How to Get Rid of Dog Smell in the Home

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Is your dog putting a damper on your home’s freshness?

As cute as dogs are, they do tend to smell a little bit. As we speak, our dog is just back in from a huge muddy walk, and the house stinks! However, we’re not too worried because we know how to get rid of that musty damp dog smell.

Next time guests come round, if it weren’t for our dog jumping up for kisses and cuddles, they wouldn’t even know we had a dog! Keep reading for our top tips and methods, so that your house can smell fresh and clean once again.

How to Get Rid of Dog Smell in the Home

First, open the windows to air out your home. You should also vacuum and mop your floors every couple of days. This is one of the most effective ways of eliminating dog odors. Next, spray every room and all the furniture with a 1:1 solution of distilled white vinegar and water. This will neutralize bad odors.


Why Does My Dog Stink Up the House?

There isn’t just one reason why your dog is stinking up your house. Here are some reasons that dogs smell, including why they smell worse at other times:

  • Dog’s have body odor, too: Dogs have a certain smell. If you have had multiple dogs, you’ll notice that each dog has its own unique scent (some better than others). In fact, dogs sweat from their feet. So if they’re overly warm or just in from exercising, their body odor can stink up the house, as well as the oils on their skin and ears.
  • Drool: Some dogs drool a ton. This can leave the smell of their saliva on their bed, your carpet, their toys, and furniture. As well as saliva, some dogs just have inherently bad breath which can stink up a room.
  • Your dog is in heat: If you have a female dog, you may find her smell repulsing at certain times of the year. Don’t be alarmed if your dog has a new smell about her while she’s in season.
  • Illness: Unfortunately, not all reasons for a dog’s odor are harmless. If your dog has an infection — skin, ear, eye, etc. — they can have a weird smell to them. It’s important that you recognize your dog’s “healthy” scent so that when they are ill, you notice it if they smell a bit different.
  • Your dog is dirty: The main reason your dog is stinking up the house is because they’re dirty. Dogs are explorers, and so when they’re in the back yard or at the park, they get dirty. Whether that’s from digging, rolling in puddles, or playing with other dogs — dogs smell bad.
  • Diet: You are what you eat. If you can’t figure out the reason your dog stinks, check their diet. There might be something in their food that is causing them to smell funny.
  • Gas: Dogs fart — it’s one of the less pleasant bits about having a dog. However, if your dog’s gas is so severe and frequent that it’s stinking up your house, we do recommend a trip to the vets.
  • Anal sacs: Dogs have anal sacks on their bottom, which is healthy and normal. But if these sacs become impacted, a smelly secretion ends up releasing and it can get stuck on the dog’s fur. You’ll need to see a vet for this issue.
  • Losing teeth: We’ve noticed that our dogs have a really weird smell when they start to lose their teeth as puppies. Because the gums bleed a little, there’s a slightly metallic smell, but it isn’t subtle!
  • Rolling in poop: Dogs like to roll in poop. It’s gross, but it’s pretty normal. It’s like perfume to them! If your dog rolls in poop, and you don’t bathe them afterwards, it’s no surprise the house is starting to smell.

These are the main reasons why dogs stink up your house. If this is putting you off getting a dog, don’t worry — our tips and tricks will make sure your house smells beautiful.

How to Get Rid of Dog Smell

For the moment of truth — how do you get rid of that nasty smell your pup has brought in? There are lots of different ways! Let’s dive right in.

Vacuum Vivaciously

Beautiful young woman listening to music while cleaning the house with vacuum mop

If you have a dog, your vacuum is going to be your best friend. Not only does this lift up dirt and pet hair, but it can also get rid of odors that come from the dirt.

If you have a HEPA vacuum, even better. These devices can eliminate bacteria and small odor-causing particles in the home.

We suggest vacuuming every three days if you have a dog. It may seem like a big task, but nobody said owning a dog was ever easy!

Mop Often

Woman cleaning living room floor with microfiber mop

As well as vacuuming, you should mop often, too. Our dog sits in the hallway until she’s dry from her rainy walks, and so we need to mop the hallway every couple of days to keep on top of the smell.

Better yet — get a steamer! This kills bacteria, too. Plus, you can use it for carpets which helps tackle odors there, too.

Neutralize the Odors

White vinegar in a glass bottle

This mixture is one of our favorites in the household! Not only does it neutralize odors, but it’s non-toxic and easy to make at home.

  1. Mix together a 1:1 ratio of distilled white vinegar and water in a spray bottle.
  2. Shake well.
  3. Spray it throughout the house. This includes the air, bedding, furniture, floors, and anywhere else your dog’s smell may have touched.

You can also use this as a surface cleaner when you’re not using it to neutralize odors.

Wash Your Dog’s Stuff

We can easily forget to wash our dog’s stuff when we already have a ton of laundry to do. But even though our furry friend probably isn’t complaining that his bed is smelly, we sure are.

Make sure to use a pet-friendly laundry detergent (unscented is best) and wash their bedding, blankets, towels, and even toys!

