Hardwood Floors And Pet Odors


We are trying to remove dog urine odor from a wood floor where people left the urine for extended periods, maybe even months. Would your “Dual Action” product remedy this problem? We will be putting carpet down soon so we are not concerned about a stain problem.

Please help.




You have a challenge. Sorry. There are several degrees of severity when dealing with dog urine and this is true with hardwood.  To neutralize the odor you need to get the neutralizer to the urine residue. With wood you will have urine soaked into the grain of the wood and possibly between the slats of the wood and maybe around the edges of the wood floor against the wall.  Dual action or Severe urine neutralizer will neutralize the urine it comes in contact with. The trick is getting it to the urine.  If you just go over the surface of the floor you will neutralize a good percentage of the urine and sometimes this is adequate to  kill the odor. Sometimes it is not. With wood you also have the possibility of the wood warping if it gets to wet. It may be slightly warped from the urine already.
The different methods you can use depending on how severe the urine contamination is, are:

Try a treatment just going over the floor with a good neutralizer and getting the obvious urine areas a little wetter so it can soak
in a little. Then see how the results are.

The next method would be to soak the floor so the neutralizer can soak in deep.This takes a chance of warping the floor in areas. I
have had cases where we ended up sanding and also replacing slats from this.

The next method is to sand the surface of the wood taking off as much wood as needed to remove the urine. Again this will remove most
of the urine residue and sometimes all. If it has run down between the slats you may still have residue remaining. Seal the floor to
lock in any remaining odor if necessary.

Or use a combination of the above.

Pet Stains On Hardwood

pet stains hardwoodI came across a question about pet stains on hardwood. The following comment and question was asked.

“I left my dogs alone for a couple days and they peed EVERYWHERE. The hardwood floor is dark in some spots and after mopping it still smells! Does anyone know a way I can fix this without tearing up the floors????”

In answer to this the following was written.

“From your description it sounds like the urine has soaked into the hardwood. I have hardwood floors that are sealed well with a quality sealer. When our dog was a puppy she would pee on them often. We were lucky because the urine beaded up and we were able to wipe it up and remove it. Eventually I know it would have found its way into the hardwood, had it been in greater volume or left to sit for too long of a time. There are different types of products available that will eliminate the smell but they have to come in contact with the urine residue. This means you have to soak them into the hardwood to reach the urine. Some of these products will also remove the pet stains. One of the challenges with wood is that the moisture from the urine or the chemicals can warp the hardwood and cause additional damage. It might be worth a try though. If you can’t get the smell and stain out to your satisfaction with these products then the next step is to sand it down removing the stain and odor and refinish the hardwood. If this does not work then you are to the replace the floor stage which is usually the most expensive.”

Pet Urine Stain Carpet

Repair Or Replace?

A few years ago I was asked to repair, decontaminate or restore a carpet in a bed room that had extensive pet urine damage through it. It was a room that had been used by the pet as a bathroom. It was an expensive piece of carpet for the time. The owners wanted it cleaned and treated to remove the smell. We were lucky in one respect in that it had very few stains, and the stains that were on it were not very visible which is common with urine. The smell however was terrible. To the point it was hard to work around. We took the carpet up and removed the pad under the carpet. The pad we threw away with the intent to replace it with new. When we examined the back of the carpet it was hard to find a spot that was not stained from the dog urine. The urine had soaked through the carpet and pad and into the floor. It was also in the baseboards and tack strip and slightly up the wall on the sheetrock. After getting the carpet and pad out and airing the room out the smell was much improved. But we also cleaned the contaminated surfaces and treated them with a commercial odor eliminating chemical. The carpet we took into the shop and thoroughly steam cleaned it front and back several times. The stains that were on the surface cleaned out easily. We then treated it with the same odor eliminating chemicals that we used in the room. We applied enough of the chemical so it was wet from front to back and we kept it wet for 24 hours which is what was recommended by the chemical manufacturer. We repeated the odor treatment a couple times. We hung the carpet up to dry between each treatment. We tested between to see if the urine smell was gone. When it got to the point that it was hard to detect the odor we returned it to the homeowners. They were thrilled. Couldn’t have been happier with the results until they saw the bill. Sometimes it is better to replace than to repair. Each person needs to decide for themselves at what point it is better for them to replace instead of repair. This will also depend on the equipment and chemicals they have available to them to accomplish the task at hand.  You need to assess the best you can the extent of the damage you have so you can make a good decision for yourself.

