How to Get Dog Urine Smell Out of Carpet: A Guide to Rid Odor Completely
It doesn’t matter if your carpet is older or brand new – a dog urine stain on one is a stressful issue to deal with.
If you Googled the title to get here, then you’re wondering how can I remove dog urine odor from carpet?
You may also be wondering how to get dog pee out of a rug.
It’s a whole new challenge:
Unlike hard surfaces, as pet moms and dads we have our work cut out for us when our fur baby pees on a rug.
Absorbent fabrics make fully evicting dark urine stains and liquids challenging.
You don’t need a professional carpet cleaning machine for one accident, and you don’t need an arsenal of harsh cleaning products, either.
The truth is:
For organic stains, it’s easy to believe you should be using the toughest of chemicals to defeat them.
In reality, knowing how to get old dog urine stains out of carpet is a process that involves simple, gentle products.
Things you already have on hand can be useful as preliminary steps to this task.
What is the best carpet cleaner for dog urine? In this article, I’ll cover a powerful weapon against urine stains – more on this below.
I’ll also go over effective methods for getting rid of a urine stain in one go, and without any fancy machinery. Even machines can fail.
For example, I shampooed my carpet, and now it smells like urine, how can I get rid of the smell?
This scenario is one that I’ve experience myself, and soon learned is a common one!
Here’s the Deal with Pet Urine and Carpeting
When you’re walking around your living room, it probably doesn’t cross your mind that there are several layers to the flooring beneath your feet.
There’s the carpet itself, the carpet padding under that, and finally, the subfloor.
Spills and urine accidents have a lot of places to soak in and hide once they come in contact with your carpet.
They tend to seep in quickly.
The carpet and padding layers are absorbent fabric, and the subfloor beneath it all is usually wood – another place that urine can soak in.
Getting urine out of a subfloor is another challenge altogether.
In many homes, the subfloor is not finished with a sealant, meaning there’s not much protecting it from liquid that makes it to that layer.
Why is that a big deal?
Unlike say a tile floor hit by dog urine, wood is quite porous, and having a stain reach your subfloor poses a problem.
Many old stains are stubborn and difficult to remove with carpet cleaning or other traditional methods because they have soaked through to the wood.
Too much liquid in the subfloor can cause it to swell and warp, which raises a whole new set of problems.
If it’s just a lone stain or a few isolated incidents, you won’t have to worry about that yet.
But what about the carpeting?
The pH levels in urine will rise as it dries out. When it comes into contact with any bacteria, that acid will oxidize.
This is where stains and smells come from and why they can become worse over time.
Urine accidents on the carpet are best dealt with ASAP.
You might not always have that luxury, especially if your pet spends time alone in the house.
Or worse, the urine was leftover from a previous owner or tenant’s pet.
It’s also harder to soak up every bit of urine since carpeting soaks it up so fast.
Cleaning urine from carpet certainly isn’t as straightforward as cleaning it from tile.
It can be done.
Follow These 3 Steps for How to Get Dog Urine Smell Out of Carpet
The first thing to do if your dog urinates on carpeting?
When I was raising my first dog, I received some well-meaning but largely useless advice about surprise puppy puddles.
The suggestion was that when my puppy had an accident, I should immediately step on the spot with my socks on.
The idea behind that strategy is it soaks up some of the urine immediately.
I’m definitely not going to tell you to step in urine.
First of all, waiting a whole sixty seconds to fetch your trusty rags or paper towels isn’t going to make much difference.
It certainly doesn’t make enough difference to justify compromising a perfectly good pair of socks.
Secondly, even if you have a healthy dog, coming into direct contact with their urine is something you should avoid – learn more about dog urine and human health concerns if you want to know more.
Third? It’s just gross.
There is a benefit to adding weight and pressure to the spot in the process of drawing out liquids. More on that soon – and it doesn’t involve your cleaning dog urine off your clothing.
1. Soak Up What You Can
If your dog urinated on carpeting, you indeed want to soak up as much as you can.
I recommend old rags and towels – paper towels aren’t as effective, and you can waste away the better part of a roll.
The first couple of passes will more than likely soak your towels and rags.
Because of this, you might want to consider wearing disposable gloves or a “barrier” towel, so you don’t have to touch any urine directly.
Once you’ve gotten the bulk of the pee out of the carpet, adding some weight to the spot can be helpful.
Yes, standing on it can work.
You don’t need to stand with bare feet or socks to draw urine from the stain.
If you’re determined to squeeze out as much as possible, use shoes and put something like several layers of old newspaper or a magazine between your feet and the rags.
