How to Remove Pet Stains From Carpet

Medically Reviewed by Kathleen Claussen, DVM on July 17, 2023
4 min read

It’s normal for pets to have accidents. Luckily there are things we can do to clean up and remove the smell. 

If you’re dealing with a pet stain on your carpet, whether it’s poop, urine, or vomit, immediate deep cleaning can usually bring your carpet back to great condition. Even in cases where the stain has set in and dried, there are still ways to effectively clean it.

The following tips will help you neutralize the odor and remove the pet stains from the carpet. 

The best thing you can do when your pet has an accident is to act as quickly as possible. Catching the accident right away makes removing the stain much easier than letting it set. Take care to wear gloves when working around urine or stool to be careful against zoonotic disease.

Usually you can use a pile of paper towels and newspaper to pick up your pet’s mess or to soak it up quickly. It’s highly recommended to place the towels over the mess and step on them (while wearing shoes). This should help absorb the stain from the carpet, although this step may need to be repeated a few times. It helps to have several paper towels on hand just in case you need them. 

In cases where you didn’t catch the pet’s accident right away and the stain has set in and dried, you can follow these steps:

Consider renting a carpet cleaner from your hardware store to clean the stain. A professional carpet cleaner has greater strength and is more effective at getting tough stains out of the carpet. Renting the machine is also a more cost-effective option than buying a new piece of equipment.

Using a wet vac can also be very effective for removing pet stains. This machine forcefully flushes clean water into the carpet, deep cleaning it while vacuuming out the dirty water.

Once the area is clean, apply a high-quality pet odor neutralizer. Make sure the odor neutralizer is pet friendly and safe to use. Odor neutralizers come in a variety of sizes and scents and vary in quality. It’s helpful to read reviews or talk to a pet professional before purchasing. 

If the area still appears stained after it has dried, apply a carpet stain remover. This works by breaking apart the stain molecules and removing stains. Before applying a stain remover, double check to make sure it’s safe for pets.

Avoid using steam cleaners to remove urine stains as the heat will permanently set the stain into the carpet. Also, avoid using cleaning chemicals like vinegar or ammonia. Strong scents like those can encourage your pet to make another stain in that same area.

It’s important to be selective about which cleaning products you use. Some common cleaners contain chemicals that are toxic to pets. Even after washing them and drying the carpet, the dangerous chemicals may still remain. 

If the stain has soaked down into the carpet padding, you may need to replace some portions of the carpet completely.

After you’ve cleaned the pet stains from the carpet, make the area unattractive or unavailable to your pet. As long as your pet can smell their scent, they’ll continue to return to the area and may create new stains again.

It’s normal to get frustrated with this behavior but try not to let it overwhelm you. If you yell or scold your pet, they may not understand or they may grow resentful. It's better to work with your dog and focus on helping them learn not to leave messes in the house. 

Understanding your pet’s behavior can help them get back on the right track. There’s usually a reason why your pet made a mess, and it doesn’t necessarily make them “bad.” You can help retrain them with positive reinforcement so they embrace a better habit successfully over time. 

For instance, you can try moving your cat's litter box to a new area or adding an additional litter box. The rule of thumb is one litterbox per cat in the household plus one.  Get the largest litterbox possible for the space.  Scoop the box at least daily as some cats prefer a very clean box. 

If your pet is a dog, you can try incorporating additional training to help them remember to use the bathroom outside. You can reward your pets with praise, treats, or playtime. 

There are several reasons why your pet may be using the bathroom in inappropriate areas. Here are a few important considerations to keep in mind:

  • There may be an underlying medical condition that your veterinarian can help you identify and treat.
  • Some dogs urinate when they’re overly excited and overstimulated.
  • Sometimes young animals urinate when they’re scared. This can occur when they’re scolded by their owner or a person they perceive as intimidating.
  • If an animal didn’t get proper house training when they were young, they’re more likely to have accidents on the carpet.

If you’re concerned about your pet’s behavior, or suspect there might be a medical problem, the best thing you can do is take them to a veterinarian. After medical and behavioral issues are ruled out and your pet is still having accidents, it may help to consult a professional pet trainer.