From Start to Finish: Effective Pet Odor Removal ( Part One – “Application” )

From Start to Finish: Effective Pet Odor Removal ( Part One – “Application” )

[ The follwing is Part Two of a 3-part series. ]

Here is the typical Pet Odor Removal job for me:

When I receive a call to perform pet odor removal, I try to gather as much information as possible pertaining to the current situation. Here some of the questions I ask the client:

#1) How many pets were involved?

#2) What is the pet’s sex?

#3) How old is the pet?

#4) Weight ? and so on.

I inform the client of my minimum charge and the fact that we usually like to schedule a carpet cleaning two weeks after the treatment. I generally schedule “the inspection” at night, so I can turn off all of the lights in the house and use a black light to locate the potential trouble spots.

I have what I call an “odor work sheet” that I fill out with the client. This work sheet is already partially filled out with the information that I have taken from them (over the phone).

At this time, I try to estimate the potential amount of urine that has been deposited in the carpeting. To do this, I use a chart that was provided to me by a urine treatment product manufacturer. This chart gives me estimates on volumes of urine typical per pet. My local veterinarian concurred with the chart’s figures. Such charts can be provided by the manufacturers of urine treatment products.

Additionally, you may check with your local cleaning supply distributor for a chart. They usually have good information provided to them in written form from the companies whose products they distribute.

After I have assessed the “usual” items:

– degree of staining
– degree of dye loss
– estimated the amount of urine deposited
– gathered all of the additional information that I could,

I determine if this is a “treatable” problem. I follow the 20% rule of thumb, which states:

– if there is more than 20% of the total area containing visible contamination, replacement is recommended.

I should also mention that if the problem has been caused by a male pet, this could mean that the walls could have some contamination, as well. Males tend to spray vertical surfaces; this would include furniture and walls. The walls could cause a problem for the homeowner, especially if they have baseboards (most homes do).

The urine usually runs down behind the baseboards where it is nearly impossible to apply the enzyme. The black light will help you determine if this is the case (you will see the marks on the walls where the animal has urinated). If this is the case, I inform the customer that this could be a potential source of odor, and cannot be corrected with a normal odor treatment.

[ You may contact me on the treatment of baseboards if you like, which is beyond the scope of this article. ]

The pricing of each odor treatment job beaks down this way: The total price for the job is the amount of time you expect to spend multiplied by your hourly labor rate. This figure is then added to the cost of product used (after markup). Some may choose to break down their charges by the square foot (which works equally
well). You may find that the “charging per square foot method” suits you better, once you know how much time you could expect to spend on a certain size area. I, however, still just “pull a price out of my ear”! – not very scientific, I know. :o) Once the client is agreeable to my fee, all that is left to do is perform the odor treatment.

As I identify each effected area, I mark it by placing a quarter in the center of the spot. I have also used “tailor’s chalk” to mark the outside edges of the visible stain. I usually look at each urine spot before treatment and decide to go one of two ways in dealing with it.

#1) For the spots that are not that large, I will usually use an “acidic rinse agent” applied via a spray bottle and work it into the carpet with a brush, leaving the carpet fairly damp.

#2) For those spots where the contamination is very extensive (e.g. the pet has frequented that area repeatedly when nature called), I perform a complete acid-side rinse.

As I mentioned earlier, urine becomes alkaline over time, and such an environment can slow the enzymatic digestion process so important for successful decontamination. By flooding the area with an acid rinse and extracting, I am doing three things:

#1) lowering the pH of the area

#2) flushing out some of the urine salts.

#3) creating a damp environment which is very conducive to bacterial growth (which is a good thing, in this case).

I use a spot extractor to extract the acid rinse. I have also used a good commercial-grade Shop Vac. Both the acid rinse and the enzyme product are applied with a pump up sprayer. Once I have done the acid rinse or “topical treatment”, I apply the enzyme product to the urine spot. I take the sprayer and push it into the carpet in the center of the spot. I start by applying the enzyme in the center and working in a circular motion to the out side edge of the treatment area. Remember, should treat an area at least twice the size
of the visible stain that you saw under the black light. – It’s ok to turn the lights off again and double check if you have to.

After I have saturated the treatment area, I use “compression” to force the enzyme deep into the stain. The treatment area will now be very “squishy”. Compression is a fancy word for stepping on it with my foot! However, this is an important part of the process as you don’t want to rely solely on gravity to pull the enzyme down to the sub floor. After I have compressed the entire treatment area, I make sure that the area is
still very wet and squishy. If it is not, I will re-apply the enzyme.

Next, I take a white towel that is soaking wet and lay it over the treatment area. This will keep the spot damp longer. The wet towel is very important, as the bacteria will only thrive in a damp environment. I instruct the client to remove the towel after 24 hours. This will prevent any urine salts, that have absorbed into the towel, from tracking back into the carpet. The bacteria will continue to feed and multiply under the carpet and pad as long as it remains damp or the food source (urine) is available for consumption.

Two weeks after this odor treatment, I return and clean the treated rooms with my normal carpet cleaning process. Before cleaning, I check each treated spot to see if there is any urine odor remaining. If I missed some of the urine, I will re-treat those areas, carefully skirting around them during the cleaning process. Keep in mind that this odor treatment process often causes “wicking”. Waiting two weeks before performing the cleaning gives the wicked area adaquit time to dry before cleaning.

There is an alternate treatment method that I sometimes use, called “the topical treatment method”.

The topical treatment method is a service I offer those clients who either:

– don’t have the money for complete treatment
– have a situation where the contamination is too extensive to be treated economically.

This method is performed using the same enzyme product as is used in the complete treatment process. However, it is applied topically (to the surface) after carpet cleaning. When I perform this method of odor treatment, I usually mix up a little acid-side rinse in my pump up sprayer and mist it on the carpet after cleaning. Then, I rake (groom) the acid rinse into the carpet, then apply the enzyme product to the carpet with the sprayer, raking it in, as well.

This process will give the client temporary relief from the urine odor. One thing to keep in mind is that this process will often more than double your drying time. Furthermore, I never apply a water-based carpet protector when I am performing a topical treatment, as this could over-wet the carpet.

Dave Roderick

[ Stay tuned for Part Three: “Effective Pet Odor Removal – Controlled Environment