Help! My Home Smells Like a Kennel No Matter How Much I Clean


It’s common for homes with dogs to take on a persistent pet odor, regardless of how much cleaning is done. This lingering smell of dog urine, feces, and mustiness can be unpleasant and embarrassing for homeowners. More importantly, prolonged exposure to these odors can have negative health effects.

According to research, breathing in ammonia from pet urine over time can cause headaches, nausea, and irritation of the lungs, eyes, and throat (Source). The bacteria in urine and feces can also lead to respiratory infections or exacerbate asthma (Source). For these reasons, it’s important for pet owners to find effective ways to eliminate dog odors in their homes.

Why Dogs Make Your House Smell

There are a few key reasons why dogs make your house smell:

The natural oils in a dog’s fur and skin can create a distinctive doggy odor, especially if the dog is not bathed regularly. Even with regular bathing, the natural oils dogs secrete can build up and lead to odors.

dog with oily, smelly fur in need of bath

Dog urine and feces are another major source of odor. Any accidents in the house create strong ammonia-like odors. Even urine outside can get tracked into the home. Dog waste contains compounds that produce a very noticeable smell.

The food a dog eats also affects their smell. Foods heavy in fish and some other meats can cause a dog’s skin and coat to be more pungent. Changing to a higher quality diet may help reduce odors.

Regular Cleaning

One of the best ways to keep your house from smelling like dog is to stick to a regular cleaning routine. Frequent cleaning helps remove dirt, dander, and other sources of odors before they have a chance to build up.

Aim to vacuum all floors and furniture at least once per week. Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to trap allergens. Pay extra attention to spots where your dog sleeps or hangs out.1 Wash all pet beds, blankets, pillows, and soft toys weekly to eliminate odors. Consider washing some items twice a week if your dog spends a lot of time on them.

For homes with cats, scoop litter boxes daily. Dump everything, wash with soap and hot water, and refill with fresh litter at least once per week. Scoopable litter may need changing every other day.2 Stay on top of this chore to prevent ammonia odors from urine and feces.

Target Problematic Areas

Carpets and rugs tend to absorb and trap odors over time. Use an enzymatic cleaner like Nature’s Miracle Deep Cleaning Pet Stain and Odor Remover (Nature’s Miracle 2022) to break down urine proteins and lift stains from the carpet fibers. Let it soak in for 5-10 minutes before blotting and scrubbing the area. Renting a carpet steam cleaner can help draw out ground-in odors from carpet padding and backing.

Upholstery is also prone to holding odors. Use a pet-safe upholstery cleaner and be sure to check care instructions first. Blot problem areas instead of rubbing. Allow upholstery to dry completely before use.

Wash removable pet bed covers frequently. For foam inserts, sprinkle liberally with baking soda, allow to sit overnight, vacuum up, and air out before replacing the cover. Plastic pet crates can be scrubbed down with a multi-surface cleaner containing enzymes or odor neutralizers. Be sure to allow the crate to dry fully before putting bedding back in.

Use Pet Odor Eliminators

Specialized pet odor eliminators can help tackle stubborn smells lingering in your home. Look for enzyme cleaners, baking soda, white vinegar or hydrogen peroxide when shopping for commercial pet odor removers.

Enzyme Cleaners

cleaning pet mess with enzymatic odor eliminator

Enzyme cleaners work to break down the compounds in urine that cause odors. They contain live bacteria that ‘eat’ the particles that make the smell. Enzyme cleaners are specifically designed for pet messes and are safe to use around dogs.

Baking Soda

Baking soda absorbs odors and can be sprinkled directly on carpets or upholstery before vacuuming up. For extra cleaning power, combine baking soda with vinegar or hydrogen peroxide to create a bubbly paste. Apply the paste to affected areas, let sit for 5-10 minutes, then wipe clean.

White Vinegar

The acidic properties of white vinegar help remove stains and neutralize odors. Mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle and spray on any fabric or flooring with a stubborn pet smell. Let sit for 5 minutes before wiping or allow to air dry.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is an effective yet safe odor eliminator. Blot up any excess urine from the soiled spot, then spray hydrogen peroxide directly on the area. Allow it to dry fully before vacuuming. Hydrogen peroxide bleaches fabric, so test an inconspicuous area first.

