A devoted pet lover and fragrance expert, Gerrard Larriett uses his over 10 years experience in the cosmetics industry to create a spa-inspired line of pet care products.
Pets sometimes pee on the rug—it happens, but we still love them. I share my favorite cleaning tips and compare the various methods for removing stains and odors naturally. Plus, find out what it takes to remove old odors.
Inside this Article:
- Cleaning with baking soda and vinegar
- Cleaning with enzymes and essential oils
- Cleaning with vodka
- Easiest Way to Get Rid of Pet Odor in Carpet Naturally
Common Ingredients in Natural Pet Stain and Odor Removal
Did you know that you can clean pet stains and odors naturally using items in your pantry? It’s true. You can use ingredients baking soda, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, vodka, orange, lemon, and salt to clean pet urine. You can neutralize and clean surfaces by using a combination of these products.
Using a synthetic cleaner on a carpet can damage and remove its color and add unnecessary toxic chemicals to your home environment. By using more natural ingredients, especially things like enzymatic cleaners with essential oils, pet owners keep their homes safe from the buildup of harmful fumes and chemicals that can make them and their pets sick, immediately and over time.
Before applying any cleaning solution liberally, you should always test it on a small area of your rug to ensure it won’t do any damage. You should also remove your pet to another area while cleaning a carpet stain with any ingredient, natural or otherwise. Even some natural ingredients can cause illness and conditions such as vomiting, muscle spasms, heart, liver, and kidney symptoms when ingested. So, be sure to use a reliable natural odor and stain removal product that’s tried and tested.
How to Get Pet Urine Out of Carpet Naturally
There are four natural options for removing pet urine: cleaning with vinegar and baking soda, use a solution of vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and dish soap, create a vodka-based solution, or an enzymatic remover with essential oils.
While the steps of each method vary a little, they all follow some basic steps. First, you’ll want to use paper towels to dab the area and soak up as much urine as possible. You’ll have the best results if you can blot the stain immediately after your pet made it. Next, apply a solution to help tackle the remains of the stain. Give the solution some time to soak in and do its work.
Depending on the product, you’ll want to wipe it up with a cold, wet cloth. At this point, you can let the stain dry on its own or vacuum the area.
Natural Pet Stain and Odor Cleaning Methods
Most pet urine cleaning methods just temporarily hide the smell or work for small spots. If the polluting substance is still present, the carpet will never really look clean. The residue in the carpet may still contribute to health issues such as eye irritation and headaches.
When considering natural ways to remove pet stains and odors from carpet, you will want to know about potential challenges, the effectiveness of each method, and whether they work better or at all on dried, older stains.
|Method||What You Need to Know||Effective at Cleaning Stains and Odors?||Does it Work on Old Stains?|
|Vinegar and Baking Soda||Slightly Effective||Yes, Moderately|
|Vinegar, Baking Soda, Hydrogen Peroxide, and Dish Soap||Effective||Yes, Moderately|
|Enzymatic Remover with Essential Oils||Very Effective||Yes, Exceptionally|
Remove Pet Urine with Vinegar and Baking Soda
Using vinegar and baking soda takes advantage of the pH of the stain. This method is ideally suited to pet waste because intense odors often come from either strong acids or strong bases.
Vinegar, a solution of acetic acid, water, and sometimes flavorings, is a weak acid that lowers or neutralizes the ammonia from urea in urine and makes it easier to remove from surfaces like flooring and carpet. Since it is acidic, it also breaks down bacteria and viruses that can exist in pet waste.
Baking soda, known chemically as sodium bicarbonate, is a weak base whose alkaline properties raise or neutralize the uric acid in urine. The element is an abrasive solid that also makes an excellent deodorizer, but it does not kill bacteria or viruses. When combined, vinegar and baking soda fizz as they react. Once the reaction is complete, the ingredients usually form a slightly less acidic version of vinegar, closer to the pH of salty water, depending on the proportion.
To clean pet waste using the vinegar and baking soda method, gather the following materials:
- Rags or paper towels
- 1 cup vinegar (white or apple cider)*
- 1 cup water*
- ½ cup baking soda*
- A bucket or a spray bottle
- A scrub brush, if available
- Vacuum or broom/dustpan set
*The amounts of the vinegar, water, and baking soda you use will depend on the size of the stain. You may need to use more large stains, but you should use the same ratio.
Follow these steps to get rid of pet urine naturally:
- For wet stains, use paper towels to soak up as much wetness as possible. Rinse the area with cold water.
- If treating a dry stain, rinse it with cold water. Use a more absorbent material like a towel to blot up as much of the wetness as possible. (Note: You can also use a wet/dry vacuum). The goal is to get the carpet or flooring as dry as possible.
