Tips to Rid Your Home of Pet Odors

Have you ever walked into a house or apartment and just known that pet lovers lived there? Even though the place may be spic-and-span, the carpets carefully vacuumed and free of pet hair, the smell lingers — and no amount of air freshener can override it for long.

But just because you live with a pet doesn’t mean your house has to smell like it, but it also doesn't have to smell like the cleaning products you may use to keep odors at bay. Pet messes and the odors associated with them are a fact of life for pet owners. As a pet owner and a veterinarian, I’ve cleaned up a lot of messes — and picked up some simple, useful tricks — over the years. Here are some of my favorite tips for keeping my home what I like to call a “smell neutral” environment: a place that smells neither like pet odors nor cleaning products.

How to Keep Your Home Pet-Odor Free

Man mopping floor

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Assemble Your Supplies

Keep an enzymatic cleaner on hand — the enzymes attack the components of pet waste and help neutralize odors. Buy a large bottle if you have a very young or old pet, because accidents happen, and don’t forget to follow the instructions to avoid damaging rugs or carpets. You’ll also want bleach to clean up wet messes (dilute one-half cup of bleach with a gallon of water to use as a general disinfectant) and baby wipes to wipe down your pet. And since pet odors start with your pet, make sure you have pet shampoo on hand. Swiffer-type floor cleaners, vacuums and spot-scrubbers can also be helpful. It’s a good idea to save old, battered towels for pet duty as well.

Cat in litterbox

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Get Ahead of the Mess

The longer a mess sits, the harder it will be to get rid of the smell. Pick up what you can immediately, wipe up any liquids and put your enzymatic cleaner to use. And don’t neglect your daily duties: When your cat uses his litterbox, scoop and toss right away. And keep your yard picked up after your dog does his business — this helps to minimize the chance that someone will step in the mess and track it into the house.

Dog and vacuum cleaner

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Get into a Cleaning Routine

Regular cleaning, especially in areas where your pet likes to spend time, will help keep smells from building up. Wash your pet’s bedding often and sweep, Swiffer or vacuum a couple times a week or more. Also, bathing your dog weekly will help keep him cleaner and better-smelling. Keeping long-haired pets cut short will help lessen the volume of shed fur and help with odors. Between baths, you can also wipe your pet with a baby wipe. And don’t forget to make the time for regular deep-cleaning.

Cleaning pet mess

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Eliminate the Smell of Cleaners

With the right cleaning products, the pet smells you’re fighting should go away. To get rid of the smell of the cleaners you’ve used, rinse with water. Water takes everything away — both the remains of any mess as well as the products that vanquished it. Run your rags through the washer and trash one-use products, like wipes.

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