Accidents happen…

…especially if you have pets.

I am a big fan of pets. Huge! My local ASPCA uses the lovely phrase,  “Discover the warmth of a cold nose.” and I couldn’t agree more. I talked about great online pet supply sources clients have recommended in a post last week. Today, I’m back with a tip I give my clients for handling a common household issue that comes with our furry family members.

Image courtesy of

Awwwww! Happy animals make me smile! If only they could talk in a language I could understand. Okay. Back to my point…

If you have four-legged pets, you may be familiar with the household issue I was referring to. It looks a little bit like this:


As an interior designer, these types of pet stains cause the same kind of unhappy surprise and general need to yell that they do when you find them in your home. (Which is hopefully not while you are in your bare feet. Been there.)

I have a solution for you. This solution works for…well…let’s call them “upset tummy” accidents, “liquid” accidents and “solid” accidents. You know what I mean. And don’t worry. I’m not showing any pictures of the two most icky types of accidents in this post. Use your own imagination or experience.

There are two issues that we need to solve in the clean up of this situation. It only takes two steps, but the second one is almost always forgotten:

The Stain

This is the most obvious problem to solve. I hardly need to tell you to clean up the “solids” first. If you need to soak some of the solids out off a carpeted surface, use water to loosen them. Do Not rub a carpet to get a stain out. Just keep flushing the surface until all the solids have been removed.

If you are dealing with a liquid stain, first blot the surface with a paper towel. To do this:

  • Place a large wad of paper towels over the stain then press down on the paper towels with the palm of your hand.

  • Keep pressing in different places on the paper towel to make sure you cover the whole stain’s area. Your paper towel will soak through, just keep replacing it until there is no more liquid to soak up.

The Smell

This is often the skipped step in dealing with ALL pet stains and it makes a big difference. Whether you are dealing with a solid or a liquid stain, you should never skip this step.

It is important to remember that our pets’ sense of smell is multiple times more powerful than our human sense of smell. Ridding our homes of the smell for us is not the same as ridding the stain’s smell for our pets. More importantly, if our pets can still smell where a stain was, they often take it as a sign of the right place to…leave a stain…again.

To battle this risk, this is our secret weapon:

White vinegar, which has no color, is a green cleaning solution that many  people already keep in the house. It can be used on solid and carpeted surfaces. (Although, if you are worried about rug/carpet discoloration, you can always try this solution in a discreet corner of the rug.) Vinegar is cheap and a wonder at getting out smells.

Here’s how to use it against pet stain smells:

  • Pour one half cup of white vinegar into a 1 cup measuring cup.

  • Fill the rest of the measuring cup with room temperature water from the faucet.

  • Pour the water/vinegar mixture over the stain and let it sit for 30 seconds. Then blot all of the liquid up with paper towels, just like you did with the original stain.

  • Allow the stain to air dry.

Easy, right? You can even teach children to use this technique. I learned how to do this when I got my puppy as a little girl. It’s a great way to teach pet owner responsibility and you can relax in the knowledge that the cleaning agent is non-toxic to your kids, your pet or your floors.

If you like this tip, you’ll love the “pet vs. furniture” tip I’m writing for a post next week! Be sure to check back! If you have a question about solving other furnishing stains/accidents, leave a comment below. How can I help you solve a troubled “spot” in your home? (Had to use that pun somewhere, sorry!)

Posted on September 28, 2011, in Green Living, Lifestyle, Organization. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I wouldn’t have thought about the smell for new stains. I house-trained our puppy and there was a long transition. Many accidents, but mostly on the tiled floor. Maybe not getting the smells out made training last longer. Now I know what to do next time. Thanks!

    • It could be, Emma! Acid from pet pee can really stain grout and sometimes make the smell linger enough for humans to smell. You may want to have your grout re-sealed before you have any other pets join your family. It’s a very inexpensive project and any of the big box D-I-Y stores (Homes Depot, Lowes, etc.) can help you find the right product for your tile/grout combo. Hope this helps!

  2. This is really timely for me. I was just thinking of changing “Benji” to “Sprinkles”. He’s growing out of his accidents…slowly. Thanks a lot.

  3. I love the idea for sealing our tiles and grout in the laundry. Our wonderful “puppy” is now 14 years old. He’s beginning to have control issues. I love this blog! I learn something new everyday. The reader’s comments with your informative answers and suggestions are great,too! Thanks!

    • Thanks so much, Sandra! I do love talking with readers. I figure if readers take the time to leave comments, it would be just plain rude not to answer them. Blogs are for conversation, after all! Hope you keep reading, Sandra, and be sure to watch for the free giveaways! And a hello to your senior puppy!

  4. Brilliant! I never would have thought to use white vinegar to get rid of the smell. Love it!

  5. Cath is clearly brilliant. I use white vinegar all the time for cleaning a variety of things but never thought of it for this purpose. Your explanation is so discreetly written I just have to ask to make sure–does it work for vomit, too? “Upset tummy” leads to a number of… consequences. Thanks again, Cath.

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