Nobody wishes their dog to pee on their hardwood floors, but sometimes accidents happen. To avoid permanent damage to your hardwood flooring, it’s important to know the best ways to remove dog urine and prevent it from happening again.
Here are the 5 critical steps to getting dog pee out of hardwood floors:
- Clean up the urine as quickly as possible
- Buff out the urine stain
- Bleach the urine stain
- Deodorize the floors
- Refinish the affected area
The rest of this article will discuss exactly what happens when dog pee gets into your hardwood floors and how to remove it effectively. Let’s dive right into it!
1. Clean Up the Urine As Quickly as Possible
To limit the amount of damage done to your floors, you’ll want to make sure you clean up the urine as quickly as possible. Like any liquid, the longer it sits on your hardwoods, the more damage it’ll do.
After all, spilling a glass of water on your hardwood floors isn’t a big deal as long as you clean it up. The problems start when you don’t wipe the water right away. If you leave it long enough, it’ll soak into your wood.
The best way to do the initial cleanup is to soak the urine up with paper towels or some old towels that you don’t mind staining. Once you’ve cleaned the initial puddle up, you want to wipe the area clean using water and a clean towel. Ensure that you get up all the moisture with paper towels once you’re done.
If you catch it early enough, this step should’ve gotten most of the urine out, and you’ll only have to do some mild deodorizing.
If the urine has sat long enough to discolor the hardwood, you’ll have to do quite a bit more work to get rid of the stain and the pungent smell. You’ll probably have to use strong chemicals like bleach and hydrogen peroxide, but more on that later.
2. Buff out the Urine Stain
If you’ve cleaned up the actual urine best you can, and you see that the actual hardwood is stained, you have quite the process ahead of you.
The first step is going to be to buff out the stain.
Most hardwoods are finished, meaning that they’re coated in a protective layer. This is meant to keep moisture out and protect the wood from minor scratches and other damages.
Unfortunately, once moisture gets beneath the finish, it’ll need to be removed to clean the wood. That’s where the buffing comes in. You want to take some sandpaper (80 to 100 grit should work) and start sanding the protective layer away.
If you’re lucky, by the time you’ve gone all the way through the finish, the stain will be gone, and you’ll be able to leave it at that and move on to the deodorizing step. If it’s still there, you’ll now start the bleaching stage.
3. Bleach the Urine Stain
If the stain is still visible after buffing the top layer away, you should bleach the hardwood to remove the urine stain.
Important note: The bleach will ruin the color of your wood. However, at this point, the urine already did that. You’re simply trying to preserve the integrity of your floor with the assumption that you’ll get that part of your floor replaced someday.
If you don’t want bleach to leave a white patch on your hardwood, the first chemical you should use is hydrogen peroxide.
Here’s how to use hydrogen peroxide on your hardwood floor:
- Pour a small amount of hydrogen peroxide to cover the stain.
- Allow the peroxide to sit for at least 20 minutes. You should see some bubbles at this stage.
- Wipe the hydrogen peroxide away to check if the spot is still there.
- Repeat if necessary.
If you still haven’t seen improvements after trying the hydrogen peroxide method, move on to diluted bleach. Make sure to wear gloves while using bleach to avoid chemical burns.
Everyone has different recommendations on what percentage of bleach to use, but if you’re going this route, it’s best to make a weaker solution first and slowly increase the amount of bleach until you see results.
Here’s how to use bleach to get dog pee out of your hardwood:
- Apply a diluted bleach solution using a soaked cloth or sponge.
- Let it sit for 5 minutes.
- Shake baking soda on top of the spot. The baking soda will neutralize the dangerous aspects of the bleach.
- Let the baking soda sit for a few minutes.
- Wipe off the baking soda and the bleach.
- Rinse the area with water and pat it dry.
- Repeat if necessary.
Once it’s fully dried, you can decide whether you need to mix up a stronger bleach solution. You can also try leaving the bleach for a few minutes longer to allow it to react with the urine.
Note: While the spot is still wet, it’s almost impossible to tell if the stain has changed. Be aware of this as you could end up overbleaching your floor.
Once the stain has been fully removed — or once you’ve given up — you can move on to the deodorizing phase.
4. Deodorize the Floors
The next thing you’ll want to do once you get the urine out of your hardwood floors is to deodorize the area.
Even if you can’t detect a scent, you’ll still want to go through with this step — if your dog manages to smell a trace of urine, they’re more likely to repeat the mistake. This is especially important if you’re potty training a puppy. You don’t want to leave a scent that might encourage it to associate the floor with peeing.
There are a couple of different ways to deodorize your floor depending on the severity of the accident and how long it sat there. The most simple method involves using simple baking soda:
- Sprinkle a layer of baking soda over and around the spot where your dog had the accident.
