Smelly Labrador

17 Simple Hacks To Get Rid Of Dog Smell

Written By Olivia De Santos | Canine Coach, Professional Writer & Video Content Creator.
Edited & Fact Checked By Renae Soppe | Double B.A Journalism & Science. 
Last Updated: 12th January 2024

Having grown up around a plethora of animals in my youth, I can tell you that dogs are probably the smelliest. Yes, cats have fishy breath and horses smell…well…horsey. But dogs have a special kind of smell that seemingly penetrates your clothes, carpets and bedding.

So today, we’re going to learn how to get rid of dog smell. We’ll also touch on why dogs smell the way they do and what you can do to prevent your pup from stinking up your house in the first place.

Let’s dive into it!

dirty bulldog

Why Do Dogs smell?

The question: “do dogs smell?” comes up a lot. I think as dog lovers we become a little nose blind. Dogs do indeed have a certain musk to them. You’ll tend to notice it when you’ve gone on a holiday without your dog for a while and then come back to your dog-smelling home.

Do dogs smell bad though? It depends on your tolerance! I don’t personally find my dog’s smell offensive, but some people are more sensitive to odours than others.

So what is the root of the smelliness? Is it sweat? Not quite!

Dogs mostly perspire through their nose and paws. They do perspire a little from their fur which can cause some smell.

“ They also produce oil, an important part of healthy skin and hair, which also has its own scent marker. Along with the glands in their ears, which produce a light yeasty smell, these are all normal body odours, and can be kept to a pleasant minimum with normal, regular bathing and grooming.” - PetMD (1)

Dogs also fart quite often and emit mouth smells. Both of which are quite natural unless they smell particularly foul.


How To Get Rid of Dog Smell - 17 Proven Ways

So you’ve identified that the doggy smell is getting out of hand. Let’s fight the funk with these 16 proven tips to get rid of dog smell.

1. Neutralise the smell with baking soda

This is my favourite technique because it uses an ingredient you probably already have lying around, and it’s extremely effective for soft fabrics and carpets. It’s such a ubiquitous household product with powerful PH-neutralising properties. And science says that’s the key.

“Simply put, the chemicals in baking soda are perfect at neutralising the acids that cause bad smells.” - Lauren Wellbank for Martha Stewart. (2)

All you need to do is sprinkle a thin layer of baking soda over the offending areas. This could be a localised spot like if your dog pees on the rug. Or it could be the entire carpet to generally lift the smell of absorbed doggy smell. Either way, sprinkle the baking soda and leave it (preferably) overnight to allow it to soak up the odours.

In the morning, vacuum the excess powder and be amazed by how the smell has lifted.

2.Create your own white vinegar spray

Another common household product that is commonly used for cleaning is white vinegar (3).

To make this work for you, make sure you use pure white vinegar. If in doubt, search for cleaning vinegar specifically. Any other type of vinegar will have a lingering vinegary smell.

White vinegar is hugely effective at neutralising odours but there is a caveat. The caveat is that it will smell strongly of vinegar before it disappears and takes the offending smell with it. If you’re averse to the smell of vinegar (as I am) you might want to try the other techniques first. In any case, it’s important to dilute the vinegar so it isn’t quite as strong.

3.Invest in air purifiers

Air purifiers are great as they catch allergens, pathogens and other compounds lingering in the air. You can see a huge improvement in your air quality if you use air purifiers often.

Now, air purifiers aren’t cheap so I would suggest using one in the area where your dog hangs out the most or the room in which you feel the smell is overtaking the most. After continued use, the smell will improve.

An important note here: change out the air filters regularly to make sure this technique continues to work in the future.

4.Use removable covers for your furniture

Removable covers are great not only to protect your couch but also to avoid smells from your dog’s fur absorbing into the fabric. Removable covers for couches are quite readily available online and in furniture stores. You can also use throws and blankets to achieve the same effect.

The con here is that if you love the look of your couch, it’s a shame to cover it just to save it from absorbing doggy smells. So it depends on what is most important to you. The beauty of your couch or the protection.

5.Try powder laundry detergent

If you want to have a fresh smell after you lift the doggy smell from any soft fabrics, you might prefer dry powder laundry detergent over baking soda.

The concept is the same. You sprinkle a thin layer over the offending areas. Leave to work its magic overnight and then vacuum in the morning.

This one is effective because it not only neutralises the strong dog smell but also leaves a nice smell in its wake.

6.Wash your dog’s bed often

One of the main sources of dog smell in your home is your dog’s bed. And it makes sense. It’s one of the places your dog will return to often and coat in their musk.

Now to a degree, a dog’s smell will make them feel comfortable and at ease in their bedding, so you shouldn't wash it all of the time. But if you notice that it’s getting a little funky, whip off the covers and throw it in the washing machine.

This simple trick should lessen the sources of dog smell in your home.

7.Keep your dog clean

If you want to stop your house from smelling like a musty dog, then don’t have a musty dog at home! Shampoo your pup on a regular enough basis to avoid any extra smelliness.

This means scrubbing them when they have a muddy time outdoors or roll in something disgusting as dogs love to do!

However, you must not over-scrub your dog. You can end up stripping their natural oils and irritating their skin. Most dogs can go between 1 to 3 months before washing as long as you maintain a healthy coat (4).

8.Make sure your dog’s fur is dry after washing

Following on from the previous point, we all know about the wet dog smell!

