odor eliminator

Pet Fresh Hair Release from Arm and Hammer

And more good products:


* Lint Cards are nifty, inexpensive personal wallet-sized cards that remove lint. www.impresimage.com

* Electrostatic dusting cloths work well for picking up fur.

More Info:

Marking Behavior and Urination Indoors

Housetraining Puppies and Dogs

Crate Training

Alternatives to Toxic Cleaning, Household and Yard Products

Flea Treatment and Flea and Tick Prevention

For more free information and guidance on behavioral, training, health and other pet-related issues, see the index of Tipsheets at http://www.paw-rescue.org/PAW/dog_tips.html

For more Dog Tips and other information about pet care, adoption and the work PAW does,
visit our website at: www.paw-rescue.org

For more of Robin's Dog Tips, see the index at:  www.paw-rescue.org/PAW/dog_tips.php

Partnership for Animal Welfare
P.O. Box 1074, Greenbelt, MD 20768

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Last Updated: July 24, 2016 (LET) PawSupport