How to Remove Strong Pet Odors from Your Home

Fido and Fluffy are welcome members of your family with free reign across your home. But if you’re not consistent with your cleaning regimen, they can leave an odorous imprint throughout your living spaces that can challenge your olfactory organ.

Put another way: Beware of pet stank, which can overwhelm a home in short order.

“While we all love our pets to bits, their smell not so much. No one wants their house to smell like a wet dog or hamster cage,” says Meg Marrs, a dog trainer in animal shelter volunteer. “Considering that around 60% of US households have a pet, it’s safe to say a good number of us have wrinkled our noses at some point. If your pet is smelling super weird and funky, it can actually be a sign of health issues.”

Curbing unwanted animal scents is important, Kevin Goude, owner of First Choice Heating & Air, says.

“Such smells can make your living spaces less cozy and welcoming. Ideally, a home should have a neutral scent,” he notes.

Strong odors can also indicate poor air quality, which can exacerbate or cause respiratory problems, allergies, and other health issues for both people and pets.

“Persistent odors can be a sign of accumulated pet hair, dander, and potentially urine or feces, which may harbor bacteria and other harmful microorganisms,” explains Andrew Hancock, president of Gilman’s HVAC & Plumbing. “This not only affects a home’s smell but also poses a hygiene risk, potentially leading to infections or illnesses from exposure to bacteria, mold, and fungal growth.”

These risks are particularly high in households with kids, who are more likely to come into contact with contaminated surfaces.

“Strong pet odors can also have social consequences, too. They can be embarrassing, deter guests, and impact the homeowner’s ability to comfortably host social events. And for homeowners looking to sell their property, pet odors can significantly reduce its appeal and value,” cautions Hancock.

That’s why it’s crucial to consistently clean your home and purify the air within. Goude recommends steam cleaning carpets and furniture to remove deep-seated odors, using a mixture of water and vinegar to wash floors and walls, and ensuring the pet’s litter box or waste area is cleaned daily to prevent odors from building up. Marrs advises regularly vacuuming and mopping your home and consistently laundering your pet’s bedding, blankets, and toys, as well.

“Adding air purification is a great option for pet owners. An air purifier using a high-efficiency HVAC HEPA filter helps capture pet dander. And adding bipolar air ionization technology (BPI) tubes to your home’s HVAC system can also eradicate pet odors,” suggests Tony Abate, an indoor air quality expert and vice president/CTO at AtmosAir Solutions.

Using older neutralizers and air fresheners can also be beneficial, assuming they are pet-safe products.

“Moreover, ongoing house training for pets, especially to prevent indoor accidents, is vital. For cats, this includes regular cleaning and maintenance of litter boxes,” recommends Hancock.

Indeed, feline urine is among the strongest and toughest pet odors to eliminate, especially if it has penetrated deeply into services like carpets, upholstery, and wood, in which case heavy-duty enzymatic cleaners are usually necessary.

Additionally, aim to regularly groom and maintain pet dental care to keep your dog or cat smelling fresh.

“My dog used to be terrified of baths, and as a result, I didn’t bathe him as much as I should have. But this year I’ve made it a priority to slowly desensitize him to the bath so that it’s less stressful for him,” says Marrs.

Lastly, remember to keep your home well-ventilated.

“Enhancing ventilation through regular use of fans, opening windows, and possibly installing an air exchange system can help eradicate these odors by constantly replacing foul-spelling error with fresh air from outside,” Goude adds.