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Cleaning Up After Pets

Animal antics
As much as we love our household pets, they can create cleaning headaches. Between muddy paws, fur on upholstered furniture, odors and occasional accidents, we could spend quite a bit of time cleaning up after our furry friends. Since pets will never be able to clean up after themselves, the experts at ServiceMaster Clean offer some suggestions for undoing the most common pet damage.

Minimize the mess
Cleaner pets mean a cleaner house. Bathe and brush your pets regularly to minimize the amount of pet hair and pet dander, and to help with odors. Keep a lint brush or damp sponge handy to quickly pick up loose pet hair. Unless your pet has dietary restrictions, a light mist of spray-on cooking oil on your pet's dishes will make them easier to wash out and will add shine to his or her coat.

Removing pet hair
On carpeting, use a vacuum with a good beater brush or brush roll. Plain vacuums don't generate sufficient lift to pick up all the pet hair from the floor.

Speed removal of pet hair from fabrics and upholstery with a pet rake, a brush with crimped nylon bristles. Use light, even strokes to remove the hair. Velour brushes, tape rollers and even tape wrapped around your hand also will work. Both pet supply and home stores sell "pet sponges," which are used dry on both upholstery and carpets. They can be an especially good option for hard-to-reach corners and edges where hair tends to collect. As long as dampness won't harm the fabric, you can also use a slightly dampened sponge or even the rubber bottom of a clean tennis shoe.

Lifting stains
To remove a pet urine stain, dilute the spot using a cloth dampened with water. Then, clean the area with an acid solution consisting of one quart water mixed with one teaspoon white vinegar.

If necessary, you can apply a pet bacteria/enzyme digester according to the directions. You can find these products at any pet store; they effectively counter both the stain and the odor. Even if the stain has disappeared or our human noses can no longer smell anything, a pet will repeatedly return to the same spot if he can still smell his own odor. Here are some other hints:

  • Be sure to use enough bacteria/enzyme digester to penetrate the carpet and pad.
  • Keep in mind that digesters work well but slowly. Leave the solution on as long as indicated.
  • After applying the solution, cover with plastic and step on the spot several times until the area is well saturated.
  • Keep the plastic on the entire time the digester is working to make sure the spot doesn't dry out.

Older stains
If the stain is older, it may be nearly impossible to remove, but try the digester. If the site has seen multiple accidents, the bacteria breaking down the stain may actually create a superalkaline state that interferes with the digester's intended action. In this case, follow these steps:

  • After the bacteria digester has been working for about four hours, neutralize the spot by mixing a solution of one cup of vinegar to a gallon of warm water.
  • Rinse the area with the vinegar solution.
  • Apply a fresh batch of bacteria/enzyme digester solution.

You might also try buying a hypodermic needle from your local pharmacy and filling it with your favorite perfume or potpourri. You'll need to inject both the carpet and the pad for it to work. If you still have a problem, have the carpet cleaned by extraction. It may even be necessary to replace the pad underneath.

Stomach trouble
If your pet has an upset stomach on your carpet, cleanup may be trickier. The extremely acidic nature of vomit can cause the acid dyes in the carpet to move, permanently damaging the carpet. Dyes in your pet's food or medicine may also combine with the strong stomach acid to stain your flooring. That's why it's essential to neutralize or at least dilute the acid as quickly as possible to minimize damage. To bring the carpet back to a neutral pH:

  • Treat the affected area using a professional carpet detergent.
  • Rinse the area with clean hot water.
  • Extract the soiled solutions away from the carpet.

If the stains cannot be removed, carpet dyeing may be a good option. While not as permanent as factory dyeing, spot dyeing will solve the problem of bleached carpet.

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