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Dog Urine Smell Removal

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Sometimes our furry friends have accidents, especially during a puppy's housebreaking stage. Medical problems and advanced age can cause a dog to wet on the carpet as well--not to mention those times when we stay gone longer than we intended and Fido simply can't hold it any longer. Whatever the cause, successful dog urine smell removal takes time and attention but doesn't have to leave you with a headache!

Flushing the Stain

Removing dog urine from carpet is easiest if the accident is discovered while it's still fresh, but we all know that doesn't always happen. If you find an old, dried urine spot, the first step is to make it as much like a fresh urine spot as possible. You can accomplish this by "flushing" the area. You will need:

  • a black light
  • a pitcher of cool water or a carpet cleaning machine
  • clean white towels, paper towels, and newspaper

The black light will help you figure out exactly where the urine is hiding. What you see in normal light may not be all that is present. When the room is very dark, the black light can be turned on and will reveal any urine as a bright, glowing area. The spot should be outlined in some way, using a long piece of yarn or chalk perhaps.

The area can be flushed with large amounts of water, but it's very important to use only cool water since warm or hot temperatures may cause the urine (and its odor) to permanently bind with carpet fibers. If you're using a pitcher, the water can be carefully poured over the entire area. The spot needs to be wet well but should not be saturated. A carpet cleaning machine makes it easy to apply enough water without wetting the carpet too much. If you use a machine, no cleaner should be added to the tank at this time. Only clean water is needed.

Once the urine spot is wet, the water actually works to attach itself to the urine molecules, dissolving them and loosening their grip on the carpet fibers. In this way, you've made an old stain 'fresh' again.

Absorbing Urine

From this point, both fresh stains and old stains that have been flushed can be treated the same way. The smell of dog urine lingers in a room, even after a stain has been cleaned, because some of the urine is still lurking in the lower layers of carpet and padding. With patience, you can absorb most of the urine and minimize the possibility of any remaining urine odor.

Newspapers are very absorbent, pretty cheap, and can be thrown away after use, which makes them especially helpful for soaking up dog urine. However, you can't put newspaper directly on the carpet because the ink will bleed. Instead, one or two layers of towels can be laid down with several layers of newspaper on top.

Standing on the absorbent layers will provide pressure that helps soak up the urine from even the lowest layer of padding. The newspapers and towels should be replaced with dry ones and stood on again until virtually no more urine can be absorbed. This may take some time, but leaving urine in the carpet basically guarantees a urine smell later on.


To clean the area, you have several choices:

  • Commercial stain remover that contains 'live enzymes'
  • Plain white vinegar
  • Solution of baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and liquid detergent

Enzymatic Cleaner

Most commercial stain treatments will work to remove the visible stain, but for effective dog urine smell removal, you'll need to find a product that contains live enzymes. These products are usually labeled for use on pet accidents, and it may be easier to find them at a pet store rather than a general retailer.

The enzymes surround and digest the bacteria from urine that causes odor. Once the bacteria is digested, it is no longer able to emit the unpleasant odors. The enzymatic cleaner should be applied according to the label directions.


Plain white vinegar has the natural ability to neutralize odors caused by urine. A solution of equal parts vinegar and water can be poured over the area and then worked gently into the fibers. Just as you did before, the liquid should then be absorbed with towels or it can be extracted with a carpet cleaning machine or a wet-dry vac.

Homemade Oxy-Cleaner

The main ingredient in commercial oxy-based cleaners is hydrogen peroxide, and you can make an effective version at home. The following ingredients should be mixed in a jar or pitcher:

  • 1/2 cup 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon liquid detergent (dish soap or laundry detergent)
  • 1 quart water

The solution can be sprayed or poured over the area and then worked into the fibers, using a gentle circular motion. The baking soda is a natural odor neutralizer, and the peroxide helps the solution to penetrate every fiber. The area can be allowed to air dry, and the remaining baking soda will need to be vacuumed.

What to Avoid

Instead of helping with the removal of a dog urine smell, ammonia will actually make the problem worse. Urine contains large amounts of ammonia naturally, and adding ammonia to the area will make a dog think that this is the right place for elimination. At the same time, whatever cleaner you choose will need to be tested in an inconspicuous area before use. The cleaner should be applied, and then the area should be carefully checked for colorfastness.

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