Cats and dogs are a blessing to us and our families, but more often than not, they can be detrimental to the end goal of keeping a clean carpet in your home. Try as you might to stay on top of it, stains are bound to magically show up. Dogs and cats often manage to track dirt and mud in from outdoors, especially when the weather is bad. It’s hard work making sure your dog is house trained and your cat is litter box trained, and along the way, you’ll have to deal with messes in your home. Luckily, there are easy ways to combat the smells and stains caused by our beloved pets.

An easy way to combat pet related stains is using a solution made from 2 cups of white vinegar, 2 cups of warm water and 4 tablespoons of baking soda. Be careful with the baking soda – add it slowly to the vinegar and water, as it will create a lot of fizz. Combine the ingredients and pour the solution into a spray bottle. Before use, blot up all of what you can – fold up a washcloth, lay it on top of the stain and place a heavy book on top of the cloth. This will facilitate absorption. Once you’ve absorbed what you can of the stain, apply the solution by spraying the area. Let sit for five minutes before blotting again with a damp cloth. If the odor persists, you can pour some baking soda over the affected area to deodorize the stain. Not only does this solution work for combating mud and urine stains, but it can also help with getting messy food stains out of your carpets.

For stains that have already set, consider renting a steam carpet cleaner. But be warned – don’t clean urine stains with a steam carpet cleaner, as the heat will bond the proteins to the carpet fibers, forcing the stain and odor to permanently set in the carpet or upholstery. It’s also advised that you avoid using vinegar, ammonia, or a cleaning solution that contains either, to clean urine stains, as the strong odors they leave behind may entice your pet to reinforce their urine scent on that spot. After your carpet is dry, spray a pet odor neutralizer on the area.

As always, follow the most important rules for carpet cleaning: always blot, never rub, and test solutions on an inconspicuous part of the carpet before use.