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Cleaning

Here’s how to remove any pet stain from a carpet

Because accidents are bound to happen

Credit: Getty Images / ulkas

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Being a pet owner is like being a parent in many ways. You may always have your eyes open for the next best thing for your pets or making sure your pets are safe from any dangers in the home. In true parent fashion, you may even have photos of your pets adorning your home. You love them, and it shows.

Similar to human babies, your fur babies are programmed to make messes. But, don’t panic—a pet stain doesn’t have to ruin your carpet surfaces, as long as you take the right steps to clean it.

Is it better to use a carpet cleaner or a vacuum?

Person using carpet cleaner
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When it comes to cleaning pet stains, a carpet cleaner will work much more efficiently than a regular vacuum.

We’ve tested dozen of vacuum cleaners, from affordable choices to robot models, and yes, even affordable robot vacuums.

While testing vacuums, we analyze their ability to clean and collect dry items like dirt, crumbs, and pet hair—that’s why a standard vacuum cleaner most likely won’t do the job of cleaning up a wet pet stain. Even wet/dry vacuums made for wet messes, like shop vacuums, may not be the right option for cleaning pet stains since they can be too powerful for delicate carpets.

Carpet cleaners are the best option for this reason. “[Carpet cleaners] typically have spinning brushes better suited to clean carpet loops,” says Jonathan Chan, Lab Manager at Reviewed.

To avoid damaging your carpet and get the deepest clean on things like pet urine, vomit, and mud, try something like the best-selling Bissell ProHeat 2X Revolution Pet Pro Carpet Cleaner or the Hoover Smartwash Automatic Carpet Cleaner.

Removing urine stains from carpet

Calico cat sitting on carpet while human hand scrubs carpet clean
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Any cat owners know how strong the scent of cat urine can be. When using baking soda to deodorize the scent, be sure to let it soak in for at least a couple of hours to completely remove the smell.

Bathroom accidents are bound to happen, especially in the puppy or kitten stage. If your pet doesn’t make it to the litter box or yard, here’s how to clean up pet urine.

Lauren Bowen, Director of Franchise Operations at Two Maids & A Mop says to first clean up any excess using paper towels or a rag.

Try using a pet stain carpet cleaner to treat spots and stains immediately. This pet stain remover treats carpet stains specifically and even works on upholstery if you ever get a stain on the couch.

If you’re in a pinch and don’t have any pet stain cleaner on hand, try this DIY approach: Pour a small amount of white vinegar on the stain—Bowen says to use enough to cover the stain without completely saturating the area. Try adding the vinegar to a spray bottle to apply this mixture to your carpet at a steady pace. Then, sprinkle a thick layer of baking soda on top.

“Baking soda is a natural deodorizer and abrasive, which will help eliminate any residual smell and start to break up the stain, while the vinegar's acidic properties will work to lift the stain,” Bowen tells us.

Let the mixture dry—this may take up to a day—then go ahead and vacuum the spot. “If you think your pet will try and lap up the mixture, place a bowl or covering over it,” Bowen recommends. Rinse the area with additional water if need be.

Urine—especially cat urine—tends to have a pungent smell, so if you need something to dispel the scent, try using an additional pet odor eliminator. This also works for dog urine that can leave a lasting scent, too.

You can also try using hydrogen peroxide as an odor eliminator on carpet surfaces. Let it soak in for a few hours; then, wipe it up with water.

Removing mud or dirt stains from the carpet

Dog standing on carpet with muddy paws
Credit: Getty Images / smrm1977

Try to keep your pets away while cleaning up the mud stains, as they may try to run across the mud and start the process all over again.


Dogs and cats who spend time outdoors will no doubt bring in mud and dirt. And during cold, snowy days, the seemingly-harmless snow that’s being tracked will eventually melt into mud mixed with leaves and other debris.

If you don’t have a mudroom where you can towel off the dog, try grabbing your pet right as you walk in and clean off their paws using a washcloth and warm water.

This portable paw washer has rave reviews on Amazon and may be able to help clean up.

If it’s already too late and your dog or cat has tracked in mud or dirt, start by dabbing (not rubbing) any excess off the carpet with a cloth or paper towel. If it’s wet mud, Bowen says to wait until it’s completely dry before attempting to clean it, as the mud will be easier to lift from the carpet.

If you have a pet carpet cleaner, apply it to the soiled carpet stain and start by blotting. For a substitute made of common household ingredients, Bowen recommends mixing two teaspoons of mild dishwashing liquid detergent with two cups of lukewarm water to create a soapy cleaning mixture. Use a rag and begin blotting the dry mud or dirt with the solution.

If you have a bristled cleaning brush or extra toothbrush lying around, use this to begin gently scrubbing. This pet carpet and upholstery cleaner by Bissell uses a brush head cleaner for an all-in-one clean and scrub tool.

Use a rug to pick up any excess material while you continue scrubbing until the stain has completely lifted. Again, rinse with clean water if need be to remove any excess soapy water.

Removing pet vomit stains from the carpet

Hand using a washcloth to scrub soapy water on carpet
Credit: Getty Images / wakila

When choosing a pet odor eliminator, try looking for an enzyme-based carpet cleaner. The Angry Orange Pet Odor Eliminator, for example, uses enzymes to lift the odors while leaving a pleasant orange scent.


Not everything settles right in your pet’s stomach, especially when they’re prone to eating inedible items like the TV remote. When cleaning up pet vomit, begin by removing as much excess material as possible, trying your hardest not to spread it around as you pick it up.

Grab a pet stain remover like this one from Woolite to remove the stain quickly, no matter if it’s still wet or dried on.

If you don’t have a stain remover, Bowen recommends mixing two cups of warm water, a tablespoon of mild dishwashing detergent, and a tablespoon of white vinegar. Use a rag to blot this solution on the stain, continuing until the stain has lifted.

“If you still notice a smell, sprinkle the area with baking soda and let sit,” Bowen says. From there, use a vacuum cleaner to pick up any excess baking soda.

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