Alison is a freelance writer on health, nutrition, skincare, and pets, especially cats and dogs.
Accidents will happen, particularly if you have a young puppy or an older dog. Getting the smell of dog pee out of carpet is big business—judging by the number of products that are on the market to do the job! But do you really need these chemicals? In this article, I am going to show you some simple and efficient DIY tips for getting dog urine out of carpet without chemicals, fuss, or expense!
What if I can't find the smell?
In case you are one of the many people who walk into a room and ask, "Can you smell something?" when you know your dog or cat has peed but it's already dried and there is nothing left but the odor, you can always use a blacklight to reveal the offending area of carpet or upholstery.
How to Get the Smell of Dog Pee Out of Your Carpet
- Blot up the urine immediately (if you can).
- Find invisible, dried stains with a blacklight.
- Use a homemade vinegar solution to remove the dog urine odor.
- Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda on top to dry the carpet and neutralize the smell of vinegar.
- Use a vacuum cleaner to suck up the baking soda.
Step 1: Blot Up the Urine Immediately
Act quickly! If you can get to the pee while it is still wet, the job is so much easier. If you can remove the majority of the urine right away, bacteria will not get a hold, and it is the bacteria which causes the worst of the smell, not the urine itself.
- Grab a length of around six sheets of kitchen roll (paper towel).
- Fold this into a six-sheet thick square, and press it down onto the wet area of the carpet with your foot.
- Repeat with a fresh paper towel until the area is as dry as you can get it.
The trick is to make sure you get as much of the dog urine blotted up as possible before you start.
Step 2: Find Invisible, Dried Urine Stains With a Blacklight Flashlight
Here is a clever way to track down those urine stains you can smell but cannot see!
Use an LED/UV Cat-Dog-Pet Urine Stain Blacklight Flashlight. The gadget is an ultraviolet or 'blacklight' that has an LED, low-energy bulb. Just shine it over your carpet or upholstery, and those little 'whoopsies' will become visible, so you can deal with them.
However, nothing is absolutely foolproof, and the manufacturer states that around 2% of urine stains will not show up under any UV light. But for the other 98%, the investment is well worth it!
Step 3: Use a Homemade Deodorizing Vinegar Solution
After you have blotted wet stains or located the dry stains, it is time to tackle the odor! I like to keep a spray bottle handy containing a 50/50 mixture of white vinegar and water. The vinegar does smell a bit strong, but it does not last long and is definitely the best dog urine odor remover because it neutralizes the ammonia.
- Put on your rubber gloves.
- Spray the vinegar solution from the outside edge of the stain towards the middle.
- Work the vinegar solution into the carpet fibers with your fingers or a clean, lint-free cloth.
- Use a paper towel to blot up excess wetness.
Step 4: Use Baking Soda to Remove the Vinegar Smell
Once you have got the area as dry as you can, liberally sprinkle on baking soda, and work it into the fibers of the carpet with your fingertips (while wearing rubber gloves) or use an old, soft toothbrush.
You need to be generous with the baking soda; give the carpet a good covering so it is completely white! Leave the baking soda for 30 minutes to soak up all the vinegar and smells.
Step 5: Vacuum the Area
Once the baking soda you put on is dry, you just need to vacuum this out of your carpet, and you're done!
Tip: If you have a pet hair remover attachment on your vacuum cleaner, use it! It breaks up any hardening of the baking soda. If you don't have this sort of attachment, you can use a small, stiff brush or the back of an old table knife blade (not the sharp edge) to break up any stubborn bits.
That, as they say, should be that!
If you can still smell the odor once the area is dry, you may have to repeat the process, which is a bit of a pain but is still the best method for removing the smell of pet urine smell in your carpet.
Does Hydrogen Peroxide Work to Get Rid of Dog Pee Smell?
Yes, hydrogen peroxide works to remove stains and smells.
- Mix around half a cup of hydrogen peroxide with about a teaspoon of dish soap that you use for hand washing dishes in the sink. (Do NOT use dish washing machine detergent!)
- Pour the mixture into a spray bottle.
- Spray onto the stain and work this into the carpet with an old, soft toothbrush.
- Leave to dry completely.
Warning: Only use 3% solution and always check for color-fastness on an inconspicuous area first as it could bleach the fibers of the carpet, leaving a permanent light patch as a reminder of the accident!
Personally, I have never found this to be necessary. If you act quickly, the vinegar followed by baking soda should be sufficient.
