How to Get a Dog Urine Smell Out of House & Rugs

By Lisa McQuerrey

Dog urine smells can linger in a house, particularly in carpets and rugs. Not only is the smell unpleasant, but even old, dried residue can attract your dog or other household pets to mark the same spots again. While some heavily soiled carpets may need to be replaced, homemade and commercial cleaning remedies may be enough to get your house back to smelling fresh and clean.

Use a Black Light

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Use a handheld black light to find the urine stains in your rugs and carpets. For best results, turn off all the lights in a room and close shades or curtains before using the light so you’ll be able to pinpoint urine spots. Even though the whole room may smell bad, chances are the urine is contained to one or more areas. That’s where you’ll want to focus your cleaning efforts.

Clean by Hand

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Soak the marked spots you identified with your black light with cold water. It's easiest when an accident is wet, but dry spots can be removed this way as well. Blot these areas by hand using a thick cloth or paper towels covered with newspaper, standing on the paper if necessary to apply heavy pressure. Repeat the process until you don’t see any more liquid coming out. If you have a carpet cleaning machine or can rent one, use it with plain water to clean the area rather than doing it by hand.

Apply Vinegar, Baking Soda, Peroxide

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Mix 3 parts water to 1 part white vinegar and stir. Apply the solution to the stained areas and allow it to soak for up to 5 minutes. Sprinkle the spot liberally with baking soda and allow the area to dry. Next, mix 3/4 cup of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide with a teaspoon of dish soap. Apply a small amount to the baking soda-vinegar area and test for color fastness. If all is well, cover the remaining area with the solution and allow it to dry completely. Vacuum well as a final step.

Use a Commercial Enzematic Cleaner

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Rather than use a homemade solution, you can instead use a commercial enzymatic cleaner that breaks down residual urine. If you've previously used another cleaning method, use a carpet cleaner with plain water to remove traces of other detergents to avoid killing the enzymes. Follow manufacturer’s guidelines for how long the enzyme solution should soak. Use the same blotting process to remove the fluid. Repeat as necessary until the odor is gone.

Re-check Soiled Areas

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Once your carpet or rug is dry, use your black light to check for lingering urine spots. You may find treated areas with a slight ring of urine remaining around the perimeter. Go back and clean areas again as necessary, using the same approach. Don’t let any animals into cleaning areas during this time or they may mark the spot again.

Carpet Machine or Wet Vac

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Spot cleaning can make the rest of your carpet or rug look dingy by comparison, so consider overall carpet cleaning to “even up” your carpet and remove remaining moisture. Use a nonsteam carpet cleaning machine or a wet vac rather than a steam cleaner, which can set stains and odors. Let the treated areas dry completely before you allow people or animals back on them.

Other Household Surfaces

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While rugs tend to trap and hold dog urine scents more than smooth surfaces, repeated accidents can build up. Use enzymatic cleaner to wash down linoleum, tile, wood floors or other surfaces to eliminate smells. Always check the directions for what the products can and can’t be used on and test cleaning solutions on inconspicuous areas before proceeding.

House Refreshing

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Air out your house after the cleaning process. Air purifiers and commercial air and fabric fresheners can be used to remove general pet smells and freshen drapes and cloth furniture. You can make your own freshener by mixing 1 part baking soda and 1 part liquid fabric softener to 2 parts of warm water and storing it in a spray bottle. Baking soda-based carpet refreshers or baking soda laced with essential oil can keep rugs and carpets smelling clean and fresh. Simply pour baking soda into a bowl, add enough oil to your personal scent tastes -- usually several drops -- mix, and allow to dry. Sprinkle on carpet before vacuuming. Keep your enzymatic cleaner on hand to address future pet accidents quickly before odor has a chance to set in.