How to Eliminate Pet Odors in Your Home
Pet Odor Is Something That Can Be Tackled with a Few Simple Actions
You may love your animals, but that doesn’t mean you have to love the way they make your house smell. A house that smells like pets can create all sorts of problems. You may be embarrassed to have people over,or spend less time inside. Don’t worry, though, as pet odor is something that can be tackled with a few simple actions and changes. The key is focusing on the source of the odor before addressing any lingering odors.
Eliminating Odor Sources
Your pet can leave a smelly trail as they wander throughout your home. This trail may include fur, dander, mud and traces of urine or feces. To help remove these odor sources, vacuum your entire house, including but not limited to:
- Carpets, Rugs & Mats
- Under Furniture
Hidden or improperly cleaned messes can often be the culprit behind pet odor. Using an enzyme cleaner where a recent pet mess has been found, can often help eliminate the pesky odor by breaking down the proteins in urine, feces, vomit and other biological elements that cause stains.
Spot cleaning stains will help to remove odors from specific areas, but you may have many different odors over various areas of the carpet. Tackle odors throughout the house with a thorough carpet cleaning. This might take time, so be patient. An odor-free home is worth the effort.
You can either use a powder or wet shampoo to clean your carpets:
- For a dry cleaning, sprinkle powdered cleaner over the entire carpet and allow the cleaner sit for at least 30 minutes. Vacuum to remove cleaner, dirt – and odors – from the carpet.
- Try using a carpet shampooer. Fill the shampooer reservoir with water and add a liquid cleaner to the appropriate compartment. Press or pull indicated lever, and vacuum the entire carpet. Allow the carpet to dry for at least 24 hours, then vacuum.
Pet odors love to hide in furniture. Your cat’s special chair may be a host to all sorts of unpleasant smells. The furniture’s material will dictate the best cleaning method to be used, and you should always check the care labels before cleaning, to ensure the piece doesn’t require dry clean only. Care labels marked with an “S” means do not clean with water, and those marked with an “X” means to dry clean only.
- Take a brush to upholstered furniture (like couches). Fill a bucket with warm water and several drops of liquid dish soap. Swirl the water to create suds. Dip a soft-bristled brush into the suds and brush the entire surface of the furniture. Wipe with a barely damp cloth, and then air dry.
- Leather and leather-like fabrics are a little more delicate, but can still be cleaned. Make a solution of equal parts vinegar and water. Soak a cloth in the solution and wring out as much liquid as you can, so the cloth is barely damp. Then, wipe the surface of the fabric to remove any troublesome odors that are lurking.
Regular bathing is a good idea for dogs and other pets that have an unpleasant odor. Get your pet into a bathtub, wash basin, or bucket. Use a hose or bucket to wet your pet’s fur. Apply pet shampoo to the fur and create a lather with your hands until it’s nice and soapy. Rinse thoroughly to remove all traces of shampoo, and towel dry the fur. They should smell great, and look great as a bonus.
- When washing, pay special attention to the paws, the behind area, and any areas where your pet may have rolled in something.
- Remember to be gentle with your pet. Do not wash your pet’s face, eyes, or ears with shampoo. Shampoo in the eyes can sting, and water in the ears can cause a yeast infection.
Wash Your Pet’s Bed
This site of comfort can also be a site of stubborn pet odors. Luckily, most beds can be machine-washed using a regular cycle and warm or hot water. Tumble dry the bed in the dryer.
Larger beds will likely have a removable cover on them. Wash the cover in the washing machine. To target odors in the stuffing, sprinkle the stuffing with a bit of baking soda. Vacuum off the baking soda, then replace the clean cover.
Wash Your Bedding
If you allow your pets in your bed, it’s important to wash your bedding often and well, since it will likely be harboring pet odors, too. Strip pillowcases, sheets, fitted sheets, duvet covers, and blankets from the bed. Machine wash all the linens and blankets. Add ¼ cup (59 ml) of vinegar to the wash for extra odor-fighting power. Air or tumble dry all the bedding.
- While the linens are being washed, grab your handy baking soda again and sprinkle it over the mattress. Before making the bed, vacuum up the baking soda.
Clean Pet Toys & Accessories
When unwashed and strewn about the house, pet toys and accessories can create unpleasant odors. Wash fabric toys, ropes, towels, collars, and leashes in the washing machine. Tumble dry them in the dryer. Wash hard toys, bowls, and rubber toys in the sink with hot soapy water.
Clean Litter Box
To clean your box, empty its contents into a plastic garbage bag, then scrub the litter box with soap and water. To remove stains and odors that put up a fight, pour some vinegar into the box and let it soak for about 30 minutes. Then, scrub the box with a brush, rinse it out, and let it air dry.
