Pets and Carpets

Many of the carpets we clean have experienced pet accidents.  The primary culprit is urine.  So if your carpet has suffered a similar fate, rest assured we have a lot of experience in removing it.

Here’s a blow by blow description of why and how we do it.

Once urine leaves the body the pH changes from acid to alkaline. It dries as a crystal, somewhat like sugar.  Our standard carpet cleaning agents are alkaline. An alkaline cleaning agent won’t work on crystallized alkaline contamination. (If you have tried to remove the spot with a spotting agent and it didn’t work – that could be the reason) So, we first have to reverse the pH of the urine so it will release from the fiber.

We do this by applying an acidic solution that re-liquefies the urine.  Then, depending on the severity of the contamination, we apply an enzyme based cleaning agent. This is followed by hot water extraction. If a discoloration remains we can then treat the area with a product made specifically for organic stains. If we’re dealing with a small spot or two, we typically don’t charge extra for this service.

If the area involved is just the result of an accident this approach is successful in removing the contamination. And it is usually successful in removing the discoloration as well. I have found however, that if the pet has been on medication, we can’t always get rid of the discoloration. Sometimes if the owner has used a strong over-the-counter product before we arrived in an attempt to do it themselves it can also cause a discoloration that we can’t remove.

Unfortunately sometimes the spot is the result of the pet revisiting the same location multiple times.  And even though the fibers and primary backing of most modern carpets are synthetic (man-made) and don’t absorb liquid, the foundation of the carpet and the pad are absorbent. If, through repeated incidents, the contamination has made its way down into the foundation and the carpet, the cleaning approach I’ve described above won’t work to remove it all. And as the carpet dries after we clean it the urine will wick up onto the surface fibers that have just been cleaned. The discoloration and odor may return.

All we can do at that point is retreat the area.

If you know the spot is the result of repeated incidents, its best to let us know before we start because we don’t want to leave you unhappy. In a case like this, the treatment needs to be much more extensive. The carpet needs to be pulled back, and the underside treated as well as the top. Usually the pad needs to be replaced and sometimes the wood or concrete floor needs to be cleaned and sealed as well before the carpet is re-stretched.  We don’t do that but can give you the name of a competitor in the Upper Valley that does.


Often we have to use a cleaning agent that breaks up food grease and sometimes we use an activated enzyme digester. But since vomit is confined to the surface of the fibers it’s easy for us to get at all of it.

However, the discoloration does not always come out. There are two possible culprits. Stomach acid is very aggressive. So much so that it sometimes bleaches the color out of the carpet.  And pet food often has dye in it. When you have aggressive digestive juices on the carpet and a dye, it’s possible for the dye to be transferred to the carpet. And dye is just that. Made to impart color.


This usually comes out entirely. Again it’s on the surface of the carpet and we have the agents that will clean it up. I would only add the same word of caution about food dye that I mentioned above.