5 Tips for Getting Dog Smell Out of Your House

Updated: Nov. 13, 2023

Can't rid your home of a certain pet odor? Here are five expert recommended tips for how to get rid of dog smell for good.

By nature, dogs can be messy creatures. They play outside and sometimes have accidents in the house, especially as puppies. And, dog smells stink. Worse, temporarily unpleasant odors like dog smell can seep into your furniture, carpet and flooring, resulting in long-term issues.

Sometimes it can be tough to notice these smells in your home if you’ve gotten used to them. But your guests will, and so will potential buyers if you decide to sell your home. Learning easy, DIY ways to eliminate these odors can help keep your home smelling fresh. Here’s everything you need to know about dog smells and how experts recommend eliminating them.

Why Is Dog Smell So Hard To Get Rid Of?

“Dog smells are hard to get rid of because there are a lot of causes behind them,” says Dr. Chyrle Bonk, a veterinarian. “Oils in the skin, known as sebum, can emit an odor. Some dogs make excessive amounts of sebum and it gets onto everything in your house.”

Bonk says these oils and other things, like dog dandruff, are often difficult to remove from certain fabrics and carpets. “Bacteria and yeast that are normally present on your dog’s skin and in their ears can cause odor,” she says. “Dogs also have an innate desire to mark everything with their scent. Some dogs will urinate on anything to claim it as their own.”

How To Get Rid of Dog Smell

Close-Up Of Dog On SofaFrancesco De Palma/Getty Images

Luckily, professional cleaning expert Bruce Vance of Town & Country Cleaning Services says dog smells are much easier to eliminate than cat smells, although dog owners often clean larger areas. “Dogs can release a lot of urine, and the spot on the carpet may be much smaller than the area in the carpet backing and pad where the urine has spread out,” he says.

Don’t worry, though! There are remedies for all types of dog smells. Here are five tricks to try.

Steam your carpet

Carpet steaming is one of the best solutions for dog smell, Vance says. Various handheld carpet steamers on the market, like the Bissell Little Green ProHeat Corded Handheld Deep Cleaner, combine warm water, cleaning solution and suction power to pull out dog smells lodged deep in carpet fibers.

To use a handheld carpet steamer, fill it with warm water and solution (if applicable) and run it over the affected area. Some carpet steamers require a cleaning product, while others only use water. You can also make a cleaning solution yourself by mixing a few tablespoons of dishwasher liquid with hot water.

Make sure your carpet is completely dry, roughly an hour or two cleaning, before determining if it needs a second pass.

Sweep and mop with vinegar solution

For wood or other hard-surface floors, Bonk recommends a good sweep, followed by mopping with a vinegar solution. White vinegar acts as a deodorizer, neutralizing new and lingering smells. Here’s a step-by-step guide for this simple dog smell elimination technique.

  • Sweep the floors with a broom, cleaning the area as much as possible.

  • Mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle or bucket.

  • Spray or lightly pour the solution on your floors, distributing it evenly with a mop.

  • Mop away any excess solution and let dry.

Sprinkle baking soda

Baking soda reacts with acidic smells, such as from dog urine, making it a great neutralizer for new or old odors. It can be especially useful on upholstery.

To counteract dog smell, Bonk swears by baking soda. “Sprinkle baking soda onto fabrics that can’t be washed, then let it set overnight,” she says. The following morning, wipe away excess baking soda with a wet cloth or paper towel. You can also vacuum it up depending on where it’s sprinkled, like on carpet.

Wash fabrics and furniture coverings

If smelly fabrics or furniture coverings are machine washable, Bonk advises washing them at least once a week or every other week. This way you’re preventing the odors from building up.

You can also consider purchasing washable dog beds or dog beds with washable covers. Bonk says FurHaven Plush & Velvet Orthopedic Comfy Couch Dog & Cat Bed are a great option for keeping smells at bay.

Regularly bathe your dog

“In order to remove the dog smell from your home, you’ll want to bathe your dog frequently with a mild shampoo,” Bonk explains. “It’s very important that your dog gets 100 percent dry after baths because moisture is a breeding ground for odor-causing bacteria and yeast.” Find out how often you should bathe your dog.

Monthly bathing would be ideal. Try Burt’s Bees Oatmeal Dog Shampoo or a similar product that works for your dog’s individual needs from any pet store or online retailer.

Still Can’t Get Rid of Dog Smell?

If none of these solutions solve your dog smell problem, consider hiring a professional cleaning or floor care company. “Just removing the surface spot may not fix the problem,” Vance says. “In extreme cases, it may require removing the carpet and pad, allowing the subfloor to dry and then sealing the floor with a lacquer sealant.”

No matter what you try, steer clear of plain water. Bonk says water activates dog smells that come from skin and oils in particular. “Attempts to clean up odor with water can actually make it worse,” Bonk says.