If you’ve just gotten a puppy, you know that potty training is essential. No matter how you choose to go about training your puppy where he should “go,” accidents are simply bound to happen.
The good news is that when those accidents inevitably occur, whether you catch them in the act and clean them right away – or miss them for a day or two before you notice a funny smell lurking in the corners – cleaning urine odors and stains from your carpet is actually pretty simple, and you probably already have most of what you need on hand.
How can I remove dog urine odor from my carpet? You can remove dog urine odor from your carpet by first soaking up as much of the liquid as possible with paper towels and newspapers, and then working to get the smell out. This works best when the accident is fresh. In order to get the smell out – and prevent your little guy from going in the same spot again – you’ll need three staple ingredients: baking soda, vinegar, and water.
For older stains, you may need a specialized enzymatic cleaner or professional-grade carpet cleaner – but don’t worry, both are designed to work very well, they’re easy to find, and there are natural options to try before you break out the heavy-duty stuff.
Before we get into the specifics about how to clean up new and old urine stains, it’s important to address why your dog is having accidents in the first place, and what to do about it.
Why is My Dog Peeing on the Carpet?
If you just brought your little guy home, he’s likely peeing because he doesn’t know any better. So, you’ll want to begin potty training right away, and the best piece of advice is that you do not give your dog free reign of the house, at least not yet.
A dog’s sense of smell is 40 times greater than that of a human, and dogs can detect the odor of urine, whether it’s their own or from another dog (source). This may draw your dog back to the same spot, showing him that your carpet is a good place to take care of business.
In order to avoid that, you’ll want to keep your puppy in a smaller space until he is better trained, such as your kitchen, where there’s likely no carpeting.
You can potty train in a number of ways, but one essential aspect of potty training is that you go outside with your puppy (even if you have a fenced yard) and reward him relentlessly for peeing outside as soon as he does so (source).
That doesn’t mean you need to give him a full box of treats, however. Praise him, give him a good belly rub, and show him how proud you are of his accomplishment.
Do this often, and if you do end up with an accident in the house, don’t punish him. Show him the right thing to do, and then simply clean it up as soon as you can.
If part of your need for cleaning is due to potty training accidents, you can learn more about training your new little guy in the article titled, “How to Discipline a Puppy.”
If your dog is not a puppy and is continuing to pee inside the house despite being potty trained, you will want to investigate further.
Some common issues for dogs to pee in the house include excitement, nervousness or anxiety, a urinary tract infection, incontinence due to aging, excessive drinking of water – which could signal a diabetic problem – or other medical issues (source).
If you are concerned, take your dog to the vet to rule out any serious complications.
Once you have a better understanding of why your dog is having accidents in your home, you can then tackle how to get dog urine out of your carpet, and hopefully prevent repeat occurrences.
Cleaning Urine Stains from Carpeted Areas
As mentioned earlier, you’ll need to stock your pantry with some plain white vinegar and baking soda. You can find both in the grocery store, likely for less than a dollar each. Other supplies you may want to have on hand include:
- Lots of paper towels
- Old rags
- A bucket of clean, cool water (do not use warm water as this could further adhere the smell to the area)
- A pet odor neutralizer (either one you buy, or one you can mix using essential oils)
Cleaning fresh stains are much easier to take care of than those that are older, whether on carpeting or hardwood or tile flooring, so we’ll tackle those first.
Cleaning Fresh Urine Stains
If your stain is fresh, you will want to soak up as much of the urine as possible with a thick layer of paper towels, and then, cover that same spot with newspaper.
If you don’t have a newspaper on hand – not surprisingly, most of us don’t these days! – don’t worry. But you’ll want to use a good heavy layer of paper towels or old rags.
Newspapers are a great tool to have on hand for cleaning purposes, however, whether you are in the midst of potty training or have multiple or repeated needs for urine clean up. If you don’t have any, you may be able to get a bunch for free from your local grocery store or pet store.
Once you have soaked up as much of the liquid as you can, you’ll want to stand on this padding for a minute or so to get a bit more of the liquid absorbed – pretend you are crushing grapes for a fresh glass of wine – you’ll likely want one after all the cleaning! The idea is to soak up as much of the liquid as possible, and as soon as possible.
Another great tip to help in not only cleaning but also training your puppy is to place those soiled towels wherever you do want your pet to pee. For instance, if you are training your pet to go on puppy “pee pads” by your front door, place the soiled towels there and show him.
If you are taking him outside to pee, you can place them in a designated spot in your yard so that he is able to connect his sense of smell to where you want him to pee.
Now that you’ve soaked up as much of the liquid as you are able, you’ll want to begin tackling the odor. Here’s where some common household items come into play, namely baking soda.
Most often used in baking recipes to get your bread or pastries to rise, it also serves another important purpose – neutralizing odors. Below is what you’ll need to do.
Neutralizing odors with baking soda
Evenly layer a thin coating of baking soda across the entire soiled spot – but don’t overdo it. Here, less is more – you’ll probably need about ¼ cup, depending on the size of the stain (source).
You’ll want to let it sit overnight or a minimum of 8 or so hours. The reason for this is that the powder will actually absorb the odors, preventing your dog from smelling the area and having a repeat occurrence.
Once the baking soda has had time to do its work, vacuum the area thoroughly. Your carpet should feel – and smell – clean to the touch. If it doesn’t, you may need to repeat the process, adding in the second household ingredient we mentioned earlier – white vinegar.
