How to Get Dog Pee Out of Carpet and Other Accident-Prone Spots

Updated: May 31, 2024

Accidents happen! But don't worry—here's how to get dog pee out of carpet, upholstery and more, according to cleaning experts.

House-training a puppy, taking in an unruly stray or caring for an older dog requires love, patience and a lot of cleaning. Accidents (of the pee variety) will happen, and if you have carpeting, you’ll be cursing the day you decided against plank flooring. The bottom line: You need to know how to get dog pee out of carpet. The good news is that dogs and carpets have been coexisting for years, and cleaning experts have loads of tips to help.

The bad news? “The smell of urine and feces is reinforcing for dogs,” according to veterinarian and pet behaviorist Amanda E. Florsheim, DVM, owner of Veterinary Behavior Solutions in Carrollton, Texas. That means once a dog picks a spot and goes there, it’s likely to go there again if you don’t take the proper measures. Cleaning the pee spot all the way down to the floor is the first step, but you’ll also need to adjust your dog’s behavior.

Reader’s Digest spoke with three carpet cleaning experts and Dr. Florsheim to help you fix this urgent, and potentially recurrent, problem. Yes, sometimes old or large pee stains are tough to remove, and you may have to hire a pro or even replace the carpet. But let’s cross that bridge when we get there—hopefully, never. Ahead, you’ll learn the right way to get dog pee (and pee smell) out of your carpet and other soft surfaces like upholstery and dog bedding.

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About the experts

  • Amanda E. Florsheim, DVM, is a veterinarian and pet behaviorist who owns Veterinary Behavior Solutions in Carrollton, Texas. A graduate of the University of Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Florsheim is the only vet in the Dallas–Forth Worth area whose practice focuses exclusively on behavior medicine.
  • Jeff Cross is a certified master textile cleaner and carpet-cleaning authority. Currently the media director for ISSA, the worldwide cleaning industry association, Cross is regularly featured in cleaning-industry publications and hosts the ISSA cleaning podcast Straight Talk. Cross previously ran his own carpet cleaning and restoration business.
  • Brandon Pleshek is a professional janitor who helms the brand Clean That Up. Pleshek has more than 20 years of experience in the cleaning industry, and he offers his millions of followers proven cleaning tips learned from three generations of cleaning professionals.
  • Karen Cady is the program manager of the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) Seal of Approval program, which scientifically tests and certifies carpet-cleaning solutions, vacuums and extractors.

What to do before you start stain removal

  • Remove your dog from the area. Don’t scold your dog or “rub his nose in it,” says Dr. Florsheim. Dogs will not put two and two together about the pee and why you’re mad. Just lead your dog into another room or outside while you get to work.
  • Jump on stains immediately. While it is possible to remove dried dog pee from carpet, “fresh urine is easier to remove, by far,” says Jeff Cross, a cleaning expert from ISSA, a trade group for cleaning professionals. (FYI, the same is true when trying to remove dog poop from carpet.)
  • Know your carpeting. Is it silk, wool, synthetic? It’s important to find out, because some cleaners aren’t suitable for certain fibers. Once you know, check the label of your cleaner. The “label is the law” when it comes to cleaning products, according to professional janitor Brandon Pleshek. “Make sure to read it, and use as directed.”
  • Test for colorfastness. Your carpet’s already covered in pee—don’t wreck it further by spraying an untested chemical all over it. First, test the cleaning solution on an inconspicuous area. This is especially important if you don’t know what kind of carpeting you have.
  • Soak up the pee. No matter what cleaning method you use, you need to get up as much of the urine as possible, Pleshek says. So stock up on plain white paper towels, which will get the job done and prevent color transfer.

How to get dog pee out of carpet with enzymatic cleaner

spraying pet cleaner onto the carpet stainsefa ozel/getty images

Every expert we consulted praised enzymatic cleaners, since they work by “digesting” the pee on your carpet. “But you need to follow the directions exactly,” says Cross. Some require diluting, while others should be used at full strength. Certain formulations can be used in a carpet-cleaning machine; others are made just for spraying. You’ll also need to give them ample time to work.

