Pets are family, and we love them. But, when it comes to having pets at home, there is always the possibility of accidents. And one of the places where accidents are most likely to happen is on the wooden subfloor.
Wooden subflooring is often used in homes with pets because it is easier to clean and maintain than carpet. However, pet urine can still leave an unpleasant odor on the wood, which can be difficult to remove.
Fortunately, one effective way to eliminate the stinking odor caused by pet urine on wooden subflooring is to use a vinegar solution.
Mix equal parts water and vinegar, apply it to the affected area using a sponge or cloth, and leave it for a few minutes. Then, wipe it away with a damp cloth. If the odor persists, there are other methods that can be tried, which I will discuss in this article.
So, let’s tune in and continue reading to learn more…
Urine in a Plywood Subfloor – Why You Need to Care?
If you have ever dealt with your cat or dog urine on wood, you already know it’s not a pleasant experience.
Urine can saturate the wood to warp and discolor over time because of the components, such as uric acid, that have remained even after the urine has dried. The uric acid contains crystals that produce a strong odor during more humid conditions as the floor gets wet.
And that’s not all. The pungent smell can slowly permeate the entire house and becomes challenging to eliminate as time passes. So, it’s essential to take care of the problem by eliminating those crystals entirely from the wood as soon as possible.
Treating Wooden Subflooring for Pet Odor and Stains
Removing the dried urine crystals from the wood is problematic for the plywood subfloor material. Mainly if the stain damage is too extensive, you may have to replace the entire plywood subfloor, which can be costly.
However, if the pet’s urine odor and stains are not too severe and can be fixed, try the following tips to get rid of them…
1. Soap & Ventilation
If the smell of urine is not too strong, just try a dash of dish soap and water on the areas, which will break up the urine crystals and help remove the odor.
After that, ventilate the room by opening the windows and doors for a day or two to dissipate the odor and make the environment more bearable.
2. Vinegar Solution
If the water and soap solution doesn’t work quite effectively, use a vinegar solution.
To create the solution, combine equal parts of water and vinegar. Use a sponge or cloth to spread the solution onto the affected area, allow it to rest for a few minutes, and then clean it with a damp cloth. You will see and smell the difference right away.
3. Baking Soda
Another effective way to remove pet urine stains and odor from wooden subflooring is to use baking soda.
Simply mix together equal parts of baking soda and water in a cup to form a paste. Apply this homemade paste to the affected area and let it sit for several minutes.
Then, wipe away the paste with a damp cloth and vacuum up any remaining baking soda.
If you have more stubborn pet urine stains, use ammonia as a home remedy.
To use this method – mix one part of ammonia with three parts of water in a bucket. Then, apply the solution to the affected area with a sponge or cloth. Allow it to sit for a few minutes, then wipe away the solution with a wet cloth.
With this method, ensure you keep the windows and doors open, as the fumes can be pretty strong and unbearable. Many times, ammonia tends to smell much like urine and will not be very effective in dealing with odor problems. It will, however, help to break up the crystals, making the stains and smell easier to remove.
5. Hydrogen Peroxide
Another effective and natural way to remove your cat’s or puppy’s urine stains from wooden subflooring is to use a hydrogen peroxide solution.
To use this method, prepare a solution by mixing one part of hydrogen peroxide and two parts of water in a bucket. Use a sponge or cloth to apply the solution to the affected area and let it sit for five minutes. After that, wipe away the mixture with a damp cloth.
Alternatively, you can use a 3 percent hydrogen peroxide solution bottle that’s readily available on the market. It’s basically 3% hydrogen peroxide and 97% water.
With this readymade solution, you only need to pour it over the soiled areas and scrub with a stiff brush. Let it sit for 10 minutes, and then wipe it with a damp cloth.
6. Commercial Pet Urine Odor Removal Products
Of the many products available on the market, enzymatic cleaners (such as Nature’s Miracle or Anti-Icky-Poo) work best for neutralizing dogs’ pee smell on your wooden subflooring and carpets.
