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Which is Better: Enzymes or Bacteria?

February 21, 2020

Which is better bacteria or enzymes? Strong products for treating and removing pet stains - Unique Pet Care

Key Points:

  • There are some similarities between enzymes and bacteria. Both are naturally occurring, both are safe for you and your pets, and both are effective in breaking down waste (although differently!). 
  • The fundamental difference between enzymes and bacteria is that enzymes are non-living proteins while bacteria are living organisms. 
  • Enzymes work quickly to break waste down into smaller pieces. As such, enzymes will never fully digest the waste that makes up a stain. Similarly, enzymes cannot completely eliminate odors. 
  • As living organisms, bacteria fully digest stains and eliminate odors. Bacteria and enzymes work well together. Bacteria actually produce enzymes to help break down larger pieces of waste into smaller pieces. 

If you have a dog or cat, chances are that at some point you’ll need to clean up a big mess, no matter how well-behaved your pet is! When your dog or cat has an accident, you’ll need the best pet odor and stain remover to clean it up, and if you want a safe product that won’t harm you or your pet, you’ll most certainly want to avoid caustic chemical products! But this presents an important question: which type of safe product is better—enzymes or bacteria? 

This is a critical question to answer, because the type of product you choose will drastically influence the effectiveness of your odor and stain removal. In this article, we’ll discover the similarities and differences between enzymatic and bacterial pet odor and stain removers and provide our recommendation for the best pet odor and stain remover!

Some Similarities

Because they are so similar on the surface, some people get bacteria and enzymes confused. At a glance, this is very understandable. Enzymes and bacteria are both:

  1. Naturally occurring
  2. Safe for you and your pets
  3. Effective in breaking down waste (although differently!)

However, especially with the last point, there are some key differences that distinguish enzymes and bacteria. 

The Fundamental Difference

While there are some nuances to how bacteria and enzymes work, the fundamental difference between these two options is that bacteria are living organisms that fully digest (eat) the waste in stains, and enzymes are non-living, proteins that only break the waste down into smaller pieces. To completely grasp this distinction, let’s examine enzymes and bacteria separately. 

Enzymatic Cleaners

Enzyme-based pet stain and odor cleaners, as mentioned above, do not entirely remove the actual organic waste that makes up a given stain. Enzymes are complex proteins made up of amino acid subunits that convert larger, more complex waste types into smaller, simpler waste types. Essentially, enzymes are changing the chemical makeup of your dog or cat’s poop or pee! 

As such, enzymes work fairly quickly when applied to a stain, making the stain smaller and therefore easier to clean up. However, a big downside to enzymes is that no matter how much you use, it will never cause a stain to fully disappear. You will always have to do additional cleanup work (e.g., scrubbing). Moreover, enzymes do not completely remove odor producing elements like ammonia, so they’re not the best option for getting rid of pet odors!

All the same, when compared to caustic chemical products, enzymes are definitely a better and safer option! Since they’re merely complex proteins, enzymes are naturally occurring and safe for you and your pets. If it comes down to choosing a caustic chemical product or an enzyme product, it’s always better to go with the enzymes!

Bacterial Cleaners

Unlike enzymatic pet odor and stain removers, bacterial cleaners contain living organisms that actually eat your pet’s poop or pee!

Jack Russell Terrier puppy laying next to a potty accident

When applied to a stain on your carpet, for instance, bacteria will consume the waste that makes up the stain until it is completely gone. This takes a little more time than enzymes, but it is ultimately more effective. As they digest waste, bacteria produce only carbon dioxide and water, making bacteria safe for you and your pets. 

And here’s the real doozy: the most effective bacteria actually produce high-quality enzymes as they work! Bacteria are essentially tiny enzyme factories, sometimes even creating enzymes much more effectively than humans can. Bacteria and enzymes are meant to work well together. Since bacteria cannot eat particularly large pieces of waste, bacteria produce enzymes to break down bigger pieces of waste into smaller pieces, after which the bacteria eat the waste. 

Finally, since they will consume ammonia, phosphates, and nitrates, bacteria will completely eliminate odors. Moreover, if the environment is kept moist, bacteria will reproduce until the stain is totally removed! 

Final Verdict: Which is Better? 

You probably already know what our recommendation will be (we’re admittedly a little biased)! While enzymes are naturally occurring and break down waste quickly, they cannot fully remove pet stains or odors. Only bacteria can do this, and because effective bacteria already produce high-quality enzymes, we have to give bacteria the crown. Not only will bacteria fully break down your pet’s poop or pee stain, but they’ll entirely remove the odors as well!

Our Recommendation

Now, it’s important that you use the best pet odor and stain remover for top results, which is where Unique’s Pet Odor and Stain EliminatorUnique Pet Odor and Stain Eliminator Ready TO Use 24 oz

comes in. This product uses both bacteria and enzymes, and the two work together to completely eliminate stains and odors. As long as this product has a wet environment and a food supply (i.e., the stain itself), then the bacteria will continue to multiply until the stain and odor is gone. Moreover, this product is completely safe. It contains no harsh chemicals and will not damage skin. With Pet Odor and Stain Eliminator, you’re putting both bacteria and enzymes to work on your pet’s stain! 


Although enzymes and bacteria are similar on the surface, they ultimately have drastically different results when it comes to removing pet stains and odors. We hope this article has helped you to understand the differences between these two options and make a more informed decision about which is best for you. If you have any further questions, concerns, or general comments, please reach out to us at! We’re always more than happy to assist you!

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