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How To Remove Dog Smell and Pee Stains From Your Car (Step-By-Step)

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This article is here to show you exactly how to remove the dog smell from your car using a simple step-by-step guide. We also discuss how to get the pee smell out of your car and remove pet urine stains from car upholstery and seats. Sometimes unpleasant odors disappear due to leaving the windows down. However, there are methods you can use to get your vehicle smelling fresh and keep the dirt away.

Adventuring and taking a road trip with your dog will inevitably lead to the collection of mud, river water, drool, urine, poop, and other types of dirt in your car. You may also need to remove dog hair from your car after a journey. Your canine companion will pick up all sorts from walks and dog parks, and there is nothing worse than that lingering smell. This guide explains how to remove the wet dog smell from your car.

Car upholstery is made of thick material and the floors are carpeted, so the moisture from them, unfortunately, gets absorbed into the fibers and leaves nasty lingering smells. Luckily there is a lot you can do, so read on to have your car interiors smelling clean in no time.

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How to remove dog smell from your car step-by-step

Remove dog smell and stains step by step guide
Remove dog smell and stains step by step guide

Remove the wet dog smell from your car by first getting rid of the dog hair. Clean out urine and stains from car upholstery and carpets using baking soda paste, white vinegar spray, or bio-enzymatic cleaner. Next, eliminate airborne odors by leaving a bowl of baking soda in the car overnight. Finally, deep clean your car and replace air vent filters if smells persist.

Ingested in large quantities, baking soda can be harmful and fatal for your dog. protect their safety by keeping it (and other products) out of their reach.

Step 1: Remove dog hair and personal items from the car

Clear the car of your things and make sure your dog isn’t in the car either. First, remove the dog hair from the car and other bulky bits of dirt using a vacuum. Wash your dog’s blankets, carrier, hammock, or crate separately to get them smelling fresh and ready for their next use in your vehicle.

Step 2: Remove urine stains and pee smells

Urine accidents and other stains on the car upholstery or carpets need attention, as they’ll carry a stronger smell. Make a paste of 3 parts baking soda (75g) to 1 part water (25ml) and rub it with a cloth into the affected car upholstery. Leave to dry and vacuum away the residue. Alternatively, lightly spray a white vinegar mix (half vinegar half water) or a bio-enzyme cleaner and rub with a cloth.

Rocco & Roxie Supply Co does a top-rated bio-enzyme cleaning product. For leather seats, use a specific leather cleaning product and a very soft-bristled brush. The vinegar mix can also be used, but do a small patch test first.

Step 3: Remove airborne odor particles

As well as being embedded in stains, and the interiors and surfaces of the car, dog odor can remain airborne. A bowl of baking soda (approx 230g) can be left in the car overnight to absorb and neutralize the air smells. Discard, replace, and repeat this method for a night or 2 more if needed. Febreeze is also recommended product for spritzing around the car to eliminate bad smells.

Step 4: Remove dog smell from air vents

Sometimes, the wet dog smells can circulate into the vents and linger even after previous steps are taken. If this is the case and you sniff the unpleasant odor coming through the AC unit, you will need to replace the air vent filters. Take your car to a professional mechanic to get this job done.

Step 5: Deep clean upholstery and carpets

Spray an all-purpose cleaner or mild soap and water over the car upholstery and carpets; rubbing with a heavy-duty upholstery brush and mopping up with a microfibre cloth. If you’re wanting to be very thorough, you could invest in a steam cleaner or take your car to a car detailer if you want a professional, spotless finish.

For leather interiors, use a specific leather cleaner or conditioner and a soft-bristled brush.

Step 6: Use a car seat cover and safety belt for future easy cleaning

Once your car is clear of dog smells and stains, it is a good idea to future protect your vehicle interiors. Next time you take your dog in the car for a walk or road trip, be sure to use a car seat hammock to cover the surface of the back car seat. A seat belt and harness will also keep your dog secure and safe.

Step 7: Use a high-quality shampoo to keep your dog smelling fresh

This step helps your dog to smell fresh and keep clean Even when they get wet or dirty, the cleaner they are in the first place, the less your car will stain and smell. Preventative Vet advises that shampooing your dog once a month is sufficient.

