How to Get Rid of Dog Pee and Cat Urine Odors

Tips for Selling a Pet-Stinky Home

Graphic of various remedies for pet stink

The Balance / Melissa Ling

The longer dog or cat urine sits in a carpet, the worse the problem becomes. Bacteria builds up, and the urine soaks through into the pad below. It can go as deep as the wood floors and the sub-floor in some cases, making cleanup a bit complicated. Pet urine can also seep into concrete.

There's a certain art to getting rid of the smell. You should take certain steps, but there are also things you don't want to do to get rid of dog or cat urine odors.

Key Takeaways

  • Pet urine is a big turnoff for potential buyers, and it's not always easy to remove.
  • For the best results, skip DIY remedies or common household cleaners.
  • You can neutralize dog urine or cat urine odor with an enzymatic cleaner, often found at pet stores.
  • If that doesn't work, you may need to hire a professional company for assistance.

What Not to Use

Ammonia is high on the list of things not to use to clean up dog pee or cat urine. Urine already has an ammonia odor, so adding more will just make the smell worse. Cats, in particular, are likely to return to that area, because they are attracted to ammonia smell.

And whatever you do, don't ever combine bleach with ammonia. You could die from inhaling the fumes. Mixing bleach and ammonia is extremely dangerous.

Common household items such as vinegar, peroxide, dish detergent, or baking soda all work to a minimal degree, but they never really get rid of that persistent, stinky urine odor. You need to do more.

Doing It the Hard Way

Replacing the soiled areas down to the sub-floor is a very effective way of dealing with dog or cat urine odors because it removes every piece of material tainted with the offending scent. But not everybody has the patience, time, or budget to tackle this type of new home improvement project.

An Easier Way to Get Rid of Dog or Cat Smells

Use an enzyme-based product that breaks down the bacteria in the urine, effectively "eating" the urine and neutralizing the odor. You can buy these odor-removal products online or at pet stores. You might have to treat the area with a product more than once.

Don't use detergent or any home-based remedy first. Saturate the area with the enzymatic cleaner. Blot it and let it air dry. Treat it again. As a final touch, consider zapping the area with an extracting carpet cleaner, the kind that shoots water down into the carpet fiber, then sucks the dirtied water back up again for disposal.

When the Smell Is in Concrete

You might not be aware of exactly where your pet peed if the little furball is making clandestine use of your basement or garage when you're not there to notice. Your first clue might be the odor, particularly on warm, humid days.

Use a black light to scan the floors and other likely spots such as lower walls. Male dogs usually lift their legs to pee, and un-neutered male cats will mark their territories on walls as well.

Wash the spots you find with one part vinegar and one part water, and two teaspoons of baking soda, then treat the areas with an enzymatic cleaner of the same type you used on your carpet. Don't rinse the cleaner away. Cover the spots up and let the cement or concrete soak overnight for up to 24 hours. Now you're ready to clean up the mess you made.

You might think of using bleach to clean the concrete floors after removing the urine-stained carpeting, but bleach won't kill the odor. It simply disinfects. Bleach is harmful to breathe, and it's toxic for your pets, too.

Pet urine is one of the worst smells for a homebuyer to encounter. If enzyme cleaners don't work, it's worth the investment to hire a professional ozone company. Even pet lovers can be turned off easily by the smell of dog urine, cat pee, or just the sight of a litter box.

Also, the smell of cat pee can stick around longer because it is more concentrated than a dog's urine. Damp spots under the carpet can linger for years after a cat has been in the home. Ask a friend or your real estate agent to give you an honest assessment of any odor issues.