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How to Get Dog Pee Smells & Stains Out of Car Seats: 6 Proven Methods

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By Nicole Cosgrove

wet stains on car seat

Dog pee can leave an unpleasant ammonia smell radiating from your car seats. This not only smells unpleasant, but it is harmful to breathe in for both humans and animals. When you are venturing in the car with your furry friend, they can cause all sorts of smells to your fabric car seats or any protective coverings over them. It is also common for new dogs or puppies to pee in the car out of fear, even if it’s a short trip to the vet or dog park.

Whatever the reason is for the pee smell trapped in your car seats, it can be difficult to find a simple method to remove every trace of the lurking ammonia molecules.

Luckily, this step-by-step guide will provide you with proven methods for removing dog pee from your car seats so that it can smell fresh and clean once again.

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Before You Start – Precautions

  • Disclaimer: Each method can be harmful to your dog and other pets if it is ingested in large quantities. To avoid this, it is important to not allow the dog into the car while these methods are being used.

Vacuum the car to get rid of any dog hair and dust that may prevent the pee removal methods from effectively entering the seat. Dog hair can form a thick layer across the car seat and the substances will not be able to soak into the seat that is holding the ammonia.

Make sure all the windows are open to get good airflow throughout the car. This can help diminish the smell and make it safer for you to be inside working with the various odor-removing substances. Use a mask while you are cleaning the car so that you do not directly inhale any airborne toxins.

Lastly, medical-grade gloves are extremely important for your safety. Some of the substances can burn human skin if it is not adequately protected. Once you have taken these precautions, it is time to begin!

The 6 Methods to Get Dog Pee Smells & Stains Out of Car Seats

1. Baking Soda

This is one of the most effective methods to remove dog pee odors from your car’s upholstery. Baking soda is effective at neutralizing ammonia molecules and any other lurking dog smell.

Step 1: The bicarbonate soda used in this method should have no other additives, but preservatives are fine.

Step 2: Make a paste of 3 parts baking soda (75g) into 1 part water (25g).

Step 3: Mix the paste until it is thick.

Step 4: Use gloved hands to rub a thick layer of the baking soda mixture over the affected part of the car seat.

Step 5: Leave it to sit overnight and remove it with a vacuum in the morning.

2. Wet Vacuum

Wet vacuums can be rented from a cleaning service. This type of vacuum uses an odor-neutralizing and stain-removing substance to effectively clean upholstery. This is more of an expensive route, but it is worth it in severe cases. It can pull urine that has seeped deeply into the car seats.

There is no direct method on how this should be used, but by talking to the cleaning service, you can find out more information on how to use the wet vacuum. If possible, you can also get it professionally cleaned by the service which will remove tough pee stains and lingering odors.

vacuum in car
Image Credit: SpeedKingz, Shutterstock

3. White Vinegar

White vinegar is well-known for its odor-neutralizing properties, and it can remove strong ammonia molecules from your car seat.

Step 1: The vinegar must be labeled as white vinegar, and not apple or fermented vinegar which can easily be mistaken as the same thing. Apple or fermented vinegar is weaker and can leave an unpleasant smell of fruit and pee.

Step 2: Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water. A good ratio is 100ml of water and white vinegar each.

Step 3: Place the mixture in a spray bottle and give it a good shake until it bubbles.

Step 4: Spray the seats until they are slightly damp and then let them sit for half an hour.

Step 5: Use a microfiber cloth to soak up any excess of the solution.

4. Odor Sprays

There are certain odor sprays formulated for pet smells from urine. These should be used in mild cases and can be kept on hand in the car if you find the car is starting to smell like pee again. These solutions should be sprayed in generous amounts directly to the affected area.

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5. Ammonia Granules and Aeration

This is a less well-known method, but it has good outcomes. Ammonia granules neutralize and absorb the smell of dog pee and alongside aeration, it can be effective.

Step 1: You can use a cheap bag of ammonia granules typically used as cat litter. The Smelleze natural cat litter deodorizer is a good brand for the job.

Step 2: Add a fine layer of the granules across the affected area and mist the granules till they are damp.

Step 3: Open all the car doors (if the car is in a protected area) and leave the granules overnight.

Step 4: The next day, use a vacuum to remove all the granules and then use paper towels to absorb excess moisture.

6. Carpet Odor Removers

This is a good idea if you do not want to use liquid on your car seats. These powders absorb and neutralize pee odors.

Step 1: The brand Arm & Hammer Pet Fresh Formula is recommended for this method.

Step 2: Sprinkle a thick layer of the powder across the car seats and let it sit for a minimum of 3 hours.

Step 3: Vacuum the remaining powder and repeat if the smell persists.

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

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How to Stop Your Dog from Peeing on Car Seats

If your dog is going to be in the car often, it is important to take steps to ensure that your dog does not pee on the car seats again. The most effective method is deterring smells which makes it undesirable for your dog to pee near. You should never reprimand your dog for urinating in the car as it is not their fault and they do not understand why it is wrong. It is ideally your job as the owner to take measures to stop this behavior and give them another area to pee in if the car rides are long.

Orange Peels

Orange Peel
Image Credit: esudroff, Pixabay

The smell of orange is unpleasant for dogs, and they will not want to pee in the area that smells the strongest. Place a blanket or dog car cover over the seat your dog will sit and rub orange peels all over it. Your dog will sit on it during the car ride but will not want to urinate on it.

Puppy Mats

These can come in handy if you are not able to stop the car to let your dog out to pee. Puppy mates come in all different shapes and sizes and can be placed on a seat next to where your dog will sit. The mat should be placed over a dog car cover or blanket.

Leaks are still possible, so keep some wipes and a plastic bag for disposal on hand. This is also a good idea for dogs that urinate in the car out of fear, to which the puppy pad can be placed underneath them.

Coffee Grounds

coffee grounds
Image Credit: Martin Hetto, Pixabay

Dogs do not like the smell of coffee, so it is beneficial to place a mesh bag of coffee grounds under the blanket or dog seat cover your dog will be sitting on. However, make sure that they do not attempt to eat the coffee grounds.

Deterring Odor Spray

These are quite beneficial and recommended by puppy behaviorists to deter your dog from wanting to pee where the spray is. This should be sprayed over the blanket or car cover they are sitting on.

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What Methods to Avoid

These methods are not recommended for removing pee smells from car seats:


These are harmful to you and your dog. They will also stain the car seats and cause a putrid smell that is harmful to breathe in while you are driving. It is also known to cause headaches, nausea, and dizziness if it is breathed in an enclosed space.


This is mainly used as a disinfectant for hard surfaces. It does not remove odors and can cause your car to smell strongly of bleach for months. It can also remove the color of the car seats.

bleach powder
Image Credit: kropekk_pl, Pixabay


This should only be used to remove germs as it does a poor job of removing dog pee odors.

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Riding in the car with your dog can be a lovely experience and can increase the bond between you and your furry friend. Unwanted pee smells should not stop you from having this experience and there are plenty of options to safely remove pee smells.

Always consult an animal behaviorist if your dog urinates in the car out of fear. It is important to find a solution to this problem to make car rides enjoyable for your dog.

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Featured Image Credit: Checubus, Shutterstock

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