Pets are a source of joy and love and even good health. The American Heart Association points out that owning a pet is connected to lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and incidence of obesity. Pet ownership, especially dog ownership, is associated with reduced heart disease risk, which to some extent could be due to the fact that people who own a dog have more physical activity in comparison to people who don’t.
Yet, pet-owners know well that these furry companions can also bring a smell in the house that is anything but pleasant. So what can you do about it? Let’s look at a few strategies that could help you remove pet odor from your house.
Vacuum It Up!
If you have a fur-laden companion, you are no stranger to seeing their hair on floors, sofas or cushions. Furry or not, pets can leave a smelly trail behind them, including their hair, dander or little accidents. So vacuum floors, carpets, pet beds, cushions thoroughly, and especially look for places where your pet spends a lot of time.
Be careful not to miss spots like the bottom of your furniture where stray hair might be stuck. Special vacuum attachments are usually the most effective for thorough vacuuming. Remember to empty the vacuum and replace vacuum bags often – otherwise, the vacuum itself could start to smell too.
Clean Old ‘Accidents’ in Your House
Hidden or improperly cleaned ‘accidents’ are often to blame for the pet odor in your house. The longer cat or dog urine stays on the carpet, the tougher it is to get rid of the stench. This is because pet smell becomes embedded in the fibers.
In fact, pet urine can sometimes go deep in wood floors or concrete. So in some cases, you may need to fully replace the subfloor and buy a new carpet or rug. But a more budget-friendly way to get rid of the smell is baking soda, which works by absorbing the bad odor.
Sprinkle baking soda on ‘accident’ spots, let it sit for a few hours, and then vacuum it up. In addition, enzyme cleaners, which break down the proteins in urine, feces, and other types of pet residue, are especially effective. You can first test the enzyme cleaner on an area of the carpet that is not so conspicuous to make sure that it doesn’t discolor it. Follow the instructions on the package of the enzyme cleaner.
In houses with basements or garages, there is a risk that your furry friend is the culprit behind that mystery stench coming from these areas, especially if you sense it on warm and humid days. You can use a black light to check if there is urine on the floors or lower walls. If you discover such spots, apply one part vinegar and one part water, adding two teaspoons of baking soda. Finally, apply an enzyme cleaner, again following the instructions on the package. The same enzyme cleaner that you used for the carpet can be used for concrete or cement.
Wash Your Bed
If you love snuggling with your pet where you sleep, then it’s likely that your bed could also be harboring the bad smell. So make sure to machine-wash your sheets, blankets, duvet covers, etc. as often as possible. You can use the usual detergent and add one cup of vinegar when washing them.
Make sure not to overload the washing machine, so that there is enough space for the items to move around – that is, so that they are washed more effectively. To remove lingering odor from the mattress, you could sprinkle it with baking soda. Allow it to sit for at least half an hour and then vacuum it.
Clean Your Pet’s Habitat
Pets’ beds should also be washed often. Usually, it is possible to machine-wash them. If the bed happens to be too big for the washing machine, check if there’s a removable cover and machine-wash this cover only. For the rest of the bed, you can sprinkle it with baking soda and vacuum it before putting the clean cover.
If, on the other hand, your pet is living in a cage, then make sure to clean the cage regularly. Just remember that cleaning cages with strong chemicals could harm the pet. So when it comes to cages, it is best to clean them with mild cleaners, such as water and dishwashing liquid or cleaners specifically designed for cleaning a pet’s cage.
Get an air purifier
Regular vacuuming and cleaning are a must if you own a pet. However, usually, they aren’t enough to fully eliminate the smelly trail left by pet dander, that is, those tiny flakes of skin that dogs, cats, rodents, birds, and other pets with fur or feathers shed. These small, sometimes microscopic flakes can pose health hazards for some people, as they can act as allergy triggers. According to the American Lung Association, for people who are allergic to pets or have asthma that is triggered by pet allergens, inhaling animal allergens can deteriorate respiratory symptoms and even result in reduced lung capacity.
Of course, just how much allergen needs to be inhaled to trigger a reaction differs significantly from person to person. The best way to remove these tiny particles from your house is to invest in good-quality air purifiers, such as the ones equipped with HEPA (High-Efficiency Particle Arrestance). As their name suggests, the HEPA air purifiers specifically target particles as small as 0.3 microns, trapping them in the filter before they end up in your air passageways. In fact, if pet odor is your primary concern, you could research and buy an air purifier that excels at neutralizing pet odors for people with allergies.
Just remember to regularly replace the filters in the air purifier.
As with most smells, cleaning is key when dealing with pet odor too. Be sure to clean all areas in your house where your pet may have been present. If odors still remain after the clean-up, we recommend using an air purifier designed to deal with pet odors.
If you’re interested to learn more about air purifiers, check out our blog or head over to our guide section, where you can find reviews of our favorite air purifiers.