Why you still want to use a Urine Pretreatment on virtually every pet urine job

Deodorizing treatments for pet urine contamination have come a long way in our industry. There was a time when cleaners used some strong solvent based deodorizer and hoped the incredibly sad-dogpowered fragrance would overwhelm the atmosphere. Today, there are many different effective treatments in your arsenal – enzyme/bacterial deodorants, encapsulating and bonding deodorizers such as CleanMaster Multi-Phase, Oxidizing treatments such as CleanMaster USR with Multi-Phase, and various other solvent and water based deodorizers. Chances are, you already have picked out a favorite or two that you use consistently.

We know that urine contamination is a “quadruple threat.” It needs to be neutralized, deodorized, and sanitized. Plus, we need to get out the stain that may have resulted either from the color of the urine “re-dyeing” the carpet or the resulting alkaline salts attacking the dye structure of the carpet.Urine contamination is not only an odor issue but a staining issue and a health / contamination issue.The client who appreciates all four of these problems is willing to spend more for proper corrective action. You already know that customer education is an effective sales tool.

So with all this new chemical treatment technology, can’t you just skip the urine pretreatment step and go right into using your tried and true favorite deodorizer and/or stain remover? The answer is yes, and no. If you have been on enough jobs with a lot of urine contamination, you have already encountered the sticky, almost greasy feeling mess that often accompanies a build-up of pet urine. upsYou may or may not know that lipids are oily cholesterol in the urine.Repeated use of the same spot by the dog or cat will result in an oily build-up that prevents water based solutions from penetrating.The carpet will feel sticky or oily. The fact is, if you are fortunate, your enzyme deodorant may include lipase enzymes which are designed to digest the lipid build-up. However, it will usually take hours for that to take effect and be complete. Your favorite “cide” type encapsulating deodorizer does not contain any ingredient which will dissolve or break down these oily lipids. Neither does your oxidizing treatment. Your $25-$80 per gallon deodorizing treatment is going to have trouble penetrating this build-up of lipids in the carpet. It is going to have to work extra hard to try and do its job. A specially formulated urine pre-treatment like CleanMaster UPS is designed to neutralize the resulting alkaline salts in urine contamination. More importantly, it is formulated to break through and dissolve the sticky, oily mess that is keeping your deodorizer from working faster. Using a urine pretreatment will virtually always greatly speed up the treatment process of your other favorite treatment chemical. A 2-3 minute  application of CleanMaster UPS will save you time, decontaminate the area, and reduce the amount of expensive deodorizer you have to apply. It will virtually ALWAYS save you time and save you money.

Not every acid spotting solution works effectively as a urine pretreatment. A great Urine pretreatment like CleanMaster UPS  is a special synergistic blend of acid neutralizers, detergents, odor counteractants, and decontamination deodorizers for use as a urine contamination neutralizer and to dissolve and break down the oily, sticky lipids. It will effectively dissolve and dislodge alkaline salt residues that build up in urine deposits and neutralize sticky and gummy  lipids and contamination.

Heart-to-Heart Conversations about Carpet Odors

Talking with customerAs the weather gets colder and the days get shorter, people have a tendency to go inside, make sure the windows are closed, shut the door, and spend more time inside. With less airflow and ventilation, and the simple fact that the people and pets living in a home are spending more time there, the likelihood of odors emanating from the carpet becoming more obvious greatly increases. The problem is that the homeowner is often the last to notice or know. Why? –  Because they are used to the smell. The time often comes when someone, and often that someone is you, needs to have a heart-to heart conversation about carpet odors with the homeowner. So just why are the carpet odors anybody’s business other than the occupants of the home?

A pricey condominium in a Chicago high-rise was proving to be a very hard sale.  The property had been on the market for over six months—a long time even considering the tough real estate market.  The real estate agent decided it was time to have a “heart-to-heart” conversation with the frustrated seller, an older gentleman who had lived in the unit for more than a decade.

Did the agent tell his client the price was too high?  Actually, both the agent and the seller believed the property was priced rather competitively.

Maybe the property needed some updates, maybe a new kitchen?  While the property was certainly not brand new, the kitchen and bathrooms were recently updated, making this unlikely the issue.

Instead, the heart-to-heart the agent had to have with his client focused on something entirely different—the condominium smelled.  While the seller tried to refrain from smoking in the condo, there were many days and nights when it was simply too cold to go outside, so he smoked inside.  The years of smoke and odor buildup had taken its toll on the condo, especially in the carpets and certain fabrics.  Upon entering the property, this tobacco odorswas often the first thing visitors and, most importantly, potential buyers noticed.

