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How to Neutralize Dog Urine Odors: 5 Proven Methods

Kristin Hitchcock

By Kristin Hitchcock

dog pee on wooden floor

If you have a dog, they will eventually have an accident on the floor. This is true no matter their age or level of obedience. Even the most well-trained dog will end up having an accident eventually. Perfection is not very realistic, especially for very young and very old dogs.

When these accidents do occur, it is essential to completely eradicate the urine odor. Not only is it essential for your nose, but it also prevents your dog from using the same spot over and over again. If it still smells like urine, your dog may think it’s completely fine to urinate there.

Luckily, there are several methods that can be implemented to remove dog urine odors. We discuss several of them below.

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The 5 Ways to Neutralize Dog Urine Smells

1. Use a Wet Vacuum

If you have a wet vacuum lying around and get to the spot in time, this method is the easiest. Suck up all the dog urine from the spot to prevent it from soaking into the floor. If there is no urine left on the floor, the spot won’t smell.

Of course, you have to get to the spot quite quickly for this to work. Otherwise, the urine will already be dried, and it’ll be time to move on to another method.

If you don’t have a wet vacuum, there is no need to fret. There are other ways to remove the urine smell from the carpet.

Naughty dog barking on vacuum cleaner
Image Credit: jaromir chalabala, Shutterstock

2. Use Vinegar and Water to Neutralize Dog Urine Smell

Vinegar and water are a great way to remove urine stains and smells. There is no reason to invest heavily in a commercial product. If you have vinegar lying around your house, you can make a mixture that’s better than most of the commercial products out there.

Start by boiling the vinegar. You want to heat it—so you don’t have to boil it very long. Once it’s brought to a boil, combine it with an equal amount of water in a spray bottle. You don’t have to get the exact measurements. Eyeballing the measurements is entirely okay.

Next, spray a generous amount on the urine spot. You want the solution to absorb as deeply as the urine, so you may need to let it sit for a minute. This factor largely depends on your floor, though. You won’t need to let a hardwood floor soak, but a carpet will probably need a few minutes. Grab a sponge or washcloth, and then scrub the area gently. If there is any hardened urine, the rubbing should help it dissolve into the vinegar-water solution. You don’t want to mess up the carpet, though, so don’t scrub too hard!

Now you can soak up the excess solution with a wet vacuum or a towel. This should remove both the solution and the urine. The spot should not smell like vinegar for very long, though it can smell a bit strong while you’re doing the cleaning. We recommend having good ventilation, though the fumes are not dangerous—they can be pretty smelly.

3. Use Baking Soda to Neutralize Dog Urine Smell

Baking soda is a natural smell neutralizer. People have been using it for years to remove smells from all sorts of things. It also works quite well on dog urine—and it’s straightforward to use. Sprinkle the baking soda onto the area and let it dry. You may need to add a second layer if the spot is particularly saturated. Once the baking soda has dried, vacuum it up!

This works best with fresh stains that haven’t soaked very far into the carpet. If the urine is soaked in, the baking soda may be unable to remove it from the deeper layers of the carpet. You can easily combine this method with others for some extra smell-fighting power. Just use it after another method if you feel like some more smell relief is required.

baking soda
Image Credit: NatureFriend, Pixabay

4. Use Hydrogen Peroxide to Neutralize Dog Urine Smell

You can use hydrogen peroxide for some tougher smell-fighting strength. This formula is similar to what you’ll find in a commercial product, but it’s made with items you have lying around your house.

Start by mixing 250 ml with 5 ml of dish soap. You can use Dawn or any other brand you have lying around. We recommend unscented, but scented works just fine if that’s all you have. There is no reason to rush out and purchase a new dishwashing liquid just for this step. Be sure to use 3% hydrogen peroxide. Any more may damage your carpet or hardwood. You should also ensure that the dishwashing liquid doesn’t contain any bleach or similar compounds, as these can potentially harm your floor.

Once your mixture is complete, you can lightly spritz the area with the mixture. You don’t want to drench it as you did with the vinegar-water mixture. Next, put on cleaning gloves and scrub the area with a sponge or brush. You want to release any of the dried-up urine that’s deep in the carpet, but you probably don’t need to scrub hard.

