Does your house smell like dog? If you walked into my home right now, you may wonder who I am to talk about dog smell in a home. I will be the first to admit, since moving into our new country home last June I have been slacking in the cleaning department. At times, our house smells worse than a wet dog.
You see, we bought a tiny, 1960’s fixer-upper house on 5 acres. The house itself is less than perfect, but the land, well… it was our dream come true. We are working on remodeling and adding an addition this summer to make the house more habitable. But in the meantime, I have not been motivated to keep the house clean.
This post does contains affiliate links for your convenience (which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will receive a small commission, but it won’t cost you a penny more). Click here to read my full disclosure policy.
The first project we tackled was to remove the red carpeting in the dining/family room because we suspected that was the source of the musty dog smell. We were told there were hardwood oak flooring under the carpet, so we were eager to see beautiful wood under the ugly red carpet… but much to our dismay the solid oak floor was never finished… except with dog pee! Not only did we have to tear up all the carpet, but the oak wood too. It was a sad day, but the wood was damaged beyond repair.
I am clinging to the wonderful comments I got in our last home… “How do you keep your house so clean with so many dogs?” I had several people ask how we keep our house so clean and not smelling like dog. With two dogs of our own and rotating a foster dog in here and there, we have had our share of potty accidents, dog hair, slobber, and vomit… you name it we’ve seen it.
I don’t have one single secret to a clean house. But a long list of little things I do to keep the dog smell at bay. Saturday morning is my big cleaning day, but you will notice all of the suggestions below can be daily, weekly, monthly and yearly cleaning activities.
It’s also important to note that it may not be just your house, but your dog. Make sure your dog is healthy and does not have a medical reason for smelling bad. I cover health and grooming below, so make sure to keep reading.
Your dog spends most of his time on your floor. It’s a big part of your house, so keeping it clean is going to be key to keeping the wet dog smell away.
Dog smell in the carpet can be hard to get rid of over time. That’s why I recommend ditching the carpet for hardwood floors or tile. I recognize this isn’t a cheap renovation and isn’t an option for renters. So here are several ways to keep your carpet smelling clean and not like a dog:
Dog hair is a fact of life when you own dogs. We swear by our Dyson Animal vacuum. We had our original one for over 20 years before replacing it last year. And it wasn’t because it stopped working, but because my husband felt it wasn’t at its full potential of the newer model.
I vacuum weekly, but honestly, if I had time, could do it every day and pick up lots of dog hair!
Skip the toxic carpet deodorizers, simply sprinkle baking soda on your carpet before vacuuming. Baking soda will soak up any odors lingering in the carpet fibers.
Note: test a small hidden area on your carpet before doing your entire house, just in case.
Many of the commercial deodorizers contain harsh chemicals that may harm your dog. Think about it, your dog is walking on your carpets barefoot all day long. And when he licks his paws, he is ingesting whatever is on your floor.
If you are lucky enough to have tile or wood, then it’s as easy as sweeping or vacuuming up the dirt and dog hair. Follow up with a mop and appropriate cleaner.
We have part of our new bamboo wood floors and I love them. I cannot recommend bamboo more. It is the first wood flooring that the dogs have not been able to scratch up! And we’ve had solid oak and engineer solid wood floors in the past.
If you have a puppy or rescue dog, you most likely experienced a potty accident at least once. Wipe up potty accidents immediately with an enzymatic cleaner. We could not have survived fostering two puppies at the same time, without our Little Green Machine. We used it several times a day!
Recommended Reading: Quick and Easy Steps to To Potty Training
Professional clean carpet yearly or steam clean yourself. If you keep your dogs clean (see grooming below), you may not need to clean the carpets yearly, but watch for signs your carpet is looking dingy.
When we are done remodeling our new house, we won’t have any carpet (can’t wait). But all my other houses did have at least some carpet. We had a Bissell carpet cleaner that I used on the occasions that the carpet started looking dirty. Then once every several years I’d call Stanley Steamer to have them professionally cleaned.
Air quality should be a top priority not only for the smell but for you and your dog’s health.
Before you reach for that can of air freshener spray, plug-in or scented candle, make sure to watch this video by Healthy Pets.
Open the windows any time it is feasible. There is nothing like God-given natural fresh air to get rid of the dog smell. Living in Wisconsin means long winters and short summers, but even in winter, I will open the windows at least once. It may be an old wives’ tale, but I like to think that freezing out the house kills all the germs and bad smells.
Changing the filters in your furnace is important to keep the air in your house clean. Filters are rated with a MERV number and it is recommended to get at least a MERV rating of 8 or above.
You can read more about choosing the right filter here: The MERV Rating System for Air Filters
The right filter will help with the pet dander and allergens. This is the filter we use.
Do your research on which essential oils are safe to use with dogs. I am not an expert, so I am going to refer you to Essential Oils and Dogs by the Pet Poison Helpline.
I do use an Essential Oil Diffuser in our home. My favorite essential oils are the Edens Garden Sunshine Spice and the Fighting Five.
Charcoal bags are something new to me and very interesting as they are supposed to help with the dog smell and other household odors. I am ordering these today and will report back after I have a chance to review. If you’ve used these, please let me know your thoughts!
Many people with allergies and other breathing problems use an air purifier to help them breathe. But an air purifier will also help rid your home of pet dander and other smells. I personally don’t have one but know a few people that swear by them.
