How To Really Get Rid of Pet Smells - Not Just Hide Them

The trick to ridding a home of any bad odor is to remove (not cover) the source of them. As far as pets are concerned, I’m not suggesting you give them away! Decomposing matter is the main cause of bad odors (aside from pet bathroom accidents). “Doggy odor” is also caused by their body oils, dander and salvia.


Rather than using chemical products that are harmful to both pets and humans to mask odors (such as scented sprays and candles or products containing beta-cyclodextrin that temporally neutralize them) it is far better to properly clean the odor’s source with pet friendly cleaning products.

Equipment Needed

  • Brush

  • Towel

  • Vacuum

  • Mop

  • Static floor duster

  • Chair cover or blanket

  • Washable blanket or towel

  • Pet bed with cover

  • Enzymatic cleaner or enzymatic laundry additive

  • Bed with decorative cushions

  • Pet bowls (elevated bowl holder)

  • Dishwashing liquid

  • Litter Box (with charcoal activated filter and swing door)

  • Bag of litter

  • Litter Scoop

  • Gloves

  • Dust mask

  • HAVC Systems, ductwork filter, more advanced air filtering. Ultraviolet light air purifying lamp.

  • Pet Toys

  • Collar

  • Leash

  • Coats

Steps Involved

1. Start with your pet.

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Simply put, if your pet smells it is spreading the odor every minute it’s in your home and any efforts to remove the odor are a waste of time

  • Groom your pet regularly.

  • Consult your vet, but washing it monthly with a pet shampoo should be enough

  • Brush daily (preferably outdoors) if possible or as frequently as you can, this will also lessen the amount of fur deposited around your home.

  • Dry your pet’s fur and paws thoroughly when wet

2. Medical considerations.

  • If you pet has odor even with frequent grooming the cause could be medical so take your pet to a veterinary physician for a check up.

  • Possible causes:

    • Yeast or bacterial skin infection

    • Clogged anal glands

    • Ear problems

    • Mouth and dental

3. Housework

Frequently cleaning the pet’s favorite resting spots and floors are essential for removing odors. This will remove hair, dander and their natural oils, which can cause odors.

Flooring. Clean daily or least weekly

  • Vacuum carpet and area rugs. Professional clean annually.

  • Hard floors. Vacuum or dust with a static floor duster

  • Baseboards can be vacuumed with a brush attachment or dusted with a static (microfiber) cloth

  • Use the vacuum’s crevice tool where the carpet meets the baseboard and any other joints or hard to reach areas where fur and dander can accumulate.



If you pet is particularly messy, protect upholstery with a washable cover. Clean as needed or periodically. Protect frequently used areas with a washable blanket, towel or other fabric that can be washed on a regular basis, preferably on a hot wash.



Wash wherever the pet likes to sleep, including the owners’ bed.

  • On pet beds remove any covers or wash the whole bed if the padding has odors. Wash weekly or more if the pet is old or messy. Shake the excess hair of (preferably outdoors) or vacuum. Follow the instructions on the care label and wash using the hottest temperature allowed.

  • If odors persist spray the sleeping surfaces with a pet friendly enzymatic cleaner or use an enzymatic laundry additive (Nature’s Miracle for example).

  • If the dog sleeps on (or in) your bed follow the same directions as above, it's a good idea to wash (or dry-clean) everything on the bed including decorative cushions.

  • Drying or simply airing out pet bedding outside in the fresh air and sun will freshen it, and sun will reduce or stop bacterial growth

4. Feeding Areas & Bowls

  • The mixture of pet food and the pet’s salvia is a haven for bacteria and can be splashed around the feeding area. Dog drool can be particularity odorous and messy (think Turner and Hooch), feeding outside and wiping the drool away before it reaches any area of the home is an easy way to prevent it. Keep water bowls on an easily cleaned floor.

  • Wash the food bowl, placemat if used, the surrounding floor (cabinets or wall if near) and elevated bowl holder after meal times with hot soapy water.

  • The water bowl should be washed as often as possible especially if it is shared (at least once a day).

5.  Litter Box

  • The odor from a dirty litter box is terrible but easily rectified. Cats are generally very clean animals and like us appreciate a clean bathroom.

  •  Cat feces can contain the dangerous virus Toxoplasmosis, so it’s advisable to wear gloves and a dust mask when dealing with the litter box.

  • Using an enclosed litter box (yes cats like privacy too) with a charcoal activated filter and a swing door will prevent odors leaking. 

  • Scoop at least once a day (preferably immediately after an event)

  • If the litter is flushable dispose of the waste using the toilet, otherwise throw it away in the outdoor trashcan, not indoors. Then clean the scooping utensil.

  • Even if you use a liner change the litter weekly and wash the whole of the litter box with hot soapy water (preferably outdoors). Do not use harsh chemicals as they can harm the cat and any chemical odor may put the off using it

  • Dry the litter box thoroughly before adding fresh litter

6.  HVAC Systems

  • Even though your pet may be clean and healthy and your rooms and furnishings sterile your HVAC systems ductwork may be full of pet hair and dander, if you notice the odor more when the fan is blowing (or simple directly sniff the air coming out of a vent) have the ducts cleaned.

  • Another cure is to change the filter or even have a more advanced air filtering system installed. Another upgrade to consider for your HVAC system is an ultraviolet light air purifying lamp, which will kill mold and bacteria in the air as it passes through the air handler.

7.  Toys, Collars, Leashes & Coats

  • Frequently overlooked these items can pack an odor punch.

  • Toys are full of bacteria and can even contain food particles and should be washed weekly, more if you pet has a mouth infection or halitosis. Wash hard toys in hot soap water and machine wash soft toys. Line dry or leave in the sun

  • Collars and leashes should be washed monthly with dishwashing soap.

  • Coats should be washed weekly, close any fasteners such as Velcro and throw them in the washer with the bedding and soft toys.

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