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Cleaning Dog Urine: Tips, Tricks and Hacks!

Written by Anna Hollisey


boxer lying on shaggy rug

Whether you’re potty training a new puppy or rescue dog, your faithful companion is getting old and experiencing a few accidents, or there’s just been a one off little mishap, every dog owner will at some point have to clean up pee. Don’t panic. You can rescue your furniture, clothes, or upholstery with our time-saving hacks for cleaning dog urine!

Why Does Dog Urine Smell So Bad?

If you’re here, there’s probably a damp splat of dog pee on your carpet. And if you’re wondering why it smells so truly terrible, you’re not alone. Even the smallest puddle of urine can produce a horrifying odor in a matter of hours. 

Why? Dog urine contains ammonia. As it dries out, ammonia turns into methanethiol, which is a bad-smelling gas. That’s what you’re sniffing, and that’s why dog pee needs urgent attention as soon as it happens.

8 Top Tips for Cleaning Dog Urine

  1. Catch that puddle as soon as possible! Soak up as much as you can using paper towels or old cloths. (You can wash them afterwards using a biological detergent.)
  2. Don’t reach for your trusty steam cleaner: heat and steam affect the urine molecules and make odors worse.
  3. Dog pee contains ammonia, so you should never use an ammonia-based solution. Instead, choose vinegar: it neutralizes ammonia, and it has natural odor-busting properties. 
  4. Find an empty spray bottle and make up a solution of 1:1 white vinegar mixed with water. You can also add half the amount of baking soda to this mixture – soda helps to absorb odors. Spray this solution liberally all over the damp spot on your carpet or upholstery. 
  5. If you’re tackling carpet with a high pile, use a cloth or sponge to rub the vinegar solution right into the fibers so it doesn’t simply rest on the top. 
  6. If you’d prefer a chemical cleaner, choose an enzymatic cleaner – they’re the very best for removing urine because they work by breaking down the urine molecules. 
  7. For stains, the best option is hydrogen peroxide – use a 3% solution and leave it to soak. (Take precautions by testing first, especially if your carpet is new.)
  8. Alternatively, you can use diluted household bleach, provided it’s not chlorine-based (that type’s toxic to dogs). Test it on a discreet corner of the carpet first.

#1 Hack: DIY Carpet Freshener

Although you can buy some great carpet sprays, did you know that it’s possible to make your own carpet freshener at home?

All you need is baking soda and, if you want, some essential oil. (Choose an oil that you know is safe for your dog – lavender is a good choice – because some essential oils can be dangerous for animals). 

You’ll need a container for shaking the powder, such as a sugar or flour shaker. All you need to do is layer a cup of baking soda with a couple of drops of oil. Repeat the layer again, then seal and shake. Keep it for a few hours to develop a stronger scent or use it right away. 

To apply, shake generously all over the carpet. Ideally you’ll now leave it overnight; if kids or pets are incoming, try to leave it alone for at least 20 minutes before vacuuming it up again. The result: refreshed, lightly scented carpet.

#2 Hack: Urine on the Couch?

Old dog pee stains can become intensely annoying. But did you know that regular dishwashing soap can remove most stains from upholstery? Mix it up with warm water and scrub into the stain. If that doesn’t work, it’s time to bring in the hydrogen peroxide. Choose a 3% solution – and be sure to test it on the underside of a cushion in case it fades your upholstery. 

#3 Hack: Detecting Unseen Urine

Something’s started to smell funny… but you didn’t see your dog doing their business in the house, and you can’t see a puddle. When you just can’t find the source of that smell, here’s a cool trick. You’ll need a UV flashlight (the type used to check currency is genuine). Scan the carpet and the flashlight will show old urine left by cats, dogs or rodents. Beware though: this ‘illuminating’ hack could give you a whole new To Do list.

Choose the Right Flooring for Dog Urine

We don’t replace our flooring very often but when we do, it’s worth including our pets in the decision! 

Whether your animals are young or old, bleach-cleanable carpet is an investment that you’ll likely appreciate for many years. Ask in the showroom for carpets that can be scrubbed with bleach: many modern carpets can be beautifully restored with a diluted bleach solution. 

If you’re not keen on carpet, how about one of these:

  • Laminate planks – just check that they click together with a watertight seal, to avoid pee dribbling through the cracks.
  • Vinyl – this comes in planks or sheets and is now extremely robust and long-lasting. It’s a huge upgrade from the flaking or fading vinyl floorings that used to be laid in the 90s.
  • Tiles – of course these made our list: large stone or slate tiles look chic and resist dog pee. Use a dark-coloured grout to prevent stains from appearing. 
  • Engineered wood – made with real wood in layers, this type of flooring is very strong and beautiful. It’s less scratch-proof than vinyl, but perfect for a lived-in rustic look. Unlike real wood, it usually has a strong topcoat. 
  • Bamboo – in the same camp as engineered wood, this natural option is very hard and durable. It’s worth asking about the top layer or protective coating when you buy. 

#4 Hack: Make a Soda Volcano

We’ve already mentioned the natural wonder-cleaners: vinegar and baking soda. Here’s a fun cleaning hack that combines them both (and requires no prep). Pour undiluted white vinegar liberally over the stained area, then sprinkle generously with baking soda. They’ll fizz and bubble, getting into the carpet fibers and absorbing uric acid. Leave to dry and then vacuum very well.