Technical Bulletin: Pet Urine and Carpet

Pet Urine and Carpet Technical Bulletin

Owners of even the best-trained pets will occasionally encounter pet urine accidents and leave urine stains on carpet. Often, the urine is not discovered until long after the accident. The types of damage from pet urine can be diverse and are dependent upon the makeup of the urine. Urine content will change over the pet’s life because of the pet’s diet, medications, age, health, sex, and reproductive cycles. Because of these variations, some urine stains may not be removable.

To treat urine spot damaged areas, blot damp areas as soon as the urine is detected with plain white paper toweling. Apply a solution of 1/4 teaspoon of a liquid dishwashing detergent (nonbleach and non-lanolin) with one cup of lukewarm water, by saturating paper towels and blotting. Do not use automatic dishwashing detergent or laundry detergent. Then, absorb the moisture with a paper towel, rinse with warm water and repeat the application of detergent. Continue rinsing and blotting with the detergent solution and water as long as there is a transfer to the toweling or improvement in the spot. Follow the detergent application with a solution of one cup white vinegar to two cups water and blot dry. Apply a half-inch layer of paper towels to the affected area and weight down with a flat, heavy, non-fading object. Continue to change the paper towels frequently until the carpet is completely dry.

Urine can affect the dyes used in carpet, although not all occurrences will result in a permanent stain. Success is dependent upon the content of the urine, the dyes, and any treatments applied to the carpet during manufacturing, the finish used, and the time elapsed after the deposit. Some urine spots may be immediately noticeable, while others may take weeks or months for a reaction. The dyes may change color immediately after contact with urine.

When urine spots develop slowly and are noticed after much time has elapsed, the dyes and carpet fibers may be permanently damaged. In beige carpet, blue dyes are attacked by pet urine, leaving behind the red and yellow dyes with a resulting stain appearing red, yellow, or orange.

Pet urine, left unattended, can damage carpet in several ways. Moisture can weaken the bond between the layers of the carpet, allowing separation or delamination of the backing material to separate. Seam areas can be particularly vulnerable to damaged and can separate.

Another problem, especially with cat urine, is the odor. Unless the cat urine can be completely removed, complete odor removal is unlikely. A number of products are available to combat odor, but some may simply mask the odor, and, in times of high humidity, the odor may reappear. Enzyme-based treatments are available at pet stores, veterinarian offices or other retail stores. (Refer to the CRI website www.carpet-rug.org for approved Pet Stain and Odor Removal products in the Seal of Approval Program)

Some carpet manufacturers have developed backings that resist spills and even prevent the spillage from penetrating the carpet into the carpet cushion and, perhaps, the subfloor. Check with your carpet dealer about these products.

See the complete version of the Carpet and Rug Institute Technical Bulletin on Pet Urine and Carpet.