Dog urine odor question emailed to me recently from a reader:
“My dog has urinated on the tile and grout in my kitchen. On humid days the smell of urine is very obvious, I am assuming because the urine has penetrated the grout. Can you recommend product(s) to help get rid of the odor? Thank you
We have several good urine odor products we can recommend. I would suggest ” Severe Urine Neutralizer (SUN)” because it is very effective for dog urine odor and easy to use. The key is to get it in contact with the urine residue. If the urine has penetrated the grout (and it usually will unless the grout has recently been sealed with a very good sealer) then the SUN (or any product you use) will need to penetrate that area also. If there are cracks in the grout the urine can run down and get under the tile and into the wood or concrete underneath. Also pay attention to around the edges of the tile, under the baseboard and toe-kick on the cabinets. Anywhere the urine might have run. A black light in a dark room helps to locate any urine residue areas. Then you can concentrate on those areas. Let the SUN solution run down and soak into the areas that you think the urine has done the same. SUN solution will neutralize the odor in just a few minutes. Give it five to ten minutes. You can wet vac or wipe up any excess solution after this period of time and then let it dry naturally or you can put a fan on it to aid drying. If there is still an odor after you have used SUN that indicates the SUN solution has not come in contact with all the dog urine residue.
I am going to discuss a couple interesting facts that affect dog urine odor removal. First what I call Odor Memory. This is when we (humans) smell a particular odor and our brain remembers it. For example urine. If we smell urine and it gets into our nose and brain then certain things like seeing the urine stain again will trigger that smell in out brain and we will smell the urine again even if the smell is not still there. This is a psychological odor that is not a real odor but our brains can’t tell the difference. Sometimes we can just think of the smell and we will smell it. It happens with all types of smells. Most of us have had this happen. This affects removing dog urine odor because we can psychologically smell the odor even after we have removed it. Sometime we wnat someone else to test smell the area we have cleaned to see if the odor is gone.
The other interesting point is that on average women can identify 10,000 distinct odors and the average man can identify 5,000 distinct odors. Thus women are more sensitive to odors than men. If you want a better test to see if the odor is removed have a women check it out.
How to clean urine odor out of a mattress The steps to clean urine odor from a mattress are the same as cleaning it from many other fabric type items. Step one: Find it or locate exactly where the urine residue is on and in the mattress. It is not always obvious with urine. A black light will help if you need to use one. Step two: Clean as much urine residue as you can out of the mattress. In the case of a mattress I would use an extraction type upholstery cleaning tool. One that will spray water or a cleaning solution onto the area and the pull it back out creating a rinsing action. You can spray the solution on with a spray bottle and extract out with a wet vac also. This will clean the surface and slightly deeper into the fabric and padding of the mattress. Sometimes urine will remove some dye from the fabric so you may not be able to completely restore the appearance. When you do this cleaning use a good product designed to remove urine. If you have a urine odor use a product that will also eliminate that. You can read about products that are affective on urine at here Step three: Now you have located the areas and cleaned as much urine with its odor as you can out. Now you need to treat the remaining residue with a good product that will eliminate any urine odor and decontaminate the mattress. You will need to soak the product into the mattress so it reaches and comes in contact with any remaining residue. The product will then finish the job of decontaminating the urine and odor in the mattress. You will change the process of how you do this depending on the type, and specific product you use. For example enzyme products need time to work on the urine and other products work immediately on contact. See our recommended products page.
Getting urine odor out of concrete. Concrete is porous and urine will seep deeply into the pores and be difficult to remove. The specific steps for removing urine odor from concrete, as with most surface’s, depend on the circumstances. The main questions to be answered are how sever is the contamination? And how porous is the finish of the concrete. Slick finish or a finish made to seal the concrete, or hardened concrete allows very little urine to penetrate it. These finishes are usually found when concrete is the final surface or the finished surface intended to be seen. Concrete that is going to be covered by carpet or some other floor covering is usually more porous. This allows urine to penetrate deeper into the pores of the concrete. It becomes more difficult to reach and the process takes longer.
For heavy concentrations of urine start by washing the concrete with a good acid side pretreatment. This will break down lipids (animal fats) and alkaline salts present from the urine residue. This will remove a large part of the urine quickly. This pretreatment can be presprayed on then give it time to work and rinse off. Or it can be mopped on and rinsed off with clear water. Following this acid side pretreatment wash, then follow up with heavy application of a good urine enzyme product. Allow this 2 or even 3 days to penetrate deep into the concrete and then come back and rinse or mop with clear water. The enzyme product needs to be kept wet for the entire time so the enzymes can digest the urine odor residue and neutralize it. It needs to come in contact with the urine and stay wet or damp long enough to work. In the case of concrete it needs time to penetrate and then work. You can repeat the enzyme treatment if needed. You can also finish this process with a good sealer (shellac, varnish or acrylic sealer) to seal in any remaining urine odor.
If you are working with a smaller area or you do not have the time to wait for an enzyme product (2-3 days) I suggest you use a good urine oxidizing chemical. These are also effective if you don’t have the 2-3 days.
Use plenty of ventilation with any method. Gasses are being created that should be diluted with fresh air and ventilated to the outside.
When you are removing urine deposits whether it is fresh or old you are also removing the urine odor with it. The problem is in the case of a carpet and pad or a mattress or upholstered furniture etc. it becomes almost impossible to remove the entire urine residue. On hard surfaces such as sealed hardwood, tile or vinyl where the urine does not penetrate the surface, it is much easier to remove the majority if not all of the residue.