When the agent mentioned that he believed the smoke odors most likely emanating from the carpets were contributing to the slow sale, the client indicated he never even noticed the smell and questioned if there even was malodor.  This is not uncommon.  Long-term occupants of a building or residence where odors are a problem often no longer notice them.  Additionally, men, such as the seller discussed here, typically do not notice odors or smells as much as women.  And, older people in general are not as odor conscious as younger people.

A homeowner finally decided that the real estate market in their area had gotten active enough that they could get the price they needed to be able to sell their house and get out from underneath an overbearing mortgage payment. They had been “upside down” for several years but wanted to keep their commitments to their bank, and had been continuously making their mortgage payments. Finally the pressure could be relieved. They had just seen two neighbors houses down the roads sell literally within days of being put on the market, and in both cases, the homeowners received bids for more than they were even asking. They had a beautiful Victorian style home nestled up against some beautiful, mature evergreen trees on over an acre of land. The home had a beautiful wraparound porch on the front and a great deck for entertaining out back. The home was around 15 years old but in reasonable good condition. They had a thick off-white cut pile carpet installed throughout much of the house. The carpet definitely needed cleaning. So they hired a local coupon carpet cleaner whose price was just too good to resist. Their relator had recommended another company she worked with on a regular basis, but their prices seemed so much higher.

The cleaning turned out to be a disaster. The carpet looked better, but not great. The problem was that it was in the middle of winter. The homeowner had a couple of dogs, but they were generally well behaved, and sad-dogusually went outside to “do their business.” Now though, the whole house smelled like a mixture of mustiness and dog pee. Potential buyers were looking at their house, and quickly leaving. Offers were not coming in.

These situations are not uncommon.  Smoke, typically from cigarettes, is one of the most common carpet odors in both residential and commercial properties.  Along with smoke, some of the most frequently encountered odors include:

  • Pet urine
  • Mold and mildew from water damage and mustiness
  • Off-gassing from chemicals and materials used in the home.
  • Food and beverages that have seeped into the carpet

So how do you deal with the emotions and potential hurt feelings of folks you want to be your carpet cleaning customers, but that you have deliver some not-so-wonderful news about the odors in their home?

A Heart to Heart Conversation – “Honey-Slap-Honey”

“Honey-slap-honey” is a term used to describe how to deliver not so great news or critique a person who you want to have a good relationship with or perhaps even that works for you. Always start and finish any conversation with honey – in other words, compliments and praises. In our cases above, both the condominium and the home had plenty of wonderful attributes. Compliment the homeowner on their choice of location, their décor, their man cave, or anything you can think of about their home which you genuinely like. Don’t be deceitful or phony. Find something you really do like and start and finish the conversation with something positive in between the “slap” – delivering the not-so-wonderful news.

Secondly, deep down the homeowner is likely a little embarrassed that another person had to point out to them the odor problem in the first place. They may be a little worried they hired a competitor on price alone who could not solve the problem or actually made it worse. The truth is though that both of these things just mean they are an average person. Relieve them of this potential stress immediately by telling them what they are encountering is not uncommon. You can even talk a little bit about the science of how we perceive odor and that we do get used to the odors around us. Explain you are here to solve their problem, just like you have solved THESE EXACT SAME problems for lots of other homeowners.

Finally, separate yourself from all of the magical odor control treatments they have heard of or been promised with the science of odor control. Explain how odor is an effect. It has a source which emits gases. These gases travel throughout the house by means of air movement. When the doors and windows are closed, they become more obvious. Explain how odor is interpreted by the olfactory lobe in the brain, and like many things that the brain interprets, different people can reach different conclusions about the same odor. Explain to them that the first rule of permanently eradicating any odor is to eliminate the source, and since we and our beloved pets are part of what is the source of the odor, it is an on-going process that requires knowledge of the science of control, not just masking and covering up one odor with a stronger perfume or fragrance.

Traditional Odor Eradicating/Elimination Strategies

There are some traditional ways to remove odors from carpets and many continue to prove quite successful. Removing odors from carpets and masking odors with a fragrance are two different things. While some strategies may include a fragrance, removing offensive odors means attacking the source of the odor so it has been eliminated.

Here are the basic categories of odor elimination and deodorization treatments you have at your disposal as a professional to deal with the most common odor problems found in carpets:

