Dear Home-Ec 101,
My dog had a runny tummy and couldn’t make it outside during the night. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice the accident until it had hardened. How can I clean it up without damaging the floor (it’s a rental place, the floor looks like wood but isn’t – I don’t think its linoleum).
Desiccated in Decatur
You know, I wish dogs made the same noise before having an accident in the house that they do before yakking. I don’t think there is any noise on this planet that can wake me up faster than that tell-tale hork.
It sounds like you have that peel and stick vinyl “wood” flooring. This type of flooring is typically low cost and looks fine in the beginning, but using harsher than necessary cleaning techniques can cause damage.
Do not use hot water. Do not scrub harshly. Do not use strong chemicals.
As far as the dried on factor, don’t worry, all isn’t lost, it’s just a little more of a pain to get taken care of than if you’d managed to tackle the mess while it was fresh. Assuming the dog’s diarrhea is hours dry and not weeks, it’s most likely the, forgive me for the visual, only the outer layer that’s dried and not all the way through. If this is the case, grab some gloves and a plastic scraper of some sort (a plastic putty knife is great). Gently scrape up the fecal matter and dispose of it. Wipe up what you can with paper towels, being careful not to push it down into any crevices. Then move on to the next step. If the fecal matter was fully dry, start at the second step, replace your wash water and rinse out your scrub brush frequently
Get a bucket of warm water mixed with a little bit of dish detergent that does not contain bleach, a scrub brush, and old rags or more paper towels. Your cleaning solution should not be overly sudsy; you only need a little bit of soap to help bring the matter into the water and off the floor and your scrub brush. Gently scrub the affected area, wiping with rags or paper towels frequently to prevent the water from soaking through any crevices and into your subflooring. Rinse your brush frequently. Repeat until no more fecal matter remains.
Rinse the area by using a mop dampened with only water (damp is not the same as soaked) or rags wet with clean water and wrung out.
You can disinfect by mopping with a damp (there’s that word again) not soaking mop, using a solution made up of 3/4 cup bleach to one gallon of plain water. Wait 5 minutes and rinse as described above. Please note that the bleach is dilute rather than full-strength, the flooring is not soaked, and the disinfecting solution is removed promptly, as directed. The proper disinfecting technique is not the same as regularly cleaning the flooring with bleach which will damage the vinyl.
Do not use hot water as this can loosen the glue.
Do not scrub aggressively as this can damage the finish.
Do not resort to strong chemicals as this can damage the vinyl.
Best of luck!
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