If you have a green thumb, then adding plants to your home is a great option for keeping the air in your home fresh and healthy.
According to BioAdvanced: Plants remove toxins from air –up to 87% of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) every 24 hours, according to NASA research. VOCs include substances like formaldehyde (present in rugs, vinyl, cigarette smoke and grocery bags), benzene and trichloroethylene (both found in man-made fibers, inks, solvents and paint). Source: https://www.bioadvanced.com/articles/5-benefits-houseplants
Some great plant options include: English Ivy, Bamboo Palm, Chinese Evergreen, Snake Plant/Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, Aloe Vera, Peace Lily, Spider Plant, Mass Cane/Corn Plant. Just remember to keep your dog away from the plants, as many can be poisonous.
Recommended Reading: What Plants are Toxic to Dogs?
If you allow your dog on your furniture, then you need to consider keeping those areas clean too. I love having our dogs on the couch with me while watching TV, it’s our snuggle time. But our couch definitely suffers from it.
No not like grandma’s plastic, although that would work too! We use throw blankets on our couch for the dogs to lay on. This allows me to pick them up and wash them each week. Or if we have an unexpected visitor, it’s much quicker to pull off all the blankets and have a clean couch in seconds.
Another option would be to use washable slip covers for your furniture.
Dog hair is everywhere in our house, no matter how much I clean it’s always there. So vacuuming the furniture has to be part of my weekly routine. Even with the blankets, hair creeps in spots unimaginable.
This one may be a little controversial with those of you that are all-natural warriors. But I love my OdoBan.
I found it when we moved into our last house. The previous owner smoked, and I was searching for something to get rid of the smell. OdoBan is a miracle at removing odors and disinfecting.
I spray our furniture, area rugs, beds, and use OdoBan in our laundry. It works and works really well.
I use to buy it by the gallon at Sams Club until our local club closed a couple years ago. I can now find it in some Walmart stores, but of course, Amazon is my go-to place to order OdoBan now because it’s so easy.
If someone tells me it is toxic for our dogs, I will probably stop using it… so I welcome any scientific research on their ingredient list.
If your dog has a dog bed or mat, make sure to wash it too. If it’s not washable, maybe it’s time to consider buying antibacterial bedding or a dog bed that is washable.
You can also use simple vinegar in your washing machine to help eliminate the odors.
A dog wears his collar 24/7, it’s going to eventually stink. I recommend washing it when you give your dog a bath. Most dog collars can be thrown into the washing machine too, add it with some towels or their bedding.
Cleaning your dog’s toys not only will help them smell better but will keep them healthier for your dog too. Simply soak them in soapy water, using Dawn soap, or a vinegar/water solution. Rinse them well and return them to your doggy toy box.
Make sure your dog is healthy and does not have a medical reason for smelling bad. A dog with allergies, ear infection or other skin problems can give off a foul odor. Take your dog to the vet if you suspect he has a health issue that is causing him to smell bad.
Brushing your dog will help keep his coat clean and healthy. Even if your dog has short hair, he can benefit from an occasional grooming session. I recently ordered these grooming gloves and absolutely love them… so does our dog Bear!
When the weather is nice, I will brush the dogs outside which helps keep the dog hair outside and not inside. In the winter months, I will brush them right before I clean the house, that way I am sure to get all the dog hair up right away.
We’ve all smelled it right? The head-turning bad breath of a dog panting in your face. Bad breath can be a sign of many health issues, so if you are concerned, definitely see your vet.
The most common reason for bad breath in your dog’s mouth is his dental hygiene. Do you regularly brush your dog’s teeth? If we are being honest, I don’t… I can’t seem to get on a consistent schedule and brushing two dogs teeth has proven too much for me.
A few months ago, I decided to try this water additive called Oxyfresh Dog & Cat Oral Hygiene Solution. It’s easy because all you do is add a capful of it in your dog’s water bowl each time you fill it up.
I’ve noticed Bear’s bad breath has disappeared and his teeth are looking cleaner than before using it. It doesn’t remove all the tartar, but it’s an improvement for sure.
I will admit, I am terrible at cleaning the dog’s paws before coming inside. But if you think about it, your dogs have just walked through the grass, mud, dog poop, and who knows what else. Then they walk right into your house and track it everywhere.
I did buy these paw wipes and I do use them occasionally. They are strong enough to hold up wiping all four paws, but if they are too muddy, then I go for a bucket of water.
Dogs technically never need a bath, but if you don’t want him to stink, then a bath is in order.
If you can give your dog a bath outside, it will help keep the wet dog smell outside and not inside your house.
Using a Microfiber towel will help dry your dog off quicker and more efficiently.
Grooming wipes are great to use in between baths when you just don’t have time to give your dog a full bath.
During the flea and tick season, I starting using Only Natural Pet’s flea and tick shampoo.
Recommending Reading: 7 Important Dog Bath Tips
I am always looking for new and easy ideas to keep our house and dogs smelling fresh, please leave a comment below with your number one tip. It could help others in our community struggling with a house that smells like a wet dog too!
Next on your reading list:
Debi McKee is a mom of three kids, two dogs and the creator of Rescue Dogs 101... were she guides you in your journey of adopting and raising a rescue dog every step of the way. She also volunteers for a local rescue and the Dane County Humane Society. Sign up for our free resource library! It is jam-packed with valuable resources that you will use throughout your journey.... all for FREE!