Cleaning with white vinegar
If you still have a bit of a smell after using baking soda, you’ll want to add another step to your cleaning process before you’re done. All you need to do is mix a vinegar solution that is comprised of the following ingredients:
- Distilled white vinegar
- One cup of water
- 2 teaspoons of baking soda
Your best bet is to get an old cleaning spray bottle – or you can usually purchase these from a general store or online fairly cheaply. Fill the empty spray bottle with the above ingredient amounts, and shake well enough to mix everything together and dissolve the baking soda.
Then, spray the solution onto the soiled spot and let it sit for a few minutes.
Once it has had time to sit, blot up as much of the liquid as possible, similar to the step above.
You won’t necessarily need to put as much muscle into this part as you did when soaking up the urine, but enough that you can get as much of the liquid absorbed into a paper towel as possible. You won’t need to vacuum anything at this point, though you certainly can for an added measure of cleaning.
If you have multiple spots that need cleaning, repeat the same steps for each spot, and you should be all set – with a clean carpet and no smell.
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Cleaning Old Urine Stains
One of the biggest issues with cleaning urine stains is that you can often smell them before you can locate them – especially if they are old stains. Sometimes, it seems as if your entire carpet carries with it that dreadful odor. If this is the case, you likely have dried urine that has embedded into your carpet.
If finding all of the stains is cumbersome, or if you have so many that you’ll be on your hands and knees for hours, you may want to consider renting a carpet cleaning machine or a wet vac from a hardware or grocery store. Most places rent these cleaners by the day, and they are fairly simple to use.
You can also purchase one. They’re actually not that expensive – some around $100 – and many home-use carpet cleaning machines are no larger than a vacuum cleaner.
Using a carpet cleaner
One important note about using industrial-grade or household carpet cleaning machines for pet stains is that you make sure that you are not using a steam cleaner.
The heat that is used in steam cleaners works great on some surfaces and for some stains but will have the opposite effect when it comes to urine stains. The heat will essentially permanently adhere to the smell to your carpet by bonding the proteins in the urine to the fibers in your carpet (source).
One more tip: the same holds true for clothing stains – if you happen to wash your clothes and have a stain, whether urine or otherwise, avoid throwing the item into the dryer as this will likely permanently set the stain.
If you do use a carpet cleaning machine, you’re likely going to want to clean your entire carpeted area to avoid noticeably “clean” spots versus those that have dirt or other debris. Plan to spend the day on this activity, and get some family members to help you move all of your furniture to ease your workload!
With these types of appliances, you’re likely going to need to purchase a cleaner specifically designed for pet stains and for whatever machine you are using.
You’re going to want to get an enzymatic cleaner for this purpose because the enzymes in the cleaner will essentially do what baking soda does for simpler stains – it will break down the proteins in the urine, removing both the stain as well as the odor.
Further neutralizing odor across your whole carpet
Once you’ve cleaned the entire area with the carpet cleaner, you’ll then want to use a pet odor neutralizer. You can purchase one from a pet store or general store, and follow the instructions for use. There are many, many options available.
If you’d like to mix an odor neutralizer yourself using essential oils, all you will need to do is combine baking soda with a few drops of essential oils – whichever scent you choose, though eucalyptus, cinnamon, or a stronger citrus-scented oil such as lemon oil is the best option since it’ll likely deter your dog (source).
With the essential oil and baking soda mixture, you’ll simply need to sprinkle it evenly across your carpet – remember, here too, less is more. Don’t overdo it, especially since you’re going to want to vacuum all of the baking soda once it has had time to sit.
Let the baking soda mixture sit for a few hours, or even ideally, overnight, if you can.
Using ultraviolet light to detect old stains
If you choose not to clean your entire carpet using a cleaning machine, or you simply want to detect stains but can’t exactly place where they are, you can use ultraviolet light or what is more commonly called black light. You can easily purchase one online, and they are also relatively inexpensive, around $10 for a simple one.
You’ll need to turn out all the lights and get your room as dark as possible, and you’ll want to use something to mark the area. The best option to mark the area is a simple piece of chalk so that you can ensure when you turn the lights back on, you haven’t missed anything. Place a large circle around the area, outward from the stain a few centimeters.
Once you’ve located all of the stains, you can use either of the options above for cleaning, whether a simple baking soda and vinegar solution or a carpet cleaning appliance.
One final note about old stains – if they’ve been sitting for quite some time, they’ve likely reached what is called the underfelt or under the padding of your carpeted area.
Unfortunately, this means that you may want to consider replacing that area of your carpet to avoid further damage and repeated instances of accidents in that area (source).
For a quick tip, see this video below:
What Not to Do
One thing is for certain – do not ignore pet stains, even if you cannot see them. Sure, pet odors are nothing short of smelly, and there are certainly ways to “freshen up” your home to mask them, but this is not something you want to ignore.
For starters, leaving urine stains untreated will damage your carpet and flooring permanently if left untreated, and because dried urine forms crystals, other dirt and debris will come in contact with those crystals and attach to them, leaving you with a much more challenging stain to tackle – whether on carpet or hardwood (source).
Furthermore, pet urine is much more concentrated than human urine and left untreated poses a hygiene risk to both you and your pet, beyond damage to household items and carpeting.
Related Article: What Should You Do if Your Puppy Falls off the Couch? They might be injured.
In order for you to keep your family and your pet happy and healthy, the best solution is to keep your home free of urine, take your dog out regularly for bathroom breaks, and clean up any stains that you notice right away.
Don’t scold your pet after you find a stain, either. He’ll likely not know what you are upset about, and it will make the situation worse if he is feeling anxious.
And as we mentioned at the beginning, the best solution is to find out why your dog or puppy is having accidents. In addition to cleaning, consider retraining or looking further into the cause of the behavior, whether a medical issue or otherwise.