While not to the most exciting topic to discuss, pet urine and human urine are issues that everyday people face - from our furry family members to our human babies, children, and anyone suffering from incontinence - tackling the problem of urine cleanup requires specific techniques designed to address each type at their core.
It's easy (and common) to assume that humans and pets have similar urine compositions - but the two are quite different and require different methods for removal.
Human urine is an aqueous solution (meaning that it consists of 95% water) that also contains some other less commonly known ingredients including urea, chloride, sodium, potassium, creatinine, dissolved ions, inorganic and organic compounds and uric acid. Dog urine contains urea, creatinine, uric acid, carbohydrates, enzymes, fatty acids, hormones, sodium, potassium, chloride, magnesium, calcium, and ammonia. Cat urine contains urea, creatinine, uric acid, sodium and other electrolytes. Because cats do not drink much water, their urine is highly concentrated, and the uric acid is less diluted.
So, why are both pet and human urine so difficult to remove?
Well, the simplest explanation behind the challenge of urine removal lies in the composition of the each type of urine. The solubility (or water content) of human urine may typically be easier to clean on a surface level using general cleaning products, but the difficulty lies within the non-soluble salt crystals (that you don't see) contained in the uric acid. Put just, even when it appears that all traces of urine have been removed with a general cleaning, the salt crystals left behind make it difficult, if not impossible to efficiently and entirely remove the urine.
What happens when urine is left untreated?
Any moisture or humidity reactivates the crystals we mentioned earlier which allows unpleasant urine odors to resurface. Urine odors and stains are not just unpleasant to see and smell but are also more problematic than you realize. Left untreated, urine poses a health risk and the ability to damage carpets, fabrics, flooring, and furniture. Over time, uric acid crystals will permanently change the dye structure of carpet and fabrics, and burn the tannins in wood, causing black stains around the affected areas.
Why don't general cleaning products work?
Even with claims of unmatched grease, dirt, and anti-bacterial removal properties, general cleaning products are not designed or equipped with what it takes to truly break down the uric acid crystals formed by urine. Similarly, home remedies like vinegar, baking soda, dishwashing detergent, bleach, and ammonia are unable to effectively remove urine because they do not contain enzymes.
Left untreated by a professional, urine odors (whether from pets or humans) become demoralizing. Also, the odors pose behavioral risks in animals by encouraging them to repeatedly "mark" the same spot.
While general, household cleaning products may make extravagant claims of their ability to truly eliminate pet odors, these products only mask the odor, encapsulate the urine, or dry out the uric acid crystals. The effects of these products are reversed when moisture is present, meaning that your time and money are spent in vain.