Will Vinegar Neutralize Pet Urine Odor?

Pets won't always choose the right place to go to the bathroom.
Pets won't always choose the right place to go to the bathroom. (Image: pet dog image by NorthShoreSurfPhotos from Fotolia.com)

For some people, pets provide companionship and compassion for everyday life. However, even the best of friends can make mistakes. and if your dog or cat has urinated in your home, your nose will tell you about it right away. While there are a number of professional products designed to eliminate these smells, vinegar will also effectively neutralize the odor.


Neutralizing pet odor is important for obvious reasons, but for some not-so-obvious ones as well. First, the intense odor of pet urine can be enough to ruin the atmosphere of a home. Such odor can be disastrous for family get-togethers or even a quiet evening at home.

On top of the obvious, there are other reasons to effectively neutralize pet urine odor. Annie B. Bond, author of “Better Basics for the Home” and “Clean and Green,” indicates that remaining urine smell can actually encourage pets to urinate in the house again. With their excellent sense of smell, pets can find the spots in which they urinated before if the odor is not completely neutralized. If the smell remains, the pet may think that this means he has effectively marked his territory, and that he can urinate in that place any time he wants.

Even if you can mask the odor from yourself, you have to ensure that you eliminate the smell completely, and vinegar can help with that task.

Why it Works

Sice pets consume a variety of foods and beverages, their urine contains both alkaline (non-acidic) components and acidic components. The strong urine smell is made of a combination of both, but much of the smell comes from ammonia, an alkaline component of the odor. The acidity in the vinegar eliminates the strong alkaline smell from the ammonia in the urine.

Cleaning Recipes

Straight vinegar is highly acidic and produces a strong smell of its own. Dilute the vinegar to avoid damaging the carpet with the acidity. In general, 2 cups of vinegar per gallon of water is an effective cleaning solution that will not damage an area.

Rinse the area thoroughly with clean warm water after applying the vinegar wash to help remove residual vinegar in the carpet. Sprinkling baking soda around the area can also help to absorb the vinegar smell. Baking soda can sit on a carpet overnight, if necessary; vacuum the baking soda from the carpet after it has worked.


Urine odor can also stick to clothing. Mix ¼ cup of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar into your next load of laundry to help eliminate the smell that even powerful detergent can leave behind. However, do not use vinegar on delicate clothing, as the acidity may damage fibers.

Other Tips

Vinegar will neutralize the pet urine odor, but has a strong smell of its own, even when it was been diluted. If possible, open windows or use fans to help clear the air of the strong vinegar odor. Unlike the urine smell, the vinegar odor will fade after a few hours. Also, vinegar is safe to use on most hardwood floors as well. Dilute it with warm water (three parts water to one part vinegar) and mop the floor.

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