Dog odors and stains are notoriously hard to clean and keep up with. It is one of the top sources of frustration among dog owners. There are many ways to combat dog odor, but enzyme cleaners remain one of the safest and most effective methods. Enzyme cleaners are effective against both dog odor and dog stains, and even carpet stains.
Cleaning products: Masking or neutralizing
Cleaning products that target dog odor tend to have two approaches: masking and neutralizing.
Masking an odor usually means you’ll need something that smells stronger to cover up the smell. Cleaning products mask the scent by adding fragrances to the formulation. These fragrances are not only potentially harmful but also ineffective against dog odor or stains.
Fragrances are particularly harmful to dogs because of how delicate and sensitive their sense of smell is. The canine’s sense of smell is about “10,000 to 100,000 times as acute” as humans. Scientists have “likened their ability to catching a whiff of one rotten apple in two million barrels.” It’s just astonishing!
That’s why fragrance is so damaging to their sense of smell. We might be able to get a whiff of it, but the scent is so much more overpowering for our dogs.
Masking an odor is also ineffective against pet odors because the smells can end up blending. The result is an even worse smelling situation. Urine odor, for example, is tough to get rid of; masking it would worsen it.
How does an enzyme cleaner work?
Enzyme cleaners work differently because they are not masking the odor but neutralizing the odor. While some enzyme-based cleaners do contain some fragrance, the heavy-lifting (that is neutralizing) is usually still done by the enzyme.
So enzyme-based cleaners are more superior to more standard types of cleaning products. But how do they work?
Enzyme-based cleaners contain good bacteria that produce these enzymes. During the cleaning process, the enzymes break down the soil/mess and “eat” it. It is through this biochemical process that neutralizes the odor.
An essential thing to note about how enzymes work is how specific they are. There are many types of enzymes, and their uses vary.
An excellent way to understand how enzymes work is the lock and key analogy. The dog mess (urine, poop, etc.) molecule is the lock, and the enzyme is the key. Only a specific key can fit into the lock and unlock it. In the same way, only a particular enzyme can neutralize and clean that particular mess.
Some of the more common types of enzymes are protease, amylase, and lipase. Each of the enzymes targets a different mess. Protease cleans a protein-based mess such as blood or vomit. Amylase cleans a starch-based stain, while lipase works for lipid-based stains such as grease and oil.
Enzymes only work for the specific mess it’s designed to treat. You’ll need to choose the correct type of enzyme for the job. That’s why you often see products that are made specifically for degreasing or dog urine only. This also means a more targeted product would typically yield better cleaning results.
Are enzyme cleaners safe?
Enzyme cleaners are some of the safest cleaning methods available. According to scientific research, enzyme cleaners have an “excellent safety profile, with little ability to cause adverse responses.”
However, the study did share some potential minor risks. One of the risks is airborne exposure. During mixing and dilution, pay attention to the enzyme cleaner that’s in its concentrated form. Make sure the room is well ventilated and open the windows if necessary.
Fumes can cause eye, skin, and respiratory system irritation, although the risks are relatively low. Pay attention if you don’t dilute the enzyme cleaner.
Keep your dog away from the cleaning site. If you’re using a spray bottle, the aerosol from the spray could reach the dog’s respiratory system.
Are enzyme cleaners effective?
The effectiveness of enzyme cleaners has been tested in the most challenging conditions: animal facilities. In these tough conditions, we have multiple sources of powerful pet odors. If you have a multi-dog household, and the house continually smells like, well, dog, you need something stronger. So look out for enzyme cleaners designed for animal facilities and have proven their effectiveness in that area.
Enzyme cleaners come in various forms. Some of the most common ones for getting rid of dog odor are spray-on spot treatments and cleaning solutions for carpet cleaners. The spray-on formulas can be used straight from the bottle. But the cleaning solutions for carpet cleaners usually require dilution.
While enzymes work on most surfaces, you’ll need to pay attention to chemical incompatibility. Chemical incompatibility is when the presence of another chemical inhibits the proper functioning of the cleaning solution. If you’ve used another cleaning product before using the enzyme cleaner, make sure to rinse it beforehand.
Enzyme-based cleaners can be effective on carpets, but it is best to rinse the cleaning solution instead of leaving it in. For rugs made with natural fibers such as wool or silk, the enzyme in the solution can weaken the fibers, making them easy to break and fray.