With three cats and a dog, there have been accidents. Shelby, the Maine Coon who believes he is a cougar, sees a load of laundry on the floor as an opportunity to remind me that he is impeccably particular about his litter box. Clean it twice a day or else.
And I have tried every single odor eliminator on the market. The verdict ? White vinegar. Yep. The kind you can buy in almost every grocery store. The kind that costs less than 20 cents per use.
Why it works
Have you ever marinaded a tough cut of meat ? Wonder why the meat is so tender after you do ? Almost every marinade contains either alcohol or vinager. The alcohol or vinegar are responsible for relaxing the protein in meat giving it that nice break-apart-in-your-mouth texture.
So what does this have to do with pet odor?
Well, protein is responsible for the odor in urine (and other body by-products) and it’s the most stubborn ingredient to remove from fibres. Just ask any dry-cleaner. When you soak the affected item in vinegar it denatures the protein making it possible to remove the stain and the odor. Removing the odor also removes the desire to do it again. In the same spot !!
Removing odor from clothing
Here is what I do to remove pet odor from clothing:
- Add 1 cup of white vinegar ( I use the kind for pickling as it has a higher percentage of acetic acid) to the load of laundry after the washing machine is filled with water.
- Let the washing machine agitate for a couple of minutes. This distributes the vinegar throughout the water and clothing.
- Turn the washing machine off. Let the clothing sit in the solution for a couple of hours.
- Finish the washing cycle with just the vinegar/water solution.
- Smell an article of damp clothing. If any scent remains, repeat the vinegar cycle. It’s important to do this before you dry the clothing or wash with laundry detergent. Drying the clothing will make it harder (although not impossible) to remove the odor. Washing with laundry detergent could mask a scent that is still there.
- When the odor is gone, add your favourite laundry detergent and wash the clothing again.
Removing odor from floors
Here is what I do to remove odor from carpets and tile floors. Remember, our animal’s sense of smell is a lot more precise than ours. I even use this if there is an accident on the tile in my bathroom. And it works perfectly. Important to note: When using on carpet, always test on an inconspicuous place first to make sure the vinegar won’t remove any colour.
- Spray 100% strength white vinegar on the spot.
- Let sit for an hour. You don’t want the area to dry. If you are using this solution on carpet, spray enough vinegar to really saturate the area.
- Blot up the vinegar with white paper towels.
- Spray the area with water.
- Blot up the area with white paper towels.
Don’t trust your sense of smell ?
If you don’t trust your sense of smell to tell you when all traces of pet odor are gone, you can use a black light. Black lights are remarkably good at displaying protein-based stains and can help to make sure that stains are completely removed. This is so important in preventing future accidents.