How to Remove Pet Odor from Carpet

Since you're reading this article, you are already familiar with the problem. If you own a pet and your home has carpeting or large area rugs, they can quickly catch that putrid pet odor if they are not kept clean on a regular basis.

Everyone knows that feeling when you enter a friend's house, and immediately at the door, you notice that smell which reveals there are pets in this household. It can smell like a wet dog, cat pee, and bad pet breath all in one. Yuck.

However, it's actually possible to keep pets and still have wall-to-wall carpeting looking spotless and smelling fresh.

yorkshire terrier

If you already have a carpet that needs thorough cleaning to remove any pet stains or odors, here's our guide on how to how to remove them. We'll also share some tips on how to prevent urine stains altogether.

Let's dive in.


How to Remove Urine Smell from Carpet? Right After The Accident

If you have a pup or kitten, urine accidents are almost certain to happen. And often, it's right on the carpet because it's a more comfortable spot to relieve yourself than the tile floor right next to it.

The first thing you should know is that all urine stains should be removed asap. If they are left to sit, they will be so much harder to remove. So if you notice your pet has peed on the carpet or a rug, get a rag and blot it up as quickly as you can.

The problem with urine is that it contains salt that crystallizes when it dries and then absorbs any moisture or humidity indoors, releasing odors long after the actual accident.

Here are three ways you can ensure that the stain gets properly cleaned and the odor won't haunt you later on:

[1.] Use a carpet cleaner

If you have a carpet cleaner, use it with a suitable cleaning solution formulated for pets to remove the urine thoroughly. Many pet owners find having a carpet cleaner at home is very convenient because it makes cleaning up pet messes quick and easy.

The machine will use its brush roll and powerful suction together with the cleaning solution to get deep between the fibers of the carpet to remove the urine entirely.

Related reading: Best Carpet Cleaners for Pet Stains

[2.] Use an Enzyme-Based Cleaning Spray

Woman cleaning cat pee of the couch

Another option is to use an enzyme-based cleaning spray.

Common cleaning detergents just mask the odor and don't actually remove all the urine. Enzymatic cleaners, on the contrary, use macromolecular biological catalysts to break down the urine or other type of stain, completely removing it.

There are many types of enzymatic cleaners for different types of stains and surfaces. For urine stains and other pet messes, we recommend the highly popular Rocco & Roxie Professional Strength Stain & Odor Eliminator.

[3.] Use More Natural Products

If you don't want to use harsh chemicals, you can always use more natural products to remove the stain and odor.

  1. Blot up all the urine you can with an old towel, cleaning cloth, or rag.
  2. Next, mix a solution with one part vinegar and one part water in a spray bottle and apply it on the stained area scrubbing it gently. Vinegar is excellent for disinfecting the area and lifting up the stain.
  3. Next, pour baking soda on the area and let it dry completely, and then vacuum it up. Baking soda is ideal for removing the odors, although the smell of cat urine is quite persistent, and we recommend enzyme cleaners for any kitty accidents.

But what if it's not a recent accident, and you have a urine stain that just keeps emitting that pungent smell?

How to Neutralize Odors in Carpet?

When cat or dog urine dries, it leaves behind uric salt and bacteria. Both of these are activated by moisture, which gives those old stains that horrible stench on humid and rainy days. If you want to neutralize that odor, you may need to go to extreme measures like replacing the carpet completely.

But first, let's look at what you can try before it comes to that.

  1. If it's an old stain, use a 1:1 mix of water and vinegar to wet the area.
  2. Then use a towel and apply pressure to allow the towel to lift up as much moisture it can.
  3. Next, get an enzyme cleaner and spray it on the area. This should work on even older stains, as long as they haven't spread to a wide area under the surface.
  4. In the end, if your pet has urinated on the same spot several times and the odors still persist after all your attempts to remove it, you may need to pull back the carpet to see if the underlay – or in severe cases, even the floor – needs to be replaced along with the carpet.

When it comes to large breeds, the amount of urine from just a few accidents can be huge, and even if the stain on the surface looks small, the urine may have spread on a larger area beneath the surface. If the stains have been left set, it may be difficult to clear up the odor, even with powerful detergents.

dog hair on carpet

How to Prevent Pet Stains and Odors in Carpets?

Now that we know how to clean up any stains and odors related to them, we should talk a little about how to avoid them in the future.

  • House train your pet. Many people think this is a no-brainer, but some owners of small dogs let their dogs use pee pads during the day. This will make it more likely for your pet to pee on your carpet, too, if they are not properly trained to do their business outside.
  • However, if you have a senior dog or for some other reason, accidents happen quite often, offering a pee pad just in case and teaching your dog to use it if there is a need can help prevent urine on the carpet.
  • With pets, messes are bound to happen. And often, your carpet will be the target. The best thing you can do is to remove the stain quickly before it's embedded into the fibers, or it is left to dry and settle. Always have a bottle of enzyme cleaner at hand – or even better, get a carpet cleaner that will remove the stain thoroughly and keep your carpet spotless.
  • Having your carpet professionally cleaned is expensive, and renting a carpet cleaner is not any cheaper in the long run. Also, since it's better to completely remove the stains as soon as possible, having your own machine will help you out a great deal. Even if you don't have room for a big one, you can get a portable carpet shampooer that helps you eliminate stains before they start to smell.

Summing up – Keeping Your Carpers Odor-Free

In pet homes, accidents involving urine will occur. As cute and lovable as our cats and dogs are, sometimes they just make a mess, and you need to have the right equipment to deal with it.

At the same time, urine is one of the most difficult stains to remove. It crystallizes and can emit foul odors for a long time if it is not completely removed. Therefore, you need to act quickly and try to remove every last drop from your carpet to keep your house from smelling like pet pee.

Luckily, our trusted products will help you do that. Whip out your carpet cleaner, try a powerful and effective enzyme cleaner, or use what you can find in your kitchen cabinet to tackle the urine – and the odors.

Matt Clayton
Matt Clayton
Chief Editor & Founder of PetHairPatrol

Matt is the founder of and has years of experience helping pet owners keep their homes clean. He's been featured in publications like Reader's Digest, Money, and BestLifeOnline. When this neat freak is not searching for better ways to get rid of pet hair, dander, and other messes pets leave behind, he's usually enjoying outdoors with his two (hairy) Goldens: Ben and Jerry. Read more.

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