Published: May 17, 2019  

Last updated: February 19, 2024  

I know how frustrating it is when your house smells like dog no matter how much you clean. Before moving to the house we live in now, I’d get compliments from people that our house surprisingly smells fresh and clean. 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.

Then we moved into an old 1960’s home that smelled like dog even after cleaning all day. So I’m going to share all of my tips and tricks on how we got our new home to smell clean again. 

Saturday morning is my big cleaning day, but all of the cleaning tips below can be done daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly deep cleaning activities. 

Keeping your house clean, opening the windows, and bathing your dog occasionally will keep your home smelling clean and free of the dog smell.

Make sure everything you own is washable! Anything porous can trap bad odors.

And make sure your dog is healthy, some medical conditions can cause your dog’s skin to smell. 

A dog laying on the bed smiling with a green plant.

Keeping your floors clean

Your dog spends most of their 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 laminate, tile, or hardwood floors. We have bamboo wood floors and ceramic tile throughout our entire house and I love them. I recognize this isn’t a cheap renovation or an option for everyone, especially if you rent your home. 

Be careful about what you use to keep your floors clean. Many of the commercial cleaners and deodorizers contain harsh chemicals that may harm your dog. Your dog is walking and lying on your floors all day long. They are breathing in those cleaners and ingesting them when licking their paws. 

So here are several ways to keep your floors smelling clean and not like a dog:

1. Vacuum weekly or more

Dog hair is a fact of life when you own dogs. We love our Dyson Animal vacuum. We had our original one for over 20 years before replacing it. And it wasn’t because it stopped working, but because my husband felt it wasn’t at its full potential for the newer model.

With four dogs I should sweep or vacuum the dog hair daily, but honestly, I don’t have time for that. So I sweep once a week and do a full vacuum and mop once a week. 

2. Use baking soda to help deodorize carpeting

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.

⚠️ PRO TIP: Get our FREE Natural Remedies Reference Guide.

3. Mop tile and wood floors

If you are lucky enough to have laminate, wood, or ceramic tile floors then it’s as easy as sweeping or vacuuming up the dirt and dog hair. Follow up with a mop and appropriate cleaner, white vinegar works great as a natural cleaner.  

I’ve been researching steam floor cleaners, but I haven’t decided whether they are safe for wood floors or not. The manufacturers say they are safe, but Consumer Reports advises against using steam on wood, laminate, or bamboo floors. 

4. Clean and deodorize potty accidents

Dog urine can be the worst and most difficult smell to get rid of in your home. If you have a puppy or rescue dog, you most likely experienced a potty accident at least once. 

Wipe up potty accidents immediately with paper towels and an enzyme cleaner such as Nature’s Miracle. We could not have survived fostering two puppies at the same time, without our Little Green Machine.

⚠️ PRO TIP: Avoid potty accidents by using DoggieLawn. Hydroponically grown grass is designed to work perfectly as an indoor puppy potty, a porch potty for your dog, or outside on your balcony as a fresh potty patch.

5. Steam clean the carpet

Carpet can be the biggest source of the smell of dogs. It covers your entire house, and the fibers in the carpet trap in bad odors. 

Steam clean your carpet yearly either professionally or by yourself. 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.

📖 Read: How can I remove dog urine odor from carpet?

Breath in fresh air

Air quality should be a top priority not only for the smell but for you and your dog’s health. BUT, before you reach for that can of air freshener spray, plug-in or scented candle, make sure to watch this video by Healthy Pets.

6. Open the windows

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 funky smell.

7. Furnace filters

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.

8. Essential oils to freshen the air

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.

9. Bamboo charcoal air fresheners

I have several of these charcoal bags around the house in the rooms where the dogs spend most of their time. They are supposed to help with household odors. I can’t say for sure if they work or not. But they are cheap and easy to use, so can’t hurt having them around. 

⚠️ PRO TIP: Get a quick view of all the products I use to keep our house clean and smelling fresh, on my Amazon shopping list.

10. Use a Hepa Air Purifier or Ozone Generator

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 don’t have one yet, but have been thinking about adding one to our new home. I do know a few people who swear by their air purifiers to help with breathing. Hepa filters can help people with allergies too!

11. Air purifying plants

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). 


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. 

📖 Read: What Plants are Toxic to Dogs?

Furniture and Stuff

If you allow your dog on your furniture, then you need to keep those areas clean too. Remember my note about how anything porous can trap dog odors? 

