Let’s face it.
Pets are of great value to their homeowners. According to statistics, over $40 billion dollars are spent on pets annually, and it is reported that more is spent on pets than on movies, music and other forms of entertainment, combined.
But this isn’t surprising. With nearly 70% of all American households owning at least one pet, it makes sense that pet food, supplies and veterinary care would leave pet-owning families with a substantially lighter wallet.
In addition to food, healthcare and general supply needs, owning a pet also requires cleaning and odor control within homes. While many pet-owners tend to focus on surface stains and eliminating odors the quick and easy way, the truth is that the methods usually marketed to pet-owning individuals isn’t always effective. By removing only surface stains and temporarily reducing odors, you can expect to see the problem crop up again, and this time it may be worse, especially if the pet in question is urinating on the carpet and other surfaces on a frequent basis.
Because of the aforementioned facts, it is important that clients understand the implications ongoing urine staining and odors have on a home. Not only is it not good for the quality of the overall living environment, but it also has implications for human health. As such, pet-owners whose home is suffering from severe odor and staining may need to spend extra time searching for high-quality and reputable service providers to ensure that the technicians they are bringing on to address their needs are treating the problem with skill and efficacy.
While more expensive services don’t necessarily mean higher quality, it may be true that poorer quality services are likely to cost less. It will take wisdom and careful research to differentiate between the two. Word of mouth referrals, online reviews and doing your own research about the process of urine odor and stain removal can help aid in selecting the right company to address urine removal and odor control needs within a home.
Beneath the Surface
Urine issues, though they may seem mundane, can actually be much larger issues than most people realize. On average, a small dog weighing five pounds or less, can actually eliminate up to 11 to 12 gallons of urine per year. A bigger dog would, of course, eliminate much more than this over the span of a year’s time.
And this can’t be stopped. Animals not only urinate for elimination purposes, but also for the purpose of marking their territory. It serves to warn other animals, challenge other animals and define boundaries in regards to ownership.
Believe it or not, urine that leaves an animal is actually sterile. It is composed of uric acid, oily lipids and other elements. However, once this urine combines with any sediments on the surface of or underneath upholstery, carpet or other surfaces affected, that sterile urine is then broken down into carbon monoxide, nitrogen and ammonia. That’s what causes those awful smells!
Principles of Odor Control
In order to contain highly potent and offending ammonia-like urine odors in your home, there are several steps that must be taken. They are:
- Remove the offending source
- Clean surfaces
- Recreate conditions
- Seal surfaces if and when necessary
Oftentimes, clients are surprised at the amount of work that goes into eliminating odors. There is no magic spray or other concoction, no matter how much you use of it, that can suddenly eliminate odors and stains for good. Though some products, like peroxide cleaners, may seem like they work in the beginning, the truth is that the spraying of these chemicals does not actually eliminate the source of the odors.
Rather than spraying peroxide or water-based cleaners or deodorizers, the process is often much more complicated, especially if the urine has reached the subfloor. At this point, the carpet may have to be removed and the subfloor treated and possibly sealed. Though effective, these methods may be costly. For this reason, it is imperative that homeowners with pets take steps towards prevention by having their carpet or other surfaces routinely cleaned to keep from having to receive intensive services to help mitigate odors and stains in the future.
It is important to know the type of carpet you have and how it relates to staining and cleaning in regards to pet urine and odors. Generally speaking, nylon and wool carpeting will stain but polyester carpet, or carpet made from olefin or triexta, may not always show staining, even when the carpet has been affected by urine. Nevertheless, most assuredly, the urine will seep into both the padding and the backing of the carpet.
If and when a water claw is used, 80% of the moisture in nylon or wool will be removed, while only 50% of the moisture will be removed from polyester, olefin or triexta surfaces.
Tools and Cleaners
Urine remediating specialists will use a variety of methods to ensure your home and carpets are clean smelling and stain free. Apart from utilizing helpful equipment such as injection tools, inspection tools, flushing tools, moisture probes and water claws, cleaners also play a significant role in getting a home fresh smelling and clean eliminating stains and odors.
Typically, the application of a pretreatment is the first step. Since urine is alkaline, urine neutralizers will use acids to move it towards a neutral pH. Odor encapsulates and nonionic surfactants work on lingering odors while also cutting oily lipids in the carpet. The carpet can also be water-clawed with this type of product.
Following the pretreatment, enzymes are applied. Enzymes are proteins that consume organic matter. They can often break down organic contaminants in as little as one hour. They break down stains, lipids and even carbohydrates and starches in a process called digestion.
This type of treatment uses four different strains of bacteria to produce enzymes that can pummel odors and breakdown urine at an increased rate of speed. It has a surfactant in it, similar to pretreatments, that works to break down oily lipids. It may also contain chemicals that decrease off-gassing as bacteria within enzyme products work over the course of a few days.
Enzymes can have added fragrances or can be neutral for sensitive clients. Enzymes with citrus are preferable because they cut oil and pet odor. In a sense, the urine is an intentional “food” for the enzymes to consume. The multiple strains of bacteria within these enzyme cleaners will multiply and continue to grow as they work to digest the food until it is gone.
Any leftover bacteria or contaminants can be extracted using methods chosen by the technician. Enzymes that remain will continue to work on remaining organic matter until it is gone. Eventually, these enzymes will go dormant once all food sources have been depleted. At this point, the odor, then, should also be depleted.
Urine Removal Must Go Deeper Than the Surface
To effectively clean and remove odors and stains, it is not enough to simply tackle the surface of the urine contaminated material. Rather, in order to truly eliminate urine odors and stains at their source, a pretreatment that neutralizes the alkaline urine compounds and an enzyme cleaner that works to eat away at those problems causing organic compounds is the only way to achieve a job well done.
It is true that the process of removing stains and odors may become costly, especially if carpet removal and replacement is needed. Nevertheless, for true and effectual change, there may be times when extreme measures are necessary. To help cut costs, pet-owners should be sure to schedule preventative maintenance services for their carpets and other urine-affected surfaces in their home to ensure that odor and staining problems don’t become such that they require long, intensive and complicated remedies as a solution.