Urine Cleaning Caution

urine cleaningThe chemicals being developed and used in professional cleaning are improving all the time. This includes the chemicals and products used in pet urine removal and clean up. Both with the stains and odors associated with these type problems. Products are getting more effective and easier to use. Many new green products are becoming available as cleaning evolves. Even with these improvements you still need to be careful. It is possible to set some stains in permanently. You need to test chemicals in an inconspicuous area before you use them to make sure they are not going to harm the surface you are using them on. If you use the wrong chemicals on a carpet it can leave a residue that will be it almost impossible to clean affectively later. You also need to be careful not to bleach or remove the colors in the fabric or fibers you are cleaning. Some chemicals will react with each other to create bright colors like purple or orange that causes a permanent stain. This is rare but be careful and go slow at first. Test the chemicals you are using before you just go ahead and use them out in open areas that are going to be seen by everyone all the time. When you have to replace these items it gets expensive real fast.

Pet Baking Soda

pet baking sodaI have seen home remedies suggesting the use of  baking soda to remove pet odors. Baking soda absorbs odor molecules from the air. This is why people often place an opened box of baking soda in their refrigerators to absorb food odors.  Odor absorbing would be the benefit of applying baking soda.  Baking soda is alkaline (base). Much of the urine odor is caused by ammonia. This ammonia is alkaline (base). So adding baking soda to a situation where ammonia is already present only increases the total alkalinity. This could potentially allow the ammonia (or ammonia and baking soda combination) to do greater damage to the dyes, removing color from the carpet.

Baking soda is also a key ingredient in carpet deodorizers such as Carpet Fresh, Love my Carpet and so forth. These do not get completely removed from the carpet by vacuuming. Repeated use of baking soda or products containing baking soda will build –up in the carpet. When cleaning time comes, this can wick to the surface creating a real mess and the need for repeated cleaning to eliminate the powder.


Baking soda absorbs odor molecules from the air. When odor molecules are removed from the air they cannot enter our nose and the smell is effectively gone.


Increase in total alkalinity can be harmful to the dyes in fabrics.

Build up of residue in carpet or fabric creating the need for repeated cleanings to remove it.

Baking soda does not digest, break down, encapsulate or neutralize the urine residue molecules past absorbing them from the air.

Also see the advantages and disadvantages of using vinegar on pet stains.

Pet Stains Vinegar

pet stains vinegarShould you use vinegar to remove pet stains and odor?

There are two home remedies for removing pet urine that I have run into over and over again on the internet. One is using vinegar and the other is using baking soda. I have seen suggestions to use these in different combination’s with other additional products. I have also seen suggestions to use them without any products added. I am going to discuss Vinegar in this post and baking soda later. First if you are going to use vinegar make shore you use plain white vinegar. If you use vinegar with any coloring in it, you are just as likely to add a stain as you are of removing one. The coloring (dyes) in the vinegar can easily create a permanent stain.

Vinegar is an acid. Fresh urine is an acid base. When you try to remove an acid with an acid it is less than effective. Urine begins to change immediately upon leaving the body (human or mammal). This change involves, among other things, the creation of alkaline salt crystal (white powder like residue). These salt crystals are very alkaline (11+) on the Ph scale. After this has occurred then the acidic vinegar will help to neutralize that part of the urine residue which is now alkaline. The vinegar is a relatively weak acid and the salt crystal are a strong alkaline. You may need to use a stronger acidic spotter than vinegar for it to completely neutralize the salts. Once alkaline or acid is neutralized it can be removed easily. To remove it you can use absorption or extraction. Absorb it with a clean dry white absorbent towel or rag. Or extract it with a wet dry vacuum or similar piece of equipment. If you have a spotting machine that sprays a little cleaning solution on and extract it again this is best because you get a good rinsing action and you will remove more residue.

Vinegar as an odor remover acts as a masking agent. That is, the odor of the vinegar covers the odor of the urine or masks it until the odor of the vinegar wears off. Then the urine odor returns. Actually it has never left it has been covered from our ability to smell it by the vinegar.


Vinegar will act a rinsing agent like water to dilute the urine and if extracted or absorbed remove some of the residue.

Vinegar will act as a deodorizer by covering or masking the urine odor.

The acidic nature of vinegar will help to neutralize the urine alkaline salts in dried urine.


Cleaning acid with acid is not effective and can complicate your problem. By adding vinegar to the urine spot you will increase the volume of liquid and possibly soak the urine deeper into the carpet.

Vinegar does not digest, encapsulate, neutralize or change the odor molecules. It masks them.

