Deep Cleaning Stains Out of Carpet
November 1, 2019 8:14 AM   Subscribe

My dog has had many accidents and smeared a lot of food on my cream, wall-to-wall carpet. I am renting a big carpet cleaner from the hardware store tomorrow. How do I make sure that it gets the stains out?

The carpet cleaner that I plan to rent is a Rug Doctor Pro.

My whole condo is in wall-to-wall cream colored carpet, so it is over 1,000 square feet of carpeting in total. For the most part, I will be able to do one room at a time.

The stains are urine, feces, food (including meat), and general dirtiness. They are all within one month old. The worst area is in the guest room, where the automatic vacuum got into a pile of feces and spread it everywhere. Yes, it's a horror show.

I have a Bissel pet stain shampooer that I have used on some spots, but it is too small to be effective. It also seems to clean the carpet but doesn't remove the stain. I have used enzyme spray and Spot Shot as well, and Spot Shot seems to do alright but I am still having issues with large swaths of dirtiness. The enzyme cleaner seems to create an even bigger stain, which is unfortunate.

How do I use the rental carpet cleaner so that I actually get the stains out and really get the carpet clean? What methods and products should I use?
posted by rue72 to Home & Garden (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I can't testify as to its effectiveness, but there's a cleaner for those machines that's formulated especially for pet strains. Good luck.
posted by kate4914 at 8:36 AM on November 1, 2019

Good luck. The honest answer is you won't go from dirty to great with one of those machines, you are just going to be able to move up one rung. If you are at 'terrible', you can move up to 'acceptable'.

So you will have to do steam the carpets regularly, hire a pro, or replace your carpet where the dog goes with something more durable than carpet, and then get some rugs if you like that soft feeling.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:59 AM on November 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

I have gotten similar pet stains out with some success but always on the day of the staining. Here's my method anyway:

1. Spray stain with Nature's Miracle as soon as it's discovered and follow the instructions.

2. Run carpet cleaner over just the stains in a mode where I use just clear water very lightly and then use the sucking force to get it as close to dry as possible. This is basically to remove the Nature's Miracle and anything else still in the carpet.

3. Pre-train stains as per instructions on my Bissell home machine.

4. Run the carpet machine as per its instructions, using its (compatible to stain treatment) cleaner.

Then if there are any stains left, I keep working those over. I had one that was blood where it came out after 3 tries. But overall I agree with The_Vegetables that your options may be limited here.
posted by warriorqueen at 9:07 AM on November 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

I would like to suggest that you save yourself the time and trouble of renting a diy rug cleaner and instead call a professional carpet cleaning company. They use a generator-powered cleaning set-up that absolutely blows anything you can do yourself out of the water. I've seen them lift stains that I had spent literally years scrubbing at. I know they're more expensive than doing it yourself but if you really want to see those pet stains gone the only way it's realistically going to happen is with the help of a professional set up.
posted by DSime at 9:16 AM on November 1, 2019 [30 favorites]

Yeah, prepare for disappointment. It may not be worth the time, effort, wasted cost and possible injury getting it in and out of your car or up stairs. I recently rented a different Rug Doctor Pro that got some dust out, but not much else, and I wasn't even dealing with pet stains. Check Groupon, call a pro, see if they can get a truck-mount to your unit, or have them offer alternatives otherwise. That's my advice to the previous version of the me that thought the rental would do much more than it did.
posted by sageleaf at 9:21 AM on November 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

I can't speak to the Rug Doctor specifically. We own a Bissell Big Green, which is basically the other kind of rental machine but with a warranty that doesn't cover heavy/commercial use. Anything less in a home machine is just fucking around.

How do I make sure that it gets the stains out?

Follow their directions and move slowly. No, more slowly than that. There really isn't a secret sauce here, and we've always gotten good/great results with our current machine.

The enzyme cleaner seems to create an even bigger stain, which is unfortunate.

Isn't this basically a side-effect of using it correctly? If you're using it right, you're applying at least as much cleaner as their was pee or other offending substance, and really drenching the spot. But this means as it evaporates it's gonna pull grime up from the lower layers to the surface; it just *is*. Enzyme/bacterial cleaners aren't to spray the stain away, they're to spray the stank away so that you can get it back to normal(ish) after a steam clean.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 9:38 AM on November 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

I agree with everyone above that the rental machines aren’t great. I had a ton of trouble getting them to lift the water back out of my carpet - leaving me with wet carpets that retained smells forever until I hired a pro. The pros aren’t even that expensive, especially if you factor in the amount of time you’re going to spend wrestling with the rental machine!
posted by some chick at 9:39 AM on November 1, 2019 [3 favorites]

