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How to Get Dog Pee Smell Out of Your Car: 7 Practical Options

dog looking outside the car window

People sure love to post cute photos of their pets these days, don’t they? But one thing you won’t see people posting (as often) is the dark side of owning a dog. The gross side. Let’s face it —if you own a dog, no matter how well trained they may be, you’re going to wind up having to clean pee out of something.

If that something happens to be the inside of your car, you’ll also need to make sure you do a good job. The odor of dog pee in the confines of a car is awful—you need that smell out, yesterday!

Well, it just so happens that we have here a step-by-step manual full of tried, tested, and true methods to get that dog pee out pronto, so you and your pooch can go on living your best lives.

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The 7 Tips on How to Get Dog Pee Smell Out of Your Car

1. Open Up the Car

Whether the accident is fresh or it has only recently been discovered, you’ll need to open up to make this task bearable. If you happen to be on the road, try and stay calm, and roll the windows down. When your pooch has an accident in the car, it can be quite the situation!

That kind of uproar on the road can leave you with some adrenaline, so make sure you find a safe place to park—ideally at home. The next thing you need to do is to open up all of the doors and windows and let the air in, or it’s going to be very unpleasant.

Chances are, you have already jumped onto the next step at this point.

2. Soak Up Whatever You Can!

This almost goes without saying. If you are fortunate to have somebody in the car with you, at the time of the pooch’s accident, chances are they have already started. See? This is why you never throw out extra napkins! Instinct has probably kicked in which tells us simply and beautifully that less liquid = less smell. Of course, for old stains and odors, this probably won’t be an option, but we’ve got you covered in step seven.

Soaking up as much urine as you can is the first step to actually removing the odor. The more you can get out at this point, the better. Once you have blotted until the stain is nearly dry, it’s time to hit it with some cleaner to make sure it doesn’t stain or smell.

spraying water inside the car
Photo By: peeonelove, Pixabay

3. Enzyme Cleaner

Our first recommendation is going to be a store-bought option. Enzyme-based cleaners can be found in the pet or cleaning aisle in most grocery stores, or at your local pet store. They are quite effective for getting the odor out of absorbent materials like the upholstery in most cars. You should be careful to follow the instructions closely, however, especially if they direct you to test the cleaner in a discreet area.

These often require that you leave the cleaner in for a set period—usually around 10 minutes or so, and then soak it back up. If you aren’t careful and leave it in too long or use too much without testing it out, you may find your upholstery remains slightly discolored, so follow the instructions! Once you are finished this process, keep the doors, or at very least the windows open to let the interior air dry.


Are you looking for an enzyme cleaner that can keep your house clean and your pet happy? We recommend the Hepper Advanced Bio-Enzyme Pet Stain & Odor Eliminator Spray, which permanently gets rid of the most stubborn stains and smells. There’s even a 100% satisfaction guarantee so you can try this cleaner risk-free! Click here to order your first bottle.

At House Grail, we’ve admired Hepper for many years, and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding products of this cool cat company!

4. Homemade Cleaner

If you haven’t got the time, money, or inclination to use a store-bought cleaner, you aren’t sunk yet. It’s quite easy to whip up a homemade cleaner using a few ingredients that can be found in most kitchens. One of the most effective, age-old remedies for getting rid of the smell of dog pee is a vinegar-based cleaner.

Depending on how strong you want the cleaner you mix vinegar with equal parts water. If you want a stronger pee-cleaner then you can mix it at one-part water to two parts vinegar. The application of this cleaner is the same as a store-bought enzyme cleaner.

Simply spray or pour it on the affected area, let it sit for 10–15 minutes, absorb it back out, and repeat until the smell is gone. If vinegar is not available then vodka can be substituted. Most kitchens should have one or the other… Oh, and we know we don’t have to tell you not to go driving until the smell has dissipated, right? Ok, great! Let the area air dry, just like the enzyme cleaner.

spraying homemade cleaner in the car
Photo Credit: Towfiqu barbhuiya, Unsplash

5. Leather Seats

Leather seats will clean much the same way as most modern interior materials like nylon or polyester, with a few minor exceptions. The procedure for cleaning the dog pee smell out of a leather interior begins with airing out and soaking up the excess, where possible. Using an enzyme cleaner or homemade version on the leather is acceptable, but what you may need to do is remove the leather to wash the foam.

If the dog pee has soaked through the leather, you can usually remove the leather and pull the foam out. Wash it using the same method as the enzyme and homemade cleaners and let it air dry completely. That part is important. If you put damp foam in the car and cover it up it will mold, and nobody needs that. Make sure it is completely 110% dry before replacing it.

6. Old Stains and Smells

If you’ve just discovered an old hidden stain or purchased a used car with a nasty surprise, then the vinegar cleaner is going to be your biggest help. The reason we’d suggest using a vinegar-based cleaner over an enzyme cleaner on old stains is that you will need to do his process far more times to get an older smell out.

Using vinegar is cheaper, but it also ensures that you won’t discolor the upholstery in the process. Other than that, it’s pure elbow grease and tenacity. Getting an old smell out of a car isn’t easy, but it can be done!

vinegar and cleaning supplies on the table
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

A Few More Extra Tips

When possible, you’re going to want to use gloves—ideally plastic. Old dish gloves or medical-style plastic gloves work great. Even using an old shopping bag is better than nothing. Also, if you have any kind of fan handy, it helps to keep the smell moving away from your face and out of the car.

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A vehicle is one of our biggest investments, and it can be very stressful when our little friends have an accident. Always remember to stay calm and don’t get too mad at the little guy or gal! With a little patience and some good old-fashioned elbow grease, you’ll be laughing this story off in no time!

Featured Image Credit: Andrew Pons, Unsplash


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