How to Get Urine Smell Out of Carpet and Padding

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Urine stains can happen whether you have a puppy who is house training, a senior dog with incontinence issues or even a potty-training child. Urine on carpet can cause staining and leave behind a bad odor that doesn't go away on its own. Tackling the stain and removing all remnants of the urine as quickly as possible is essential to getting urine smell out of carpet.

How to Get Urine Smell Out of Carpet and Padding
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Why the Urine Smell Stays

Why is urine in carpet such a stinky mess? As the urine dries, it crystallizes, and those crystals are what cause the smell. Urine stains also promote bacterial growth, which can add to the smell. When those remnants get trapped in carpet fibers, under the carpet, in the padding and even in the subfloor, the smell sticks around until you remove them.

Finding Pet Urine Stains

If you're lucky, you'll see the accident take place, and you'll know where to clean immediately. A fresh accident will still be wet, which is another way to locate where you need to clean. What about older urine stains or spots you miss?

A UV light is a handy tool for seeing all of the urine stains in your carpet. Scan the floor with the UV light shining in all the different areas to find dog pee on carpet and other surfaces, such as baseboards and walls. The light illuminates any urine stains, so they're easy to spot.

Soak Up Fresh Urine

For a wet urine spot, start by soaking up as much of the urine as you can before it dries and soaks deeper into the padding. Use a cloth or paper towel to soak it up by pressing on the area, but don't rub the rag around. Keep blotting with clean cloths or fresh paper towels to get out as much urine as possible.

You can also use baking soda or corn starch to help soak up the urine. Sprinkle the powder on the wet area to cover the surface completely and let it sit for at least 30 minutes. Vacuum up the baking soda or corn starch. You may need to use other methods of cleaning to completely remove the stain and smell, but soaking up some of the urine first makes the job easier.

Use a Wet Vac or Water

Renting a wet vac may help remove a lot of the dog urine odor from your carpet. Clean the carpet with the wet vac according to manufacturer instructions using plain, clean water. If you don't have access to a wet vac, you can blot the area with clean, cool water using clean rags. Use dry cloths to soak up the water and dry the carpet.

Don't confuse a wet vac with a steam vac. If you use a steam vac, you're actually helping to set the urine stain and odor because of the heat. A steam vac can actually make the problem worse.

Clean With Enzymatic Cleaners

The best carpet cleaner for old pet urine or fresh stains that don't come out with water is an enzymatic cleaner. These cleaning products help neutralize the odor by breaking down the urine molecules. Follow the instructions on the cleaner, which usually needs to sit on the stain for a while to work. Sometimes, urine stains require multiple applications of the cleaner to completely remove the odor.

If your carpet has old cleaner in it, it may interfere with the enzymatic cleaner. Using this type of cleaner after using a wet vac with plain water may help it work better.

Pet Odor in Carpet Pad

If the urine soaks through to the carpet pad, you may find it difficult to remove the smell with cleaners alone. Surface carpet cleaners can't get to the urine crystals and bacteria that are trapped below the carpet in the pad and in the subfloor. Completely getting rid of pet odor in carpet pad often requires pulling up the carpet and replacing the pad.

In some cases, the urine can soak through to the subfloor, which causes stains and traps the smell in the wood. If you pull up the carpet and padding, look at the subfloor to spot signs of urine stains. You may need to cut away the urine-stained section of subfloor and replace it with new wood to rid your home of the smell completely.


Shelley Frost combines her love of DIY and writing in her freelance career. She has first-hand experience with tiling, painting, refinishing hardwood floors, installing lighting, roofing and many other home improvement projects. She keeps her DIY skills fresh with regular projects around the house and extensive writing work on the topic.

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