New Methods for Cleaning Up Messes

Manufacturers are finding innovative, safer and more effective solutions to the old problem of stains and odors left behind by pets.




Accidents happen, even to the best-trained pup or cat. And while it’s disappointing to come home to stains and odors, it’s even more upsetting to waste time and money on ineffective removal products.


“Pet parents want something that really works. I think too many of us have had the experience of trying to get a stain or odor out and it just not going away. Worse yet, the liquid reactivates the smell,” says Matthew G. Jonas, CEO of Lake Wales, Fla.-based Fizzion.


Fortunately, manufacturers are arming pet parents with new technology and formulas to fight unsightly stains and unpleasant odors left behind by our furry friends.


One of the biggest innovations in the category is the development of cleaners that are tough on stains, but easy on the environment. And what could be more natural than a cleaner that derives its power from plants?


Bac-Out Stain+Odor Remover by Biokleen uses a unique combination of live enzyme-producing cultures, citrus extracts and plant-based surfactants to lift and eliminate stains. The award-winning cleaner is safe for use around pets and kids, since it contains zero artificial fragrances or colors or potentially hazardous chemicals, like chlorine or ammonia. The cleaner works on almost every organic stain (pet accidents, wine, diapers, etc.), so it “helps take the guess work out of clean up,” explains Ted Morgan, director of marketing for Vancouver, Wash.-based Biokleen.


Other cleaners, like Fizzion, harness the natural power of CO2 to unlock proteins, eliminate scents and remove stains for good without using harsh chemicals or foreign bacteria. Not only are Fizzion products non-toxic, they also come in reusable bottles. So, rather than continue to buy new plastic bottles (which often end up in the dump), consumers purchase refill tablets and simply add water in the original bottle.


“Our products are the only CO2-based cleaners in the pet market that are giving consumers a practical approach to cutting down on plastic waste with our convenient refill tablets,” explains Jonas.


Eliminating, Not Masking

In addition to forgoing the use of harsh chemicals, manufacturers are also rethinking the use of perfumes in stain and odor products. “Consumers want a product that goes after the root cause of odor, rather than a perfumed product that can only temporarily mask odors,” explains Vic Phillpotts, vice president of business development at Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.-based Star Brite.


The company’s signature Performacide solution uses an EPA-registered formula to safely and quickly kill the true source of urine and fecal odors: bacteria. The all-in-one product disinfects, sanitizes and deodorizes surfaces with hospital-grade chlorine dioxide technology. With such powerful ingredients, Performacide is a great option for both pet owners and pet professionals, such as groomers and veterinarians, to reduce the risk of infection or illness in both humans and animals.


“Performacide represents an entirely new method for eliminating odor while also disinfecting affected surfaces,” says Phillpotts. “Retailers can now offer a significantly superior alternative to bleach, the traditional choice of many consumers.”


Standing Out

For retailers, it’s crucial to stay up to date on all of the latest breakthroughs and products in the category in order to differentiate themselves from the competition.


“We are in a transitional time, with the rise of online retail and the impact it has on traditional brick-and-mortar retailers,” says Macon Brock, founder and CEO of Irvine, Calif.-based Skout’s Honor. To get the most out of the category, Brock recommends “differentiating your product offerings from what your customers can find at Walmart and Target. Stick with pet specialty brands who put the focus on pet-specific retailers.”


Not only should retailers stock brands with effective products and new technologies, they should look for brands that stand out. For example, Skout’s Honor was the  first national brand to add a philanthropic aspect to the category with its “Paw Pledge.”


For every bottle of Skout’s Honor sold, the company provides three meals for a rescue animal in partnership with Rescue Bank. This allows consumers to receive products that are better, faster and stronger than other odor eliminators and stain removers while also helping pets in need.


Another way for retailers to distinguish themselves is through education and expertise. “This category has a lot of competition, with products available everywhere,” says Sue Potter, associate director of BISSELL Business Ventures. “The key to success for pet specialty stores is being able to offer expert advice on which products to use in specific situations and how to use them.”


“Make sure your associates understand the different types of cleaning products and how to use them,” she adds. “Encourage them to try different ones at home so they can speak from personal experience.”


If pet parents are looking for fast-acting cleaners, for example, salespeople can recommend products from BISSELL, a trusted name in cleaning for over 140 years. PRO Stain & Odor Eliminator from the brand’s pet specialty line provides permanent stain removal in as little as 30 seconds. Or, if the litter box is producing unpleasant smells, pet parents can try BISSELL’s Enzyme Action Plus Cat Stain and Odor Eliminator with Febreze and Gain Original scents.


Retailers should also take advantage of modern tools, like social media and e-newsletters to help educate shoppers about new offerings, as well as the best ways to remove and prevent stains.


“Use monthly e-mail newsletters to make pet owners feel that they are a part of your store’s community,” says Phillpotts. “As an example, educate pet owners why caustic chemicals such as bleach should not be used as a deodorizer around pets or humans, and how it can damage household surfaces too. Then let them know what bleach-free alternative products you offer.”


Jonas suggests employing in-store demonstrations to boost sales in the stain and odor removal category. “If you bring new items on shelf, consider a showcase day to get the product off the shelf and in front of the shoppers with some coupons for trying the item that day,” says Jonas. That way, pet parents can see the magic for themselves and feel confident about their purchase, rather than waiting for the next accident.


Overall, the category is a worthwhile investment for specialty retailers because as long as there are pets, there will always be messes to clean up. So, retailers should remain informed about the freshest formulas and take the time to cultivate a strong selection of products. PB


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