Because of what you’ll do in the next step, this part is optional, and really helps more for peace of mind than anything else.
Remember to press, blot, and apply pressure when absorbing the urine. Don’t wipe or scrub – it will only spread it out to a bigger area.
What about a rug?
If the scene of the crime is an area rug and not wall-to-wall carpeting, it’s best to roll it up and take it outside.
Take care of whatever mess is on the floor beneath – whether it’s tile or wood, it needs to be wiped up and cleaned with an appropriate product.
If you’ve put your area rug outdoors or into the garage, you can clean the spot the same way you would clean a carpet. See the next step…
You’re at an advantage with cleaning an area rug since it’s easier to isolate and treat the stain.
Do you know the one thing to remember before treating your area rug?
If you leave it in place while you’re trying to wick away urine, you risk pushing it further into the floor beneath.
You’ll get caught in a cycle of blotting the liquid from the rug and lifting it to wipe up urine that soaked through.
A good rule?
If you can remove the rug, do so. It might feel like an unnecessary extra step, but it will allow you to give things a more effective cleaning.
A better place to treat the rug would be outside or in a garage.
Put a buffer between the rug and whichever surface it’s on, like the garage floor or walkway.
Because yes, a little bit of urine can leak through your area rug onto other places.
Again, layers of newspapers or towels can protect surfaces while you’re soaking up the urine.
You can create a “sandwich” of towels around your rug, some below the stain, and on top of it.
That way, when urine is being squeezed out, it’s not ending up anywhere but your cleaning rags.
Baking Soda Time
The final part of soaking up fresh urine is done with the help of the lovely absorbent baking soda.
Once you have most of the urine-soaked up, sprinkle a layer of baking soda on the spot and let it sit around 10 minutes.
The baking soda will draw out any moisture you missed. Vacuum up the reside before moving onto the next step.
2. Time to Clean
Now that you have gotten most of the liquid out, you’re probably wondering: now how can I remove dog urine odor from carpet?
It’s time to bring in the star of the show.
Enzyme cleaners are a safe alternative to harsh carpet cleaners that don’t even take care of the stain very well.
There are many enzyme cleaners out there, some better than others.
We recommend: Trinova Natural Pet Stain and Odor Remover
This has been a trusty product for awhile if you’re new to enzyme cleaners.
With Trinova you’ll want to go strong. This means spray liberally and let the product set according to the label.
Here’s a huge tip:
From my experience, it’s best to let the enzyme solution sit for at least 12 hours or even overnight if you can do it.
On carpets, enzyme cleaners work best when you put weight on the area.
If you don’t have any actual weights on hand, you can use things you have lying around the house.
Once again, put something like a few folded towels over the spot.
A heavy book on top of the towels usually does the trick for applying weight.
Most importantly, covering up the spot during your “wait” time decreases the amount of evaporation and keeps those little enzymes focused and working hard.
Be sure you spray the area thoroughly before allowing it to set.
On carpet and fabrics, you’ll want to blot up the excess cleaner with a towel or rag after it has had a chance to do its magic.
You can also use a wet vacuum or similar machine, using a light spray of water to act as a rinse.
Your area rug?
If you whisked your rug to the backyard, beware of using any cleaners over grass. It can discolor or kill the spot under the rug.
Some enzyme cleaners won’t harm plants but always refer to the details on the bottle if you’re doing any cleaning outside.
One thing to know…
Hanging it up might seem like a good solution, but gravity will draw the enzyme cleaner downward and away from the stain.
This is the same if you’re treating dog urine in artificial grass pieces.
It can also cause the urine to migrate and spread.
So if you hang a rug to treat, it won’t be as effective. Save the hanging for the drying phase.
An easy alternative is to put the rug on a surface like a garage floor, gravel, or driveway. You can create your “sandwich” again, placing towels under the spot.
Treat the area like you would a carpet, and put a weight over the treated area for the best effectiveness.
If you can, you can simply allow your rug to dry naturally, which if it’s outdoors, will do so more quickly.
A Note on Old Stains
You can skip the step of absorbing the urine when dealing with an old, dried stain.
How to get old dog urine stains out of carpet?
Even older spots can be improved or even eliminated by an enzyme-based dog urine remover – usually, one round of cleaning will do the trick.
Just follow the steps above, and you’ll get the results you’re after!
3. Prevent This from Happening Again!
You can’t seal your carpet like you would a wood floor or bamboo floor to avoid dog urine stains.
Short of installing a plastic sheet over your carpet, the best option is to stop accidents before they happen.
When I had a new puppy, I tried to supervise him constantly on any carpeted areas.
Young puppies need to use the potty as often as every two hours.
