Getting Rid of Pet Stains and Odors: What Really Works?

April 26, 2023

cat receiving pets from human in orange pants

There’s nothing quite like the joy and companionship that pets bring into our lives. Our beloved companions fill our homes with love, laughter, and cherished memories. But along with the joy, there are those inevitable messes. These accidents leave behind unsightly stains and unpleasant odors, blemishing the harmony of your living space.

As pet owners, we understand that accidents happen. Preparing to tackle these challenges is essential to maintaining a clean, fresh, and welcoming home. But with so many products and methods on the market, finding the most effective solution to banish those stubborn stains and lingering smells can be challenging.

Our pet stain and odor removal guide covers the best pet sanitation products and shows you everything you need to know about cleaning pet stains and removing odors, ensuring your home remains a haven for you and your dearest pets. 

Types of Pet Stains and Odors

pomeranian looking up at camera on gray carpet

We’ve all been there. Walking into a room and catching a whiff of that all-too-familiar scent or discovering a mysterious stain on our favorite carpet. Our pets, adorable as they are, can be the culprits behind many stains and odors that plague our homes.


The pungent aroma of cat or dog urine can be unmistakable, infiltrating the air and seeping deep into carpets, upholstery, and even hardwood floors. Beyond the obvious odor issue, pet urine contains uric acid, which can discolor fabrics and cause permanent damage if not addressed promptly and properly.

Skout's Honor, Cat Urine & Odor Destroyer, 32 oz

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Skout's Honor, Urine Destroyer, 32 oz

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Fecal stains and odors can be some of the most challenging to handle. Often accompanied by a potent smell and risk of spreading bacteria, these messes require swift action and thorough cleaning to prevent lasting effects and ensure a hygienic living environment.


Sometimes our pets might indulge in a little too much grass or get an upset stomach. Vomit stains can be tricky to remove and leave an unpleasant odor that can linger long after the stain is gone. Act quickly when dealing with vomit stains to avoid potential surface damage and prevent the odor from spreading.


While saliva stains may not have the same pungency as urine or fecal matter, they can still leave unsightly marks and odors. Drool can accumulate on furniture, carpets, and other surfaces and may be accompanied by dirt and other debris, making the stains difficult to remove.

Factors to Consider When Dealing with Pet Stains and Odors

As pet owners, we know that dealing with pet stains and odors is an inevitable part of our lives, but not all messes are created equal. Knowing the factors at play can make all the difference in effectively tackling these challenges.

Surface Type

Different surfaces require different cleaning approaches. Take into account the material and texture of the affected area before applying any cleaning products or methods. What works for carpet may not work for hardwood floors or upholstery. Using the wrong approach can potentially damage the surface.

Age of the Stain or Odor

The longer a stain or odor lingers, the more challenging it becomes to remove it completely. Fresh stains are generally easier to clean than those that have set in for an extended period. Therefore, it’s crucial to act quickly when accidents occur and address them immediately.

Severity of the Stain or Odor

The severity of a pet stain or odor can vary widely, depending on various factors such as the size of the affected area, the concentration of the stain or odor, and the type of material affected. Some stains may require more aggressive cleaning techniques or specialized products to eliminate them completely.

Safety Concerns

When choosing cleaning products or methods, consider the safety of both pets and humans. Some products may contain harsh chemicals that harm our furry friends or trigger allergies in humans when used improperly. Choose a pet-friendly and non-toxic cleaning solution when possible to help maintain a safe and healthy living environment for everyone. Additionally, use disposable gloves when cleaning up your pet’s mess to prevent the spread of bacteria and germs.

Skout's Honor, Stain & Odor Remover, 32 oz

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Best Practices for Immediate Action

cat watching carpet clean up with spray bottle in human hand

When dealing with pet stains and odor cleanup, time is of the essence. Taking immediate action can not only prevent the stain or odor from spreading but can also make it easier to remove entirely. Keep in mind these best practices when responding to pet messes.

The faster you respond to a pet accident, the better chance you have of minimizing the impact of the mess. While you may not be able to catch your pet in the act, be sure to locate the affected area as soon as possible and begin the cleaning process to prevent the mess from spreading further.

Before applying any cleaning products, clean up any solids and remove as much moisture as possible by blotting the affected area with paper towels or a clean cloth. This will prevent the stain or odor from setting in further.

Rubbing or scrubbing pet stains can actually make the problem worse by spreading the stain or pushing it deeper into the surface. Additionally, using a steam cleaner can actually help the stain and odors penetrate and adhere to the surface. Avoid these common mistakes and use a gentle touch when addressing pet messes.

Effective Cleaning Products for Pet Stains and Odors

While immediate action is crucial in minimizing the impact of pet stains and odors, effective cleaning products can make all the difference in removing them entirely. Always spot test before applying to large sections of carpet or rugs. Here are some of the most effective cleaning products for tackling pet messes.

Enzymatic Cleaners

Enzymatic cleaners contain natural enzymes that break down the stains and odors, effectively eliminating them. These cleaners are highly effective and safe to use on various surfaces, making them a popular choice among pet owners.

Oxidizing Cleaners

Oxidizing cleaners work by releasing oxygen molecules that break down the stain or odor-causing bacteria. These cleaners are effective on organic stains such as pet urine stains and feces and can be used on various surfaces.

Natural Alternatives

For those who prefer natural cleaning solutions, several options are available. Vinegar and baking soda are popular choices as they can effectively neutralize pet odors and break down stains. Hydrogen peroxide is also a natural option that can be effective on organic stains.

Safety Tip: Do not use bleach with cat urine as it contains ammonia. Ammonia when mixed with chlorine bleach can release chlorine gas, which is toxic.

