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the picture of innocenceNearly all pet owners have a dirty little secret that we all desperately want to keep under wraps: sometimes our perfectly trained, dander & body function free little people actually poop and pee other than in their prescribed locations ...only occasionally of course. Unfortunately, the tell-tale smell from these occasional mishaps can linger, well, forever.

Even after using various pet odor removing products that caution you against using them around animals a faint scent always remains to remind you and spill the beans to your guests that your cat or dog isn't perfect. I learned a simple, 100% effective, and all natural solution to even the foulest of pet odors by applying a little kitchen knowledge.

In addition to adding flavor, marinades are often used to tenderize tough cuts of meat. The reason marinades are so successful at tenderizing is because of the alcohol or vinegar inevitably present in all marinades. Alcohol or vinegar "denatures" (relaxes) the protein in the meat giving that nice break-apart-in-your-mouth (i.e. no-chewing-gum-anymore) texture.

Incidentally, protein is also responsible for the odor in urine (and other body products) and is THE most stubborn ingredient to remove from fibers. Imagine removing egg whites from your carpet. Soaking the affected surface in vinegar (you could use a nice dry white ...but that seems a waste) will denature the protein and allow it to be removed easily.

If your pet gets the floor often -- don't worry we won't tell -- keep a spray bottle with one part white vinegar with one part water handy and spritz spots until all the affected fibers (i.e. carpet) or the entire surface (i.e. wood) is damp. After it sits for bit (I like to give it at least 10 min.) you can pull the odor right out of the carpet by flushing the area with a little water and patting dry a 2 or 3 times. A wet/dry vacuum works great instead of towels.

If the offending odor is on clothes (either from the gym or a forgotten pile of laundry that your cat used out of convenience) then use your washing machine to marinade. Set the washer at its lowest water level or enough to cover, pour in a cup or two of vinegar and let it sit and think about it for a couple hours or so. The stronger the vinegar solution, the less time it will take but the more vinegar you'll go through. Once marinaded, drain the used marinade (for peace of mind), add some more clothes to make good use of the load, and run your washer like always. It's a good idea to test sniff clothes before popping into the dryer. If it didn't get all the way out the first time, the heat from the dryer will make it a little harder to remove (but never impossible).

  • Eric Monse

    Have to try this. Wonder how it works for pet allergies.

  • Lori

    My husbasnd and I used to use straight white vinegar on the spots. The house would smell like pickles for a while and then the urine odor would come back. It also supposedly makes the urine hard for the dogs to smell, so they won't pee there again. Not. However, the urine/ammonia odor was much less strong than before the vinegar was used. Maybe we didn't let it sit long enough. Best solution......get a house with hardwood or Pergo flooring.

  • Tim Dickinson

    While I can't speak to Lori's experience I'd like to make it clear that vinegar doesn't make odors disappear it releases them from the things their stuck to. Carpet is the trickiest surface for removing odors because it's devilishly hard to suck the stink out. I use a small wet/dry vacuum that I keep in the house for just such occasions. (Hey, I have 5 cats and a dog!) I usually go through about a half gallon of warm/hot water per spot on the carpet. Just pouring some on then suck it out and repeat. A carpet exractor works great too. It is possible to extract it with towels but plan on using a lot of towels to make sure you really get it flushed up and out.

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