Woman cuddling her dog at home.

How To Remove Pet Odors From Your Home

Hanna Kielar5-minute read
November 29, 2019

We all love our pets. They’re our favorite non-human part of the family. However, we don’t always love the smells they produce. Whether you’re preparing to host a dinner party, staging your home for selling or just need a refresh, removing pet odors can help to make any home feel more inviting.

That’s why we’ve put together a handy guide to help you get things back into tip-top, smell-free shape.

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Step 1: Clean Your Pet

You can do all the cleaning in the world, but if your pet has their own special odor, you’ll have a much harder time getting ahead of things. Grooming your pet, although not always the easiest of tasks, will make sure the time you spend deep cleaning isn’t wasted.

If your pet can be washed, give them a good scrub and grooming. Animals like cats shouldn’t be bathed often, if at all, but brushing their fur to cut down on shedding and wiping down their paws will make a big difference in the long run.

After you’ve tidied up your furry best friend, consider setting up a regular routine for grooming. Just like humans, animals will get a little rough around the edges after a while.

How frequently you groom your pet will depend entirely on the type and age, but establishing a routine for the both of you will help ensure unpleasant smells don’t have a chance to accumulate in your home.

Step 2: Find The Sources

Pet odors can arise from a number of different causes, such as urine, feces or excessive fur from your pet lying on the carpet or furniture. In order to completely eliminate these odors, you need to make sure you’ve found every single source and treated it.

This can be more difficult than anticipated as the cause could be hidden behind furniture or between cushions in your couch. Pet urine will glow under a black light, but the best way to find it, even if it might not be the most fun, is to just follow your nose.

Before you get started “sniffing around,” make sure you haven’t been in the area for long. Humans have an amazing ability to ignore unpleasant smells in their environments. This is known as sensory adaptation, and it’s the main reason guests to your home are more likely to notice lingering smells than you are.

Pay special attention to areas where your pet usually hangs out, like the litterbox, their cage, a favorite blanket or piece of furniture.  Also check in hidden areas, such as behind the couch, as some pets have an instinct to hide feces or urine.

If necessary, make a list to help you keep track of what you’ve found and take frequent breaks to avoid adapting to the smells.

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Step 3: Remove Obvious Causes

After you’ve done a thorough search, tackle the biggest culprits first.


Cleaning fresh pet messes is all about speed, especially when it involves carpeting or other fabrics. If the accident happened on a rug, blanket or other moveable item, remove the waste and blot up as much of the stain as possible. Immediately wash the item, avoiding hot water as this can set the stain. Inspect the item thoroughly after you’ve washed it, as it may need to be washed twice.

Carpets are harder to tackle, as they can’t be put into the washing machine and are more prone to lingering smells. Any urine or feces needs to be removed from the area completely. With urine, put down a thick layer of paper towels, followed by a thinner layer of newspaper. If possible, put down the same layers underneath the stain as well.

Once you’ve sandwiched the stain with paper, put pressure on it for at least a minute. Repeat until the paper towel no longer gets wet, and then spray a thin layer of water and repeat the pressure. If necessary, employ a carpet cleaner designed specifically for pet stains.

When removing feces, use gloves you can sanitize later and carefully pick up the mess with paper towel. Try to avoid using any force, as this can dig the mess even further into the carpet fibers.

Apply a carpet cleaner next, following the instructions on the bottle. Use the method for cleaning up urine to soak up any leftover moisture as wet carpet can develop its own smell if not treated.

If your pet has been having accidents for a while, it may have sunk through to the floor underneath. If this has happened, you may need to remove the carpeting and then treat the flooring.

However, this is an extreme scenario, and other treatments, like professional carpet cleaners can be explored before having to take up the carpet.

Pet Bowls

While we wash our own bowls every time we use them, we may not be as tidy with our pet’s food and water bowls. Messes can easily accumulate around the area, and mold can start to grow on the water bowl’s edges.

Vacuum the area and run the bowls through the dishwasher to freshen them up. Consider getting more than one set so you can switch them out weekly.

Beds, Blankets And Toys

We love to spoil our pets, and this usually means a huge amount of accessories for our furry friends to curl up on. If they’re not washed regularly, that can develop an unpleasant odor of their own. Set up a schedule to run your pet’s favorite fabric items through the washing machine on a regular basis.

Step 4: Pet Fur

f you have a pet, chances are your carpets, floors, furniture and even clothes are covered in fur. It can also collect under tables and under couch cushions, out of sight. If possible, sequester your pet into one room, and then start vacuuming. There are a number of vacuums and vacuum attachments designed specifically for pet fur, but a regular vacuum will also work wonders.

Leave no stone unturned and make sure to vacuum in rooms your pet may not normally visit. Pet fur has a way of spreading all on its own. Detaching curtains and having them cleaned if the fabric requires will remove clinging pet hair and will also freshen any lingering smells. Do the same with your bedspreads and decorative pillows.

Step 5: Natural Freshness

There are a number of natural ways to help alleviate pet odors. Natural air and sunlight is a great first step. In the summer and spring months, opening the curtains and windows will allow sunlight to naturally disinfect any odors, and the fresh air will move in clean air.

Natural air fresheners can also be employed as a means for providing inviting scents. Essential oils and candles are great alternatives to synthetic products, and you can choose different scents to match different seasons and moods. As you upkeep your new, odor-free homenatural cleaning recipes can also help you maintain it.

Let a pro do it for you.

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Hanna Kielar

Hanna Kielar is a Section Editor for Rocket Auto℠, RocketHQ℠, and Rocket Loans® with a focus on personal finance, automotive, and personal loans. She has a B.A. in Professional Writing from Michigan State University.