12. Wash the walls and hard surfaces

With four dogs, I need to wash our walls at least once a month. They get disgusting with dirt and slobber. 

Walls aren’t commonly considered a porous surface, but they are… your walls collect that dog smell…  it’s just drywall and paint. I use a rag with a little dish soap and water to wash my walls. Occasionally I will use OdoBan (see #15 below) to clean very dirty walls. 

13. Cover up the furniture

No not like grandma’s plastic, although that would work too! I love having our dogs on the couch with me while watching TV, it’s our snuggle time. But our couch suffers from it. When we purchased our new living room furniture I vowed to keep it clean. 

We used to use throw blankets, but when we got our new furniture, I bought these couch covers for the dogsI got two so I can wash them weekly and always have the couch covered. This allows me to pick them up and wash them each week. And when we have people over, it’s much quicker to pull off all the slipcover and have a clean couch in seconds.

14. Vacuum furniture weekly

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 slipcovers, hair creeps in spots unimaginable. 

For those tough-to-get spots, I use the attachments on the Dyson Animal vacuum along with a Lily brush. Make sure to vacuum in, around, and under your furniture, you will be surprised where you find dog hair!

Every few months we will move the furniture so we can vacuum and mop underneath areas we can’t reach otherwise. This is part of our deep cleaning routine. 

15. OdoBan odor eliminator and disinfectant

This one may be a little controversial with those of you who are all-natural warriors. But I love OdoBan.

I found it when we moved into our previous 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, and beds, and use OdoBan in our laundry. It works and works well.

You can find OdoBan in some Walmart and Home Depot stores. And even my favorite online pet store, Chewy, sells OdoBan!

Find OdoBan on Chewy. And of course Amazon sells OdoBan too.

If someone tells me it is toxic for our dogs, I will stop using it… so I welcome any scientific research on their ingredient list. 

16. Wash dog beds, mats and blankets

If your dog has a dog bed or mat, make sure to wash them on a regular basis. Most pet beds have removable covers. If it’s not washable, maybe it’s time to consider buying washable bedding.

I wash ours with white vinegar and baking soda in the washing machine to help eliminate the odors. Remember to stay clear of toxic chemicals and laundry detergents, as your dog comes into direct contact with their bedding every day.

17. Wash the dog collar

Most dogs wear their collar 24/7, so it makes sense it will eventually start to stink. I recommend washing it when you bath your dog. Most dog collars can be thrown into the washing machine too, add it with some towels or their bedding.

We found these biothane dog collars a couple of years ago, and they’ve been a game changer! They do not hold in any bad odors, ever.

18. Wash dog toys

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.

Some toys are machine washable but check with the manufacturer of the toy first. 

giving dog a bath helps dogs with allergies

Grooming to stay clean

Make sure your dog is healthy and does not have a medical reason for smelling bad. A dog with allergies, ear infections, or other skin problems can give off a foul odor and make your house smell. Some dog owners report a corn chip smell coming from their dogs, this is likely a yeast infection. Take your dog to the vet if you suspect they have a health issue that is causing them to smell bad.

19. Brush your dog

Brushing your dog will help keep his coat clean and healthy. Even if your dog has short hair, they 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.

20. Bad breath

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 dental hygiene. Do you regularly brush your dog’s teeth? Most dog owners don’t. 

📖 Read: The best dog toothpaste (vet-recommended dental care)

21. Wipe paws at the door

I will admit, I am terrible at cleaning the dog’s paws before coming inside. But 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.

I also bought a few different door mats that claim to trap the wet and muddy paws as the dogs walk inside. They help, but none of them remove all the debris. 

⚠️ PRO TIP: You can see the door mats I have in my house, on my Amazon shopping list.

22. Give your dog a bath

Dogs technically never need a bath, but if you don’t want them to stink, then a bath is the way to make them smell better.

If you can bathe your dog 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 started using Only Natural Pet’s flea and tick shampoo

📖 Read: 7 Important Dog Bath Tips and Homemade Dog Shampoo

Deep cleaning your home to rid of stubborn pet smells

If you’re still struggling with the dog smell, it may take some extreme measures to get rid of pet odor in your home.