When You Want to Clean the Whole Carpet
However effective you are at spot cleaning those little accidents, there is always going to be a time when you want to clean the whole carpet. This could also be the case if you have moved into a new home where pets lived previously.
Try this super product from Nature's Miracle that contains no phosphates and is designed for use with any brand of machine you have for cleaning your rugs and carpets—provided that it is of the water-based type.
This product will really deep clean your carpet and is particularly good at getting rid of lingering odors and old stains. Nature's Miracle calls this "odor lock technology," and it really does seem to break down the molecules that cause the smell, and this results in a permanent solution to any difficult-to-remove smells. It is also very good for removal of allergens. Many happy customers on Amazon report on its effectiveness and how gentle it is on their rugs and carpets, leaving them soft, bright, and fresh smelling.
My Reader's Personal Experience With Carpets That Smelled of Dog Urine
I am often contacted by my readers. This is the story of one reader, Sophia. She told me about her experience with carpets that smelled of dog urine in a house that her family has recently moved into.
Sophia emailed me about her problem and has given her permission for me to publish our email conversation here.
Our email conversation:
Sophia: I really need to do something about this problem in the house we just moved into 3 weeks ago. Before we moved into this house, we had the entire carpet professionally steam cleaned. The carpet cleaner could smell dog urine as soon as he came into the house (it was a rainy day). It has been three weeks, and we still smell it in a couple of the rooms.
I have very, very lightly sprinkled baking soda over the entire house without working the powder into the fibers and vacuumed it the next day. The smell has improved some, but when I get down on the floor, I still smell it. I don't know how long the urine has been there.
Do you think it is worthwhile to buy a light and treat as you suggest in this article? Thank you very much for your help!
Me: I'm so sorry that you have this problem and having read the following advice on the website of the Humane Society of the United States:
"Avoid using steam cleaners to clean urine odors from carpet or upholstery. The heat will permanently set the stain and the odor by bonding the protein into any man-made fibers."
You could certainly try my method, but I'm not sure how effective it would be after steam cleaning. However, the blacklight would definitely help in identifying an individual area you could treat and see how successful it was.
I do hope you have success in resolving your problem. I am in the U.K., and we have the NCCA here (National Carpet Cleaners' Association). If you are in the U.S.A., you could try contacting the trade association for professional carpet cleaners in your area to see if you were given bad advice by the carpet cleaner who steam cleaned your floor. He was evidently aware of the dog urine problem as soon as he arrived to clean your carpet. If this is the case, and he belongs to a professional body, you may have some comeback about this.
Please let me know how you get on!
Sophia: Thank you so much for taking the time to write to me! I really appreciate it.
Well, after the blacklight arrived, we went around the house and found white patches showing up EVERYWHERE! I read that the bright white can be from left-over carpet cleaners, and that urine should be dull and yellowish. Anyhow, in our case, the blacklight did not help us identify urine spots because most of the white spots did not smell like urine, and there was so much "white" that we cannot tell "yellow." We gave up the idea of "spot-cleaning" except for one spot where I definitely smelled urine.
What I finally did was to purchase this baking soda based + fragrance carpet deodorizer (Arm & Hammer brand with oxy-clean, which pulls up 25% more dirt). I sprinkled all over, brushed the carpet with a broom to spread out the powder, and then vacuumed in 30 mins. I am quite pleased as I no longer smell urine in the house.
We also plan to purchase a carpet cleaning machine as soon as it is on sale, and we will clean our carpet ourselves every three months. We trust that after a few cleans, we will get most of the stuff out. In the meantime, we vacuum our house very frequently. Every cleaning helps!
Me: Thank you for the update. Sounds as though you have really got on top of the problem, and it's great that you can no longer smell the urine after using the Arm & Hammer brand cleaner.
It's a good idea to wait until the cleaner is on sale. We have a Vax cleaner, which dries the carpet as well. You can use detergent, then a rinse, and then do 'dry' passes until you are happy that as much water as possible has been removed. We have had this machine for some years and have found it very good.
I would definitely recommend a machine that has this drying action as the carpets are nearly dry to walk on right afterwards. Here in the U.K., this is especially appreciated during winter months when it's not ideal if you have to have the windows open to help dry the carpet!
Best of Luck Keeping Your Carpets Fresh and Clean!