Huh. We've had more positive experiences with rental cleaners than these other posters. I agree that you should use the specific enzyme cleaner formulated for pets, but then once that is done, I'd use the cleaner we stand by: Folex.
posted by BlahLaLa at 10:21 AM on November 1, 2019

We have had excellent luck with the Bissel pet cleaner. We use the formulation intended for the upright cleaner in a "spot" cleaner. That said, nothing is as good as a truck mounted real steam cleaner.
posted by wnissen at 10:26 AM on November 1, 2019

Pre-treat the stains the evening before, with the enzyme cleaner on urine and the cleaning solution on anything else. Consider a 2nd pass with diluted white vinegar as the cleaner, to possibly help your pet not re-offend. I'd consider pulling up the carpet in the guest room once it's pretty clean, and reinstalling it once pet is doing *much* better. The smell of urine is quite pervasive and hard for pets to ignore.
posted by theora55 at 10:42 AM on November 1, 2019

we have an older version of this Bissel, which was a good idea as we had 3 cats, a kid and one more on the way when we bought it. It works pretty well for a home machine. the only thing I would change is the tank size. Before buying it, we had to rent a rug doctor, and those usually end up really nasty, even if they are supposed to be cleaned between rentals.

In doing a move-out last year, I found the following worked really well:
Vacuum really well (multiple passes with a friends dyson)
Pretreat with pet-stain pretreater
do multiple passes: back with spray, forward with spray, then back without spray, and then forward without if necessary to suck up water.
go really slowly
orient all passes in the same direction until you get a section of room done, then switch directions and go over the same section again. do ==== then ||||| or ///// then \\\\ etc.
add oxyclean or even clorox2 if the shampoo doesn't already have it added
if you can, do a water-only rinse at the end
posted by ArgentCorvid at 11:31 AM on November 1, 2019

It's more work than you expect, so prepare yourself well: sleep, plan breaks, have great snacks, get something with electrolytes to replenish yourself. Seriously -- I always sweat a TON when I do this, maybe because the hot water really raises the room temperature. Partly, though, it's because it often takes 2-3 times to get the water to rinse clear.

You can hire someone, but if they are super cheap they will probably just go over the carpet one time, leaving a lot of dirt behind. You want someone who will do it until the water that gets sucked up is clear.

Also: often, when you (or a pro) clean the carpet, initially it will look awesome and all the stains will seem to be gone. After a week or two, though, the stains will magically reappear. You might want to read about this online beforehand and/or ask pros about it.
posted by amtho at 11:50 AM on November 1, 2019

I've never found steam cleaners to do much on pet stains.

Folex. Get a big bottle of it. It's a lot of work, requires a lot of elbow grease, but it works great. My dog used to have diarrhea a lot and it got that out of white carpet. Took forever, but it did.
posted by Automocar at 1:51 PM on November 1, 2019

I’d pretreat stains with with something like this Woolite Pet Cleaner. It’s at most grocery stores. I have light beige carpet and this stuff is pretty magical for pet messes, at least puke/hairball/terribly sick and didn’t wake us up fast enough problems (follow the directions, may take multiple applications).
posted by charmedimsure at 4:01 PM on November 1, 2019

Before you steam clean, try zep pet stain remover multiple times. It's available at home depot and online.

I've removed every type of pet stain imaginable from light color carpets with this stuff (though I will admit it's efficiency might depend on the type of carpet fibers, I don't know), even old dried in stains.
The trick is to do it multiple times. after you get the initial stain out and the area has dried, retreat the new larger discolored area. After repeated treatments the stains should be gone.
Also, not sure what the bottle directions say, but my method is to spray till very damp, use a soft scrub brush to work it in, blot with absorbent towels (i swear by the 60 pack of terry towels that home depot sells in the cleaning section. it's $20 and they will go through at least several washes before being no longer usable.) I sometimes will put a couple layers of the towels down and then a weight on top of them for a few hours.

Good luck!
posted by newpotato at 3:25 AM on November 2, 2019

Thank you for your suggestions.

I rented a carpet cleaner over the weekend and did about four rounds on the worst room. (Machine rental was $30 for 24 hours and the big jug of cleaning solution was another $26). It does look and smell a lot better, although it is still not perfect. A big issue is that even once the carpet itself is reasonably clean, the carpet pad underneath will clearly still not be.

Once I saw how hopeless it was to get it really sanitary, I booked a professional to come in and clean all the carpets next weekend (he quoted me a price of $350). However, I ended up cancelling my appointment with him today.

The truth is that the carpets are over 25 years old and need to be replaced anyhow. I have decided to rent a machine for another weekend or two in order to keep the place livable while my dog is house training, and to replace the flooring entirely in the near future.
posted by rue72 at 12:20 PM on November 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

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