Removing Pet Urine Smells From Carpeting on the Cheap

by Reader Contributors

Removing Pet Urine Smell from Carpeting photo

An unpleasant part of pet ownership can be the smell, and urine smell is especially bad. Even worse when it is down in your carpeting. Our frugal readers share tips for removing the smell from your pet tinkling on the carpet.

Dear Dollar Stretcher,
How can I get cat urine odor out of my carpet?

I have a kitty who decided to “tinkle” in the same spot for a number of weeks. We are certain that the urine seeped down into the padding. Eventually, we broke him of the habit and he is now happy with one of the fancy automatic litter boxes (a less-than-frugal option).

Although we have used the standard over-the-counter products for neutralizing and deodorizing, the odor creeps up every now and then. Any cheap suggestions from other readers?
Lori L.

Club Soda Removes Pet Urine Odor

Several years ago we moved into a house where there had been dogs. We had a cat and he was very territorial! He sprayed every corner of our dining room, over and over again. Apparently the doggy smell was strongest there. I was about to give up and have the carpet removed, since I couldn’t remove the “zoo” odor, when a friend suggested using club soda.

I bought a liter bottle and poured a generous amount onto the carpet, letting it fizz. When the fizzing stopped I used lots of paper towels to blot up the liquid then let the area air dry. I did every corner of the dining room (it probably looked like some strange ritual by then!). It took a few applications but the odor went away!

I hope this works for you as well as it did for me. I also use club soda when someone (or one of the cats) has vomited on the floor. Takes the smell away in a snap!

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Try Enzyme Neutralizers

Have you tried the enzyme odor neutralizers such as Nature’s Miracle or Simple Solution? Personally, I’ve found Nature’s Miracle to be about the best. You have to follow the directions EXACTLY though and saturate the area with the product, then leave it there the appropriate amount of time. You also have to treat ALL the areas where the animal has urinated, because if you leave a spot undone, the animal will smell that and think it’s still “okay” to go there.

This stuff can be expensive if you purchase it through a place like PetSmart, etc., on a regular basis. Check online and you’ll likely find cheaper sources of this stuff. Try Jeffer’s Pet Supply. They have some amazing deals. They also sell an ultraviolet light to help you “view” the urine stains, but this seems kind of expensive for what it is. Unfortunately, sometimes depending on your sub-floor or flooring, the odors still persist.

Another product I have used are the “Smell-Eze Granules” at, and these work fairly well, though are relatively expensive, for getting rid of urine smells. You sprinkle this on your carpet and the granules absorb the odor (different from the grocery store-type carpet deodorizers; these have no smell on their own). I also bought the Smell-Eze bags of granules that you place around your home (for smoke, pet odors, etc.) and they worked great for awhile, then seemed to conk out.

Whatever you use, it is sometimes a challenge to conquer these smells, but it can be done!

Color Safe Bleach Works for Pet Urine

I moved into an apartment where cat urine was abundant. I used Vivid Safe Bleach and it removed every trace of the smell. It did not stain or lighten the carpet, but I would try a hidden area first

I poured the Vivid on the spot, rubbed it a bit, then covered it with paper towels and heavy object. I kept replacing the towels.

We Finally Tried OdoBan

We had two large dogs and still have one cat that has “accidents” in the house. I tried everything, from vinegar to baking soda, to commercial bacteria cleansers from our local pet store.

The best thing to use, and I strongly recommend, it is a product called OdoBan. We found it in one gallon containers from Sam’s Club. Not sure if they still carry it. Just mix it 1:3 parts water, sprinkle on the spot, (we used a watering can as it was a large area, and let dry). Once it is completely dry, it is impossible to detect any odor. Also, you can put it straight in a spray bottle and spray it in the air to get rid of odors, too.

Take it from someone who used it on a “skunked” dog. IT WORKS!!!
Anna A.

A Baking Soda Solution

I had a cat who was getting elderly and had kidney disease. She started going into our lower level den behind a couple of chairs and urinating. I think what enticed her was the fact that we had sustained flood damage and the carpet had gotten wet and had a dank smell to begin with. Then she added to it before I could treat the wet smells from the flooding!

After getting the carpeting dried out and cleaned as well as possible using the standard carpet cleaners, I realized the urine smell was very much still present. I have a handy little book called Baking Soda: Over 500 Uses and here is what finally worked for me:

To prevent the lingering smells in a carpet, they advise to clean up what you can, then generously sprinkle the remaining spot with baking soda. Scrub gently, from the outside toward the center, with a stiff brush or sponge dipped repeatedly in clean water (test for colorfastness!). Blot up the moisture with paper towels. Leave a last small layer of baking soda powder sprinkled on the spot and vacuum it later when the carpet is dry. I had to repeat this several times, but it worked! No more smells!! Carpet looks fine (and this was an OLD carpet)!

For general deodorizing, they also advise sprinkling baking soda on carpeting monthly, or as needed, before going to bed and let it set overnight. Vacuum the next day. They include a homemade carpet deodorizer recipe:

1/2 cup baking soda
1/2 cup cornstarch
15 drops of your favorite essential oil fragrance

I’ve come to love baking soda!
Judi S. in Virginia

Ammonia and Oil Soap Removes Pet Urine Smell

Use equal parts (about a tablespoon each) ammonia and Murphy’s Oil Soap and dilute it in a gallon of water. It worked for us.

Get to the Source of the Smell

Lift up the carpet and get the affected padding out of there. Cut out a square piece of the padding and replace it, or if it is foam rubber, wash the affected piece. You will not get it clean while it’s on the floor. A carpet scrubber is only meant to clean the carpet, not the padding. If it is washable, clean in a mild solution of dish detergent and warm water, then rinse in vinegar. Dry thoroughly before putting back down (staple into place).

Once the pad is clean, the carpet should be shampooed. I’ve done this for people before. A) Spot treat the area with carpet cleaner solution straight out of the machine and let sit for 5-10 minutes. B) Clean the carpet per instructions on the machine. C) Replace the shampoo in the machine with white vinegar and go over it thoroughly one final time just as if you were shampooing the area. (See Make Your Own Cheap Carpet Shampooer Cleaning Solution.)

If the cat or any cats are still in the house, this will not be good enough. The cat will still be able to detect the smell, as will cats who follow it, and they will mark the area. If you plan on having a cat again, the carpet and the pad are not salvageable, except in a room the cat would never be allowed into.
John K.

Reviewed January 2023

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