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Pet urine in old unfinished wood floors

We have a 200+ yr old home we bought 4 years ago. We are restoring it one room at a time. One of the unrestored rooms has an original unfinished wood floor that was originally covered with a rug tacked down (meaning it was never sealed or painted). We think a dog or cat was peeing in there regularly, because with the rug now removed we have a terrible time keeping our pets from peeing in that particular room (they don't in any other)

Since the floor was never finished/sealed, the urine has long since soaked into the wood. I've used every single cleaner, enzyme, spray, solution, concoction, and scrub I can get my hands on but nothing is working in this situation. Its to the point that I can't stand going into that room because of the smell, which is worsened by rainy/damp/humid weather. There are no stains, just a horrendous stale urine odor.

We can not afford to rip up and replace the floor. But I'm starting to wonder if we just go ahead and sand it down and seal it well if that will seal in the urine well enough that you can't smell it anymore. Or will it make it worse?

Anyone have any experience with this bad of a problem? Any suggestions?

(PS. I know this is not necessarily a "naturalliving" question of sorts, but I'm at a loss as to where else to post this question and get serious, mature responses... if you have any suggestions in that aspect as well, please let me know!)

[ETA: I should have also mentioned that there are no apparent "stains"... its only odor.]


( 36 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 5th, 2008 02:15 pm (UTC)
I know there is some type of treatment that hard wood floor people use to lighten the dark stains - or you might need an enzyme for it - and you might choose to do a finish stain color in that room really dark to blend in and conceal the pet stains.
Aug. 5th, 2008 02:25 pm (UTC)
fortunately we don't have any stains (believe it or not...!) so its only the odor we are dealing with. :)
Aug. 5th, 2008 02:19 pm (UTC)
If you can't afford to replace the wood entirely, I think the only solution would be to sand it down really well and seal it. I mean, what could it hurt?? If it still stinks in there, you know what your last option is, and that means the room stays unused until you can afford the new floor. If it doesn't--hey, it's fixed!! :)
Aug. 5th, 2008 02:25 pm (UTC)
haha yeah... this is the only thing I've been able to come up with.
Aug. 5th, 2008 04:24 pm (UTC)
IAWTC. It's a shame there AREN'T any stains, b/c then you would know if just one section of the room was soaked, and you could replace just those few boards.

In any case, good luck with the rest of your renovations!
Aug. 5th, 2008 02:20 pm (UTC)
No answers but saucydwellings might be able to help.
Aug. 5th, 2008 02:20 pm (UTC)
or rather saucyhelp, not so much saucydwellings
Aug. 5th, 2008 02:26 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I'll check it out :)
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 5th, 2008 02:28 pm (UTC)
OT doesn't bug me either but it never fails in most communities that one or two people will respond and smack you around for it. Which is one of the main reasons I posted here because I don't see much snarkiness in this community and I knew the answers would at least be serious :)
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 5th, 2008 02:32 pm (UTC)
I added that at the last second :) Yeah, no stains is very lucky. We'd have to sand to even out the wear and grime from over the years... but hopefully the sealing will help solve the urine issue!
Aug. 5th, 2008 02:23 pm (UTC)
It's not off topic, it's a household cleaning question!
Aug. 5th, 2008 02:32 pm (UTC)
hehe well you just never know! :-p
Aug. 5th, 2008 05:50 pm (UTC)
Plus, wanting to keep older materials is perfectly a "natural living" skill. We have posts in here about reusing things all the time, I dont see why wanting to reuse a floor would be any different :-)
Aug. 5th, 2008 02:27 pm (UTC)
you could sand and then try a coffee stain application, or just put coffee grounds (or activated charcoal) to help bring the smell out once and for all. you might have to go through a few applications. best of luck.
Aug. 5th, 2008 02:36 pm (UTC)
We've tried charcoal but its not worked :-/ I think the urine is just soaked in too far and for too long.
Aug. 5th, 2008 02:31 pm (UTC)
have you checked the plaster around the base of the walls? Could it be that the urine has been soaked into some part of the plaster that missed cleaning? Do you know what is under that wood floor, again perhaps the urine got soaked into something below. . .

Other than that, sand and seal. This is a tough question. I hope you find an answer soon!
Aug. 5th, 2008 02:34 pm (UTC)
We have wood molding around the bottom, which will be removed and replaced when we sand & seal. Yeah, there's probably urine that has seeped under there that we can't get to... as well as in the cracks between the boards I'm sure. We've tried soaking it with enzymes and such to get in those areas but so far its not worked.
Aug. 5th, 2008 02:32 pm (UTC)
Someone asked that in hip_domestics recently. They pulled up a gross carpet and the cement underneath still smelled awful.


Granted, cement isn't hardwood, but the theory should be about the same. Sand and seal, and if it doesn't work... well, time to start saving up, lol.

Edited at 2008-08-05 02:32 pm (UTC)
Aug. 5th, 2008 02:35 pm (UTC)
Aug. 5th, 2008 03:20 pm (UTC)
We used to keep a litter box in our attic and over the years their were stains on the unfinished floorboards. I later moved into the attic and painted the floorboards and the odor disappeared. I would be careful about staining the floors in case the wood stain showed up any pet stains. But then you could paint them if it was bad.
Aug. 5th, 2008 03:47 pm (UTC)
if we go along with what we've done with floors in other rooms, we've been stripping them and sealing them to show off their natural color (no stain). I'm hoping this will work in this particular room as well.
Aug. 5th, 2008 03:34 pm (UTC)
We had an old cabinet that was in a damp basement for over 50 years. It was horribly moldy to the point where just walking by it would cause my lungs to tighten. I tried all sorts of mold killers in it, but nothing worked. (I have a lethal mold allergy, and I was not impressed when my folks decided it was ok to leave this piece in the house in that state). My mom recently stripped it with Orange Stripper (or some sort of orange stripper if that's not the actual name), she sanded it really well, stained it, and sealed it with Deft. There is no mold left at all. No smell and no airborne spores. Deft isn't natural, and I'm not sure if it's safe to use inside a home with pets, but perhaps there is another very effective sealer that will work.

