How Do I Remove Dried Dog Urine Stains From Carpet With Vinegar?

Accidents happen, and they tend to do so with more frequency when you have children, pets, or both. Even a well-trained and completely housebroken dog can have an accident from time to time, and that means unsightly and smelly stains on your carpet. If a dog urine smell greets you when you return home, you can neutralize the odor and freshen things up with some vinegar and baking soda.

Cute dog sitting on the floor with carpet in a lovely home. brown with white fur
Accidents happen, and they tend to do so with more frequency when you have pets.
credit: cerro_photography/iStock/GettyImages

Catch them in the act

It's much easier to remove urine from carpet when it's fresh. If you're dealing with a stain rather than a puddle, it's probably too late for that. If you're lucky enough to catch the spot when it's still wet, however, quickly blot the stain with paper towels to soak up the urine. Blot the carpet but don't rub it, as doing so will only spread the urine around.

DIY dog urine stain remover

After blotting the carpet dry or discovering the stain too late for that, make a homemade cleaning solution to remove any remaining urine and its odor. To do so, mix half water and half white vinegar in a spray bottle. Vinegar neutralizes the smell of urine just as effectively as commercial cleaners and costs much less.

Resoak the stain

To remove any lingering urine odor, spray your vinegar cleaning solution liberally on the carpet. You want the vinegar to go everywhere the urine did, including down to the matting under your carpet if necessary. Getting it there means applying it liberally, soaking the carpet until it is wet once again rather than just slightly damp.

Scrub it out

For a deep clean, grab a small scrub brush and use it on your wet carpet. Scrubbing in small circles, apply as much pressure as you can without damaging the carpet fibers. The scrub brush will remove any remaining urine while working the vinegar solution into the carpet fibers. When you're done scrubbing, blot the carpet dry again with some paper towels or a clean cloth.

The finishing touch

Vinegar is an excellent odor remover, but it never hurts to go the extra mile when getting rid of unpleasant odors. After cleaning your carpet, allow it to dry thoroughly and then sprinkle some baking soda over the spot. Let the baking soda sit for at least 15 minutes before vacuuming it up.

Although it's easy to understand why you don't want to invest hours in cleaning up a pet accident, be patient when waiting for your carpet to dry. Baking soda turns into a clumpy mess when it gets wet and is difficult to clean up. Make sure your carpet is 100 percent dry before applying the baking soda, even if that means waiting a few hours.

Don't get steamed

Steam cleaners are usually a great way to keep your carpet and upholstery clean, but don't reach for yours when your pet has an accident. The heat generated by a steam cleaner can bond the protein in the urine to the fibers of your carpet, fusing them together. Once that happens, the stain and its smell are permanent residents of your carpet. No matter what the steam cleaner commercials say, you should never apply heat to a pet stain.

General tips and tricks

Before using vinegar or any other cleanser on your carpet, make sure you test it in an inconspicuous area. If the test area becomes discolored, discard the cleaning solution and try another. Remember too that the colors in paper towels and rags aren't always colorfast. To avoid dye transfer, always use a white paper towel or cloth to clean pet stains.