How To Remove Pet Stains And Odors

So what do you do with dog urine or poop on the carpet or furniture?  It's not an uncommon question to ask when you're housebreaking a puppy.

During the training, your puppy may decide that brand new rug is the perfect place to relieve itself.  Or maybe a few days into the puppy potty training you walk into the living room and catch a whiff of urine or, even worse, some poop.

You remember the horror stories from friends with pets who talked about endless scrubbing and never completely getting rid of the smell or stain.  or what happens if you DO get it cleaned and deodorized, but your puppy seems to have a new indoor potty habit?


1 - Obviously you need to find out exactly where your puppy did its business.  This is pretty easy when it defecates, but a little tougher when it urinates on carpet, furniture, or other fabric.

2 - Thoroughly clean the area where the accident took place.  Your puppy's urine and feces also contain its personal scent (used for making its territory) and, as long as the dog can smell its scent, it will want to 'refresh' it on a regular basis.  make sure you follow all the cleaning steps.  Even if you can't smell it, your pet probably can if you're not thorough.

3 - Once you've cleaned up, make the area unavailable or, at least, unattractive to your puppy.

4 - if the accidents are happening frequently, have your dog looked at by a veterinarian to make sure there are no medical cause.

5 - Continue to use POSITIVE reinforcement!  As pointed out in other areas on this site, negative reinforcement (rubbing the dog's nose in the accident) does not help the process, and can actually set it back.


Like I said, finding dog feces after an accident is usually as easy as following your nose (unless you discover it the hard way, which means cleaning the bottom of your slipper).  You can also follow your nose to track down dog urine stains.  Your puppy's pee will smell very much like ammonia.

You can also go all CSI, and use a black light which will highlight organic matter light puppy urine.  Black light bulbs are available at most home centers, a lot of department stores, and even some dollar stores.  Put the bulb into any lamp, turn off the lights, and mark any glowing areas.


The method below focuses on carpet, but it's the same method you'd use to remove pet stains from upholstery, or any other fabric that can't be put in the washing machine.

First, pick up any solid pieces of puppy poop if that's what you're dealing with.   If you're fortunate, you'll have a carpet spot cleaner machine or a wet/dry vac available.  If not, try and borrow one from a friend, or seriously consider investing in a small wet-dry vacuum (once you have one, you'll wonder how you got along without it).

Using a pump spray bottle filled with cold water and set on stream, wet the stain thoroughly and then suck up the moisture with the spot cleaning machine or the wet-vac.  repeat these steps until the stain is completely gone.

If you have an older carpet and the cleaning has left a spot cleaner than the rest of the carpet, 'feather out' the clean spot by cleaning from the center of the spot, outwards, with less pressure and water as you move outwards.

If you don't have a spot cleaning machine or wet/dry vac, I'm sorry but you'll have to blot up excess moisture (and fecal residue) with a lot of paper towel or rags.  This is why God created that puppy dog look for your pet -- it's a defense mechanism.

If the dog poop is just sitting on the surface of the carpet, and very small pieces or a thin layer, you're probably better off letting it dry completely.  After it's thoroughly dry, scrape it with a fork (preferably an old one, or one you've borrowed from that neighbor you don't really like) and vacuum while you scrape.  When you have most of it off, rub it with a dry stiff bristle brush ("hello neighbor!") while vacuuming.  Finally wash thoroughly with water while sucking up, or blotting up the excess moisture.

When dog urine is the only thing you have to clean, start by blotting up as much of the moisture as possible.  Make sure you replace the paper towel or rags frequently and, when hand pressure isn't getting a lot of moisture out, stand on the paper or rags putting all your weight on one heel.

BONUS TIP:  Place some of the damp paper towel or rags in the area the puppy is supposed to pee.  This marks the territory, which the dog will want to reinforce, and can speed up the house training.

Once you've soaked up as much dog urine as possible, clean the area as described above -- using cold water and a spot cleaning machine or wet/vac.


Honestly, you're going to need a spot cleaning machine (home use ones are fine), or rent a professional-grade carpet cleaner.  Before you use the carpet cleaner, make sure you read the dog accident cleaning do nots below.


If there is any poop involved, remove it first -- the same way you would from a kid's diaper or soiled clothing.  If you've never had young children, you can always go to the local daycare and ask for some soiled diapers to practice with.  Orrrr.... you can just wing it.

Once you've dealt with any solids, just machine-wash the item as usual, using a regular amount of detergent, but adding a one-pound box of baking soda.

When drying a previously dog urine-stained fabric it's best to just air dry it, or put it the dryer on the cool setting with no heat.  Heat can set the pet stain and the odor if you didn't get rid of all of it on the first try.

If the first machine-washing did not get rid of the puppy urine odor or left behind any visible stain, try again but add an enzymatic cleaner.  If you can't find it in the detergent aisle, you can get it at most pet stores.  Enzymatic cleaners attack and break down the components that cause pet-waste odors.


For the most part, walls and floors can simply be wiped up, and then cleaned thoroughly with cold water, followed up by a pet-friendly household cleaner.

However, it's possible that the acid in dog urine may react to paint or other finishes.  If you have a visible stain, clean the area thoroughly to remove any odor that may attract your potty training puppy back to the scene of the crime.  

If the stain is on paint, use a stain-sealing primer before repainting.  If the stain is on varnished and/or stained wood, you'll have to sand the stain out and the match the wood stain and re-varnish.  Usually this is a job best left for professionals, or consider replacing the entire section or piece.


If you rent (or happen to have) a commercial carpet or upholstery cleaner, do NOT use any chemical cleaners with it.  Most of the time they clean up pet stains and odors just as well with straight water.  The detergent they offer to sell you with the rental is, for the most part, a way to make some extra cash.

Do NOT use hot water or the heated water setting when using a commercial carpet or upholstery cleaner on dog urine or puppy poop.  Heat sets stains and odors permanently.

Do NOT use a steam cleaner on dog urine or fecal matter.  Heat sets stains and odors permanently, and a steam cleaner can actually force the urine or feces deeper into the carpet or fabric.

Do NOT trust cleaning chemicals.  Do a thorough cleaning with water.  Many chemicals may hide the odor from you making you think the problem is solved, but your dog's sensitive nose may still detect it.

Do NOT procrastinate.  If you let urine sit too long, it can soak down into a carpet's foam under padding and/or into the wood or concrete below the carpet.  On furniture, the urine may work its way too deep into foam padding to be completely removed.  Act fast and clean thoroughly.

BONUS TIP:  Even after a thorough cleaning, your puppy may still want to return to a housebreaking accident area just out of habit.  Cover the area, or furniture, with an inexpensive, flannel-backed vinyl table cloth (commonly used for picnic tables).  Your puppy will find the surface unappealing, and it will be easy for you to clean if necessary.

Remember the house training a puppy will inevitably include the occasional accident.  have your cleaning supplies handy and ready to go.  But most of all, supervise your dog at all times during the housebreaking process.  A pet that manages to pee in the wrong place while being trained means you failed, not the puppy.