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Bah Humbug, The Dog Peed On My Christmas Tree Skirt

SqualorJolie Kerr is a cleaning expert and advice columnist. She’ll be here every week helping to answer your filthiest questions. Are you dirty? Email her.

Happy Christmas to those who celebrate! This question arrived via Twitter and I was like, “Oh! What could be more festive than dog pee?!?” which is such a normal response, don’t you think? (It’s not at all normal!) But it’s a good question, both because it lets me talk about dog pee and also about cleaning a tree skirt — or anything that requires spot treatment — in the event that’s a thing you might need to do sometime in the upcoming weeks.

Let’s tackle the dog pee part of things first: This is actually a pretty simple operation, because while the tree skirt in question can’t be machine washed (well … sidebar it probably can be machine washed but I’m racing off to my family’s holiday celebration and I’m sure you’ll all forgive me for not being as thoroughly thorough as I might otherwise be in answering the question at hand!) it can be spot treated. So let’s talk about what “spot treating” even means.

The idea behind spot treating is, essentially, to hand wash only a section of whatever the soiled textile is. It is a very straightforward endeavor! Though, of course, there are some nuances. Let’s take this step-by-step:

Step 1: Flush the stain

The first thing to do is to hold the fabric taut and flush the stain with cool running water. The best place to do this is probably the kitchen sink, though a utility sink or a roomy bathroom sink will also work. The tub? Sure. The idea is to use the force of the water to push out as much of the stain as possible. It’s not essential to do so, but running the water through the back side of the fabric is ideal because it will push the staining matter away from the fabric rather than back through it.


Step 2: Massage some detergent and/or a stain remover into the stain

Here’s where the nuances come into play: You’ll want to tailor your choice of detergent and/or stain remover to fit the stain you’re trying to remove. In the case of dog pee — or cat pee, or human pee — when it’s fresh (and here we are talking about fresh pee on Christmas, God bless us all everyone!) you probably won’t need a specialty product. A liquid laundry detergent, like Tide Ultra Stain Release or even just dish soap, like Dawn or Palmolive, may well be enough to remove the stain and the smell. The trick is to apply a small amount, a pea- or dime-sized blurt will do just fine, of the detergent to the stain and then use your fingers to massage the detergent into the stain.

Two more products to mention! Dr. Bronner’s is an excellent multi-use product that’s especially good on odor-removal, in the event there’s a lingering smell issue. And for pet urine smells, specifically, Biokleen Bac-Out, is highly effective.


Step 3: Rinse the garment

This is basically just a repeat of step 1, but instead of flushing out pee you’re flushing out detergent. Once the fabric has been relieved of soap, gently squeeze it to extrude water, being careful not to wring the fabric, as wringing can cause damage to delicate or embellished items.


Step 4: Dry it out

After you’re done washing the tree skirt, or whatever other thing you’re spot treating, and you’ve gently squeezed out as much water as you can, either hang the item or lay it flat to dry (this is a great drying rack for things that shouldn’t be hung to dry). If it’s very wet, you may also want to lay it on a dry towel and roll it up, jelly roll-style, which will absorb quite a bit of excess moisture.


Before we close this out so I can go faceplant in the antipast’ platter, a quick note on a common stain to befoul tree skirts — pine sap. We covered pine needle cleanup recently, but not the sap, so: Rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer, which has a high concentration of alcohol in it, are great for removing sap from fabric. Nail varnish remover will also work! Remove the sap first,then perform your spot treating routine to remove that which you used to remove the sap.

Oh and one last thing! Our LW had a happy ending after following my spot cleaning instructions.


Happy merry!

Jolie Kerr is a cleaning expert, advice columnist and the host of the podcast Ask a Clean Person

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