Floors are the most extensive surface in any home. It is no wonder that when transforming a new house into their dream home, many take apart the floors and replace them with timeless hardwood floors. Hardwood floors are a thing of beauty and are long-lasting. However, not only are they expensive to install, but they also require very specific maintenance to keep them glossy and increase their lifespan. If you have a dog, you might focus on protecting your floors from scratches and food stains, but there is something else you need to be worried about: dog urine.
You might have a house trained your fur baby to pee in one area, but he is going to have an accident at one time or another. Whether it is due to anxiety, sickness or old age, your dog will forget his potty training at some point and your hardwood floors will end up as victims.
You might think just wiping off the urine is enough, but while this might remove it from your sight, it does not get rid of other issues associated with dog urine. Spotty’s pee will seep right through your hardwood floors and will silently wreak havoc on the quality of your floor over time. Furthermore, dog pee that is absorbed in wood grains releases a smell that will render your air fresheners useless.
So how do you properly remove dog urine from hardwood floors and ensure that your floors are protected from damage from past and future incidents? This article will deal with that aspect in detail. But first, how exactly does Spotty’s pee affect your hardwood floors?
How Dog Pee Affects Hardwood Floors
Staining and Discoloration:
Have you noticed how when Spotty pees on the same spot on grass it slowly turns the color of the grass from green to yellow? The same thing will happen to your floors. Spotty’s pee contains powerful chemicals like uric acid, and this acts as a bleach. Since dogs like doing their business around the same area, if you just wipe the pee off using the old water and rag, the chemicals remain and your floor will start losing its deep woody tones. Depending on the area of the floor Spotty likes to pee on, this can be immediately noticeable to visitors. Even if you cover the stain with a rug or push a chair over it, you will know it is there.
This is probably the most extreme damage Spotty’s pee can do on your floors. It is slow but once it starts happening, it is irreversible. Dog urine contains a compound called uric acid, and another compound called ammonia. Uric acid corrodes your hardwood floor by eating away at the protective layer on top. This gradually exposes the wood and more urine gets into the grain of the wood. The ammonia activates the bacteria inside the grain of the wood, giving them the chance to eat through the wood and spread the infection from plank to plank.
Unlike cat urine, you might not immediately notice the smell of Spotty’s pee. This is especially so if you spend long hours inside your own house, or if you wipe down the pee with detergent. However, the stench of urine on hardwood floors only gets worse with time. After the wood is perforated and corrosion occurs, the smell of ammonia is retained in the wood grain, which makes it much more noticeable over time.
You have probably noticed that once water is consistently absorbed into the grains of wood, the wood ends upswelling. The same thing happens to your hardwood floors when Spotty pees on it. The urine penetrates deep into the wood over time, and this leads to swelling. This swelling transfers to other panels on your flooring, and soon you will have a floor that needs a complete overhaul because the damage is irreversible.
What Not to Do When Cleaning Dog Pee off Hardwood Floors
Leave the urine to dry:
Try as much as possible to get the urine right after Spotty has messed up. It can be very tempting to leave it to dry, but if you have hardwood floors, this just means that the wood soaks up the urine. If you notice Spotty crouched in one spot, clean it up immediately.
Use Plain Water:
A rug soaked in water might remove the urine from hardwood floor, but it does not prevent it from soaking through the wood, nor does it get rid of the smell. Further, the water could also soak into the floor, hurting your hardwood floor more.
Bleach sounds like the best thing to use, especially since the smell might mask the stench of dog urine. However, if you use undiluted bleach for maximum impact, the acid will corrode the hardwood floor, discoloring it just like the uric acid from the urine would. Bleach with ammonia will just lure Spotty to the same area, further damaging your floor.
Use White Vinegar:
White vinegar is acidic. It will discolor your hardwood floor just like bleach or actual acid would. White vinegar also encourages Spotty to keep marking his territory, and he will keep peeing on your precious hardwood floor.
Hardwood Floor Dog Pee Cleanup Must-Haves
1. Enzyme-Based Cleaner
Any pet owner should have an enzymatic cleaner at home. They are necessary equipment for when you are house training your new dog, and you should keep them at hand just in case Spotty has an accident. But how exactly do enzymatic cleaners work?
Enzyme cleaners, as the name shows, use enzymes that target the particular stains you are cleaning off. When you spray an enzymatic cleaner on Spotty’s urine, the enzyme protease breaks down the uric acid found in the urine, dissolving it in the solution. Enzymatic cleaners also destroy the bacteria found in the urine so it does not infect your hardwood floors. In the end, your floor is free from all the components found in urine, including the ammonia that gives urine its unique stench. Even if Spotty is a bloodhound, he will not manage to get a whiff of his previous urine, and this will dissuade him from peeing around the same spot.
