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6 Cleaning Hacks for Removing Pet Stains and Odors

A puppy on a couch next to an accident.

Every pet owner has been there: an unexpected stain or odor left behind by your furry BFF. With just a few easy tips and common household products, though, you can take the hassle out of cleanup and keep your home looking (and smelling) fresh.

Pet stains can sometimes be challenging to clean up. Biological stains often contain proteins that bind them (and the accompanying odor) to surfaces, making them harder to remove. Fortunately, you don’t need a bunch of high-end equipment or heavy-duty cleaning supplies.

Here’s how you can tackle some of the most common pet stains in your home with just a few simple ingredients you probably already have.

How to Remove Pet Stains and Odors from Carpet

An orange and white cat lying on a beige carpet next to a stain.
Africa Studio/Shutterstock.com

One of the most common places for pet stains and odors to stick around is carpeting. Fortunately, after few household ingredients work their magic, most of those stains and pesky smells will be long gone.

The first step to removing any pet stain situation is to remove as much of the offending waste as possible. Of course, this is easier if it’s a fresh stain. Just remove any solids, and then soak up any liquid with paper towels or rags.

Once there’s just the stain itself to deal with, there are a few possible solutions. One is a single, classic ingredient that’s helpful for cleaning up any number of stubborn stains: club soda.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Pour enough club soda on the stain to fully saturate it and the area around it.
  2. Let it sit until the fizzing subsides.
  3. Blot away with a clean paper towel or rag.
  4. Repeat until the stain is gone.

Schweppes Club Soda, 33.88 Fl Oz Bottle

The fizzing action helps lift away stubborn stains.

Those trusty old friends, white vinegar and baking soda, can also be helpful for removing both fresh stains and soaked-in odors. If it’s a relatively mild stain and you’ve already soaked up most of the liquid, you might only need the baking soda.

Arm & Hammer Pure Baking Soda

Absorbs stains and odors, leaving only freshness behind.

Warning: You should always test any cleaning solution on an inconspicuous area of carpet first just to make sure it won’t cause any discoloration.

If that’s the case, follow these steps:

  1. Sprinkle a thin layer of baking soda over the entire stain.
  2. Let it sit overnight.
  3. Vacuum up the baking soda

For more stubborn stains, you might have to add some vinegar to the mix. There are two approaches to this, so you might want to try one first, and then move on to the other if the first doesn’t get the job done.

To create a solution with the two ingredients, follow these steps:

  1. Combine 1 cup of water, 1 cup of white vinegar, and 3 teaspoons of baking soda in a spray bottle.
  2. Spritz the solution on the stain and surrounding area.
  3. Let it sit for 10 minutes.
  4. Blot with a clean paper towel or cloth, and then repeat if necessary.

Sally's Organics Empty Clear Glass Spray Bottles

Perfect for mixing and storing your own cleaning solutions.

Alternately, you can take this approach and separate the two active ingredients:

  1. Sprinkle baking soda over the stain.
  2. Combine equal parts water and vinegar in a spray bottle.
  3. Spray the vinegar solution over the baking soda.
  4. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Blot, and then repeat if necessary.

How to Remove Pet Stains and Odors From Upholstery

A dog on a sofa next to a stain.
New Africa/Shutterstock.com

Sure, your pets aren’t supposed to be on the furniture, but when has that ever stopped our furry friends? The inevitable result is the occasional stain or unpleasant odor on—or emanating from—the upholstery.

The same vinegar and baking soda mixture we covered in the carpet section will also work on upholstery. However, another method involves diluting dishwashing liquid in water and vinegar.

Dawn Ultra Dishwashing Liquid

Boosts cleaning power on tough stains.

To try the dishwashing liquid method, follow these easy steps:

  1. Mix equal parts white vinegar and room temperature water.
  2. Add 1/2 teaspoon of dishwashing liquid and mix well.
  3. Dip a clean cloth into the solution and blot the stain, working from the edges inward toward the center.
  4. Blot with a clean, damp cloth to remove any detergent residue, and then repeat if necessary.
Warning: You should always test any cleaning solution on an inconspicuous area of your upholstery first just to make sure it won’t cause any discoloration.

How to Remove Pet Stains and Odors From Bedding

Gray and white cat on a bed next to a stain.
Creative Cat Studio/Shutterstock.com

Pet stains and odors on bedding are some of the most frustrating, but the faster you can address them, the better.

Start by absorbing and removing as much of the actual mess as possible with paper towels or a rag. On soft surfaces, you want to avoid scrubbing or putting too much pressure on the rag as you clean. Otherwise, the stain can just work itself further into the fibers and become even harder to remove.

For most bedding stains, you can follow these steps:

  1. Strip all of the bedding if you haven’t already.
  2. Flush the affected area with cool water by pouring it on the opposite side of the fabric than the one that is stained.
  3. Launder the bedding on the hottest setting, using an enzyme-based detergent and 1 cup of white vinegar.
  4. If the stain and/or odor persist after you’ve laundered the item, soak it overnight in a solution of 8 parts cool water and 1 part white vinegar.

Seventh Generation Concentrated Laundry Detergent

Enzymes are key to breaking down the proteins in pet stains.

Dealing with pet stains is a big part of being a pet owner, but it doesn’t have to be a ton of work. Armed with these easy tips and a few simple ingredients, you can keep your home free of nasty stains and odors, and have more time to play with your furbaby.

Amanda Prahl Amanda Prahl
Amanda Prahl is a freelance contributor to LifeSavvy. She has an MFA in dramatic writing, a BA in literature, and is a former faculty associate focusing on writing craft and history. Her articles have appeared on HowlRound, Slate, Bustle, BroadwayWorld, and ThoughtCo, among others. Read Full Bio »
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