Supplies you’ll need

  • Enzymatic carpet cleaner
  • Plain white paper towels, or towels
  • Vacuum cleaner


  1. Read the label, since instructions may vary slightly from brand to brand.
  2. Using an absorbent towel or lots of paper towels, soak up as much pee as possible.
  3. Dilute the enzymatic cleaner as directed on the package, or apply it at full strength if indicated.
  4. Saturate the pee spot. Make sure the solution reaches all the way to the base of the carpet.
  5. Allow the cleaner to sit for the recommended amount of time, usually about 10 to 15 minutes (to start).
  6. Blot the spot with a towel to remove excess liquid.
  7. Allow the spot to dry for 24 hours. The enzymes will keep working as long as there’s pee to digest. Keep pets away during this time.
  8. Once the time is up, vacuum to remove cleaner residue.
  9. If you still see a stain or smell an odor, re-saturate the spot with the enzymatic cleaner. Lift up the carpeting to saturate the pad or floor for best results.
  10. Allow to dry completely, usually for 24 hours. Many enzyme cleaners do not require rinsing, but double-check to make sure.

How to get dog pee out of carpet with dish soap and vinegar

adding dish soap to bowl for cleaningfcafotodigital/getty images

Out of enzymatic cleaner? Cleaning expert Karen Cady of the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) Seal of Approval program says that simple homemade cleaners, like a solution of vinegar and liquid dish soap, can also get dog pee out of carpet. Vinegar works because it can break down uric acid, which is what makes d0g pee smell, and also neutralize bacteria. Like enzymatic cleaner, this method works best on fresh pee.

Before we dive into the directions, a few important notes: Don’t use dish soap that contains bleach or lanolin, Cady says. Bleach could discolor the carpet, and lanolin could make the stain worse. And only use liquid dish soap, never dishwasher detergent or laundry detergent. For more CRI-certified cleaners, check out the CRI database, or look for the CRI seal of approval on the package.

Supplies you’ll need

  • Dish soap
  • Plain white paper towels
  • Small bowl
  • White vinegar


  1. Remove as much pee as you can by blotting the area with plain white paper towels.
  2. Mix a solution of 1/4 teaspoon dish soap and 1 cup lukewarm water. Work up some suds.
  3. Dunk a clean paper towel into the solution, and repeatedly blot the stain. Use a fresh spot of the towel each time to avoid transferring pee back to the carpet.
  4. Wet fresh paper towels with lukewarm water. Blot the area repeatedly to rinse it. Move to a new spot of the paper towel each time, until the area is no longer soapy.
  5. Reapply the dish-soap solution. Continue rinsing and blotting with the solution and water as long as you see the stain getting better, or there’s no more pee transferred to the towel, Cady says.
  6. Next, mix a solution of 1 cup white vinegar and 2 cups water. Saturate clean paper towels with the vinegar-and-water solution, and dab it onto the stain. Make sure the solution reaches all the fibers. (Don’t rinse.)
  7. With a fresh paper towel, blot the area dry. Then “apply a half-inch layer of paper towels to the affected area, and weigh down with a flat, heavy, non-fading object,” Cady says.
  8. Change the paper towels frequently until the area is completely dry—possibly 24 hours or more.

How to get dried dog pee out of carpet

Human Cleaning Carpet In The Living Room Using Vacuum Cleaner At HomeMariakray/Getty Images

Dried pee can be very challenging to remove. Your dog is likely to smell and revisit the pee spot, and it doesn’t smell so great for you either. Urine is mostly water, but it’s the other stuff, particularly uric acid, that binds to the fibers (and smells) as the pee dries. “Unless an area is cleaned with a good enzymatic cleaner, dogs can still smell the small remnants that regular cleaning can leave behind,” Dr. Florsheim says. That’s why Pleshek recommends an enzymatic cleaner, combined with a carpet-cleaning machine or attachment that fits on a wet-dry vacuum, and he walks us through the steps below.

Supplies you’ll need

  • Enzymatic pet stain cleaner concentrate for carpet machines
  • Carpet-cleaning machine, or wet-dry vacuum attachment


  1. Dilute the cleaner 50-50 with water, or as indicated on your carpet-cleaning concentrate.
  2. Saturate the stain completely, all the way to the base of the carpet.
  3. Let it sit for 35 minutes to an hour. “The key here is to let the enzymes work,” Pleshek says.
  4. Suck the cleaner out of the carpet with the machine or attachment. (Pleshek recommends the SOS Sub Surface Carpet Extraction Tool.)
  5. Rinse, if indicated on the cleaner. Dump out the dirty extracted water, and fill the machine with fresh water. Make passes over the area until the machine no longer extracts any dirty cleaning solution.
  6. Dry the carpet completely, which could take 24 hours or more. Use fans to speed things along.

Pro tip
If you don’t have a carpet-cleaning machine or proper attachment, follow the enzymatic-cleaner directions for fresh pee, and make sure the cleaner reaches all the way to the pad. If pee remains behind, your dog will smell it, and you may need to keep him out of the area to prevent him from peeing there again.

