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Cleaning urine from your carpet incorrectly can lead to permanent stains, foul odors, and repeat accidents. Follow these simple steps to keep your floors looking and smelling fresh after your pet has an unexpected accident.

By Faith Brar
March 25, 2021
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No matter how well potty trained your pet might be, accidents happen—and more often than not, they happen on rugs and carpets. These easy steps will teach you how to clean pet pee from your floors and share safe and effective cleaning products you should be using to do so. Plus, learn how you can work with your pet to avoid repeat accidents in the future.

Why Is My Dog or Cat Peeing on the Carpet?

There are a number of reasons why your pet might be having accidents inside. If you're still in the process of potty training your kitten or puppy, inconvenient urination shouldn't come as a complete surprise. House training is something that takes time and requires a lot of patience. That said, if it's becoming an uncontrollable issue, it's best to reach out to a certified trainer or veterinary behaviorist for advice.

Some pets also suffer from bladder inconsistency as they age. For instance, dogs with dementia may simply forget their house training and think your carpet is just as good as peeing outside. But, if your young, potty-trained pet keeps having accidents on the carpet, something else might be at play. Be sure to check with your vet to rule out any underlying medical conditions like diabetes, urinary tract issues, kidney disease, or Cushing's syndrome—all of which can lead to bladder incontinence.

Finally, if your pet keeps peeing on the same spot on your carpet, it's likely that you didn't entirely remove the smell from previous incidents. If your pooch or kitty is still able to smell their own scent, you're risking a repeat accident. So you must be sure that the odor is gone.

If you find yourself needing to clean up a dog or cat pee stain from your carpet though, luckily it's not a very difficult task when done correctly.

Pet Stain Cleaning Tools You'll Need to Get Started

Before you start scrubbing, make sure you have all the cleaning supplies you need to clean your rug or carpet while keeping proper hygiene in mind.

  • Rubber gloves 
  • Paper towel
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Empty spray bottle 
  • Baking soda
  • Dish sponge 
  • Trash can nearby
red cockapoo looks up at camera
Credit: Sally Anscombe / Getty

5 Steps to Clean Pet Urine Stains from Carpet and Rugs

"With any stain, it's best to tend to it and treat it as soon as possible for the best results," says Chris Albers, Marketing Director at Carbona, a stain-removal product company.

The following steps will help you clean pee stains from the carpet effectively so that you don't have any leftover residue:

1. Soak Up the Urine 

Using a thick layer of paper towel, blot the stain to remove as much moisture as possible.

2. Apply Distilled White Vinegar and Water

Distilled white vinegar is the go-to household item to get rid of pet urine stains. "Dilute vinegar with water for a 1:1 ratio and spray on the stain," recommends Caitlin Sole, senior associate home editor for Better Homes and Gardens online. To make sure the vinegar is safe on your area rug or carpet, first spot-test on a small corner or discreet area, Sole adds.

3. Let It Sit 

Once applied, let the vinegar sit for a few minutes before blotting dry. Repeat as necessary to remove odors.

4. Ensure That All Odors Are Gone

Baking soda is an excellent ingredient to help eliminate stubborn odors for good. "Sprinkle it on your rug or carpet as needed, and let it sit for at least 15 minutes or longer for set-in odors," Sole says. The editor, who owns a Great Pyrenees, will sometimes let the baking soda sit overnight for best results.

5. Vacuum 

Once the area is dry, thoroughly vacuum the carpet to remove any excess baking soda and check the stain to make sure it's really gone.

How to Handle Old or Seriously Stubborn Pee Stains 

In an ideal world, you'd catch your pet in action, but there are times when it takes days to notice a pee stain on your carpet. In that case, you might need to level up and use an over-the-counter enzyme-based cleaner.

Carbona's Oxy-Powered Pet Stain & Odor Remover, for instance, is an enzyme-based cleaner that removes cat and dog pee stains and neutralizes odors to keep pets from returning to the scene for repeat accidents. Rocco & Roxie's Stain and Odor Eliminator is also a popular choice among pet parents to remove urine stains and smells.

For safety purposes, when it comes to using any carpet cleaning product, the key is to allow the carpet to dry completely before allowing your pet to return to the area. "This will help to prevent the risk of skin irritation or gastrointestinal upset,"  says Tina Wismer, DVM, Senior Director, ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.

"Proper use of carpet deodorizing products should not cause significant harm or injury to pets," she adds. "Should your pet accidentally come in contact with the freshly applied product, we recommend washing the paws with mild soap and water to avoid minor skin irritation."

If your dog or cat inhales carpet cleaner, it could result in a mild upset stomach and minor respiratory irritation, which could lead to sneezing, coughing, or a runny nose, Wismer says. "That's why it's a good idea to keep pets out of the room until after you have vacuumed up all of the product," she explains. 

For persistent urine smells, you might even want to consider treating your carpet with a wet/dry vac, Sole says. These can come in handy, especially when it comes to cat urine, which can be particularly hard to clean. If you choose to go the vacuum route, there are several pet-specific models available, but Sole swears by the Hoover SmartWash+ PET Complete Automatic Carpet Cleaner. If you're not about the hefty price tag, you can also rent one of these vacs for the occasional major mishap. They are highly effective in removing deep pet pee stains and smells, says Sole.