Most household cleaning products only mask the odors of urine, vomit or feces temporarily. The smell gathers inside your carpet or hardwood floor. In order to effectively remove odors and stains, we need to first understand the chemical makeup of urine, vomit and feces. [Note: many household products are not suitable for pets because they may contain chemicals that maybe harmful to pets]
All these odor and stain messes are made up with organic amines, sulfur, ammonia, and mercaptans. Bacteria is highly attracted to these carbon and nitrogen rich compounds. Some household cleaning products actually makes the odor more prominent due to the by-products created when the cleaner interacts with the bacteria. If the household cleaners contain ammonia, they can worsen the smell.
Ammonia is a by-product created by urine. Using ammonia formulated cleaners can attract cats to go back to the same spot where they soiled or urinated. It does not completely remove the odor but emphasizes it for your cats.
On the other hand, vinegar is a natural disinfectant that only works temporarily in containing the odor produced by the bacteria. The odor will come back once the vinegar wears off.
Another misconception is that in order to thoroughly clean the carpet that has been soiled, steam cleaners would be a good choice. Steam cleaners are great for removing regular non-organic stains or dirt. The heat comes from the steam cleaners can permanently press the organic stain into the carpet fibers, making it a much harder to get rid of.
The sooner you have the messes cleaned up the less damaging they can do to your carpet or hardwood floor. Below are a few tips that may help you effectively remove odors and stains without having to replace your carpet or hardwood floor.
Soak it up
Timing is key. If you spot urine on the carpet, immediately blot it up with paper towels, toilet paper, newspaper, rags or anything that can quickly soak up the urine. Do not rub it because rubbing forces the urine to go deeper into the carpet. Instead, keep pressing on the materials until the yellow moisture is gone from the carpet.
Apply an enzymatic cleaner
Use any pet-stain enzymatic cleaner to help neutralize the odor. Follow the instructions and let the solution set for a while then soak it up with paper towels or a rag. Nature's Miracle and Zero Odor are two excellent enzymatic cleaners.
Use Baking Soda
If your clothing or bed sheets get stained with urine, apply baking soda along with your detergent when you wash them in a washer. The way baking soda works is to absorb odors and prohibit bacteria from growing. Since heat can solidify organic stain in fabric, it is wise to avoid using hot water.
How to find old stains?
Sometimes you may defect a slight stench in your house but unable to spot any stain. In this case, you can use a black light bulb to survey your floor. The black light will give the old stains a greenish-yellow fluorescent glow. Once you have spotted the stains, mark them with chalk and clean them with a highly effective enzymatic cleaner. Once all the old stains are gone, your house will smell refreshed and new.
Via: the Cat Behavior Answer Book by Arden Moore