When the box is completely dry, fill it with fresh litter. Pull out your baking soda again and sprinkle some in for extra odor protection. Change your litter monthly.
If you have rats, mice, gerbils, ferrets, rabbits, and other pets that live in cages with bedding, the cage could be making your whole house stink. Gently remove your pet and place the pet somewhere safe, such as a second cage. Then, get to cleaning:
- Empty the contents of the cage and throw out the bedding.
- Clean all toys and bowls.
- Clean the bottom of the cage with soap and water.
- Let the cage air dry.
- Fill the bottom with fresh bedding.
- Replace all toys and dishes.
- Return your pet to the cleaned cage.
Eliminating Odors Around the House
In spring, summer and fall, open windows throughout the house to create a breeze that will blow fresh air in through one window, and bad odors out the other. During cold weather, open one window at a time, and only leave it open for a couple of minutes to help to air out the house.
Trap stinky dander, fur and other odor sources with an air purifier equipped with a HEPA filter. If you have allergies, this solution is doubly awesome because these filters reduce dust and other allergens in the air. Replace the filter in the air purifier every few months, or according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
There are lots of deodorizers that can target pesky pet odors. You can purchase one from the store, or make your own if you’re feeling crafty and thrifty. Two of the most popular ingredients to odor-fighting are baking soda and vinegar, which you can use around the house, on carpets, on beds, and elsewhere to help remove odors.
To make your own deodorizers:
- Fill a spray bottle with plain vinegar. Add five to 10 drops of essential oils if you like, such as lemon, lavender or vanilla. Spray the vinegar throughout the house.
- Add ¼ cup (55 g) of baking soda to a spray bottle and fill it with water. Shake well and spray liberally.
Pick a commercial freshener, or make your own. Either way, you'll have a ton of options, from warm vanilla to fresh citrus. When you opt for commercial sprays, gels or plug-ins, be sure they are specially formulated to be safe for use around pets. Spray it around the house to freshen the air.
You can also make your own air freshener by filling a saucepan with water, citrus peels and your favorite herbs. Bring the water to a boil and let it simmer on the stove to infuse your home with delicious smells.
Preventing Pet Odors
Regular Cleaning Routine
The best way to stop your home from smelling like your pets is to clean regularly and stay on top of messes. A good cleaning routine will include regular vacuuming, floor washing, laundry, and dusting.
For best results:
- Vacuum three times a week.
- Clean hard floors weekly with a vinegar and water solution.
- Dust weekly.
- Do laundry, as necessary, when you have a full load.
- Clean carpets every couple of months.
Try to act as soon as possible to avoid lingering odors. Pick up solid waste and throw it in the garbage. Blot the mess to absorb excess moisture. Spray the mess with an enzyme cleaner and let it sit for 30 minutes. Then, blot the area with a cloth and let it air dry.
Urine, feces and vomit can leave especially troublesome smells, so prioritize these cleanings for a better smelling home.
Wash Toys, Bedding, and Accessories Regularly
Pet odors build up over time, so it’s important to stay on top of cleaning and washing. Wash your pet’s bed, fabric toys, leashes, and collars in the washing machine every month. Wash hard toys every month in the sink with soap and water. Water bowls need more frequent attention, so wash these with soap and water every week.
Keep Pets Well-Groomed
A well-groomed pet not only smells good, but looks good, too. Regularly bathe your pet, clip their nails and brush their teeth. Keeping up with regular grooming can drastically improve the smell of your house, because fur, dirty nails, and even bad breath, can make your house stink.
- Brush your pet every day to remove excess fur and dirt.
- Brush your pet’s teeth at least three times a week for good oral hygiene and fresh breath.
- Bathe your dog at least once a month, and more for dogs with particularly smelly fur.
Wipe Paws Before Entering
Pets love to explore. This brings them a lot of joy, but also means that they can track all kinds of foul substances into the house. To prevent this, leave a towel by the door, and always wipe your pet’s paws when it comes inside. This is especially important on rainy and muddy days, or if your pet has rolled in something outside.
Your pet may have proudly claimed an armchair or a spot on the couch as their own. This special space, or any other furniture where your pet lounges, will need frequent washing to keep the odors at bay. If your pets spend a lot of time on your furniture, it’s a good idea to invest in washable covers, like slip covers. That way, you don’t have to worry about the hassle of vacuuming and scrubbing your furniture. Instead, just throw the cover in the wash.
- You can also invest in easy-to-clean furniture, such as microfiber, that won’t absorb odors and stains like furniture with a thick weave will do.
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