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How to Get Rid of Pet Odors in An Apartment: 10 Practical Steps

couple in a smelly house

One great way to attract tenants to your apartment building is to allow pets—and who doesn’t love to give a dog a home – right? We say kudos to you for allowing pets in the suite, but we also know that there are downsides that can come with it.

Unsavory smells present a real challenge for homeowners when discovered in the suite and can make it challenging to find a new tenant. Luckily, we’ve got some things to do, and some tips for preventing and managing it more easily next time. Let’s get to work!

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The 10 Steps to Getting Rid of Pet Odors in an Apartment

1. Figure Out What Kind of Pet Odor You’re Dealing With

Not all pet odors are created equal. You’re going to need to assess the situation first—is it just a little bit of dander and fur? Good—you’re lucky!

Sometimes there is nothing in the flooring or on the walls, but you can still distinctly detect a pet odor. We know how to fix that! Is it an old vomit stain? We should be able to help you get that out, too. Knowing what you’re up against is an important albeit obvious first step.

Bad Odor Dog
Image Credit: UfaBizPhoto, Shutterstock

2. For Dander and Fur Odor

If you’ve assessed the situation and concluded that the problem is not urine, vomit, or worse—then you’re in luck! We’re going to focus more on the carpets because hardwood or tile flooring usually doesn’t hold onto odors after a standard sweep and mop.

What you’re going to want to do is spread baking soda all over the carpets and then let it sit for about half an hour, then vacuum it back up. This is a relatively easy fix, and all you need to do is repeat this process until you are satisfied that the odor is gone.

3. Air it Out

This usually comes naturally to homeowners. If you’re just dealing with pet dander and fur odors, then you will want to do this to back up your vacuuming and baking soda efforts. However, even for more severe odors and stains, this will help just to get the smell out of the apartment.

With just about every case of pet odor in an enclosed suite—you’re going to probably do this without any prompting. It’s not always the whole solution, but it helps—if not to get rid of it for good, then simply to allow you to breathe while you work on more effective solutions.

Home blinds or window curtains girl opens the window
Image Credit: Iuliia Pilipeichenko, Shutterstock

4. Use Enzyme Cleaners for Old Wet Odors

These are cleaners that are specially manufactured to neutralize pet odors and they work a treat. An important precaution to take when using enzyme cleaners is to spot test them first. These enzymes, while extraordinarily effective against odors like pet urine and vomit, can leave spots slightly discolored, so make sure you test them out first!

These are fantastic on new stains—but can also have surprisingly effective results on old stains. Usually, you will apply the cleaner via spray bottle and then let it sit for 10–15 minutes (read the directions!). Once it has sat long enough you simply blot it back out.


Tired of your house smelling like your pets? Give the Hepper Advanced Bio-Enzyme Pet Stain & Odor Eliminator Spray a try! This enzymatic cleaner works quickly to remove even the worst stains and smells. Plus, it comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee! Click here to find your new favorite cleaning spray.

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!

If this isn’t working, it might be time for the big guns:

5. Wet Vac

Some stains are just a little more baked into carpets, upholstery, and drapes, than others. Using a wet vac can be a helpful solution. This step is usually better for when it’s a localized area that is giving you trouble.

You wouldn’t want to try and wet vac the whole carpet or apartment. That said, if you have a really troublesome stain, soaking it in cleaners, water, and wet-vacuuming it out can be a lifesaver. Many shop vacs can wet vac—but always confirm that capability first.

person vacuuming carpet
Image Credit By: Andrey Popov, Shutterstock

6. Homemade Odor Neutralizer

If you’ve been dealing with mostly pet dander and maybe a stain or two, but you still notice the must of the pet odor hanging about, you can try this handy odor neutralizing recipe. Gather a citrus extract of your choice—lemon, lime, or our personal favorite, orange. Mixing ¼ cup of this juice with 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide makes a fantastic odor-neutralizing solution. Sprinkle this around with baking soda, let it dry, and then vacuum it back up.

Related Read: 8 Homemade Dog Pee Repellents You Can Create Yourself

7. Steam Cleaner

Sometimes, the problem is more widespread than a small stain. If you are finding that you aren’t having enough luck with enzyme cleaners and homemade remedies, it might be time to go all out. Most big box stores will have a steam cleaner rental service, and this is a great way to freshen up the suite and tackle those old pet odors.

Here’s the kicker—many of the steam cleaners will have an option to buy an enzyme cleaner that works with them. That’s a solid one-two punch that could save you a few bucks and help get that suite rented out again sooner.

Steam vapor cleaner removing dirt from carpet in flat
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

8. Dish Soap and Hot Water

As carpets tend to hold the most odor, they have been the focus of most of our strategies. It’s possible for less absorbent surfaces to hold their share of odor as well, however.

If you are cleaning a space with hardwood or tile floors and notice that unwelcome odor of pets – try good old-fashioned dish soap and water. Scrub the floors and the walls, apply open air, and the apartment will likely be as good as new.

9. Vinegar Solution (Urine ONLY)

This is why step one is crucial. If you are dealing with a urine stain only, then making your own vinegar solution can be a cheap, natural way to eliminate the odor. Simply mix one-part white vinegar with one-part water, soak, blot, and repeat. Again, this will only help with urine stains, so don’t bother with this if it is a dander problem you’re dealing with.

Image Credit By: evita-ochel, Pixabay

10. Replace Air Filters

If everything has been scrubbed down and you are still noticing an issue—try replacing the air filters. Sometimes pet fur and dander that are trapped in those is the cause—simple and cheap. A new filter for your home HVAC system shouldn’t cost more than $30 and needs to be done periodically, regardless of pet odors.

Tips for Preventing Future Pet Odors

There are a few things you can do as a homeowner to prevent the headache of cleaning out old pet odors.

  • Pet deposit – It is very common for landlords to charge a pet deposit if tenants want to have their furry friends live in the suite with them. This is fair, and if you need to deal with this problem again, you can simply have the pros do it out of the deposit. Alternatively, you can require that tenants have renter’s insurance to cover costs incurred for cleanup.
  • Inspect rental immediately after it is vacated – If there are pet odors in the apartment, then the sooner you find them, the better. Make sure you inspect the apartment in a timely manner to ensure any unwanted surprises don’t get the chance to marinate.

We also highly recommend reading this article on how to pet-proof your apartment.

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It can be really easy to get frazzled and frustrated when you find pet odors and any unwanted surprises in your apartment. Thankfully, there are some great new products and age-old remedies out there that can help you to deal with the issue at hand.

Remember, most people do their best, and accidents still happen. With a little luck and a little more work, you will get your apartment smelling fresh again. Best of luck!

Featured Image Credit:, Shutterstock


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