So step one is to remove as much urine as you can. Whether you use extraction with a wet dry vacuum or absorption with paper towel get as much out as possible. If you have access to a carpet or upholstery machine it will spray a solution onto the area and extract it back out again flushing the area and removing more urine odor. You can do this with absorption also by taking a spray bottle and spraying a little water or solution and absorbing it out again. If you do this be careful not to use too much liquid and drive the urine residue deeper into the carpet or fabric.
After you have removed what you can then you will treat the remaining residue with a good urine odor neutralizing chemical. You can read about the types of chemicals that are affective on urine odor removal here.
What causes urine Odor? There are over 75 compounds that have been found in animal waste that cause odor. Understanding these compounds helps us know what we can do to eliminate it. Urine is decomposed by anaerobic bacteria. Some of the groups of compounds that smell, and are a result of this breakdown are sulfides, phenols, ketones, volatile organic acids and more. Carbohydrates in animal waste include sugars, starch, and cellulose. Starch and cellulose are broken into glucose (sugar) units as the first step of decomposition. Under anaerobic conditions, sugars are broken into alcohols, aldehydes, ketones, and organic acids. These intermediate compounds are odorous. They are a part of what causes urine odor. These compounds can be further metabolized and transformed into methane, carbon dioxide, and water (nonodorous end-products)
The odor of ammonia gas is one part of the distinctive odor that helps us to identify and locate urine. The other component of urine’s odor is off-gassing from bacteria that grow abundantly in warm, dark places with a never-ending food supply. The pet feeds the bacteria daily with its urine! There are several types of chemicals that are very affective in eliminating the urine odor. Each of these chemicals has to come in contact with the urine to be affective at neutralizing the odor. Some work immediately on contact and others need time to work. Enzyme products need time to digest the urine. These chemicals also need to be applied in sufficient quantities to be affective.
Do you have a spot on the carpet or floor that you are wondering if it is urine or something else? I am going to describe a simple test you can use to find out.
Moisten the suspected spot lightly with hot water. Misting from a spray bottle works just fine.
Take a folded paper towel and place it on the moistened area.
Take a book (I use a phone book) and place it on the paper towel to help it absorb some of the moisture. You can put a piece of plastic between the book and the paper towel to protect the book from getting any moisture on it. Let it sit (absorb) for long enough to transfer some odor. 30 seconds to one minute should do it.
Wearing gloves take the moistened paper towel and put it in a plastic cup or similar container.
Smell the odor in the cup. This usually quickly identifies whether it is urine or not.
We have discussed using the eyes and nose to locate the source of your urine odor in part one. In part two we will discuss using ultraviolet light and the use of a moisture sensor.
ULTRAVIOLET LIGHT (black light) to locate urine odor. Urine residue will glow under a black light. Ultraviolet lights in several intensities are available to help you locate urine deposits. Low powered black lights must be held very close to the carpet in a dark room. Medium intensity lights will work from a few feet away. High powered lights can quickly be used to check a carpet and other fabrics from several feet away. All black lights work best in a dark room but this is not as critical when using a more powerful light. When necessary, black plastic sheeting can be used to cover windows and light sources. Another option is to drape a sheet or dark blanket over yourself while you are making the inspection. Black lights are readily available at many price points.
You will recognize urine by the shape of the spot and by its characteristic yellow (from dogs) glow. However, a bluish glow may indicate urine stains where cleaning has been previously attempted with a product that contained an optical brightener.
MOISTURE DETECTOR to locate urine odor. Use a moisture probe to examine all the carpet in question. As urine dries a chemical reaction creates an alkaline salt. Alkaline salts are hygroscopic, that is they absorb moisture from the air. In all but the driest conditions the salt residue will hold enough moisture to activate a moisture probe. Moisture detectors are harder to find and can get expensive.
Use all the tools you can– eyes, nose, moisture detector and UV light -to locate all urine deposits. Be sure to mark the location of all odor areas. Use white chalk, pennies or some other markers. A diagram on graph paper will help you locate the problem areas if the treatment is being done at a later time.
When you are dealing with urine odoroften you do not have a stain or anything visible indication to show you where the urine odor is originating from, or where the problem is.I am going to discuss the different methods of finding these areas. We have several tools available to locate them.
It is very important to locate each area because if you don’t find all the problem areas, you will not be able to completely eliminate the urine smell. Each spot needs to be treated. It needs to be treated with the correct chemicals and in the correct way if you want to get 100% odor removal. The steps you take change depending on how severe your urine odor problem is.
The tools available are our eyes, our nose, ultraviolet (UV) lights, and moisture detector.
Eye’s If you actually see the area where the dog is urinating, or when there is a yellow stain left on the surface of the carpet, this is when we use our eyes to locate the area. If you can look at the back of a loose carpet or rug and inspect it, many times there will be stains left that are obvious when nothing is visible otherwise. This is true with other fabrics also. The stains will look like water stains and sometimes there will be a white salt residue. If the carpet is not loose but is installed you can still pull it up off the tack strip and look at the backing. This then will need to be stretched or kicked back in again onto the tack strip. You can also use the alternative injection method of treating the urine odor.
NOSE Obviously the nose is a great tool for locating the contaminated areas.We may enter a home or a room and immediately smell the presence of odors associated with urine. Sometimes it is strong and sometimes it is a faint urine odor. Determining the precise location of the smell is more difficult. In part this is because air currents diffuse the odor. Closing any open windows, turning off ceiling fans, heating or air conditioner and other sources of air movement will make it easier to locate the source. Remember that most women are more sensitive to odors than men. If you are a male with less than a great nose for odors you may benefit from a female assisting you.