How To Clean Pet Stains

How to clean pet stains like poop and vomit from
There comes a time in every pet-owner’s life when they need to know (usually in the middle of the night) how to clean pet stains. For me that time came at 3:04 am on a Thursday when I had to be at the airport at 6:45 in the morning. Naturally, the dog we’d rescued the previous month decided to redecorate my carpet… and my kitchen floor… and our sofa, too.

Let’s face it: if you have pets, they’re going to have accidents no matter how well-trained. Like if your dog rummages through the trash, for instance, and eats something that upsets her stomach. And then your cats walk through it. And then your dog chases your cats across the kitchen tile floor, then through the carpeted living room, and then onto the leather sofa.

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At that point you’ll find yourself, as I did, thinking about just selling the house… and then you’ll realize you still need to know how to clean pet stains before you can put the thing on the market.

But, hey, I wouldn’t trade my pets for the world!

How To Clean Pet Poop

1. Scoop it up: The first step is definitely the nastiest, but you’ll have to scrape up as much poop as possible. I grabbed a pair of the disposable gloves I use for nasty messes, but those of you with stronger stomachs can use a dust pan instead. (Of course, you’ll need to clean that when you’re done.)

2. Spot-treat the stain: Next, you’ll need to clean the stain. I use one of two mixtures for this, depending on whether I’m out of Oxiclean. It’s IMPORTANT you mix these in a bowl, not a bottle, or it may very well explode.

Pet Stain Remover With Oxiclean

  • 2 cups warm water
  • 2 tablespoons Oxiclean
  • 1 tsp. Dawn Original dish soap

Pet Stain Remover Without Oxiclean

  • 2 cups warm water
  • 2 tablespoons washing soda
  • 2 tablespoons hydrogen peroxide
  • 1 tsp. Dawn Original dish soap

For either mixture, it’s best if you do a spot test in an inconspicuous area just to make sure your carpet won’t fade. Once you know it’s color-safe, combine your ingredients in a bowl and lightly dab onto the stain with a clean cloth. Next, grab a scrub brush and work the mixture in, then take a damp cloth and dab at the spot to transfer as much of the stain from the carpet to your cloth. Rinse the cloth and repeat the entire process, from scrubbing to dabbing, until the stain is gone. Let dry.

3. Neutralize the smell. Even when the stain is gone, the smell remains behind. You may not smell it, but your dog will (and chances are some of your more critical guests will, too) so don’t skip this step. While there are a number of commercial products available that claim to get rid of this smell, I prefer the all-natural method: spray it with a 50-50 mix of warm water and white vinegar, and let it dry. Yep, that’s it. The vinegar neutralizes the odor so your pet won’t smell it and, as a result, the spot won’t become his go-to place.

4. Vacuum well. Let the area completely dry for 24 hours, then vacuum the spot. At this point, you may notice the stain returning, which is a sign the poop soaked into the carpet padding, too. If that’s the case, you’ll need to repeat ALL of these steps until the stain is completely gone. (If you have access to a carpet shampooer, you can speed this process along since the machine’s suction will help pull any remaining stain from the padding.)

How To Clean Pet Urine

1. Dry it. Use old towels, paper towels or even brown paper bags… the important thing is to get as much urine up as possible. If you have a shop vac, even better: just vacuum the area until it’s dry.

2. Spot-treat the stain: In most cases, blotting up the urine will get rid of any stain at the same time. If your pet has a urinary tract infection, or is dehydrated, the urine color may be particularly dark. In that case, add 1/2 teaspoon Dawn Original soap to a cup of warm water and dab it onto the area, then blot it dry with a clean cloth. Repeat until the spot is gone.

3. Neutralize the smell. Again, a 50-50 mixture of white vinegar and water will neutralize any lingering urine smell and keep your pet from thinking of the area as their new potty place. Be sure to wet the spot well, because at this point you need it to reach the carpet pad to neutralize any urine that’s soaked into it. If you have a wet/dry vac, use it now to suction away the remaining moisture. Otherwise, wait until the area is almost dry then sprinkle on some baking soda and rub that in with a stiff bristled brush. Let the baking soda dry in place.

4. Vacuum well. After the area is entirely dry, vacuum the spot well. Use the brush to loosen the baking soda clumps as you vacuum if needed.

How To Clean Pet Vomit

If you’ve read my advice on How To Clean Dried Paint And Other Stains From Carpet (with photos), you’ll know the steps below worked to get rid of cat vomit stains on my carpet that were SIX YEARS old. Yes, it’s labor-intensive but, wow, does it work.

1. Scoop/scrape it. If the vomit is fresh, scoop it away. If it’s dried, scrape away as much as you can with a spoon or putty knife.

2. Spot-treat the stain: Either of the cleaning mixture recipes above may work, depending on what you feed your pets and how long the stain has been there. For stains that have dried and set in, you’ll need an extra step. Get as much of the stain out as possible using the method above, then let the area dry for an entire day. Now, it’s time for the trick that amazed me: Ironing them!

Using An Iron To Lift Stains

  1. Fill your clothing iron with water and set it to “Steam”. If your carpets are wool, use the HIGH heat setting. If your carpet is nylon or a blend, use the LOW setting.
  2. Mix 2 tablespoons household ammonia (yes, it stinks) and 1 cup of very hot water, then spray it on the area.
  3. Scrub the ammonia mixture into the carpet with a stiff-bristled brush.
  4. Place a white towel on top of the stain.
  5. Put the iron on the towel and keep it in constant motion as you “iron” the entire area over the stain for 20 seconds. The stain will begin to transfer from the carpet to the towel as you work.
  6. Lift the towel, find a clean place on it and repeat the step above until the stain is completely lifted.
  7. Neutralize the ammonia smell by spraying it well with a 50-50 vinegar and water mixture.
  8. Let the area dry, then vacuum well.

Other Pet Stains

Not all pet stains involve potty-training accidents. Often, they’re just the result of playful pets being themselves: wagging tails knocking over wine glasses, muddy paws leaving a trail across floors. In those situations, treat the stains the same way you would if a human caused them. (Here’s how to get rid of other carpet stains.) Just remember, with ALL stains the faster you tend to them the faster they are to get out.

Equipment I Used In This:


  1. guest says

    my rescue dog eats everything and then eats grass or anything leafy to barf it back up. she barfed brown globs on a new light gray wool carpet and I picked up the bulk but it left two dark brown stains on the rug. Just tried this and it looks like it worked- who knew? thanks for the info.

  2. Crystal says

    The cleaner recipe you listed for dog poop, you called for 2 tablespoons of oxiclean. Are you meaning liquid or powder oxiclean? Thanks in advance.

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