Here is an amazing fact: Did you know that you can smell better on a hot day than you can on a cold day?
That’s because the smell is transferred by water vapor and there is typically more water vapor in the air on warm days than on cold days. This story shows why smells matter so much…warning don’t scratch ‘n sniff (ya never know!).
It was cold. I was cleaning carpet for a favorite client who was moving into a a newly purchased home, lets call her Mrs. Jones, to protect the innocent. In fact it was really cold. On hot days you can’t see it, but today it was so cold you could see the freshly cleaned carpet literally was steaming for minutes after I left the area with my wand.
Now I should tell you that Mrs. Jones’ house smelled perfectly wonderful when I first walked in. So merrily I go along, cleaning her carpet, steam rolling up in my fact and the freshly cleaned carpet steaming behind me as I go. Then all of a sudden the hot steam picked up the most horrible odor. It stood up and slapped me right in the face! I knew the smell, and actually I struggled not to gag.
Guess who just happened to walk in the room right then? Mrs. Jones. She whirled toward me as she caught a whiff and saw the expression of disgust and horror on my face. I think she mistook my expression for guilt (how could he?…) or something, because she demanded, “What is that horrible smell?”
Off guard and totally tactless I piped out—“Cat pee, and lots of it!”
Mrs. Jones shouted, “Why on earth would you put cat urine in my carpet?!” Tears actually welled up in her eyes. It seems we had a complete misunderstanding here.
I tried to explain that I use only pure, clean, steamy hot water and mild cleaning solutions (natural and highly effective at that). That the cat urine was already there and all I did was activate it when I hit it with hot water. But, she wasn’t listening. I actually got thrown out on my coat tails.
In the days that followed, she called two other companies to clean out the cat urine that she thought I put in her carpet. Neither of them could, so she replaced the carpet. When the installer replaced the carpet he showed her that it was not just the carpet, the pad was soaked with carpet, and so was the floor. He replaced the pad but since he did not seal the floor, the odor was doomed to climb right up, through it and out in to the air again.
Mrs. Jones thought I had gone berserk, but if she had only had listened to me, I could have saved her so much hassle. She had bought a home with a carpet that had been soaked with pet urine. You couldn’t smell it because the heat was low and the house was cold. But when my wet steam warmed it up you could smell it with a vengeance.
She called two carpet cleaning companies who had no idea how to handle this problem and topped it off by blowing money on a new carpet and made the sin of installing it over a contaminated floor that will surely smell this summer. At least, though, the pad was replaced.
Did you know that the average house cat can put 40 gallons of urine per year into your carpet and you may never know? The cat tends to go in 3 different places behind furnishings, along edges and walls and usually out of site. So you may never see it.
The urine has natural “penetrants” that cause it to immediately go through the carpet and into the pad. The pad can hold 3 gallons of pet urine per square yard without getting squishy wet. The urine dries slowly but if the cat goes in several places, which is normal, the carpet dries fast enough that urine dries in the base of the carpet and the homeowner may never notice the smell.
In fact, 20% of all people cannot smell the specific odor of cat urine. The urine odor is strong enough the make the other 80% of us to totally gag. But if you are on of those “20%-ers” that can’t smell the cat urine, your guests might be grossed out by something in your carpet you can’t even smell.
To add insult to injury, when the other carpet cleaners tried to clean the carpet, they moistened the urine and activated the odor, since the ammonia salts deposited with the urine grab moisture and hold on to it. Which if the case, the odor can take weeks to go away. Mrs. Jones got angrier every time the carpet was cleaned, because each time it smelled worse and the smell seemed to hang around.
“I swear I can help you Mrs. Jones. I wash much of the urine out, but in order to do that, I activate the dried urine, get it wet, so I can wash it out. When it gets wet, it smells to high-heaven. But I wash that out.” Had Mrs. Jones given me a few minutes, the worst part would have been over.
Plus, I have treatments that can digest urine. Special bacteria and enzyme cultures, harmless to us humans, eat urine like crazy. On small jobs I can apply it topically, on heavy contamination I can disengage the carpet, clean both sides and apply it to the pad and both sides of the carpet. After that, I wash it out and seal the floor underneath. I often can guarantee the odor removal. We have cleaning agents and techniques that work miracles, most of the time.
If you notice an odor I can clean it out, but in some cases require extra treatment. You can’t always tell an odor is there before you start. In the rare case that an odor pops out while cleaning, please rest assured that I know what I am doing, it smells because I am getting rid of it and will be gone shortly. I feel terrible for Mrs. Jones’ saga, but it didn’t need to happen. With better trust in listening to the carpet cleaner about odor and its uncanny ability to appear out of nowhere, this could have been avoided.
- Pet urine removal and odor is not basic carpet cleaning, it is decontamination.
- The contamination already exists, the carpet cleaner did not cause it.
- The carpet cleaner is the trained professional who is there to remediate it properly and get rid of it for you.
- Be prepared for an in depth process to remove it, including tear out and replacement
- Half attempts may not be sufficient (as in “I don’t want to go crazy, I just want my carpets cleaned.”)
While as a carpet cleaning service we are happy to do that, we must advise you there could be continuing consequences. And if you are willing to take that chance, we will “just clean” for you but will only do so if you sign off for complete responsibility if it returns.