Photo of Dog On CarpetIf you have pets, you will eventually have to deal with an accident.

Urine stains and odors are some of the most difficult household messes to clean up, but most items soiled by a pet accident are still salvageable.

Pet messes are easiest to clean up when wet, but most urine stains can still be removed once dry.

If you find yourself dealing with a stubborn urine stain, it’s important to act as quickly as possible, but do not panic and clean the item improperly.

Using the wrong product or method for cleaning pet urine can set the stain and make it more difficult to remove its odor.

Your first instinct might be to use a strong chemical such as ammonia or vinegar.

While these cleaners are great for removing odors, they should never be used on pet stains.

Their strong chemical odors actually encourage the pet to continue to urinate in that area.

Never try to steam clean an item that has been soiled with pet urine.

Steam cleaning causes the protein in pet waste to bond with any man-made materials, permanently setting both the stain and the odor into the fibers.

Instead, refer to the following guide below to eliminate the mess and its accompanying odor.

When you’re done with this article, you may want to refer to our post on how to make your home pet friendly and safe to ensure that you have all of your bases covered.

If the Soiled Stain is Machine Washable

First, try washing it by itself on the heaviest cycle the item will tolerate with your regular washing detergent plus a one-pound box of baking soda. Allow it to air dry if possible.

If you can still smell or see urine afterward, you can try washing it again with an enzymatic cleaner. These products are a bit pricey in the store, but are great for breaking down pet odors. Here’s how to make your own enzyme cleaner on

If your pet has a tendency to soil the sheets or blankets on your bed, you can try covering it with a vinyl, flannel-backed tablecloth until you’ve retrained him. Vinyl tablecloths are inexpensive, machine-washable, and will keep the urine from soaking through to your bedding. Most pets will also find them very unappealing to potty on.

If the Stain is On Carpet or Upholstery

If the stain is still wet, take the following steps:

  1. Place a generous pile of paper towels on the wet spot, with a layer of thick newspaper on top of them. If the stain is on an item where the area underneath is accessible, put newspaper under it as well. Stand on top of the newspapers for around a minute, then remove and replace both the towels and the newspapers. Repeat this step until the area is as dry as you can get it.
  2. Put the soiled paper towels in the area your pet is supposed to potty in. This will help her understand where her urine is supposed to go.
  3. Using clean, cool water, rinse the area thoroughly using a bowl of water. Blot it dry with a towel, but don’t rub. If the stain is very large or severe, you can repeat this step several times.

If the stain has already set, it will be more difficult to remove:

  1. If you don’t own a carpet cleaner, you might need to rent one. If you anticipate cleaning up more of these types of messes in the future, you might want to invest in a small carpet or upholstery cleaner designed for pet spots.
  2. Once the area is clean, use a quality odor neutralizer designed for pets. These products are readily available at pet stores, as well as in the pet section of some grocery stores. If you want to make your own spray at home, follow this guide on
  3. If you can still spot the stain after the area has dried completely, you can use a regular carpet stain remover to remove it.

Sometimes pet urine soaks into the padding underneath carpets and cannot be removed. In cases like this, the carpet and padding will need to be replaced.

If Pet Stains Damage Paint or Wood

The acid in urine reacts with some paints and varnishes, causing discoloration. If this happens, the area will need to be sanded and refinished. Using a pet-safe product to refinish can save you from needing to do it again.

Certain washable paints and wallpapers can be cleaned with an enzymatic cleaner, such as Rocco & Roxie or Nature’s Miracle.

If You Can’t Find the Soiled Area

Some pet stains dry invisibly and are difficult to locate. To find these:

  1. Follow your nose to the general area of the mess.
  2. Examine the suspected area closely. You might not be able to see the stain but you could feel it.
  3. A black light is a great tool to use to find soiled areas. If you have one, darken the room and use it to locate the mess. When you find it, outline the area with chalk or baby powder so that you can return to it later.

An Ounce of Prevention

The best way to clean up pet messes is to prevent them from happening.

After you clean up the area, do what you can to make it as unattractive as possible to your pet, such as by covering it with aluminum foil.

As long as your pet can smell their scent in the area, they will continue to soil it because the odor makes them think that it is an acceptable potty area.

A trained pet that begins having frequent accidents should be checked out by a veterinarian.

If no medical cause is found for the behavior, you can begin using positive reinforcement to retrain your pet to eliminate in the proper spot.

Additionally, if you find that your home is also becoming contaminated with pet dander and hair, you can always use an air purifier to get rid of it quickly and easily.

This simple device works to recirculate clean air inside a room by collecting the microscopic dander particles and pet fur.

Take a look at our best air purifier for pets list. If anyone in your home has breathing problems or allergic reactions to cats or dogs, an air purifier is a great investment for better health.