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7 Ways To Get Dog Pee Smell Out of Carpet Without Vinegar

Jack Russell Terrier is lying on a white carpet near a wet puddle with urine

If you’re a proud owner of a dog, we bet you’ve had the “pleasure” of cleaning after it more than once. No matter how trained they are, our four-legged friends don’t always follow the rules. Sometimes, they mistake the floor with a bathroom—that’s when we’re left with a big mess to handle. And when they pee on the carpet, the smell can be awful. A regular scrub with some water might not be able to get rid of it.

So, what are our options here? Many dog owners swear by vinegar. However, while it is quite effective on hardwood, it could ruin delicate carpets made of silk or wool. But don’t you worry! There are lots of tried-and-true solutions that will not only eliminate the stain but also the smell. Ready to learn more? Let’s get to it!divider 1

Before You Begin

One of the worst facts about carpets is they absorb odors quickly. Next, they look horrible with urine stains. Furthermore, the smells don’t go away easily, especially if the pee has enough time to dry. The best way to deal with this is to be quick and use the right products. Here’s what you should do:

Be Swift About It

When dealing with dog pee, the most important thing is speed, along with agility. The sooner you neutralize the mess, the easier it will be to remove both the stain and the smell. You won’t even have to use any expensive products or formulas or scrub the carpet for hours. In contrast, if the urine has time to set and dry, it will be much harder to get rid of it.

Be Very Gentle

Compared to hardwood floors, carpets are pretty fragile. This is why you need to be very careful and gentle when cleaning dog urine stains. Hand scrapers and sandpaper are very effective on rough surfaces, but, again, a bad choice for carpets. Paper towels, a sponge, and a string mop—that’s what you should use instead.

Do Not Use Baking Soda

For cleaning stains on most surfaces, baking soda is a go-to product. That doesn’t apply to carpets, though. The reason is that baking soda is sodium carbonate and is known to damage carpets (yes, just like vinegar). Too much moisture negatively affects carpet backing, and soda absorbs lots of water.

cleaning products
Image Credit: ds_30, Pixabay

What You’ll Need for The Job

On top of the soap, peroxide, odor eliminators, and all the other solutions that we’ll talk about in this article, there are some “universal” tools and materials that you’ll need for the job. If you already have a vacuum cleaner at home and a scrub brush, this won’t cost you much:

Tools Required Materials Needed
 Spray bottle Bucket of clean water
Toothbrush or scrub brush Paper towels, cloth, or rags
 Carpet vacuum Sponge for stubborn stains
Backlight flashlight Flat or string mop
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The 7 Ways to Get Dog Pee Smell Out of Carpet Without Vinegar

1. Start by Soaking It Up

See a fresh urine stain on the carpet? Grab a bunch of paper towels, and get to work. As mentioned, if the pee is wet, it will take very little effort to get rid of the stain (and the smell, of course). Just put a couple of towels over the “marked” spot(s) and let them soak it all in. You might have to repeat the process a couple of times to get the job done.

When placing the paper towels, apply mild pressure. That way, they will absorb the urine quicker. Wet rags will also do. To achieve the best results, go over the stains with a carpet vacuum cleaner. Be careful with the suction settings, though, not to damage the carpet.

person spraying on the carpet
Image Credit: Syda Productions, Shutterstock

2. Add Dish Soap to the Mix

If the rags, towels, and vacuum aren’t quite doing it for your carpet, dish soap might save the day. Yes, we’re talking about the basic stuff that you’ve got in your kitchen. Dish soap is great at removing stains (maybe not so much the smells) and works great when combined with a couple of drops of grapefruit oil. Mix the soap with a bucket of clean, lukewarm water.

Next, soak your rags or towels into the water and soap mixture and gently rub the stains on the carpet. Or, just pour it on the urine and let it sit for a while. Dish soap is 100% safe for carpets and leaves very little residue. Still, we recommend rinsing and cleaning it with dry rags to avoid any unwanted consequences.

3. Use Hydrogen Peroxide (Sparingly)

This chemical compound has proven to be extremely effective against stubborn stains. It works on hardwood, steel, and even glass. Does it work on carpet, though? Yes, it does, but only as long as you don’t spray half of the bottle onto the carpet. This is important: hydrogen peroxide for households is diluted to a 3% grade, and that’s what you should use. Anything higher than that might damage the carpet.

For scrubbing, use a regular sponge. A mop can do a more thorough job. Plus, it will be much easier to remove the furry animal’s mess while you’re standing and not on your fours. You can use both string and flat mops—it doesn’t really make a difference. Go over the stain a couple of times, and when you’re done mopping, let the area dry. Hydrogen peroxide is a natural deodorizer, by the way, and can break down a nasty dog pee odor.