How to get dog pee out of upholstery

spraying cleaner onto a grey couch to clean dog peeskaman306/getty images

Cross says to clean upholstery the same way you clean carpeting, but use more care so you don’t damage the thinner fabric on couches and chairs. The first rule is to check your furniture’s care label. Some fabrics and fill material must be dry-cleaned, while others can tolerate carpet shampoos and water. If your furniture has a removable cover or slipcover, take it off and clean it as indicated on the label. You may be able to toss it in the wash, although a gentle cycle is probably in order.

If you don’t have a washable slipcover, follow the steps below, but remember that your specific label should always reign. Furniture is expensive, so always test a small area in an inconspicuous spot before proceeding, especially if you’re not sure.

Supplies you’ll need

  • Enzymatic cleaner, carpet shampoo, dish soap or vinegar
  • Plain white towels or paper towels
  • Small bowl


  1. Blot the stain with paper towels or towels to absorb as much liquid as possible. If you get to it quickly, it may not soak into the cushion.
  2. Remove the cushion cover or slipcover if you can. This will make it easier to assess how far the pee has penetrated, as well as let you wash and dry the cover separately, whether by hand or in the washing machine.
  3. If pee has penetrated the foam, spray the spot with enzymatic cleaner, fully saturating it. Follow the instructions on the cleaner.
  4. If you can’t remove and/or wash the cover in the machine, and it doesn’t say “dry clean only,” apply enzyme cleaner to the cover and cushion. Allow it to work for the recommended amount of time, generally 10 to 15 minutes to start.
  5. Blot to remove excess cleaner, and allow it to dry for 24 hours. If necessary, repeat the application. Do not rinse unless the cleaner says to do so.
  6. Alternatively, mix 1/4 teaspoon dish soap and 1 cup warm water; 1 cup vinegar to 2 cups water; or a spot cleaner that’s approved for upholstery.
  7. Apply, blot and rinse the spot and cushion until you no longer see or smell pee on the towels or cushion. Use a fresh section of the towel each time to avoid transferring pee back to the upholstery. Make a new solution if it gets dirty.
  8. Do a final rinse by blotting with fresh water and paper towels.
  9. Dry the cover and furniture thoroughly before replacing the cover or using the couch or chair.

How to get dog pee out of dog beds

Gettyimages 1979924245 Clean Dog Bed JveditYauheni Batsianouski/getty images

Your dog’s bed probably smells pretty bad on a good day, but the addition of pee? No thanks. Hopefully, the bed has a removable cover. (If not, someone really should have a word with that dog-bed manufacturer.) Sop up any pooled pee, carefully take off the cover and launder it. Air out the bed while the cover gets clean. If pee soaked into the foam or fill, here’s what to do.

Supplies you’ll need

  • Mild laundry detergent
  • Bathtub or large sink


  1. Read the care label on the bed. You may be able to wash the entire bed in the washing machine.
  2. If not, fill your bathtub about a third of the way with cool water. Add a small amount of mild, pet-safe laundry detergent, and swirl it around.
  3. Submerge the entire dog bed in the water, and squeeze to get the soap into the foam.
  4. Soak for 15 minutes, then squeeze and agitate to clean the pee from the cushion.
  5. Rinse well by draining and refilling the bathtub until no soapy residue remains. Squeeze out as much excess water as you can.
  6. Air-dry outside, if possible. Alternatively, your dog bed might be able to go in the dryer on low; check the label, and if so, toss in some tennis balls or dryer balls to fluff it. Another option is to use a drying rack or hang it indoors in a well-ventilated area until completely dry.

How to get a dog to stop peeing in the house

Jack Russell puppy waiting by the door to go outsideStephM2506/Getty Images

Cleaning up after your dog is a labor of love, but let’s be real: You need your dog to stop peeing in the house. That’s easier said than done, of course, but getting all the pee out of the carpet and upholstery will help. Remember, dogs aren’t trying to pee in the wrong place—they actually think it’s the right place to go! If you want to spend less time cleaning up after your dog, you need to figure out the root of the problem. If the peeing is new, says Dr. Florsheim, take your dog to the vet “to help rule out problems like bladder infections, stones and pain.”

If everything checks out medically, here are some strategies that can help eliminate accidents.