- Leave the baking soda to sit for at least 8 hours.
This method should be enough to get rid of any remaining scent.
But if the urine had plenty of time to soak into the hardwood floors, you’ll need to use a stronger method.
You can still use baking soda as a finishing touch to absorb any residual smells, but you’ll want to use something more robust first to make sure you’re getting out odors that are deep in the hardwood.
However, keep in mind that most of these methods will cause some discoloration on your floors.
Once again, you can use hydrogen peroxide to get rid of the smell:
- Soak an old cloth with hydrogen peroxide.
- Lay it over the affected area.
- Cover the cloth with plastic wrap and weigh it down with a book to speed up the process.
- Allow the cloth to sit for at least 8 hours.
- Remove the cloth and rinse the area with clean water.
- Dry the spot.
- Repeat if necessary.
When you remove the hydrogen peroxide, chances are your floor will be bleached. That’s why this method isn’t recommended unless you don’t care about the appearance of the spot anymore.
If neither of these options sounds appealing, you can also use a commercial floor cleaner. These are specially formulated to remove pet urine stains and odors and can work very well. However, you’ll need to keep the same things in mind. If you decide to use one, your floor will probably end up somewhat lighter. Check the reviews to see what other pet parents found and whether it works on hardwood floors.
5. Refinish the Affected Area
Once you’ve bleached and deodorized the spot, it’s time to decide what you’ll do to conceal the area. If you plan on selling your home one day, you probably want to replace the floorboards at some point. However, if you plan to live in the house for a while longer or you’re not ready to replace the floorboards yet, there are some things you can do to improve the appearance of the area.
Ideally, you’ll want to completely refinish the area, but not everyone has the skills, time, and money to do this. If you’re mainly concerned about the appearance of your hardwood floor, you can try painting the area.
To start the refinishing process, sand the area. Use fine sandpaper (120 – 240 grit) this time. You should’ve already done this when trying to buff out the stain, but do it one more time just to make sure everything is completely smooth.
Here are a few things to remember if you want to paint your hardwood:
- Try to figure out which exact paint was originally used on your hardwoods to get the best match.
- Always follow the instructions on the label,
- Apply the paint layer by layer until you reach the desired shade.
This won’t protect the wood, but it’ll at least make the bleached and sanded section match the rest of your floor as closely as possible.
You can either leave it painted like that or apply a glossy finish to protect the wood. One or two layers over the dried paint should be enough.
I recommend the Varathane Rust-Oleum Floor Finish (Amazon.com). It’s a glossy water-based finish that dries very quickly and is highly resistant to stains.
You may also like to read: How to Fix Scratches in Hardwood Floors From a Dog
What Does Dog Urine Do to Hardwood Floors?
Dog urine can quickly break down the protective finish on hardwood floors and seep deep into the floorboards. Once the floorboards have absorbed the urine, the smell can linger for months. Additionally, the scent will encourage your dog to pee on the floor again.
Ideally, you should stop dog pee from ending up on your hardwood floors altogether. Like all urine, dog urine is somewhat acidic. The acid dissolves the finish on your hardwood.
The finish is meant to protect the hardwood from being damaged. It does that by preventing moisture from penetrating deep into the floorboards. So, while the urine may initially sit on top of the finish, it’ll eventually get deep into the hardwood.
Once it’s soaked into the wood, you’ll have two main issues to deal with — the stain and the smell. The stain will be virtually impossible to get out without discoloring the wood in some other way. So when you’re removing the stain, keep in mind that it’s unlikely your wood will ever look like it used to. The goal is just to salvage the health of the wood so that you don’t have to replace the floors as soon as you discover the issue.
The other problem you’ll deal with is the smell. Although the initial smell will fade over time, your dog will be able to scent it long after. This can create an issue, especially if the initial accident resulted from potty training.
You don’t want to have anything urine-scented in your home as it could encourage your dog to pee there more. If you don’t manage to remove the smell completely, the accident site could quickly become your dog’s favorite bathroom.
If your dog begins to pee there more frequently, you may also face moisture problems. If your floorboards are constantly being peed on and never get the chance to dry out, then the wood could warp and eventually rot. That’s why it’s important to ensure that you clean it up well the first time so this doesn’t become a recurring issue.
When you notice your dog has had an accident, clean it up as quickly as possible. The faster you get the urine off the floor, the less time it’ll have to corrode the finish and soak into the wood.
If it has already stained the wood, you’re going to need to use several chemicals to remove the stain and odor, which will likely bleach the wood in the process. However, it’ll keep your wood from warping and smelling until you’re able to replace the floor. Alternatively, paint over the affected area and use a finish to restore the hardwood.