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At some point, most dog parents have to deal with dog urine on the carpet. No matter how well-behaved your pooch may be, accidents happen, and the smell from those accidents tends to linger if not handled properly. If you're wondering how to get the smell of dog pee out of your carpet, keep reading to learn some of the most tried-and-true methods.
Why Dog Pee Smells So Bad
Dog urine is a special, smelly cocktail composed of hormones, bacteria, uric acid and ammonia, says Hunker. Ammonia in the urine becomes more concentrated over time, converting to mercaptan, also known as methanethiol, a pungent gas that gives both ammonia and dog pee their distinctive odours. This, along with the fact that ammonia is a toxic substance, is why it's never recommended to use cleaning products containing ammonia on pee stains. Not only will it make the stain more visible, but it'll also make the smell worse.
How to Get Dog Pee Smell Out of Carpet
Dog urine on carpet is especially challenging. After all, you can't simply toss your carpet in the washing machine. An added problem is that urine can seep down into the padding beneath the carpeting. The best way to deal with carpet stains and foul odours varies depending on how long the stain has been left to sit and how frequently that particular spot gets peed on.
When You Catch Them in the Act
Ideally, your pup only pees outside or on their pee pad. But beyond that, the best you can hope for is that you'll be there to clean up any mess before it can set in and become a stain. If you're able to deal with the accident immediately, blot the liquid with a paper towel or an old T-shirt, both of which tend to be more absorbent than a standard terry cloth towel. Sprinkle the area with baking soda to absorb any lingering odour. Let it sit for about 20 minutes before vacuuming.
Recent Urine Stains
For pee stains that have had time to soak into the carpet but haven't yet set in, try a simple DIY cleaning solution made of these pet-safe household ingredients, suggests Fantastic Cleaners:
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup distilled white vinegar
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup each of baking soda and 3% hydrogen peroxide
After blotting up as much of the urine as you can, mix these ingredients in a spray bottle and spray the spot liberally. If the stain has had time to dry, wet it with water to soak it out of the carpet before treating the spot.
Work the solution into the carpet with a brush or by rubbing it in with your fingers while wearing a rubber glove. Let it set for a few minutes before blotting it until it's as dry as possible. After the spot dries completely, sprinkle it with baking soda and then vacuum to capture any remaining odour.
Besides being nontoxic, both vinegar and baking soda can be effective at lifting urine and neutralizing odours before they have a chance to set in. Three percent hydrogen peroxide is also safe for pets and carpets, while being tough on stains. In lieu of hydrogen peroxide, you can use an oxygen-based bleach, which has a similar effect and is also safe for your carpet and your pup. Never use chlorine bleach on pet stains, as it's toxic to pets and could damage your rug. Always do a spot test on a discreet area first to avoid any discoloration or damage.
For old pee stains, or for areas your dog returns to again and again, a homemade cleaner is unlikely to help. How to get dog pee smell out of carpet in these cases boils down to one solution: enzymatic pet stain remover, which you can typically find in pet supply stores or in the pet or cleaning section of your local grocery store. Be sure to check the product label to make sure it's nontoxic and pet-safe.
The enzymes in this type of cleaner work by breaking down the ammonia and proteins in urine, thus neutralizing the odour. Follow the directions on the bottle. Typically, enzymatic cleaners don't require rinsing and are safe to use on carpet in addition to furniture, wood floors and other porous surfaces where odours might become trapped.
When Nothing Else Works
If none of the above methods for treating dog urine on carpet work and the smell continues to linger, it might be time to have your carpet cleaned. You can hire professionals to do this, or you can do it yourself with a rented carpet shampooer. If you're frequently wondering how to get a foul smell out of carpet, you might consider purchasing a carpet shampooer, which is much more efficient at removing and deodorizing urine than spot treatments.
A word of caution, though — avoid steam cleaners and shampooers that use heat. Applying heat to a urine stain will only fuse the stinky proteins in the urine to the carpet fibers, making the smell permanent, says Cuteness.
How to Clean Urine from Dog Crates and Bedding
Sometimes when accidents happen, your carpet is spared but your dogs’ bedding takes a hit. Follow these instructions to clean pee out of dog beds and dog crates.
- Remove all the bedding.
- Either take the crate outside and spray it down with a garden hose or place it in a bathtub and rinse it out thoroughly with water and pet-safe detergent. If these options aren't available, spray the crate with a pet-safe cleaning solution and wipe it out.
- If the crate is plastic, it might have absorbed the urine's odour. Spray the floor of the crate with an enzymatic cleaner and allow it to dry completely.
If your dog's bed is machine washable and small enough to fit in your machine, wash it according to the instructions on its tag. Avoid hot water, which could cause the smell to set in permanently. Use a mild, pet-safe detergent and add vinegar, oxygen bleach or enzymatic cleaner to the wash to help neutralize odours and remove stains.
For bedding that's not machine-washable, follow these recommendations:
- If the bed has a removable slipcover, remove and launder it according to its tag.
- Vacuum the bed to remove any pet hair or dander that got under the cover.
- Place the bed in a bathtub with warm, not hot, water and mild detergent. Add vinegar, oxygen bleach or an enzyme solution to the water to help neutralize odours and lift stains. Swish the bed around in the tub to get it thoroughly soaked and to work the cleaning agents into the foam.
- Drain the tub and refill it with cool, clean water to rinse the bed. Repeat until all of the soap is washed off. You may need to fill your tub multiple times.
- Squeeze excess water out of the bed, then lay it outside in the sun to dry.
Managing Frequent Accidents
If your dog is no longer a puppy still going through potty training, and is still having accidents in the home, it's probably a good time to consult your veterinarian. While urinary problems aren't as prevalent in dogs as they are in cats, frequent accidents in the home can still point to a larger underlying health problem. Talk to your vet about the accidents and any other noticeable behavior changes to help them determine a treatment plan to get your dog back to their happy, healthy self.
Dog urine is unpleasant to deal with, but thankfully, with so many possible solutions, you won't have to suffer with the smell for long.
Jean Marie Bauhaus
Jean Marie Bauhaus is a pet lover, freelance writer and novelist. She currently lives in the Ozarks with her husband and their gaggle of four-footed dependents, where she enjoys watching a wide array of wild animals in her back yard while drinking her morning coffee.