Here are a few extra tips for those stubborn bad smells:

  • Hire a professional cleaning service. Sometimes we need to leave it to the professionals who can bring in extra muscle and heavy-duty steam cleaner and tools to banish those smells for good.
  • Whole house ozone treatment. You can do this yourself first, but you may want to consider hiring a company that specializes in ozone treatment. 
  • Replace your carpet. Your dog is your best friend, carpet is not. I recommend hardwood floors or laminate over carpet. 
  • Replace furniture, dog beds, curtains, and other porous items. If certain areas of your home stink, it may be time to get rid of the culprit… not the dog, the couch!

⚠️ PRO TIP: Once you finally get your home smelling clean again, keep up with a regular cleaning schedule to ensure it stays smelling clean!

Natural remedies for eliminating dog odors

If you prefer a more natural approach to eliminating dog odors, there are several remedies you can try. These remedies are not only effective but also safe for both your dog and the environment. 

1. Baking soda 

Baking soda is a versatile odor absorber that can be used throughout your home. Sprinkle it on carpets, furniture, and other surfaces, let it sit for a few hours, and then vacuum it up. The baking soda will absorb and neutralize odors, leaving your home smelling fresh. Always test in a hidden area first. 

2. Vinegar 

Vinegar is another natural odor eliminator. Mix equal parts water and vinegar in a spray bottle and use it to clean floors, walls, and other surfaces. The vinegar will help neutralize odors and leave a fresh scent behind. Just be sure to use white vinegar, as other types may stain surfaces. 

3. Activated charcoal 

Activated charcoal works by absorbing odors. Place bags of activated charcoal in areas prone to dog odors, such as near your dog’s bed, entryway, or living room. I have several of these charcoal bags around our home in places where our dogs spend most of their time. You do need to occasionally place them in the sun to reactivate the charcoal. 

These natural remedies are simple yet powerful tools in your battle against dog odors. Give them a try and see the difference they can make in your home.

How do you make your house smell good with pets? 

It’s time to embrace the joy of having a dog or multiple dogs in my case without the worry of unpleasant odors. Banishing dog odors from your home is possible by maintaining a regular cleaning routine, using natural remedies, and utilizing air purifiers and odor absorbers. 

Remember to pay extra attention to specific areas prone to dog odors, choose non-toxic cleaning products, and implement preventive measures to minimize future odors. If all else fails, don’t hesitate to seek professional cleaning services for stubborn odors. 

What’s your best cleaning hack? I am always looking for new and easy ideas to keep our house and dogs smelling fresh, please leave a comment below with your best cleaning hack. It could help others in our community struggling with a house that smells like a dog too!

Rescue Dogs 101's Natural Remedies Reference Guide
About the Author

Debi McKee

Debi McKee is the expert behind Rescue Dogs 101 where she guides you in your journey of adopting and raising a rescue dog every step of the way. She is a mom of 3 human kids and 4 dogs and volunteers for a local dog rescue and Humane Society. Click here for more about Debi and her passion for helping you and your dog.

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  1. I have lost the majority of my sense of smell since I got to be over 65 years old and only occasionally do I smell a real strong odor of any kind. My daughter still has hers and gets after me frequently because of my 4 dogs who are paper trained but miss them more than they should and hit the carpets. After reading this article I now have hope as to getting it to smell better then I have been able to do and starting tonight getting out the baking soda so it has time overnight to work on the odors. Then tomorrow is vacuuming and shampooing carpets and all 4 getting baths.

    1. Patricia, if your pups have been peeing on the carpet for a while, you may need to replace the carpet, as it may have soaked into the pad and even into the subfloor. We removed the carpet when we bought our house and it was terrible how bad the wood floors under the carpet were destroyed. Just don’t be disappointed if after all the cleaning effort it still smells.

  2. Thanks for the great tips! One note though… I bought an air purifier with an ozone setting and loved it, until I read how dangerous ozone is in your home. Some reports say it causes brain and lung cancer. I used to run it constantly in the rooms we kept our dogs in when we leave. I felt TERRIBLE. Now, if I use it, I close that room’s door and put a towel under the crack. After it runs, I open the window and turn on the fan, keeping the door closed. Works like a charm!

  3. This is such great advice! I have 2 med-large dogs and controlling the doggie odor got so much easier once we moved into an apartment with hardwood and tile rather than carpeting. I feel like no matter how clean you and your pets are, carpet just traps fur, dander, and odors.

    Also, remember that dogs have a very strong odor when stressed (think about the smell of a vet exam room!). So try to minimize stressors in your home so it doesn’t start smelling like a scared pup! The DAP pheromone sprays were good for decreasing environmental stress for one of my uptight pups.

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