You should allow the area to dry completely when you are done. After it’s dry, you can rub your vacuum over it.

5. Purchase a Commercial Product

Often, making your cleaning product out of items around your home is plenty for most stains. However, you may occasionally need something a bit stronger. In this case, purchasing a commercial product may be helpful.

That said, not all commercial products are made equal. There are quite a few that won’t be much more helpful than a vinegar-water mixture. It is vital to purchase a high-quality product—not one that will be less helpful than simple baking soda.

There are two main types of products that are used for pet urine. They work in different ways and have different uses.

person spraying on sofa
Image Credit: Natalia Fedchenko, Shutterstock

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Enzyme-Fighting Products

These cleaning products contain enzymes that decompose urine directly. They eat the odor-causing bacteria that are typically found in dog urine—eliminating the odor. There are many examples of these products on the market, though not all of them work very efficiently.

This formula does include a slight odor and is entirely pet-safe. It is environmentally friendly and made in the USA, so you can be proud of what you’re purchasing.

Our favorite enzyme cleaner is the Hepper Advanced Bio-Enzyme Pet Stain & Odor Eliminator Spray. It's our product, and we love it so much, we just have to share. It permanently removes the very worst smells and stains (yes, everything you can imagine!), and we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee! 

Hepper Advanced Bio-Enzyme Pet Stain & Odor Eliminator Spray
  • ADVANCED ENZYMATIC CLEANER - Penetrates the most stubborn smells and stains at the deepest molecular...
  • FOR ANY MESS, ON ANY SURFACE - This pet odor eliminator cleans your carpets, floors, furniture,...

Oxidizing Products

These products don’t contain any enzymes. Instead, they use chemicals to eliminate the bacteria and prevent a urine smell from developing. They kill odor-causing bacteria and can prevent re-marking.

This product category is a bit broader than enzymatic products. Therefore, different products tend to have widely varying chemical compositions. Some work better than others, as you’d probably imagine. It is vital to purchase one that works well, though you may have to do some experimentation before settling on the one you love.

Simple Green Oxy Dog Stain & Odor Oxidizer is one product with good reviews. It is environmentally friendly and designed to remove both odors and stains. It’s also relatively inexpensive—which is always a plus.

Again, be sure to follow the directions when using a product. The last thing you want to do is mess up the process – which often leads to the product not working at all. Some require you to let them sit for a while, while others need to be removed immediately.

Can You Add Essential Oils to Solutions?

On all the homemade solutions on this list, you can add essential oils if you choose. These can make the spot smell better, though the mixture itself should remove the scent. You don’t need essential oils by any means, but some people do opt to use them.

Remember that essential oils are potent. Therefore, you should aim to use only a tiny amount. A drop or two is often enough, but it does depend on the amount of the mixture you make. You can always add in more, but you can’t precisely remove oils after you’ve added them. Start small and add another drop if you still need more scent.

essential oils
Image By: monicore, Pixabay

Can You Use Baking Soda Outside?

Baking soda is one of the few safe cleaning solutions that you can use on grass. It will help neutralize the high nitrogen content that causes urine odors and yellow spots. It is safe for grass in smaller amounts. You don’t want to bathe your yard in baking soda, obviously, but a small amount should be fine for your grass.

Start by dissolving a cup of baking soda into a gallon of water. Then, pour it onto the spot. It will take a bit for the yellowness in the grass to disappear, but it should neutralize any odors within a few hours.

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Final Thoughts

There are many ways to neutralize dog odors using only what you have around your house. Of course, you can also use commercial products. Be sure to carefully follow the directions for any of the commercial products you purchase as well as our instructions for homemade cleaning solutions. Using a cleaner correctly contributes significantly to its success. If the directions aren’t followed, it could lead to the solution not working at all!

We recommend starting with just one cleaning method. Follow the directions thoroughly and allow the spot to dry before you decide to try something else entirely. Some methods complement each other very well, such as baking soda and the vinegar-water solution. Others won’t work together efficiently. It hardly makes sense to use vinegar-water solutions and then also a commercial product. You should use one, see if it worked, and then move on to the next one.

Many products need to sit for a while before they are removed. Don’t add another cleaning solution until the product has been completely removed after being allowed to sit. Some cleaning solutions won’t work well together if used at the same time.

Featured Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

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