Pet Stains

Pet stains

The pet stains I am describing here are stains from pet urine. I will focus specifically on those. I am not addressing urine odor in this post just the stain.

Many times there is no visible stain associated with urine. However when the stains are visible, what you will likely have is one of the following:

  1. Yellowish stain from the urochrome in the pet urine. This can be cleaned and removed.
  2. A stain left that is just the outline of where the urine ended, similar to a water stain outline. The stain that is left is at the edge of the moisture from the urine. The center of the spot has no visible stain. This can be cleaned and removed.
  3. A spot or stain that looks like any other circular dirty spot on the carpet or other fabric. This is from dust and dirt sticking to the urine residue in the fibers. This can be cleaned and removed.
  4. The most difficult situation with pet stains is when the concentrated alkaline has created color loss. The urine stain has actually faded the dyes in the fabric. This cannot be corrected by cleaning. Dying the fabric and restoring the color can correct this in some cases. Patching the carpet (if your pet stain is in carpet) can be a solution. The last resort is to replace the affected item.

Pet stains and stains in general are not always a result of one problem. You may have several things contributing at the same time. In many cases you need to address the items one at a time.

Pet Urine 2

pet urine

This is part two of “Pet Urine, Scale of Severity.” In part one we defined minor, light and moderate pet urine damage. In part two we will define severe damage.

Severe pet urine

The pet urine soaks the face fiber and the backing of the carpet and the pad and gets into the wood subfloor/floor. The buildup of dried lipids has made the carpet fibers sticky.  Tack strip around the edge of the room may be rotting. Urine may have wicked up into the baseboard and wallboard.

Note: When the pet urine reaches the backing it spreads and when it reaches the pad it spreads and when it reaches the floor, you guessed it, it spreads. The area affected by the urine is usually several times larger than you can see from the top or the face of the carpet. This is not always the case. If the dog has sprayed small amounts of urine (marking his territory for example) then there is not enough volume for it to spread and the area may be no larger than what is visible.

If you have many minor or light problem areas in a single room and you are hand treating them yourself one at a time the problem may become a moderate or severe problem to you. Cleaning many light problem areas can become too big of a job. If you hire a professional carpet cleaner who deals with dog urine to come in and clean the carpets it should remain a minor or light problem to him. As long as the dog urine problem is only in the carpet face fibers, the professional can clean and treat the whole room at one time as though it was one large light issue. If you have a good carpet cleaning machine you can do it yourself. It is when the urine gets deeper into the carpet or into other areas (furniture, walls etc.) that the problem becomes moderate or severe and effective decontamination becomes more involved.

see also part one of “Pet Urine Scale of Severity

Pet Urine 1

Pet urine

This is part one of a 2 part “Pet Urine, Scale of Severity” article.

Let’s create a scale to help us determine how severe the pet urine contamination is. We need a couple things in order to effectively correct dog urine stain and odor problems. We need to locate each of the problem areas. We also need an idea of how extensive or severe each of the problem areas are. This scale will help determine this. We will use 4 levels in this scale. Minor, Light, Moderate and Severe.  We will apply it to a carpet and pad scenario. The principles can be applied to other applications also. For example furniture, drapery, mattress’s and other fabrics. This scale will also be useful for concrete, hardwood, walls, tile and other hard surfaces. Not as useful as when applied to carpet and fabric but still useful. It is not much use for grass, lawn or plant damage.

Minor pet urine

This is where the dog has urinated only small amounts and you are able to blot (paper towels or absorbent rags) it or extract (wet/dry vac) it out before it can dry in the carpet.  A small amount may have reached the backing of the carpet but it has not reached the pad or the sub floor. However it does get into the face fibers of the carpet and it has not dried in the carpet.

Light pet urine

This is when there is a little more urine and you are not able to clean it up quickly. It soaks deeper into the face fibers and reaches the backing. But not into the carpet pad. If many deposits occurred in the same location the urine would likely have reached the pad and the floor below. In this case the contamination would no longer be described as light. Urine may or may not have dried in the carpet.

Moderate pet urine

Urine has soaked through the back of the carpet. Urine stains and/or alkaline salt crystals are apparent on the backing of the carpet. The carpet pad is contaminated and very possibly the subfloor/floor under the carpet. If the Tack strip (the strip used around the outer edged of the room to hold the carpet down) has been affected it is stained only but still in good condition. The lipids (animal fats in urine) left in the carpet are not enough to make the carpet fibers sticky.

continue with “Pet Urine Scale of Severity” part two