Americans love our pets. We give them names, let them sleep with us, some even dress them up for major holidays. According to the 2017-2018 US Pet Ownership and Demographics Handbook, nearly 2/3 of American households is home to at least a dog or cat, a total of more than 135 million furry family members.

We sometimes take them on trips, especially to now popular dog parks, where our pooches interact with other pooches, and get back in our cars with dirty or muddy feet and fur. They can also leave behind other ‘traces’ during rides.

What’s often left behind are stains and odors that sometimes, only a professional can eradicate. While this can be a valuable and possible revenue enhancer for a car wash business, it’s also fraught with land mines.

Stain removal is tricky. There are no guarantees. The car wash industry gives operators options with regards to handling these problems, but the level of success is based on several factors.

The type and extent of the stain, the make-up of the soiled material, heat exposure, and many other factors go into the cleaning of pet stains. Most frustrating might be that even cleaning the stain doesn’t always mean ridding the car of the smell.

If a customer has tried a DIY urine clean-up job and failed, that’s often a sign of a deep stain that has been ‘baked-in’ odor. Masking agents usually don’t work well in these cases. They will eventually evaporate, but the odor can remain. For the professional clean, use cleaning agents that eliminate the source, not just one that masks.

Avoid cleaning just the stained area. Often, the odors can penetrate all aspects of the vehicle, so a thorough cleaning is recommended.

Since stain removal can be complicated, make sure your customer tells you exactly the stain source, how long it’s been around, ask about attempts made for eradication. All that can help you work with the customer in fixing this annoying problem. Stock a variety of stain removal products and understand that product knowledge is paramount. Talk to your customer about all potential options but let them know that stain eradication is a percentage play, and nothing is guaranteed. But if you work together and resolve the problem, you will have another devoted customer, who will likely pass along the success story.