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How to Get Rid of Pet Odors in a Carpet: 8 Practical Options

cat pee at the carpet

One way or another, funky aromas are inevitable when you’ve got pets. Even well-trained cats and dogs have a unique way of putting their stamp on the household, especially when you have carpet. When they’re not having accidents, pets are still spreading their distinctive odor through dander, fur, and whatever they track into the house.

You have to deal with pet odors in your carpeting for you, your family, and anyone sharing your living room—nobody wants to host guests in a stinky home. And when you want to sell your house, you’ll have to either compromise on the sale price or take care of the smell once and for all.

If you have old cat urine, dried dog vomit, or just a long-established general smell that you’re aching to remove, we’ll show you eight practical options to get rid of pet odors in a carpet.

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The 8 Top Ways to Get Rid of Pet Odors in a Carpet

1. Vacuum

Between shedding fur, tracking in mud, and being general slobs with food, pets can be incredibly efficient at loading up a carpet with smells. Regular vacuuming is crucial to keep hair, dander, and debris from creating terrible smells and flaring up allergies.

Vacuums with HEPA filters are ideal for dealing with pet dander because they prevent allergens from shooting back into the room. No matter what kind of vacuum you have, vacuuming at least twice a week will go a long way toward keeping the air tolerable.

person vacuuming carpet
Image By: Andrey Popov, Shutterstock

2. Clean Up Accidents ASAP

One of the easiest ways to limit the odor-producing potential of a recent accident is to blot it up immediately.

Use a dry rag or paper towels on wet urine or vomit, drying up as much as you can even if you don’t have cleaning supplies on hand to deal with the rest of the stain. Blot the stained area, starting from the edge and working toward the center. Avoid scrubbing because it can push the stain deeper into the carpet and make it even tougher to clean.

3. Enzyme Cleaners

The first choice for removing odors from urine and vomit is an enzyme cleaner formulated for pets. Enzymes break down various odor-producing proteins into harmless byproducts, usually carbon dioxide and water. A more targeted version is a bio-enzymatic solution, which introduces bacteria that feed on broken-down waste particles.


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!

Enzyme cleaners are the most aggressive solutions for tough urine and vomit stains, dissolving the uric acid, proteins, and waste products that create long-lasting odors. And although they’re tough on stains, their natural, biodegradable formulas are safe for use around children and pets.

Related Read: 10 Best Carpet Cleaners for Dog Vomit: Reviews & Top Picks

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

4. Steam Cleaning

If you feel like your vacuum isn’t pulling all of that dander and hair out of the carpet at the peak of shedding season, you can try steam cleaning. Steam cleaners use pressurized steam to lift dirt deep within carpets and eliminate harmful pathogens like mold and bacteria.

Steam cleaning is best for dirt stains from muddy paws and buildups of pet dander and other allergens. It’s not a good choice for urine or pet stains. High heat can set these stains even deeper into the carpet fibers, making them more difficult to remove later.

5. Baking Soda

Baking soda is a powerful combination of absorbency and odor-killing power. As a deodorizer, its alkalinity negates acidic odors to create pH-neutral compounds.

Although it isn’t strong enough to degrade urine and vomit proteins, baking soda can refresh a carpet and remove many different pet odors. Sprinkle it on your carpet, and let it sit for several hours or overnight. After allowing it to absorb the odors from your carpet, vacuum up the baking soda.

If possible, use baking soda on your living room carpet at night, putting it down before you go to bed. Baking soda is mostly harmless, but it can be toxic to pets in large doses. When you’re covering a large area, like a carpet, it’s best to use it when it’s convenient to keep everybody out of the room.

Baking soda
Image Credit: evita-ochel, Pixabay

6. Hydrogen Peroxide and Dish Liquid

Hydrogen peroxide and dish liquid make another safe cleaning combo that can remove stains and freshen your carpet’s smell. The fizzing action of the peroxide helps break down and lift the stain while the dish liquid loosens dirt and grime so you can wash it away.

Pour ¼ cup of hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle, add a few drops of dish liquid, and gently agitate the solution. Spray the stain liberally and let the solution sit for about 15 minutes. Blot the remaining liquid from the carpet with a dry cloth, or sprinkle baking soda to let it absorb the moisture and then vacuum it up.

While the 3% peroxide you have in your medicine cabinet is probably too diluted to discolor your carpet, you should always spot test any new solution in an inconspicuous area to ensure the color doesn’t bleach or fade.

7. Vinegar

The acetic acid in vinegar can dissolve minerals and other waste products, and it is safe to use around pets and children.

After blotting up as much of the stain as possible, spray a generous amount of vinegar on it. Work it into the stain with a clean cloth or soft brush. Then, sprinkle baking soda, letting it react with the vinegar and absorb the liquid.

If you want to give your vinegar a cleaning boost, mix it with salt and dish liquid. Combine ½ cup vinegar, 2 cups warm water, 1 tablespoon table salt, and a few drops of dish liquid in a bowl and stir. Dip a clean cloth in the solution and dab the stain with it, getting the area well-saturated. Work it into the carpet, rinse with a damp cloth, and pat the area dry.

white vinegar bottle
Image Credit: focal point, Shutterstock

8. Open Windows and Sunshine

If you don’t have the time or resources to clean a pet stain, you can let the outside in to help manage the smell. Sunlight is a natural deodorizer, supplying UV light to kill germs that cause foul odors in the carpet. Keeping the windows open and the ceiling fan running will circulate air and help waft out unpleasant aromas to refresh the room.

Air circulation and sunshine are only temporary solutions when dealing with urine and vomit. Although you can help level off odor-causing bacteria, the only way to get rid of the acids and proteins that dig into carpeting is with a liquid spray.

It’s crucial to limit the time you leave your carpet to bathe in the sun, especially if you’re unsure of how it’s made. Depending on the type of material, an overabundance of sunlight can cause the color to fade and fibers to break, making the carpet look dingy and worn.

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How Can I Keep Pet Odors Out of the Carpet?

While there’s no escaping the occasional cleaning project, you can limit the amount of cleaning you have to do by preventing stains, reducing accidents, and inspiring good habits. Here are some ways you can stop pet odors from getting into your carpet in the first place:

  • Use air purifiers with HEPA filters to remove dander and hair from the air and activated charcoal to adsorb odors and gasses.
  • Dust surfaces with a damp cloth before vacuuming to catch dander and fur.
  • Stop your dog from tracking mud and other gunk around the house with a dog doormat like the Dog Gone Smart Runner.
  • Clean up urine stains immediately with enzyme cleaners to prevent repeat accidents.
  • Regularly change litter to keep your cat from peeing elsewhere.
  • Invest in pet-friendly, easy-to-maintain carpeting and padding.

Vacuuming and vet visits are often enough to keep pet odors to a minimum. It’s crucial to treat your carpet regularly to prevent dirt and stains from sinking through the material, into the padding, and potentially down to the subfloor. Meanwhile, discussing accidents with your vet can help them identify health issues early and limit future urine and vomit stains on the rug.

Related Read: 9 Best Carpet Cleaners for Cat Urine: Reviews & Top Picks

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Final Thoughts

Cats and dogs always require a little extra effort, even if they have excellent habits and keep themselves clean. It’s a small price to pay for the companionship of our pets, and you can make life much easier with a proactive mindset and thoughtful solutions. When smells start to pop up in your house, use these eight practical methods to remove pet odors from your carpet for good.

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Featured Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock


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