Open the Windows

Woman cleaning window glass with steam mop

This may seem too simple to be true, but trust us, it works! Opening the windows can air out your home and remove some bad odors with it. If you live in the city, or a particularly polluted area, skip this step as it might make your home smell worse.

Instead, invest in an air purifier which can get rid of bacteria, viruses and odors in the home.

Clean Up Pet Accidents

Cute puppy next to stain on the floor

Maybe your house smells bad because your pet is still having accidents in the house. It can take months to fully house-train a dog, so don’t be alarmed.

To clean up pet accidents, make sure to wipe up as much of the excess dirt with a paper towel. Then spray the area liberally with an enzyme cleaner.

Let this sit on the surface for 10 minutes before wiping it up again. Repeat. Go over with a mop or steam cleaner.

Change the Air Filters

Dirty Air Filter

It’s a good idea to change all the air filters in your home. If it’s been a while, your airflow probably isn’t as good as it should be to help circulate and get rid of pet odors.

You can buy replacement filters at your local hardware store. If you aren’t sure which ones to get, remove your current filter and bring it with you. The staff will know what to recommend!

Baking Soda

Another thing that can help with odors is baking soda.

Pour about a cup of baking soda into a couple of bowls and place them around the house. Focus more on the areas where your pet spends most of their time.

Baking soda can absorb odors, rather than mask them.

Bathe Your Dog

The problem may be the current state of your dog, rather than the home. If your dog themselves is smelling a little dirty, it’s time to give them a bath.

We recommend two people for this job, especially if your dog hates the bath. Make sure to use pet-friendly shampoo and scrub well!

Scented Home

You have to be careful with using scents in the home with a dog since many essential oils are toxic to dogs (1). As for synthetic oils, these seem to be safe but check with the manufacturer. They should know whether their product specifically is safe for pets.

In general, you can find candles, air fresheners, reed diffusers, and essential oil blends that are safe for dogs. For instance, lavender is a dog-friendly essential oil, so try diffusing that in the room that stinks the most!

How Often Should You Wash a Dog?

Expert advice varies. Some vets even say it’s okay to never wash your dog, as long as they’re healthy otherwise (2).

A good rule of thumb is to bathe your dog when they stink. They don’t need to have a bathing routine, because over-washing your dog can do more harm than good (3). We only wash our dog if she’s gotten really muddy — but brushing and grooming them is actually better for their skin.

Expert Advice

If your dog has skin allergies or conditions, check with your vet first. In general, you should wait much longer between baths as this can dry out their skin.

Can You Spray Febreze On a Dog Bed?

Febreze is safe for pets, so yes, you can spray Febreze on a dog bed but make sure it’s dry before your pet crawls into bed (4).

However, we do recommend washing the bedding rather than just spraying it with Febreze since that masks the smell rather than eliminates it.

How Do I Get Rid Of Dog Smell Without a Bath?

There are a few different things you can do to keep your dog smelling fresh without bathing them all the time.

  • Brush them regularly: This can remove dirt and other causes of odors, as well as excess oil, ticks, and other nasties that get caught in their fur.
  • Clean your dog’s bedding: as that can be where they keep picking up the bad smell.
  • Clean their eyes, ears, and mouth regularly: The mouth is a big cause for odors so get them used to having their teeth brushed when they’re a pup!
  • Keep the dog dry: If your dog has just come in from a rainy walk, or they are just out the bath, make sure to get them dry as soon as possible. If you can get them used to the hair dryer, this can help.
  • Switch up their diet if they are passing gas frequently: Your vet can help figure out the best diet for your dog.

How to Keep Your House From Smelling Like Dog

Here are some preventative tips so that your house never smells like a dog in the first place!

  • Wipe your dog’s paws and fur after a walk, especially if it’s been raining. That wet dog smell is nobody’s favorite!
  • Stay on top of your cleaning routine. We know that having a dog means less time for your normal chores, but if you can make time for cleaning, it will make a big difference.
  • Keep the windows open when possible, especially in the summertime. It’s hard in the winter because it’s freezing outside, but otherwise, keep some windows open.
  • Switch on the air purifier. This can help prevent all types of bad odors.
  • Wash your dog’s things, including bedding, collars, harnesses, toys, and blankets. Do this before they start to stink!

Nothing but Cuteness

Now when guests come round, they see nothing but cuteness and smell nothing but freshness!

Dogs do have a natural smell so we don’t necessarily recommend using dry shampoos, sprays, and wipes to cover that up. But we do want to limit the bad smells they produce. That includes flatulence, accident odors, dirt, mud, and any animal poo they’ve rolled around in.

In general, we recommend opening up windows or investing in an air purifier. While that’s ongoing, keep your floors clean, freshen up your furniture, wash your dog’s things and change over your air filters.

When in doubt, give your dog a bath and clean their mouth and ears. If you’re still struggling with a smelly dog, it might be time for a visit to the vets.

Headshot of Beth

About the Author

Beth McCallum

Beth McCallum is a 20-something freelance writer & book blogger with a degree in creative writing, journalism and English literature. Beth firmly believes that a tidy house is a tidy mind. She is always looking for new ways to sustainably clean and tidy her house, that's kind on the environment but effective in the house, too!
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