Air Out the House

One of the best ways to get rid of dog smells lingering in your home is to regularly air out the house. Opening windows and doors allows fresh air to circulate, drying out damp areas where odor-causing bacteria and allergens can grow. Using fans speeds up the process by actively circulating air throughout the house.

Position fans near problem areas like pet beds, cloth furniture, and carpets to actively push out stale odors. Open windows on opposite sides of the house to create cross-ventilation. Let fresh air circulate for at least 30 minutes per day.

You can also refresh the smell of your home by placing natural scents near open windows. Citrus fruits, fresh flowers, eucalyptus leaves, or scented sachets can provide pleasant aromas. Just avoid using artificially scented sprays or candles, which can irritate pets’ respiratory systems.1

Wash Fabrics

Fabrics that your dog regularly comes into contact with can hold onto smells over time. Target items like dog bed covers, blankets, towels, and area rugs for deep cleaning. Wash these fabrics separately from your regular laundry using vinegar, baking soda or lemon juice to help eliminate odors.

For dog bed covers, blankets and towels, add 1⁄2 cup of distilled white vinegar or lemon juice to the washing machine drum before adding your regular detergent. The acidity in vinegar and lemon juice helps cut through pet odors. You can also use about 1⁄4 cup of baking soda – its odor-fighting properties help absorb smells.

Vinegar is also an effective odor eliminator for area rugs. Mix 1 cup of white vinegar with 2 gallons of water and sponge the mixture onto the rug. Let it soak for 5-10 minutes before blotting with clean towels. The vinegar solution will help lift smells from the rug fibers.

For tough pet odors, let the fabrics soak overnight in a dilution of water and vinegar or lemon juice before washing. This extended soak time gives the solution more opportunity to fully penetrate and neutralize smells.

Be sure to wash pet fabrics in hot water to sanitize and remove oils that cause lingering odors. Run an extra rinse cycle to fully eliminate any traces of smell.

Consider an Air Purifier

Adding an air purifier to rooms where your dog spends time can help eliminate lingering odors. Air purifiers work by pulling air through a filter to trap pollutants like pet dander, hair, and odors. Look for models with a HEPA filter, which removes over 99% of allergens from the air by capturing tiny particles like pollen and pet dander.

air purifier removing dog odors from home

Many air purifiers also contain an activated charcoal filter, which is specially designed to absorb odors and gases. The porous charcoal material traps smells from pets, smoke, cooking, and more. Activated charcoal filters need to be replaced about every 6 months. Studies show that using an air purifier with both HEPA and activated charcoal filtration can significantly reduce pet-related odors and allergens in your home.

Adjust Your Dog’s Diet

What your dog eats can have a big impact on how they smell. Lower quality dog foods with lots of fillers and preservatives can lead to increased body odors. Upgrading to a premium food with higher quality ingredients can help reduce smell.

Look for dog foods with natural ingredients, and avoid those with lots of by-products, artificial colors and flavors. Some good ingredients to look out for are chicken, beef, fish, sweet potatoes, fruits and vegetables. Premium brands like Blue Buffalo, Taste of the Wild, and Wellness Core use natural ingredients and minimal fillers.

premium quality dog food to reduce odors

Probiotics and digestive enzymes are also beneficial for reducing dog odors. These support your dog’s digestive system and gut health. Some probiotic strains like Purina FortiFlora can help neutralize odors. You can sprinkle a probiotic powder on your dog’s food daily.

Making sure your dog stays hydrated is also important. Water helps flush waste and toxins from the body.Aim to provide fresh, clean water at all times. Consider adding some water to your dog’s kibble or feeding wet food to increase moisture intake.

When to Call a Professional

There comes a point when home remedies just aren’t enough to fully eliminate persistent pet odors. According to ChemDry, if you’ve vigorously cleaned the soiled areas and tried pet odor eliminators but the smell lingers, it’s a sign you need a professional.

Some indicators that it’s time to call in professional help include:

  • Lingering odors even after thorough cleaning and deodorizing attempts
  • Stains that have soaked down deep into carpet padding or subfloors
  • An overpowering ammonia smell that makes your eyes water
  • Noticing odors in multiple rooms or throughout the home

When hiring a professional pet odor removal service, make sure they have extensive experience dealing with pet smells, use truck-mounted cleaning equipment, and offer odor sanitizing treatments. The best services will tackle odors at the source by pre-treating affected areas with enzymatic cleaners and then extracting any remaining residues. Opt for a service that offers pet odor removal guarantees for your peace of mind.

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