Our Secret Weapons to Tackle Pet Odors

Whether it’s a subtle scent or a sickening stench, pet odors are one of the biggest frustrations owners deal with. Constantly plugging your nose or apologizing for the smell is no way to live. Thankfully, most pet odors can be reduced or eliminated with the right supplies.

We want your home to smell the way you want it to smell, so we rounded up a few clever tricks our experts and editors use to make their living spaces pet-odor free. If you have a secret for tackling pet odors, please share it in the comments below.

Clever Hacks for Eliminating Pet Odors

Dog pee accident

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1. If your pet is having accidents, find out why.

Accidents are one way to make your home smell really bad, really fast. There are a multitude of reasons why your pet could be going potty indoors or missing the litterbox. To rule out any medical issues, take your animal to the veterinarian. If a health issue doesn't turn out to be the problem, then it’s time to put on your detective hat.

Cat owners: Your feline’s litterbox conditions might not be up to par. You might not have enough boxes, or perhaps you're not scooping it out as often as your feline would like. Stress could be causing problems, too. Did you move recently or bring home a new pet? Our veterinary behaviorist offers several reasons your kitty might be eliminating in inappropriate places.

Dog owners: Your canine might have some kind of anxiety, such as separation anxiety or a noise phobia. Ask your veterinarian to help identify the cause of the problem. She may refer you to a veterinary behaviorist. If anxiety isn’t the culprit, the issue might be that he smells odors from past accidents and thinks your home is a perfectly acceptable bathroom. This is where the upcoming steps in this photo gallery will be very helpful.

Litterbox and scoop

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2. Clean up pet waste ASAP.

This may sound like an obvious tip, but the longer you let pet waste linger, the worse it’s going to smell — and the harder it will be to make the odor go away. This doesn’t mean you have to hover by the litterbox, but it does mean you need to get into the habit of cleaning out the litterbox regularly — which could mean multiple times per day, depending on how many cats you have. If you let your dog do his business in the yard, make a habit of scooping up his poop and disposing of it as soon as possible.

Pouring white vinegar on sponge

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3. Grab some vinegar.

One of the most effective pet odor-reducing products out there is probably already in your home. If you discover an accident that’s still wet, soak up as much as you can by blotting (not rubbing) it, then pour a mixture of white vinegar and cold water over it. Blot the area well, and then let it dry. Due to its high acidity, vinegar helps neutralize odors — even if the smell has been there for some time. You can clean up other dry pet stains and smells by mixing equal parts vinegar and water, and filling a spray bottle with the solution. Saturate the area, then blot it up and let it dry. And don't worry if the vinegar scent is strong at first. It'll go away! But be careful — if pets lick up undiluted vinegar, it can cause vomiting and diarrhea, so always make sure you're mixing the vinegar with at least an equal part of water.

Cleaning Cat Accident

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4. Enzyme cleaners are your friends.

If you’d rather use a commercial cleaner, look for pet-friendly enzymatic cleaners. Oftentimes, if pets can still smell the odor (even if you can't see or smell it yourself), they think it’s OK to spray or go to the bathroom in the spot again. That’s why it’s so important to spray pet odors with the cleaner ASAP and keep using it until the pet is no longer interested in the area.

Terrier getting a bath

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5. Bathe your pet regularly.

Accidents and stains aren't the only reasons your house might smell a bit off. If you went for weeks or months without showering, you might not smell so hot, right? Same goes for your animal. To be fair, our feline friends tend to be pretty meticulous self-groomers, but dogs… well, some dogs have a propensity for rolling in poop and animal carcasses, not to mention the affinity some pups have for jumping in any body of water that presents itself. If your pup bolts every time you turn on the bath tub faucet, you might be making some of these bath time mistakes. To help keep your pooch smelling sweet in between baths, swipe his fur with a pet-safe wipe.

Cat in pet bed

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6. Wash your pet’s bedding.

When was the last time you washed your dog's or cat’s bedding? If you can’t remember, you're not alone, and that funky scent wafting through your home could be coming from Fido’s favorite resting spot. Pet beds are often covered in fur, dirt, dandruff, slobber from toys and other potentially smelly things. Do your nose a favor and launder his bedding regularly. You might even want to invest in several slipcovers for his bed that you can have in rotation. 

Loose pet hair also a problem in your home? Learn how T-shirts, rubber gloves and these other clever hacks can help you stay ahead of spring shedding season.

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