Many humans love having a pet (or several), but aren’t as fond of the potential for messes, smells and wear they may bring to the family car.
Paint scratches, window slobber, and unpleasant odours are all a possibility if you travel with your pet — and there are various ways to deal with these.
But on this page, we’ll instead focus on the best (and worst) things you can do when disaster strikes on the road.
Sometimes your pet will make a mess in your car that involves urine, poop, or vomit. If this is the case, there’s only one course of action: you need to do the right thing, with the right product, and you need to do it fast.
As a long-time dog owner and avid neat-freak who is obsessive about clean vehicle cabins, here are my best tips for effectively dealing with in-vehicle pet-messes.
As an added bonus, the tips below work nicely around the house, too.
1. Do not scrub
Scrubbing is fine if you’re washing your hair in the shower, but scrubbing away at a pet mess in the car is usually bad news.
For best results, be gentle: dab or blot with the least amount of pressure possible, and avoid scrubbing with heavy pressure, or a circular motion.
The less downward force you apply to the mess, the better. Scrubbing can push the stain further into the seat or carpet and make it even bigger.
2: Go enzymatic or go home
Oxy-Clean is one of the most popular enzyme-based cleaning products out there, though many others exist. Your pet store may sell an enzyme-based “pet mess” cleaner, and you can find various options in the cleaning isle at your favourite store, too.
That’s a good thing, since they’re about the only product you should generally be using on a pet stain. So called “enzymatic” cleaners use their special enzymes to break the stain down, and they’re perfect for things like pee, poop and puke. They loosen the stain’s grip on fabric and carpeting and are literally designed to digest their way through organic messes, making them easier to clean. And, when you use the right cleaner for a job like this one, you need less harmful scrubbing to do the job.
This makes for more effective cleanup and it’s also easier on your upholstery.
3. Liquid messes
If the mess is very runny or totally liquid in nature, then some (or most) of it has likely soaked deep and wide into fabric or carpeting it landed on. In this situation, I’ve had great success with a strange-sounding approach.
First, I soak the stain with enzymatic cleaner. I get it really, really wet. I’ve used a third of a bottle of the stuff for this step. We’re talking “sopping” wet with enzymatic cleaner.
Next, I get a roll of paper towels, and make a thick stack of sheets on top of the enzyme-soaked stain. Going 10 or 15 (or more) sheets thick is just fine.
Finally, take something heavy (a full paint can, a case of bottled water, your car’s spare tire, or whatever is handy) and place that on top of the paper towel stack. The weight squashes everything together and, because of science, the stain will tend to get sucked up “into” the paper towel, rather that spreading further into the (less absorbent) carpet beneath.
To my knowledge, this is the best way to rid your ride of deep-set pet stains without using professional help or equipment.