You can easily find these commercial pet urine odor removal products at your local pet store or online stores like Amazon. However, when using these cleaning agents, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the best results.
In general, here are the steps you will need to follow for treating the subfloors for dog and cat urine…
- Apply an enzymatic pet odor remover to the area
- Cover the saturated area with a plastic drop cloth to prevent evaporation
- Allow the cleaner solution to soak into the wooden subfloor for at least 24 hours
- Wait for the wood to dry out completely for an extra 24 to 36 hours, and then remove the plastic
If the odor hasn’t gone completely the first time, you may need to repeat the process with the Enzymatic cleaner one more time.
7. Professional Steam Cleaning and Subfloor Treatment
If you have pet urine stains and odor on your plywood subfloor that is not responding to any of the methods mentioned above, it might be time to call in the professionals equipped with steam cleaners.
A steam cleaner is a great way to get rid of stubborn pet urine stains and odor on wooden subfloors. These devices use hot steam to break down crystals and remove odors effectively without harming the floor or any other materials in your home.
Tips and Considerations
a) Treating the heavy pet stains and odor on your subfloor with bleach is not a good idea. I do not like this strategy because it does not soak into the wood entirely due to its high surface tension.
b) When using commercial pet odor removers, remember that some will work better than others for eliminating cat urine odor than dog urine. So, read the label carefully before buying them for your specific purpose.
c) Always remember to vacuum the area thoroughly after cleaning to remove any residual cleaner solutions, baking soda, or hydrogen peroxide. You may also want to consider using an air purifier to help eliminate any remaining odors.
d) If the floor you need to treat is carpeted, pull it back before you proceed with the cleaning process. This will reveal the entire urine-soaked area so you do not miss any spots.
Once treated, leave the carpet pulled back for a few days to ensure the subfloor is completely dry before putting the carpet back in place.
Do You Need to Seal the Wooden Subfloor After the Cleanup?
Once you have successfully removed the pee smell from the wooden subfloors, you may need to consider sealing it for more effective, long-lasting results.
Especially if the wood floor is still new and bare, this additional step will help prevent any future accidents and stains.
Kilz 3 Premium Interior/Exterior Primer is one of the best stain-blocking primer floor sealers for pet urine I have ever used.
This comes with an effective mildewcide ingredient, and I highly recommend it if you want to keep the odor and stain away for good. You just need to apply the primer evenly, using a roller or brush, and wait for it to dry completely before applying a new coat of paint.
Alternatively, you can use Zinsser B-I-N or an all-purpose oil- or water-based stain-blocking primer and paint along with a good quality polyurethane sealer to seal the wood and provide an extra layer of protection.
Removing and Replacing the Subfloor – When Why & The Cost?
If your pet’s urine has been left on the subfloor for too long and has seeped through cracks, the affected wood may have rotted. Don’t worry – you don’t necessarily have to replace the entire subfloor.
Instead, you can just remove the urine-soaked section and replace it with new subflooring material. However, if the damage is too extensive and can’t be easily fixed, you may need to replace the whole subfloor, which is a substantial undertaking.
The cost of replacing a section of the subfloor can range from $500 to $2000, depending on the size of the affected area and the extent of the damage.
If, for example, only a few boards need to be replaced, it will cost less. However, if the entire subfloor needs to be replaced, it will be more expensive. Additionally, the type of subflooring chosen affects the cost; replacing with plywood is less expensive than replacing with hardwood.
The bottom line
Although older homes may have concrete or lumber subfloors, modern subfloors are typically made of plywood or oriented strand board (OSB).
However, it is essential to note that these materials are more vulnerable to damage from pet urine and require careful cleaning to avoid potential rotting in the future, which can be expensive to repair.
To prevent replacing the whole subfloor, attend to your pet’s urine immediately and don’t let it sit for too long. Early cleaning and treatment of the affected area should suffice without requiring subfloor replacement.
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for over a decade serving customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, and Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.