Pets are great, but they don't always smell that way. Even the cutest cats and dogs can make your rugs and furniture stinky if you're not vigilant. Worse, even the best pets can have accidents on the rug.
Fortunately, it only takes a few household items to make your house smell better. Unlike some commercial odor-removal products, homemade remedies are cheap, easy to make and nontoxic.
Before you use any products on furniture, it's best to disassemble as much as possible. Remove pillows, blankets, slip covers, or any other materials so you can vacuum or treat areas separately and thoroughly.
Baking Soda is Key
Long a staple of fresh-smelling refrigerators, baking soda solutions are excellent for sucking up pet odors and leaving a pet-safe surface.
Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is a weak base chemical. As such, it neutralizes many acids, which are the cause of most odors, including any your pet can create on his own. This means that, unlike topical fragrances, baking soda does not merely mask odors, it destroys an acid's ability to make an odor.
Sprinkle baking soda over the couch or rug, or wherever your pet spends a lot of time, let it sit for a few minutes and vacuum up to remove basic odors.
Hydrogen peroxide, or H2O2, is a powerful oxidizer that renders the chemicals in strong, acidic pet fluids, such as urine or vomit, inert. Peroxide breaks down the crystallizing compounds in urine and also removes stains. Be sure to test for color fastness before applying.
How to Use It
Mix in a bowl:
- 1 cup of baking soda
- 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide, 3 percent is best
- 1 teaspoon dish detergent
Cover the stain with paper towels and pat the towels down to soak up liquids. Cover the site with a coating of baking soda and get as much liquid up as you can.
Slowly pour your solution onto the site and gently scrub with paper towels or a soft brush. Let sit for 15 minutes, then dust with baking soda. When it's dry, vacuum. You might need to do this a few times for tough stains or especially strong odors.
It might sound strange to think that something as pungent as vinegar removes odors, but it does. Some pet odors, like a dog's body funk that seeps into your linens or couch, are the result of alkaline chemicals, which the acids in vinegar neutralize, just as baking soda neutralizes acid odors.
How To Use It
For linens, blankets and cushion covers, add a ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar to any oxy-powered detergent powder, such as boric acid, and launder as usual. Also, leaving a deep glass dish of white vinegar standing in a room with an offensive odor usually takes the odor out of the air.
You can make a highly effective deodorizing spray by mixing:
- 2 cups of white distilled vinegar
- 2 cups of warm water
- 4 tablespoons of baking soda
Spray the solution on a stain or smelly spot and scrub with a rag.
Citrus fruits contain enzymes that help break down odors. You can make a powerful enzymatic cleaner that removes most pet odors, but you need to be patient. These solutions have to brew for a few months.
- 7 tablespoons of brown sugar
- 1 ½ cups of lemon and orange peel scraps
- 4 cups of water
Put the mixture in a glass jar, shake it up, and let it sit for three months. You'll have a powerful cleaner when it's done.
Baking soda mixes well with hydrogen peroxide or vinegar to make terrific odor-removing solutions.
Less Aromatic Pets
The easiest way to keep pets from stinking up the place is to make them less stinky. Cats, of course, are fussy groomers and do not tend to stink -- nor do they react well to bath time.
But for dogs and the occasional easygoing cat, a simple mixture of 2 tablespoons of baking soda in a gallon of water makes a great odor-removing bath time solution.
Punch some holes in the cap of a gallon jug to make a watering can-style sprayer. Soak your pet and then rinse off with warm water, as normal. Your nose will thank you.