Simple Ways to Get Rid of Stinky Dog Odors in Your Home

Hey there, dog owner! It’s time to talk about the odors in your secretly stinky home.

Noseblindness is a real thing — it’s the reason you can’t smell your own house (unless you’ve been away on vacation for a while). The scientific reason has to do with your nose and brain working together to determine whether the smell is a threat. If it’s not, the smell receptors get shut off, which is why a particularly pungent odor doesn’t seem as bad after a few minutes of exposure.

Basically, you might be living with unpleasant dog odors and not even realize they’re an issue. And that’s one thing, but what about when you have company? Rather than masking dog odors with chemical-laden air fresheners that wear off in a few minutes, try some of these effortless tips to keep your home smelling fantastic even if you have a dog (or three).

1. Schedule regular grooming appointments

Little beauty shih-tzu dog at the groomer's hand
Get your little beauty groomed regularly. | Tailex/Getty Images

The single best way to keep your canine best friend smelling fresh as a daisy is to keep up with regular baths and grooming. Dogs don’t sweat the same way people do, but they do have distinct odors that come from glands in their ears and hair follicles. These smells are completely normal and healthy, but to keep them from becoming overwhelming, regular baths can help.

2. Don’t forget oral hygiene

dog holding a toothbrush
Dental health matters for dogs, too. | HannamariaH/Getty Images

You might think unpleasant dog odor comes from their fur — but you’d only be half right. Dental infections are common in dogs, and proper oral care and prevention are just as important for Fido as they are for you. Schedule regular vet visits to ensure proper tooth and gum health. In between those trips, try brushing your dog’s teeth regularly and feeding him dental chews made specifically to get rid of tartar and plaque.

3. Feed your dog a healthy diet

dog behind food bowl and licking with tongue
High quality food leads to better doggy breath. | Damedeeso/Getty Images

Intestinal discomfort is just as prevalent in dogs as it is in people. To help keep things running smoothly and minimize bad breath caused by noxious doggy belches, try feeding him a high-quality dog food that’s rich in protein and healthy fat. Be wary of feeding your dog table scraps, and avoid it whenever possible.

4. Clean his ears

Cleaning ear dog with cotton swab
Get rid of wax buildup to prevent bacteria. | Capuski/Getty images

One surprising source of dog odor? His ears. A dog’s ears contain scent glands, which can gradually build up with bacteria and start to stink. To avoid this, clean his ears with a cotton ball soaked in hydrogen peroxide to remove excess wax, which can trap bacteria and mites and contribute to those unpleasant odors you’re smelling.

5. Try a little baking soda on your carpets

baking soda on spoon
Baking soda naturally absorbs odors. |

Baking soda is a cheap and natural odor neutralizer that you can safely use on furniture, carpets, and upholstery. To clean carpets, sprinkle the baking soda all over and allow it to set for at least 15 minutes. For high traffic areas, you might want to let it sit overnight, and use a clean scrub brush to distribute the baking soda. Then vacuum away the mess.

For washable items, such as curtains, add ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar and a few shakes of baking soda to your regular detergent. Then, wash as usual. It’s cheaper and just as effective as fancy odor-eliminating solutions from the pet store.

6. Wash the dog toys

Jack Russell Terrier
Slobber-covered toys can get a little smelly. |

Your pup’s toys might be contributing to those unexplained dog odors at home. Think about it: Saliva has a smell, and Fido has covered his favorite bone in it. A few times per month, take the time to wash all the dog toys in the sink with very hot water and mild dish soap.

7. Use essential oils

Herbal oil and lavender flowers
Lavender essential oil is great for dogs. | Grafvision/Getty Images

Not all essential oils are safe for dogs, but lavender oil is. And it helps make your pup smell amazing. Rub it directly onto his skin, or mist him regularly with a diluted version whenever you notice he starts to smell a little funky. You can also spray down his bed, the couch, the carpet, and other places that may suffer from that doggy smell. Just be sure you’re using high-quality, pure-grade essential oils rather than cheap imitations.

8. Bathe your dog regularly

dog in the bathroom after a bath wrapped in a towel
Regular bathing keeps your dog smelling lovely. | Fly_dragonfly/Getty Images

Although you might wait longer between professional grooming appointments, it’s important to bathe your dog at least once per month, especially if he spends lots of time outside. Abrasive shampoo ingredients might actually do more harm than good on his sensitive skin, so use a simple shampoo. Skip the overly perfumed options, as these tend to have unnecessary chemicals. In a hurry? Try rubbing him down with a regular baby wipe between baths to keep him smelling clean.

9. Invest in an air purifier

hand with remote control to the air conditioner
Air purifiers remove the stink from the air. | Ipopba/Getty Images

An air purifier can help just about anyone cover unpleasant odors in the air. If you have dogs, consider choosing a model that’s specially designed to remove pet smells. It should come with a HEPA filter to clean out impurities, should be strong enough to cover the entire area, and should have an air ionizer to trap airborne particles. Take a look at reviews to make your best decision.

10. Clean the carpets

Cleaning couch with professional spray cleaner
Hire or rent a professional carpet cleaner. | Jarino47/Getty Images

Chances are your dog spends a fair amount of time lounging on the living room carpet while relaxing with the family. No matter how diligent you are about grooming and bathing, a certain amount of smell is healthy and normal, and those scent odors can easily get trapped in your carpet fibers.

Keep the carpet smelling fresh by vacuuming it regularly. Commit to frequent deep cleans, too, so you can loosen up trapped dirt and odor. Consider renting a heavy-duty carpet cleaner from your local home improvement store, or hire a professional to do it for you.

11. Try some enzymes

Housewife cleaning carpet
Enzymes break down the smell. | Scyther5/Getty Images

Your patterned area rug might be hiding a multitude of sins. Pet accidents happen, and you might not always realize the exact spot that they occurred. A blacklight can help illuminate the situation and help pinpoint the source of the lingering odors. For old pet messes that you missed, try a formulated enzyme cleaner that will help break down dog urine, feces, vomit, and other smelly substances.

12. Wash your pet bed

Dog lying in his pet bed
The dog bed can trap odors. | Huettenhoelscher/Getty Images

Before purchasing a pet bed, make sure it has a removable cover that you can easily wash with your weekly laundry. Your dog will spend a huge amount of time shedding skin cells and rolling around in his bed, which means frequent cleanings are a must.

13. Clean up accidents immediately

Puppy on absorbent litter
Get the accident cleaned up as quickly as you can. | TatyanaGl/Getty Images

The quicker you catch them, the easier they are to clean up. Try to take care of those inevitable pet messes right when they happen to avoid lingering odors that spread to other parts of the house.

14. Wipe off dirty paws

woman petting her yellow labrador on the couch
Keep your pup’s paws clean. | Wavebreakmedia/Getty Images

Your pup goes outside to do his business, and the dirt and debris he tracks inside might contribute to the unpleasant odors in your home. Keep a cleaning mitt right by the back door, and thoroughly clean his paws before letting him traipse through the whole house.

15. Open the windows

Young woman breathing fresh air
Fresh air can make a world of difference. | Gpointstudio/Getty Images

Sometimes the best solutions are also the most obvious. To rid your house of pet odors, try a little bit fresh air every once in a while. Research shows consistently smelling natural scents, such as trees and grass, can even help to reduce stress levels.