My point: Refinishing and sealing can make nasties go away. I have no promises about urine smells, or any promises at all really, just my anecdotal evidence. :)
Aug. 5th, 2008 03:48 pm (UTC)
Cool, thanks :) I'm assuming we'll have to be a little heavier on the sealer in this room in order to trap in all in. I guess my next project is tracking down a good sealer!
Aug. 5th, 2008 03:39 pm (UTC)
I have an unfinished wood floor because I live in an old house, and it obviously absorbs every little thing. Drinks, urine, blood...you know. Peroxide has gotten rid of a lot of things for us and it is volatile so you might be able to just let it sit overnight. Have you tried it??
Aug. 5th, 2008 03:45 pm (UTC)
Yeah, we tried it after we found it worked fantastically on rugs and carpet. Used bottles and bottles and literally soaked the whole floor and it didn't help. :-/
Aug. 5th, 2008 04:06 pm (UTC)
Perhaps before your sand/seal (or maybe, after you sand but before you seal..) try renting one of those ozone generators and letting it run in that room? I've heard they're great for eliminating odors.
Aug. 5th, 2008 04:34 pm (UTC)
Strong oxidants will do that..
Also, be careful with ozone, it has some VERY nasty health impacts. It reacts with organic bonds to form free radicals...which are very detructive to tissues within your body.
Also (Im not looking to shoot anyone down, or the like), I found this:

The United States Environmental Protection Agency has declared that there is "evidence to show that at concentrations that do not exceed public health standards, ozone is not effective at removing many odor-causing chemicals" or "viruses, bacteria, mold, or other biological pollutants." <-- http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/ozonegen.html

I have always viewed ozone generators outside a medical or industrial application to be dangerous, with consumers often not even knowing the risk.

Aug. 5th, 2008 04:23 pm (UTC)
Sand and seal.
Easy fix, and it will work.
Aug. 5th, 2008 05:16 pm (UTC)
I'd soak the area in wintergreen rubbing alcohol - wipe & repeat as much as necessary

Test on an inconspicuous spot first
Aug. 5th, 2008 05:58 pm (UTC)
I don't know for sure because I'm an amateur. If I were in your place, I'd wash the floor with hydrogen peroxide, sand, and finish. I'd be surprised if any smell lingers for very long unless it's higher than the floor (male dogs pee up). Of course, the HO is going to lighten the floor. If you like that, good, if you don't, you might want to pick a finish for your floor that's slightly darker than your desired result.

Aug. 5th, 2008 06:11 pm (UTC)
One of my friends used to clean crime scenes in New Mexico, and some were pretty grisly...
Deceased + 20 days in 100°F = yuck1000

They would use Clairoxide (a hydrogen peroxide solution sold at beauty supply stores) to nix most of the odor, and then sand n' seal any exposed wood with Seal-Once brand water-based odorless sealant which is said to be non-toxic.
Aug. 5th, 2008 06:14 pm (UTC)
We have three cats and I read somewhere on a cat community about a 'secret' recipe to remove cat urine. I thought 'yeah yeah' but when the Nature's Miracle stuff wasn't working, we went ahead and tried it. The specific recipe included hydrogen peroxide, dish soap, and baking soda. Except our dish soap is the expensive environmental stuff, so we skipped that part LOL Basically we sprinkle baking soda down, then pour hydrogen peroxide on the floor (carpet, wood trim, tile, sometimes the wall also) from our gardening can. We leave it until it dries completely and then just vacuum up the remaining baking soda. It really does get rid of the smell, but unfortunately it doesn't specifically deter our cats from continuing to find new places to pee. Also, it's more cost-effective to buy the hydrogen peroxide in bulk from Costco (about $1-something for two huge bottles). Probably the same would go for the baking soda (if we didn't already have a supply stocked up, I would know better about the bulk cost, but I can't remember now).
Aug. 5th, 2008 07:13 pm (UTC)
I second what wildsurprise said. Soak the whole room in rubbing alcohol and let that sink into the wood a bit. Rubbing alcohol removes urine odor really well (it's often the main ingredient in those "pet odor" sprays) and we use just plain rubbing alcohol on our wood floors where our cats pee. Failing that, the sanding and varnishing approach seems like the next best step. Good luck!
Jan. 6th, 2009 02:09 pm (UTC)
I used rubbing alcohol on an unfinished wooden table and it lightened the entire area, almost white!? Am I doing something wrong or is that the intended result?
May. 4th, 2009 09:15 pm (UTC)
Any luck here yet?
I have the exact same prob here, but with stains. 120 yr old house, pulled up 30 yr old carpet, tried everything under the sun. The spot stays dark and gets damp when moisture level is high (like rain), but there is no water getting to the spot! i feel like i'm going to have to pull this section of the floor and replace, but heart wood pine isn't exactly cheap or easy to come by!
Dec. 5th, 2014 02:56 am (UTC)
When you have pets accidents happen, even on your beautiful hardwood flooring.
( 36 comments — Leave a comment )

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