Your Pet vs. Your Hardwood Floors

A puppy sitting on a pee pad on a wood floor.
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There it is—on the new hardwood floors, just after you cleaned them. It’s pet urine. It’s scratch marks. It’s...the last thing you want to see on your hardwood floors. Yes, it comes with the territory when you own a pet. Your wood floors are subject to a few messes. The good news? There’s some DIY tips and tricks to keep your floors looking new, regardless of what messes your pet left behind.

First Things First

Don’t worry, we’ll get to how to effectively get rid of stains in your flooring, but here's a few other details first. Training your dog takes patience, time, and proper communication. If you have a puppy or other pet that is new to your home, spending the time on training will save you the hassle of cleaning up the majority of the time.

Also, if you notice that your pet is doing their business on your floors on a regular basis, don’t assume they have a vendetta against you. Pets, like humans, can get bladder infections and may need to see a vet. Start by eliminating any stress factors. Take them out for regular exercise, encourage more water drinking with regular outside/litter box bathroom breaks, and see a vet if the habit continues.

Getting Down to Business: How to Remove Stains

A hand cleaning a wood floor with cleaning bottles in the background.

So, say you’re not having chronic pet pee problems. You just had the random accident and you’re frantically looking for a solution so your floors aren’t stained forevermore. Fear not. DIY to the rescue!

Hydrogen peroxide is an inexpensive miracle worker when it comes to pet stains. You can apply it in a number of ways, but for a little more control, put some in a spray bottle and cover the stain thoroughly. Place a fan near the area to dry the solution quickly and check back the next day. This method may require a few applications, but it’s best to periodically check the progress than let the solution soak in for too long.

You can also place paper towels over the stain, douse them in peroxide, cover with more clean paper towels, tape it all down, and let it soak in until the area is dry.

For both of these options, don’t let the solution sit on the floors for too long (as in, several days) because the hydrogen peroxide can eventually stain the floors, too. If you want to be cautious, you can dilute the peroxide solution in water for a smaller dose.

Depending on how the solution works and the severity of the stain, you may need to sand and refinish the area afterward.

Tip: Try the solution on a hidden area of your floor to see how the cleaner works, first. This will give you an idea of what works best for your flooring.

Quick Fix

If you saw the stain happen, or if you discovered the stain only after being gone for a few hours, you can try the vinegar solution. Simply dilute a cup of vinegar into a bucket of warm water. Use the solution to mop up the stain and you should see instant results.

For a slightly better smell, you can add a drop of your favorite smelling dish soap or essential oil. Be very sparing with adding this to your vinegar solution. A little bit goes a long way!

Eliminate Odor

While hydrogen peroxide will help eliminate much of the odor left behind with a pet stain, you can try a few other DIY solutions and test your results.

Baking soda is a natural odor eliminator and can be sprinkled directly on the stained area. This can be left overnight and will soak up the foul smell.

Once the baking soda soaks up the stain and dries, you can vacuum it up or mop it away with your vinegar solution.

In fact, a combination of all of these ingredients—vinegar, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide (plus a few dabs of dish soap)—is also a great mixture to eliminate odor and remove the stain in one fell swoop. That way, you have all the supplies working together for best results.

Buff out Scratches

A scratched wood floor.

It isn’t always nature calling that messes with our flooring. Sometimes, it’s a pet foot that leaves an unsightly scratch.

Small, shallow pet scratches in wood flooring can actually be an easy fix. Try using steel wool (make sure to go with the grain of the wood!) as a handheld and inexpensive buffer. Make sure the area is thoroughly cleaned before buffing. Use your standard cleaner to wash off any excess and check the results. You can apply a sealant afterward.

If your scratches are still leaving their mark, you may need to do some light sanding. After sanding, use mineral spirits and refinish the floor with wood filling. Make sure to match the color to your finish and sand off any excess.

They also sell wood floor markers these days that you can apply to a rag and rub into the surface of the crack. Sometimes this is enough to conceal a very slight scratch.

Be careful when trying any of these methods, as flooring finishes can be tricky to match and fix.