  • Urine Pre-treatments: These solutions typically used as a pre-spray, are used to dissolve and break down urine and feces deposits left in the carpeting. They are the most effective way of dissolving the lipids that bind the urine deposits to the carpet. The more of the urine contamination that you can effectively neutralize and remove from the carpet, the easier the treatment for deodorization will be. Whatever stain or odor control treatment is your favorite for treating urine, using a urine pre-treatment, such as CleanMaster UPS will make your treatment faster and more effective.
  • Pairing Agents:  A pairing agents is defined as a solution which combines with the malodor molecule or substance and then      gives it some of its own chemical properties which transforms the odor’s chemistry into a new non-odorous compound. The pairing agent must make direct contact with the malodor source in order to be effective. Some pairing agents contain aggressive attacking and counteracting agents where the aggressive pairing action transforms the odor cell and the condition of the total environment. Pairing agents, such as CleanMaster OdorMate Tropical Breeze, are typically used to treat and eliminate tobacco and smoke odors, and also work effectively against chemical off gassing odors.
  • Chemical Oxidizers: These chemicals are derived from peroxide compounds and are activated by effervescent activity. They oxidize and help decompose odor-causing bacteria—very often a source of carpet odors—which are then removed in the      extraction process. They are typically used as powders, mixed with hot water, and then poured onto the carpet where the source of the odor is contained. After a few minutes the, solution is extracted from the carpet, usually with a subsurface extraction wand or tool. These oxidizers are effective at eliminating the yellow carpet stains caused by urine contamination, as well as oxidizing the odors, making them a growing favorite with professionals. They can also be used effectively against mustiness and mildew odors, and to eliminate odors caused by chemical off-gassing. Some of these powder oxidizers, like CleanMaster USR with Multi-Phase, are fortified with an encapsulating and bonding deodorizing agent to provide additional odor control benefits.
  • Electronic oxidation or deodorization–  The production and use of ozone gas. A gas produced from arcing electricity through oxygen molecules.  This gas oxidizes odors it comes in contact with, totally destroying the odor. Ozone is typically more      effective on chemical off gassing and smoke odors. As a general rule, it is too slow for use on urine odors. Ozone must only be used in unoccupied areas.
  • Encapsulating and Bonding Deodorizers – Specially formulated deodorizing treatments that bind to and encapsulate odor      molecules, effectively eliminating the odor cells ability to produce odors. In addition, most of these types of solutions also contain a pleasant pairing fragrance specifically geared to treat all types of malodors – urine, smoke, chemical off-gassing, and mustiness. These broad based deodorizers need to come in direct contact with the source of the odor for maximum effectiveness. CleanMaster MultiPhase is an example of this type of product and was the pioneer in the development of his technology.
  • Vapor phase diffusers- The diffusion into the airspace of natural essential oils and odor neutralizing compounds that have been      suspended into a membrane. These diffusers breathe a penetrating dry vapor into the air. The most popular vapor diffusers are made by Vaportek®, and have been found to be very effective against smoke and tobacco odors.
  • Biocides/Disinfectants/Sanitizers – Disinfecting agents that have the ability to kill a broad range of microorganisms, but not necessarily all their spores. Disinfectants are primarily used to resolve odor problems related to microorganisms. They can be effective against mustiness and mold smells, although their primary purpose is to kill the source of the odor – the microorganisms. These types of products use is highly regulated under federal law, so become familiar with the product you are using and the directions called for on the label.
  • Digesters (Enzyme Deodorants) – These are living organisms (bacteria) which produce enzymes that digest or consume decaying organic and protein contaminants. They contain living organism(s) that emit an enzyme to consume protein found in odor-causing bacteria, which destroy odor. They are often used for deodorizing decaying organic materials, such as urine, meat, fish, milk, blood, body fluids, and human or animal waste. They are typically effective against urine and protein odors, but to work effectively need prolonged contact time with the odor source.
  • Sealing – Sealing agents are solutions which “lock-in” odor molecules by preventing the evaporation of odorous gases.The sealing agent is applied to sources of malodor to prevent the further evaporation of the malodors into the airspace. Sealing is often required on various salvageable surfaces exposed to concentrations of malodor. Sealants are often applied to wood, concrete, subflooring, duct and ventilation systems etc…, to prevent wicking of odor contamination from urine and smoke deposits.

Effective odor control methods, procedures and agents can include masking, oxidizing, adsorption, absorption, counteracting, digesting, sealing, killing, and pairing. “The effectiveness of all of these products – as with most all cleaning chemicals — invariably improves when using a high performance hot-water extraction portable or truckmount to effectively clean the contamination out of the carpet both before and after the deodorization treatment

When Problems Persist

There can be many reasons why a carpet odor problem persists.  Possibly, more effort is needed in determining the cause of the odor or its actual source.  Using a black light and/or a moisture sensor can help find the source.  In some cases, it may not be the carpets at all, but walls, furniture, or other surfaces can be contaminated.

In other cases, the wrong chemicals or combination of chemicals used to eliminate the odor were employed.  Or possibly, the machine did not have the extraction power to effectively remove the source of the odors.

Finally, if odor is still a problem after you have employed a combination of usually effective treatments, and you are sure it is still coming from the carpet then you must have a heart-to-heart discussion with the customer as to their remaining options which generally means the carpet and cushion needs to be replaced and the subfloor underneath sealed with an effective agent.

