Have questions?

Call 877-372-9663

RSS Feed

Douglas Fir Flooring Blog
Douglas Fir Facts

The Poop on Douglas Fir Pet Stains: Removing them from your floors

March 18, 2011 by | nell | There have been 0 comments

You love your Douglas fir floors. But, if you’ve got cats, dogs, or other indoor pets (or indoor toddlers, for that matter) then you know the sinking feeling you get when you look down at your feet and see a wet, stinky mess spoiling your beautiful Douglas fir floors.

Never fear—with a little action on your part you can restore your Douglas fir floors to their original, unsoiled state.

Recent messes
If you come upon the mess relatively soon after the deed was done, first remove any solid waste and then use paper towels or newspaper to blot up any puddles. When all traces of the mess have been removed from the surface, clean and disinfect the area with whatever cleaning product you normally use on your wood floors. If your floors are well sealed and you get to it before the mess had time to sink in, you should be in the clear.

Older issues
But what about those times when you didn’t spot it immediately? Like when your cat used a rug instead of the litter box and the damp spot soaked through to the floor underneath? Or, when your new puppy chose an out-of-the way corner to have his “accident” and no one realized it until later? Maybe you purchased a home with wood floors that you just know could be beautiful if the previous owners hadn’t let their darn dog go all over the place.

When set-in stains and lingering odors are a problem, you need to do more than merely removing the mess and wiping the surface. The ammonia in urine often reacts with the tannic acid in wood, creating ugly black blotches.

Store-bought cleaners
Most pet stores carry products specifically designed to clean up pet stains. Nature’s Miracle, the best-selling stain treatment product at PetCo, has formulas specifically designed for solid surfaces such as wood. When you’re picking a product, read the label to make sure it’s labeled as safe for wood surfaces. At home, try a tiny bit out in an inconspicuous area first to make sure the cleaner itself isn’t going to discolor your floors.

Enzyme action
There are dozens of varieties of pet stain removers on the market, but what most of them have in common are ingredients called enzymes. Enzymes are in a lot of household items—certain laundry soaps and even contact lens cleaners use enzymes as well. What are enzymes? They’re special varieties of bacteria grown in a lab that react with the proteins in stains of animal (or human) origin. A cleaner with enzymatic action will eat away at the stain, breaking down the chemical bonds of the urine itself.

Another reason it’s important to make sure all traces of a lingering stain are gone? Animals are attracted to the odors left behind in a place that’s been urinated on. If you don’t make sure it’s really gone, your pet might decide to mark that same place again and again, leaving more messes for you to find. Whatever you try, don’t use a cleaner that contains ammonia—the scent of the cleaner could mimic the smell of the ammonia in urine, attracting your pet again.

When using a stain-removal product cover the entire affected area with the cleaner, then cover it with a paper towel or newspaper to prevent it from evaporating before it has a chance to work. Allow it to dry naturally, then remove. You may have to repeat the process several times.

Other options
If an enzymatic cleaner doesn’t work, or if you prefer a do-it-yourself approach, you can try hydrogen peroxide on the stain. Like enzymatic cleaners, hydrogen peroxide works on a chemical level—the oxygen in the peroxide reacts with the substances found in urine to remove or lessen the discoloration and odor.

As with any product, try a small amount of hydrogen peroxide to make sure it won’t damage the floor first. Some folks recommend adding baking soda to the hydrogen peroxide to speed up the oxidation process. Either way, cover the area you’re treating with something to make sure it doesn’t evaporate before it has a chance to work into the stain, and repeat the treatment several times if necessary.

You can also try lightening the stain with oxalic acid, a wood bleach. Oxalic acid is said to lighten the tone of wood without bleaching it completely white—it should leave your Douglas fir floors a natural wood color, just lighter (like it was before your pet did his business on it). Oxalic acid is sold in home improvement stores, usually in powder form. You’ll need to make sure the stained area is clean of any dust or dirt, mix up the oxalic acid solution as the package directs, and then, wearing gloves, apply it to the spot, rinsing with clean water afterwards.

Refinishing: the last resort
If nothing else is working, you always have the option of sanding and re-finishing the stained portion of the floor. Sand the floor carefully, removing only as much of the surface as you must to get rid of the discoloration. If your wood was stained and has been sanded enough to see the natural color of the Douglas fir, thoroughly wipe off the dust and grit and re-stain. Make sure that whatever stain and finish you use matches the rest of the floor.

Embrace uniqueness
With a bit of work, you can get your Douglas fir floors looking good again. And even if they don’t end up in factory-new condition, just remember that part of the beauty of a wood floor is the patina it acquires over time. People buy reclaimed wood on purpose so that they can get that aged look. Each mark of wear and tear is a part of the unique story of your Douglas fir floors—even if the day you woke up to step in a puddle from Fido isn’t your favorite part of that story.

- Jennifer Rouse

This post was posted in All Entries, Douglas Fir Flooring, Care & Maintenance and was tagged with Douglas fir flooring, douglas fir floors, pet stains, removing pet stains, hardwood pet stains

blog comments powered by Disqus