Hydrogen Peroxide
Image Credit:, Shutterstock

4. Enzymatic Cleaners: Cheap and Efficient

For carpets of all shapes and sizes, enzymatic cleaners are an incredibly effective and safe solution. They are available at local grocery stores. Or, you can make an order online. There’s nothing hard about using this product: it works just like any other cleaning solution. With that said, make sure to read the provided instructions thoroughly to get everything right. Now, enzymes are natural, non-toxic compounds.

They contain bacteria (the good kind) that break down dog urine molecules. A quick note: enzymes are found in citrus peels. So, if you want to make your own cleaning formula, get some fresh orange, lime, or lemon peels, mix them with some water, and handle the stains that way. Just like with hydrogen peroxide, with enzymatic cleaners, you can kill two birds with one shot: stain and smell.


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!

5. Seal the Deal with an Odor Eliminator

What if the odor is just too strong, and regardless of how many times you clean the stain, it simply doesn’t go away? Good news: with the right odor eliminator or carpet deodorizer, it shouldn’t be hard to remove it for good.  Now, some people like to use different fragrances or fresheners to get rid of the smell. However, instead of dealing with it, these solutions only mask the smell.

Odor eliminators, in contrast, do just that: terminate the actual odors. We don’t recommend using scented products, as they tend to be a bit less effective. Before you use it, check the label to see whether the formula is abrasive or not. For carpets, always pick a nonabrasive solution. It won’t leave any spots on the surface or damage the fibers of the carpet. Oh, and make sure the stain is dry before applying the deodorizer.

6. Shampoo Can Also Be Effective

For deep cleaning, very few things are as instrumental as carpet shampoos. They don’t only remove the stains, but also get rid of the musty smell, no matter how dry the urine is. And if you spray some deodorizer after you clean the carpet with the shampoo, the results will be even more impressive. Again, take a quick look at the instructions before you open the shampoo bottle and only use nonabrasive shampoo.

Repeat the first step but don’t rub or scrub the carpet. Vacuuming the stain to prep the carpet will be a great idea as well.

person vacuuming carpet
Image Credit: Andrey Popov, Shutterstock

7. Use a Backlight to Find the Stains

Quite often, it can be a bit tricky to find the stain, even though the odor is rather strong. Lucky for us, pet owners, backlights are great at revealing the affected areas. You can get one for $15-25, and it will serve for many years. Are you having trouble locating the mess? Get on your hands and knees and scan the carpet with the blacklight.

And don’t forget to turn the lights off to get a clear vision. Hold the light an inch or two from the carpet, and when you see a yellow or green spot, that’ll be the pee stain. The best thing about the blacklight flashlight: you won’t have to conduct a “smelling test” to find the urine stains on your carpet. Just fire it up, and it will show you where to “strike.”divider 1

Why Does Dog Urine Have a Bad Odor?

You’ve probably noticed that dog pee doesn’t smell the second your pet relieves itself. Instead, the odor fills the room once the urine sits. Here’s the scientific explanation: when it gets in contact with the outside world, the uric, bacteria, and acid contained within the urine go through chemical changes. As a result, the pee releases bacterial gas and alkaline salt into the air.

The “aroma” gets even stronger when these components get mixed with humidity, as it’s a natural habitat for most bacteria on our planet. Now, ammonia is what gives the pee a strong smell. It’s a toxic substance, which is why you should never use any cleaning products on pee that include that same compound (like bleach, for example) because that will make matters worse. That’s right: when mixed with urine, it intensifies the odor.

Does Neutering Help?

Sterilizing—that’s probably the first thing that pops in your head when you’re cleaning yet another dog mess. And the answer is yes, neutering (for boys) and spaying (for girls) is, indeed, an effective solution. But, it mostly works on puppies. The younger the pup, the better the results of sterilizing will be. With older pets, the habits will probably be too strong for them to stop urinating on your carpet.

To know for sure, make an appointment with your local veterinarian. After a thorough examination, they’ll either give you the green light or tell you about potential risks. Sterilization has proven to reduce health risks for dogs, by the way, and helps avoid pyometra and tumors for females and testicular cancer and prostate diseases for males.

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Dog urine smell is a delicate matter, especially if it’s coming from a stain on an expensive, natural-wool carpet. Unless you treat it quickly and use the right products, you’ll run the risk of ending up with a ruined carpet. There are lots of remedies for this, though. And, they all come at a very affordable price. As long as you don’t use vinegar or baking soda, everything should go smoothly.

Take care of your dog, don’t hold it accountable for the messy “bathroom breaks”, and always keep some odor eliminators, deodorizers, and enzymatic cleaners in the kitchen. That way, it will be much easier to contain the mess and save your carpet from a nasty stain and smell.

Featured Image Credit: Bonsales, Shutterstock


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