- Mix a solution of 50 percent vinegar and 50 percent water in a bucket or spray bottle and saturate the area with the solution. You can increase the proportion of vinegar in the solution for nasty stains.
- Leave the solution on the stain for a few minutes, then use a towel to blot it until it’s mostly dry. Note: The area may still be wet/damp.
- Sprinkle baking soda over the stained area. You will hear a fizzing sound when the baking soda contacts with the acid. If you have a scrub brush, scrub the solid baking soda into the stain.
- Let the baking soda sit on the stain until it dries completely. It may take a few hours or a few days to dry. Note: You might want to put a pee pad over the stain if it’s a favorite spot for your pet.
- Vacuum or sweep the baking soda from your flooring.
Removing Pet Stains with Vinegar, Baking Soda, Hydrogen Peroxide, and Dish Soap
Cleaning pet waste with a mixture of vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and dish soap also considers the waste’s composition. Vinegar and baking soda change the makeup of the stain, while dish soap manually removes germs, and hydrogen peroxide kills most bacteria.
Dish soap binds with water on one end of its molecule and with grease, oil, and urine on the other end. For example, when you wash your hands, soap binds with dirt on one end and then with the water you rinse with on the other end. Rinsing removes dirt by manually pulling it down the drain.
Hydrogen peroxide is an extremely weak acid that kills bacteria through oxidation. However, mixing vinegar and hydrogen peroxide in a container can result in a peracetic acid, a corrosive chemical that can irritate your eyes, nose, and throat. If you use this mixture—even with other chemicals added—you still want to wear gloves, avoid its fumes, and ventilate the area properly for both you and your pet.
Gather these materials to remove odors from carpet naturally:
- Rags or paper towel
- 2/3 cup hydrogen peroxide
- 1 tsp vinegar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp dish soap
- A spray bottle
- A vacuum
Follow these steps to clean pet urine from carpet naturally with this solution:
- Use a rag or paper towel to blot the stain as dry as possible before treating it.
- Add hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, baking soda, and dish soap to spray bottle.
- Gently shake the bottle and spray the stained area with the mixture.
- Allow the area to dry and vacuum the area.
Dispose of the mixture immediately after use with large quantities of water. DO NOT STORE THIS SOLUTION—It’s for one-time use only. You should also be aware that in some cases, if there is any soap remaining on the soiled spot, it will attract dirt to it and produce a stain, especially in carpets.
How to Remove Pet Odors with Vodka
Vodka, which is ethanol and water at about 40 percent purity, is a surprisingly effective way to remove pet urine and its odor from carpet naturally. Vodka acts as a disinfectant, killing bacteria and fungus, and as a stain fighter, removing oil-based stains.
Gather these materials to remove odors from carpet naturally:
- Rags or paper towels
- A bottle of cheap vodka (No need to the use top-shelf stuff)
- A spray bottle
- Optional: Baking soda
- Optional: Vacuum
Follow these steps for a natural way to get dog and cat urine out of carpet:
- Spot clean with paper towels to remove as much urine as possible.
- Add vodka to a spray bottle. You can dilute the vodka with water using a mixture of 50 percent vodka/50 percent water to make it last longer.
- Spray the vodka (or mixture) on the spot. Allow it to sit on the stain for at least 10-15 minutes.
- Blot the stain with the absorbent materials.
- Optional: Sprinkle the area with baking soda to absorb the remaining moisture. Vacuum the spot after the baking soda is dry.
Be aware that vodka, in high concentrations, can dissolve wood flooring finishes. This option is best for carpets and tile.
How to Use an Enzymatic Natural Pet and Odor Stain Remover with Essential Oils
Enzyme cleaners use good bacteria, such as amylase, protease, and lipase, to break down organic materials such as blood, urine, and feces. Uric acid is not very soluble in water, so it needs enzymes to break it down into its components for removal.
When pets urinate on the carpet, the liquid often also soaks into the carpet pad and any porous surface below it. When it dries, it leaves behind uric acid crystals. Since these crystals are not water-soluble, they are difficult to remove, and when they get wet, such as when the room is humid, you can still smell them—thus, the lingering pet odor.
Also, with more sensitive noses, pets can still smell even tiny amounts of these crystals and remember it as a good bathroom spot to reuse. Completely removing dog and cat urine odors from carpets naturally needs more than just household chemicals such as baking soda, vinegar, and hydrogen peroxide. Essential oils can help.
Essential oils can serve several functions. Many have antibacterial properties, so that they can kill any bacteria left behind, and some companies add them to their products to help calm anxious pets. However, be aware that using some essential oils in undiluted form or in high quantities can be toxic to pets, especially cats who may not be able to metabolize the phenols in them. Before adding any essential oils to your cleaning regimen, research which ones are toxic for your type of pet and if there is a safe quantity for dilution.