You might be surprised to learn that wet dog smell comes from the water and compounds on their skin reacting together. 

“The distinctive odour comes not from the dog, but from the microorganisms (yeast and bacteria) that live in its fur. These emit pungent volatile compounds, which are released into the air as the water evaporates.” - Helen Pilcher, BBC’s Science Focus (5).

How do you avoid this terrible aroma wafting through your home? Simple! Make sure your dog dries properly after washing them. The smell will naturally dissipate. You can then burn incense or spray air fresheners to cloak any remaining smell. Speaking of which...

9.Use air fresheners, diffusers or incense 

Some air fresheners claim to have air-purifying and odour-neutralising properties. But for the most part, diffused essential oils, incense and air sprays are more like perfumes. They cloak smells as opposed to neutralising them.

Nevertheless, they can be useful tools when trying to rid your home of dog smell. A couple of sprays after cleaning the area can make your space smell more pleasant.

10. Vacuum daily

As so much of a dog’s musk lies in the secreted oils that stick to their fur, having lots of shed dog hairs around your house will make your home smell mustier.

Of course, some dogs shed more than others but it’s rare to find dogs that don’t shed at all. Even short-haired pups shed their fur.

Make it a habit of vacuuming every day so that you can keep the shedding and consequent smell to a minimum.

11. Mop with vinegar 

An easy way to use vinegar that is less concentrated than spray is to mop with it. Use your regular diluted detergent for mopping your floor and add in some white vinegar.

Yes, the vinegar will smell strong at first, but after mopping your floors thoroughly and allowing it to dry, the smell will go away. And so will the strong dog smell!

12. Steam your floors

To deep clean your home and lift smells from surfaces, try steaming! You can steam your hard floors as well as carpets. This is quite a hardcore cleaning technique but it works well for lifting odours.

For an extra boost, mix some essential oils and white vinegar into the detergent mix for a powerful odour-busting concoction.

13. Open your windows to aerate your space

One of the simplest ways to rid of dog smells from your home is to open some windows. Allow air to flow into your home and lift the atmosphere with its freshness. Of course, this won’t get the dog smell out of your fabrics completely. You’ll likely need to pair this technique with some of the other more cleaning-focused suggestions on this list. But if you want fresher air, you need to let the fresh air in from time to time.

14. Strategically place cat litter around your home

Super tip here! Did you know that cat litter is excellent at trapping odours from the air? All you need to do is place it strategically around the home in cups or bowls. It will take a couple of days to work but the smell will lessen over time.

To make this work most effectively, change the cat litter once a week or at least once every ten days. The litter will lose its potency over time.

You can also sprinkle down cat litter to absorb dog urine or vomit from your carpet. It will absorb the excess liquid and the smell in one go. Win-win!

15. Clean your dog’s belongings

Just like dog beds, your dog’s toys and blankets are all common offenders when it comes to making your home smell like a dog. You want the toys to retain some of your dog’s smell so don’t use this tip often. However, if there is a chew toy that is smelling foul, give it a quick scrub to refresh it. See if the foul smell in your home lifts.

16. Place odour-neutralising plants around your house

This technique is so effective and no one talks about it! Some houseplants are known to have air-purifying properties. Dracaenas are my favourite as they grow quite large and recycle the air in your home. Areca palms are also highly popular air purifiers.

Try introducing some air-refreshing houseplants into your home and you«ll notice the air quality improve over time.

17. Book a professional carpet cleaning service

Lastly, sometimes your at-home remedies just won’t cut it. It’s time to call in the professionals! Professional cleaners are highly skilled at ridding your home of pet odours. Even doing this once a year or once a quarter will have a marked difference in the smell of your home.


Final Thoughts: Fight Pet Odour With Consistency

Now you know how to get rid of the dog smell in your home. My final tip is about consistency. Many of the practices will work best if you can get into a regular rhythm with them. Of course, don’t overdo it, but try and keep on top of your daily vacuuming and biweekly steam to see results

I know that can be tough. I’m one of the least consistent people I know. But trust me, your nose will thank you for it!

References

  1. “Does Your Dog Smell Like… Dog?”. July 1, 2021. PetMD Editorial. Retrieved January 23, 2023. https://www.petmd.com/dog/care/evr_dg_does_your_dog_smell_like_dog
  2. Wellbank, L. June 22, 2020. “Why Does Baking Soda Absorb Odor?”. Martha Stewart. Retrieved January 23, 2023. https://www.marthastewart.com/7841356/baking-soda-absorb-odor-facts
  3. Biggs, C. November 4, 2022. “7 Vinegar Hacks From a Cleaning Expert That Can Save You Money”. Apartment Therapy. Retrieved January 23, 2023.  https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/vinegar-cleaning-hacks-36742312
  4. Lotz, K. December 14, 2021. “How Often Should You Bathe Your Dog?”. American Kennel Club.  Retrieved January 23, 2023.  https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/how-often-should-you-wash-your-dog/
  5. Pilcher, H. “What causes wet dog smell?”. BBC Science Focus. Retrieved January 23, 2023. https://www.sciencefocus.com/nature/what-causes-wet-dog-smell/


Olivia De Santos


Olivia De Santos is Gentle Dog Trainers Canine Coach, Professional Writer and Video Content Creator.

Olivia has over 10 years of experience writing professionally and is a dog Mum to Pip, her Podengo and Blue, her Flat-coated Retriever. She loves writing pieces to help people to be better dog owners.

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