  • House-train your dog. Every time your dog goes to the bathroom in the house, it is self-reinforcing. They have pressure from their bladder or colon, they go, and then they feel better. That’s a powerful reward, Dr. Florsheim says. That’s why she doesn’t advise using pee pads, unless you always plan to have them available (for their entire life).
  • Use positive reinforcement. Just like peeing feels good to your dog, so does your praise. Never yell at or strike your dog. “Instead, if you catch them in the act, interrupt them as neutrally as you can and redirect them outside,” Dr. Florsheim says. If you find the pee even a second after your dog is done, it’s too late. Just clean it up and work on house-training.
  • Go outside with your dog. “The best way to encourage a dog to go where you want them to is to go with them,” according to Dr. Florsheim. When your pup pees outside, give plenty of praise and a high-value treat. Reward “right as you dog finishes going, not when they come back in the house,” Dr. Florsheim says, or they’ll associate the reward with coming inside and may not even go!
  • Reduce anxiety. Marking, or peeing on things deliberately, can be a sign of stress due to other dogs in the home, or even people your dog is wary of. Does it happen at certain times of day? Is it the weather? Try to narrow down the triggers, and talk to your vet about ways to reduce your dog’s anxiety.
  • Be patient. Dogs newly introduced to your home may have trouble adjusting to the feel of new grass or turf, or strange noises. And puppies and dogs from mills or other abusive conditions may have never seen or felt grass at all, Dr. Florsheim says. They don’t know the yard is for peeing until you show them and reinforce the good behavior.


Cute Chihuahua puppy near wet spot on rug indoorsLiudmila Chernetska/Getty Images

What kills the smell of dog urine in carpet?

Enzymatic cleaners (also called enzyme cleaners). While you can buy any number of products that promise to get rid of odor, they often just mask it. Then, “in times of high humidity, the odor may reappear,” Cady says. Enzymes actually digest the molecules that make up the stain and smell, allowing their byproducts to evaporate. By using an enzyme cleaner correctly, you’re really getting rid of every last drop of pee. No more smells, for you or your dog.

Why does my carpet still smell like pee after cleaning?

Quite simply, because there’s still pee in it. If you don’t get every last bit of pee out out of your carpet, it changes over time and gives off really toxic-smelling odors. Cross says it’s chemistry. “Over time, urine changes from an acid to an alkaline, and that’s why you get the ammonia smell,” he explains. “This is really tough to remove.” If you haven’t tried an enzyme cleaner, do. If it still smells like pee, repeat, lifting up the carpet to get underneath. If that fails, call a pro.

Will vinegar stop a dog peeing in the same spot?

Maybe, maybe not. Vinegar is a great cleaner and it does neutralize the pee odor, but dogs have incredible senses of smell. To really destroy the reason they are coming back to the same spot, use an enzyme cleaner, which leaves nothing behind if used correctly.

Does dog pee destroy carpet?

It can. If you clean fresh pee right away and dry your carpet completely, it will likely be fine. But repeated peeing that’s allowed to sit and soak? That’s definitely going to wreck your carpet. Dog pee reacts with the dyes in the carpet, and prolonged moisture can cause delamination, where the carpet fibers separate from the backing, according to the CRI. Then there’s the smell. Clean up pee immediately for the best chance of success.

If you’ve tried these methods to remove pee and your carpet still stinks, or it’s discolored, bleached or fraying, call a professional. If the problem is confined to one area, they may be able to patch the carpet. Otherwise, you might need to buy a new one.

Why trust us

At Reader’s Digest, we’re committed to producing high-quality content by writers with expertise and experience in their field in consultation with relevant, qualified experts. For this piece on how to get dog pee out of carpet, Ally Childress tapped her experience as a home and cleaning journalist, and then Ann Russell, TikTok’s “cleaning auntie” and the author of How to Clean Everything, gave it a rigorous review to ensure that all information is accurate and offers the best possible advice to readers. We relied on reputable primary sources, including carpet-cleaning experts and a veterinary behaviorist, verified all facts and data and backed them with credible sourcing, and we will revisit them over time to ensure they remain accurate and up to date. Read more about our team, our contributors and our editorial policies.   


  • Karen Cady, program manager, CRI Seal of Approval program; email interview, Feb. 5, 2024
  • Jeff Cross, media director at ISSA; email interview, Feb. 1, 2024
  • Amanda E. Florsheim, DVM, veterinarian and owner of Veterinary Behavior Solutions; email interview, Feb. 6, 2024
  • Brandon Pleshek, janitor and cleaning expert at Clean That Up; phone interview, 2022
  • CRI Technical Bulletin: “Pet Urine and Carpet”