Tips for Specific Surfaces 

pink glove holding the head of a vacuum above gray carpet

Different surfaces require different cleaning approaches when it comes to tackling pet stains and odors. Here are some tips for dealing with pet messes on specific surfaces.

Carpet and Rugs

After removing excess moisture by blotting, apply a pet stain cleaner to the effective area and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Blot the area with a clean, damp cloth to remove the cleaning solution. If the stain or odor persists, repeat the process until it’s eliminated. 

Once the area is clean and dry, use a carpet stain remover or cleaner, or vacuum to restore the texture of the carpet or rug. If you’re dealing with a stubborn stain, a carpet cleaning machine may be necessary to deep clean the area.

Hardwood Floors

After blotting the excess moisture, apply a pet stain cleaner to the affected area and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Gently scrub the affected area using a clean and damp cloth, being careful not to apply too much pressure. 

Rinse the area with cold, clean water and dry thoroughly. Once the area is clean and dry, use a hardwood floor cleaner to restore the floor’s finish.

Upholstery and Fabrics

Remove moisture through blotting and then apply a pet stain cleaner and let it sit for the manufacturer’s recommended amount of time. Use a clean and damp cloth to gently scrub the affected area and rinse it with cold, clean water, and blot dry. 

When the area is clean and dry, use a fabric cleaner or upholstery protector to restore the texture and appearance of the fabric.

For bedding, towels, and laundry, remove and dispose of solids, put in the washer (do not pre-treat) and run on rinse only cycle using cold water.* Next, wash with a pet stain laundry additive in cold water. Do not dry until the smell is gone. If that doesn’t work, soak the items in an enzymatic cleaner for 2-3 days and try again.  

*Note: HE washers may require additional rinse cycles.

Litter Box Odors

Litter box odors can be a problem for pet owners, but there are several steps you can take to prevent them. First, scoop the litter box at least once a day. This will help to remove any solid waste and reduce odor.

Clumping litter makes it easier to remove waste and helps to control odors. You can also add a little baking soda to the litter – this helps to absorb odors and keep the litter box smelling fresh.

Use a litter box with a cover and place it in a well-ventilated area. A covered litter box can help to contain odors and keep them from spreading throughout your home.Good air circulation can help to reduce odors and keep the litter box area smelling fresh.

Skout's Honor, Litter Box Deodorizer, 35 oz

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Preventative Measures

terrier on carpet next to a robo vacuum

While responding to pet stains and odors promptly and effectively is essential, preventing them from occurring in the first place is even better. Consider these preventative measures to minimize the impact of pet stains on your home.

Regular Cleaning Routines

Keeping your home clean and tidy can go a long way in preventing pet messes. Regularly vacuuming carpets and rugs, mopping floors, and dusting surfaces can help remove any pet dirt, debris, and other particles that could lead to odors or stains.

Skout's Honor, Odor Eliminator, 32 oz

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Regular Grooming

Regular bathing and grooming for pets is a great way to reduce debris, dander, and that pet smell in the home.  Bushing and combing your pet’s fur reduces the amount of loose hair in the air, which causes stains and odors over time.

Update Your Vacuum Cleaner

In addition to adhering to regular cleaning routines, it’s important to make sure you have a vacuum cleaner with powerful suction that is specifically suited for pet owners.  Vacuums designed for pet owners have deeper cleaning capabilities and improved filtration systems that remove more debris, dander, and odors from your home. Doing so can help keep your carpets, furniture, and other surfaces free of dirt and smells caused by pets.

Training Pets to Avoid Accidents

Consistent and effective training can help pets learn where and when it’s appropriate to do their business. Establishing a routine for walks and potty breaks can help prevent accidents in the house. Hanging a bell from the door handle can also help pets learn to let you know when they need to go outside. Always provide positive reinforcement and rewards for good behavior can make it easier for them to understand the expectations that have been set.

Protective Covers and Barriers

Protective covers for furniture, carpets, and other surfaces can help prevent pet stains and odors from setting in. Additionally, using barriers such as baby gates or playpens can help confine pets to areas where they’re less likely to make a mess.

Litter Box Maintenance

Keeping litter boxes scooped will also help prevent accidents from cats. Clean the litter box regularly with soap and water, and replace the litter every two weeks or when it starts to smell. Never use bleach or other harsh chemicals to clean a litter box, as these can be dangerous for your pet. When cleaning, be sure to use a mild soap that is safe for cats. Be sure to remove all fecal matter and urine clumps if you can. Using a litter attractant like baking soda or cat litter crystal can help keep cat litter in the box. 

Choosing the right type of cat litter for your cat is crucial, and more complex than you might think!

Lastly, choose a quiet area of your home for the litter box – many cats like to have their own private area without much foot traffic. 

When to Call the Professionals 

While many pet stains and odors can be effectively removed with the right approach and products, there are times when professional cleaning services may be necessary.

In some cases, pet stains and odors can penetrate deep into surfaces, making them difficult to remove with standard cleaning methods. A professional cleaning service can assess the severity of the problem and offer specialized solutions.

For instance, a professional carpet cleaner can get the odors and stains out of carpet fibers using special equipment and cleaning products that are designed for removing pet stains that have completely soaked in or dried up.

Shop for Pet Cleaning Supplies at Wilco Farm Stores

Dealing with pet stains and odors can be challenging, but with the right approach and products, it’s possible to effectively remove pet stains and restore the freshness and comfort of your home.

At Wilco Farm Stores, we understand the importance of maintaining a clean and odor-free living space, so we offer a wide range of pet cleaning supplies to help you tackle these challenges head-on.