Enzymatic cleaners work even when the urine is dry. So even if you notice a stain on your hardwood floor from dried urine, do not panic. Spray the cleaner on the area several times and wait for a while, then wipe it off.
2. Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide, as complex as that sounds, works in a pretty simple way. This compound dries up Spotty’s urine from your hardwood floor, preventing it from soaking through and spreading bacteria that will harm the rest of your floorboards.
Hydrogen peroxide contains two molecules of oxygen, making it an oxidizer. When poured on Spotty’s urine, it neutralizes the ammonia found in the urine. This gets rid of that strong urine smell. Hydrogen peroxide also kills bacteria, preventing your wood floors from being eaten up.
3. Baking Soda
Baking soda is another neutralizer, and it is something you can find easily in the house when Spotty pees on the hardwood floor. When you sprinkle baking soda on dog urine, it neutralizes the uric acid, taking the tangy stink of ammonia away from your floor. To get the maximum benefit from baking soda, leave it on for 6 hours or overnight. By the next day, Spotty will be unlikely to relieve himself on the same spot.
4. Bloating Paper
Instead of getting on your hands and knees to wipe out the urine, bloating paper lets the urine soak without smearing all across the floor. This reduces the area that is contaminated by Spotty’s pee, reducing the damage to your hardwood floor.
How to Clean Dog Urine from Hardwood Floors: Regular Detergent
Soak It Up
Method 1: Once you notice Spotty has had an accident, quickly get your bloating papers and place them on the stain. To make sure they sap up as much of the liquid as possible, place several over the stain. It is good practice to start blotting from the outside inwards to prevent the puddle of urine from moving outward and putting more of your floor at risk.
Alternative: Place paper towels or tissue paper on the urine stain and pat the area dry. Paper towels or tissue get wet quickly so make sure you use several so that the area is completely dry.
Method 1: Once the urine is dried up, sprinkle the enzymatic cleaner on the spot. Depending on the type you have, you might need to mix 2 ounces of the cleaner into a bucket of hot water. Use a cloth that you normally use to clean your hardwood floor to scrub the area, driving the enzymatic cleaner across the stain so that it reaches the full area. Do not use a tough brush even if the smell of the urine is strong because you might end up harming your hardwood floor more.
Alternative: if you do not have the enzymatic cleaner, you can use detergent and water. Make sure to scrub the mixture properly over the stain because detergent is not as powerful at target urine proteins as enzymatic cleaners.
Method 1: Now that you have treated the urine stain, wipe off the wet enzymatic cleaner using a soft cloth. This, however, does not mean all the moisture from the cleaning agent has been taken care of. To ensure that the moisture does not soak into the wood grain, something that will happen with repeated cleaning, you need to use hydrogen peroxide. For this to be effective, you need to soak the hydrogen peroxide on a towel which will cover the whole area of the stain. Leave the towel over the area for 6 or more hours. This not only prevents the moisture from the urine and cleaner from seeping deeper into the wood, but it also gets rid of any stain that may have formed from past peeing incidents and gets rid of the smell of dog urine.
Alternative: Douse the area with the urine stain in baking soda. Leave the baking soda in place overnight so that it can effectively get rid of the smell of ammonia.
To effectively remove the smell of urine from your home, use a deodorizer. Spray it over the area where Spotty likes to go. Not only will this mask the smell from him, but it will also be the first thing your guests get a whiff of when visiting instead of urine stench.
Expand the Cleaning Area
It is easy to focus on the place where you can see the liquid. However, cleaning beyond the stain and into the surrounding area will make sure you get any liquid that may have already seeped into the wood and spread away from the original area of impact.
To Sum Up
You do not have to pick between Spotty and your hardwood floors: both treasured possessions can coexist in tip-top shape for a very long time. When Spotty has an accident, as he will inevitably do at some point even if he is house trained, you can easily get rid of the evidence to prevent permanent staining of your hardwood floors and to protect the urine smell from being the ambient smell in your home.
Cleaning dog urine from hardwood floors is not difficult and you can use things you already have in the house for the job. Detergent and baking soda can be found anywhere. If you are a parent who is still house training, get yourself an enzymatic cleaner and hydrogen peroxide. The enzymatic cleaner works more effectively than regular detergent and is hydrogen peroxide removes even stubborn pee stains from your hardwood floors.
Remember: act quickly once you notice the pee. Clean further than the wet area. And do not yell at Spotty because your hardwood floors will be just fine.