Puppies are experts at sneaking a bathroom break before you notice it.
Aside from taking them out frequently, you’ll need both eyes on them at all times when they’re inside.
Any time spent unsupervised should be in their crate or at the very least, on tile floors where messes aren’t as much of a hassle.
And for adults…
The same goes for adult dogs in house training. They can hold it longer, but you still need to pay attention to them.
Be highly suspicious of any sniffing or exploring the floor – it’s usually an indication that they’re looking for a spot to urinate.
What about protecting carpets from small dribbles?
Old canines and dogs with incontinence can be helped with dog diapers and belly bands.
It’s something to look into for nervous urinators and males who like to mark territory.
Angry Orange Citrus Pet Odor Eliminator
Don’t be distracted by the citrus scent of this enzyme cleaner. It’s not designed to mask any odors, because the good bacteria in the product will destroy the smells at the source.
You might purchase this for carpets, but it can be a lifesaver on tile, wood, inside kennels and litter boxes.
This product can even be used on the grass where cats have sprayed, or dogs have marked.
Out! Advanced Stain and Odor Remover
Another powerful enzyme cleaner, this product works without utilizing dangerous chemicals as well.
Natural ingredients and concentrated enzymes destroy nasty scent molecules, from both old and new stains.
It’s not just for urine – it’s safe and effective on most organic stains.
Trinova Natural Pet Stain and Odor Remover
Like the other products here, you can use this cleaner on a variety of surfaces such as upholstery.
Odors are neutralized without using toxic or harmful chemicals, which is perfect for areas we come in contact with frequently.
Has your dog had an accident on their bed? Sticking it in the washing machine might not be practical.
You can use Trinova’s enzyme spray on pet bedding without worrying about exposing your pet to something toxic.
Is there anything you can do while you wait for your order of the enzymatic cleaner to arrive?
The good news is enzyme cleaners work on stains that are old and set-in.
In the meantime, you should still try to soak up as much as possible, and use the baking soda method to absorb excess moisture.
Distilled white vinegar can help your carpet in a pinch. It’s not as powerful in eliminating odors in carpeting as enzyme cleaners are, but you can still use it.
The main goal of getting rid of a urine spot is deterring your dog from repeating the offense.
Puppies are especially tempted back to spots they already peed if they can smell the urine.
It’s a good idea to block off the area until you can thoroughly clean it, or you’ll risk having to go through the whole ordeal again the next day.
FAQs about Removing Dog Urine Smell from Carpets
I shampooed my carpet, and now it smells like urine. Why?
Carpet shampooers and steamers use heat while they clean. That heat can reactivate ammonia hiding out in your carpet.
Using shampooers can also spread out urine particles to a broader area, making the smell more noticeable.
Not shampooing a carpet with urine stains might seem counterintuitive, but it’s best to leave it until after you’ve used a good enzyme cleaner.
I smell urine somewhere on my carpet, but I can’t find it. How do I know where to treat the carpet?
New homeowners often run into this issue when old tenants leave a less than welcome gift behind on the carpeting.
Similarly, dogs can have an accident that goes unnoticed for quite some time.
Smelling urine but not being able to figure out where it’s coming from is enough to drive anyone crazy.
You definitely want to find and treat it as soon as possible.
There’s the old-fashioned method of doing sniff checks on the floor.
But if that idea doesn’t appeal to you, you can purchase a blacklight to help you detect the source of the smell.
It might sound like expensive equipment, but these lights are available in compact, affordable options. You might even find one on the shelves of your favorite pet store.
Do enzyme cleaners work on light-colored carpeting?
Enzyme cleaners have powerful stain-fighting properties.
Even on the lightest carpets, they are capable of lifting stains and getting your carpet looking as good as new.
This is because they actually destroy the particles which leave behind stains and smells.
If you’re worried about an unsightly yellow spot on your carpet, turn to an enzyme cleaner before you call in the professionals.
The best part about enzyme cleaners?
They can also combat tough stains like juice, wine, and sauce.
Save the Carpet
Nobody wants to rip up an entire room of carpeting because of one accident, and here’s the thing: you don’t need to.
How do you get dog pee out of a carpet when it’s such a smelly and conspicuous mess?
You can think of the supplies you need as the ABCs of urine stains.
Absorbent cloths and Baking soda as the first step. Then…
Cleaner – enzyme cleaner, that is.
Keep an emergency kit on hand wherever you have a dog around – towels, rags, baking soda, and above all else, a bottle of enzyme cleaner.
These things are must-haves for any dog parent.
P.S. – they also make great puppy gifts to give (or receive) for new dog moms and dads.