Check out our article on Road Tripping With A Dog.

Further details on removing dog smell from a car

How to remove dog smells and stains from car
How to remove dog smells and stains from car

Dogs will cause varying degrees of stains and smells, and have different severity of urine and poop accidents, so you may need to repeat certain steps, or use a combination of shop-bought products and homemade solutions in your car.

Baking soda and white vinegar are cheap household ingredients, naturally deodorizing as they absorb unpleasant-smelling molecules from the air. If you are on a budget, they are especially useful and highly recommended as a starting point for eliminating awful wet dog smells.

If you are looking to purchase a product, bio-enzymatic cleaners can be found on Amazon and contain bacteria that eat away at the odor-causing grime, urine, poop, etc. As they dry, they take away the odor. These can be used instead of, or in addition to baking soda, and white vinegar mix.

For embedded and stubborn odor-causing dog dirt, car detailers do recommend a brush attachment on a handheld drill to assist you in really working into the upholstery. However, elbow grease and a microfibre cloth should do the trick if you don’t want to spend too much.

How to remove dog urine smells and stains from your car

To remove dog urine smells and stains from your car, baking soda or white vinegar are extremely effective household items, recommended by veterinarians and dog owners. Spray equal parts vinegar and water on the affected surfaces. Or rub baking soda paste into the car upholstery. When dry, hoover any residue. Buy a bio-enzymatic product if smells persist.

To make the paste, you need approx 3 parts baking soda to 1 part water (so for instance, 75g baking soda and 25ml water), or add water slowly until it forms a paste consistency. Vacuum away dog hair from the car interiors before you start to work on the stains.

How to remove dog poop smell and stains from your car

Removing dog poop smells and stains from a car
Removing dog poop smells and stains from a car

To remove dog poop smell and stains from your car, first remove solid matter. Next, rub a bio-enzyme cleaner or white vinegar solution into the affected material with a microfibre cloth. For the vinegar solution, fill a spray bottle with equal parts water and vinegar. This is very effective at neutralizing dog odor. Leaving a bowl (approx 230g) of baking soda in the car overnight can also remove airborne particles.

Do not vacuum solid poop matter off the interiors of your car as they will then cause your vacuum to smell and blow out an unpleasant scent when you use it again. Once you have cleaned the surfaces, you can then go ahead and hoover any product residue.

How to get dog smell out of car carpets and upholstery

To get dog smell out of car carpets and upholstery, first vacuum dog hair out of the vehicle. Next, use white vinegar (with equal parts water) solution to dampen and mop up the area. Baking soda paste (made with 3:1 baking soda to water) can also be used to work in the area. Allow products to dry and then further vacuum any residue. You can also purchase bio-enzymatic toxic-free cleaning products for stubborn dog dirt.

Best dog odor eliminator for the car

Best dog odor eliminator for the car
Best dog odor eliminator for the car

Up there as one of the best dog odor eliminators for the car on Amazon is Zero Odor Spray But household products baking soda, and white vinegar are also highly recommended by dog owners and animal care organizations. Naturally, these ingredients remove unpleasant dog smells by absorbing the nasty, stinking molecules out of the car. Use a baking soda paste or a white vinegar spray.

  • To make the paste, use 3 parts baking soda to one part water (e.g. 75g to 25ml water).
  • Rub the paste onto affected areas such as urine patches or dirt stains
  • If using white vinegar solution, mix equal parts vinegar and water into a spray bottle and dampen upholstery
  • Mop up with a microfibre cloth
  • Allow to dry and then vacuum any residue, repeat over a few days for stubborn odors.

Happy car cleaning and let us know if you have any other top tips for removing nasty dog scents from your car!

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Holly Jaskolka Profile Image

Holly Jaskolka


Holly is an animal lover with a passion for travel and living a plant-based lifestyle. She enjoys practicing and teaching yoga, cooking, and visiting new places. She currently delivers self-care sessions that utilize EFT (emotional freedom technique) to support people struggling with their breakups. She enjoys writing about travel topics including road trips with pets and maintaining a vegan lifestyle on the road. She gained valuable experience during an epic road trip to Valencia from the UK!