There are essential oil cleaning products available that are tested for safety with pets. You can also make an enzymatic cleaner with essential oils. Be careful about the oils you choose, however. Newer research on essential oils shows that some can be toxic to pets, especially cats who can’t break them down. Some oils considered safe, even around cats, are lemongrass and cedarwood oils. For more information on the safety and toxicity of essential oils, read our “Ultimate Pet Aromatherapy Guide for Dogs and Cats.”
Gather the following materials for removing dog and cat urine odor from carpet naturally:
- Rags or paper towels
- 2 tbsp liquid enzyme concentrate
- 1/3 cup vinegar (white or apple)
- 2 cups distilled water
- Optional: 2 tablespoons liquid preservative (i.e., liquid Germall Plus)*
- Optional: 1 tsp isopropyl alcohol and 10 drops of essential oil
- A spray bottle
*If you want to preserve this mixture for more than a day’s use, add the liquid preservative.
Follow these steps to clean pet urine from carpet naturally with enzymes and essential oils:
- Use absorbent material to spot clean and remove as much wetness from the spot possible.
- Combine all liquid ingredients in the spray bottle.
- Spray the affected area with the cleanser until damp.
- Allow the area to dry naturally, and without heat.
Video Title: Stain & Odor Remover for Pet Homes
General Cleaning Tips
Before using any of the natural ways to remove pet odors from carpet, properly address your pet’s needs, and carefully consider the natural chemicals you choose. Try to dab up as much as possible before it soaks into the carpet’s sub-layers.
Try to understand why your pet had an accident on the carpet—knowing why can help you retrain them away from going on the rug and to doing their business in more appropriate places. When retraining, use positive reinforcement. Be sure to consider possible medical causes. Urine with a strong odor and in the wrong place are signs that something may be medically wrong with your pet. If that’s the case, talk to your veterinarian.
New Stain Considerations
For new stains, avoid cleaning with heated water. Also, the quicker you discover the stain and can dab it up, the better it will come out, and the less damage there will be to carpet padding and sub-floor layers.
One trick you can try is to walk on the paper towels (apply pressure) to soak up as much urine as possible before cleaning. If you are cleaning carpet or furniture, perform a spot test on a hidden section to ensure you will not damage the fabric or color with the solution. Do not use ammonia when cleaning pet urine because it is one of the strong-smelling chemicals in the urine and will make the smell worse.
Cleaning Older Pet Stains
For older stains, you can use a black light to see the stain’s contours—that way, you can remove it all. Be aware that black lights also pick up some cleaning detergents that could be present on the carpet, not just biological stains.
The Benefits of Natural Cleaning Ingredients
You can use natural cleaning ingredients for many purposes, not just for removing pet odors and stains from carpet. Many elements have a chemistry that raises or lowers the pH of waste, can act as a degreaser, and make bathroom fixtures shine.
How to Remove Cat Urine Smell from Carpet Naturally
Cat urine is more concentrated than both human and dog urine, and therefore has a more intense smell. To remove the pee smell from your carpet naturally, change its composition with enzymatic cleaners.
When to Use a Professional Carpet Cleaner
A professional carpet cleaner uses superheated water and heavy detergents to gets stains and smells out of furniture and carpets. The problem is that hot water can bond urine protein to the carpet fibers, so the urine is never really gone.
If you have a new stain, start by treating it yourself with cold water and natural cleaners. Enzymatic cleaners work particularly well. If you have an older or deeper stain, you can bring in a carpet cleaner, but only after you try to change the composition of the stain. You may also need to address the carpet padding and other levels of the floor if the stain is large. If you plan to hire professional carpet cleaners, be prepared to pay about $50-$75 per room.
The Most Effective Way to Get Rid of Pet Odor in Carpet Naturally
Anyone with a four-legged, furry friend knows that pee accidents can happen, and all too often, it’s on a rug or carpet. That’s why I wanted to create a natural stain remover as part of my aromatherapy pet care line. The chemist in me knows that it’s not enough to remove the stain, you really have to break down the bacteria left behind, and only an enzymatic cleaner can do that effectively and for good. So, I developed an enzyme cleaner using the pleasant smells of fruit essential oils that eliminate pet odors and obliterate stains. The solution is easy (no need to scrub excessively) and safe to use, and works on pet stains left behind by other brands. You can even use our Pet Odor and Stain Remover with Aromatherapy on dog crates, floors, and furniture.
Learn more about our line of our 100% natural pet odor removal products.