For a free step-by-step interactive electronic Deodorization and Odor Control Procedural Reference Guide that provides more specific details on the treatment procedures discussed, simply click here.

Odor Control

About the author: R. Doyle Bloss has been a part of the cleaning and restoration industry for over 30 years. He presently serves as the Marketing and Chemical Brand Manager for HydraMaster and US Products in Mukilteo, Washington.  Doyle has a long, successful track record of developing education and training systems in the areas of technical procedures, as well as marketing and management principles for the cleaning entrepreneur. He has headed up the two largest training programs in the industry,  assisted in developing complete chemical lines for three leading manufacturers,  and has been honored and awarded for his innovative programs that build bridges throughout the cleaning and restoration industry. He has a passion for hands-on presentation that provides an entertaining and thought provoking style that fully engages the student into the learning process. When not thinking about the latest innovations for removing cat pee, and how to market that service, Doyle enjoys college football, wildlife photography, Yellowstone National Park, and church activities. Doyle and his wife Tammy have three children and currently reside in Snohomish, Washington. Doyle can be reached at doyle.bloss@hydramaster.com

Why Oxidation Works Better than Enzymes at Pet Urine Stain and Odor Elimination

Many professional carpet cleaners are still using enzyme based and bio-enzyme based deodorizers for dealing with pet urine odor problems in carpeting. Most of these products contain multiple strains or types of enzymes or bacterial cultures that are designed to break down and digest the urine odors at the molecular level. Truth is, many of these products work very effectively at eliminating pet odors – when given the proper amount of time and the perfect environmental conditions. Therein lies one of the fundamental issues with using enzyme based deodorizers – they take a long time to work, anywhere from one hour to 24 hours.  Often times, the use of an enzyme deodorizer requires a return trip to the customer’s home or business. Not only that, none of the enzymes contained within these formulas are really designed to eliminate the stains caused by pet urine on carpets nearly as effectively as the oxidation option.

The use of powder oxidation treatments has several big advantages over the use of enzyme deodorizers. First, it is faster.  The release of the effervescent oxygen immediately triggers the chemical breakdown of urine into the basic components of such as nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon dioxide. Second, it is more durable. Since you have to keep the living organisms alive which are producing the enzymes, you have to be able to control the environmental conditions – room temperature and pre-existing chemicals in the carpet just to name a couple. Oxidation solutions are mixed and used on the spot and are more durable and not as effected by environmental conditions. Third, the oxidation action is a stain removal action, making it much more likely to effectively eliminate the yellow stains in the carpet caused by the urine. Finally, and perhaps the most overlooked advantage of using Oxidation is that the customer can see the vivacious, bubbling, effervescent mixture going right to work eliminating even the most stubborn urine stains with their own eyes.

An oxidizing stain and odor control treatment like CleanMaster USR with Multi-Phase from HydraMaster will effectively deal with all three negative aspects of urine contamination – the lipid based sticky build-up of contamination, the negatively perceived odor, and the resulting stains. A big advantage of USR is that it also contains Multi-Phase. USR with Multi-Phase uses the effervescent cleansing, stain removal, and deodorizing power of activated oxygen synergistically combined with the encapsulating and bonding odor elimination power of Multi-Phase Deodorizer. When applied as directed the odor is eliminated through the power of oxidation and Multi-Phase. It chemically modifies and deactivates the stain, eliminates the odor, and does so without leaving strong and potentially offensive fragrances or perfumes behind. This state of the art formula also includes ingredients that speed up solution penetration and make USR easier to remove and extract from the carpet when compared to other powder oxidation solution and properties that keep the treated area from attracting residue and re-soiling following treatment. Best of all, with USR with Multi-Phase you use less product than with other powder oxidizers making it more economical.

There are some basic guidelines that will make using powder oxidation treatments work more effectively. It is highly recommended that you use a subsurface extraction tool or wand when applying an oxidizing solution.  If you do not have a sub-surface extraction wand or spotting tool, make sure to take extra wet and dry passes with your wand to remove the solution after treatment. In addition, as a general rule, powder oxidation treatments should only be used on synthetic carpets. They are not recommended for wool or silk carpet. Since oxidation is designed to remove the staining discoloration, always pre-test the solution in an inconspicuous area of the carpet for colorfastness prior to application. You mix the manufacturer’s recommended amount of solution (6 ounces for USR with Multi-Phase) into a five gallon bucket of very hot water. Stir the mixture up for 30 to 60 seconds. The foam will rise to the top within two minutes. Then saturate (usually by pouring) the mixed solution right onto the area being treated. Note the effervescent, bubbling reaction taking place. Allow the solution to dwell 10-30 minutes (usually the longer the better). Then extract the solution from carpet preferably using a sub-surface extraction wand or tool. If using scrub wand, take extra wet and dry passes, then finish with several dry passes.