I hope that you have found this article useful and now know how to remove the odor of dog urine from your carpets and eliminate the evidence of those little accidents that are bound to happen from time to time! I use only ingredients from my store cupboard and have never found it necessary to use hydrogen peroxide.
With younger or very elderly dogs who are likely to have more frequent accidents, the blacklight gadget for detecting those dried stains could be your best friend in keeping your carpets smelling fresh and looking clean. Dog urine odor removal could be much more of a breeze than you thought!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
Question: How do I print out this advice?
Answer: To print this article from your laptop or computer, simply right click with your mouse somewhere on the main part of the page and select the option to print. I do not know whether this works from every device but it certainly works from mine.
Callie Marie on January 11, 2016:
I completely forgot that you can use a UV light to find stains in the carpet. My husband and I have noticed that our living room smells like our dog, so we are working on getting it cleaned up. I could use the light to spot clean, but I think it would be better to shampoo the entire room. Thanks for your advice about what products to try! http://www.prosteamplus.ca/cleaning_services.html
Alison Graham (author) from UK on August 13, 2015:
Thanks Patsy, even though this is a method I have used successfully over many years when my dogs have had the occasional accident, it is always good to receive affirmation from a professional, thanks again for leaving a comment, Alison
JKWriter from Right in the middle. on November 03, 2014:
Really helpful! The light sounds especially useful, as I have mostly black and other dark fabrics. Accidents are hard to spot! Our dog doesn't actually pee in the floor, he is just one of those dogs that sprinkles when he is happy (and excited, scared, upset, sleeping, etc!)
raquelle148 on March 10, 2014:
I love dogs but I hate the smell of their urine. Thanks that I found this.
Ratna Sondhi on February 10, 2014:
Very useful remedies have made a note of them
Christian on July 12, 2013:
Thanks so much for sharing! Always looking for carpet cleaning tips at http://www.flippincleaners.com/carpet-cleaning/ We often let homeowners know that a simple rug doctor is a great investment for getting and keeping carpets clean....approx $400 and you can clean your carpets whenever you want. No special technical education needed either.
Michele Travis from U.S.A. Ohio on June 24, 2013:
Thank you so much!!!!! I am having this problem with one of my dogs. We have been using the baking soda and that dries it up. We have tried all kinds of store bought sprays that promise to work, but none of them do work. The vinegar sounds perfect ( the way you explained it makes perfect sense.) I am going to start doing it today. I just stumbled on this, Thank God for that.
Jesus_saves_us_7 from Seeking Salvation on May 30, 2013:
Thank you! Very helpful!
Alison Graham (author) from UK on May 29, 2013:
Thanks Dreamhowl, I hope Murdoch, my JRT is not embarrassed that his picture is being shared across the Internet, portraying him as a slightly incontinent elderly terrier! It will do his street cred no good at all!
Jessica Peri from United States on May 29, 2013:
It's great to hear that simple household products can get the dog urine smell out of carpets. I'll have to make a mental note of this one. Voted up!
justmesuzanne from Texas on March 16, 2013:
I have used Listerine on all kinds of surfaces with absolutely no ill effects. I keep a spray bottle of it on hand to use as a way of keeping my cats away from areas where I don't want them. It can be lightly sprayed on furniture, carpet, drapes, hardwood floors and just about anything else with no problems. It is more effective as a fabric freshener than Febreze and other products of that nature. In a fine mist bottle, it makes a good air freshener. It is much better used this way than in your mouth! LOL! :D
Alison Graham (author) from UK on March 16, 2013:
Thanks justmesuzanne, but I haven't found any odor problems after treating the area promptly with just vinegar and baking soda. Listerine is a good tip (apparently this product was first invented as a floor cleaner and only later became a mouthwash!!). I would definitely recommend checking that it has no effect on the color of the carpet by testing in an inconspicuous area first though.
justmesuzanne from Texas on March 16, 2013:
Good information! After you have done all these things, spray the area with straight Listerine (or a knock-off). It will kill the odor, and dogs and cats don't like the smell of the Listerine, so it will help prevent their returning to the scene of the crime. Voted up and useful! :)
Alison Graham (author) from UK on March 16, 2013:
Thanks for your comment crazymom3 - I can imagine that you often get to the problem once the urine has dried - I definitely recommend the UV light tool for locating the source of the smell!
crazymom3 on March 16, 2013:
THANK YOU, as a rental manager pet disinfecting is often necessary.