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Top Tips For Removing Pet Odors From Your Car

September 16, 2021

removing pet odors from your car

Many of us pet-lovers delight in seeing a fluffy dog head poking out of a car window when we’re out on the road.

Perhaps it’s even your pet’s cute face greeting fellow drivers! 

Regardless, we love to carry our pets along with us wherever we go, but this can present some pretty stinky problems. Pet odor can get particularly bad in your car. 

Increased heat and cramped quarters can quickly combine to turn mild odors into nearly unbearable ones! 

picture of microbe in fllor of a car with a cartoon puppy

 As you might have already put together, smell-creating microbes thrive in hot environments, making your car the perfect habitat for nasty odors.  

And odors don’t necessarily have to result from pet urine or feces; sometimes, your pet’s dander or skin oils can cause musty smells to become embedded in your car’s upholstery or carpet. 

So what is the solution? 



Remove the source of the odors: the smelly microbes themselves.  

In this article, we’ll explore how to do just this! 

There are several different types of material in your car where pet odors might become embedded—either through messy accidents or simply daily dander. 

Before You Begin

While the pet odor issue in your car is likely coming from urine, feces, dander, or oils, it’s always a good idea to prepare the area for treatment by removing all residual pet hair or other refuse. 

The easiest and best way to do this is to vacuum your car. This can be done at home or at any public car wash which offers vacuum services.

cleaning floor of car with a carpet extractor

While removing hair and other residues from your car’s upholstery and carpet is not an essential step, it will ultimately make the cleaning process easier in the long run.

PRO TIP: clean your car on a clear day and out of direct sunlight if possible, opening the windows or doors to allow the vehicle to air out after the treatment period (more on this below). 



How to Remove Pet Odor From Your Car’s Fabric Upholstery

The easiest place for pet odors to get embedded is in your car’s fabric upholstery, but luckily, it’s fairly easy to remove. 

Your first task will be to locate the specific areas of upholstery where odors are especially noticeable.

This could be a simple task if your dog loves to sit in a particular spot, but it can also be difficult if your pet likes to range around the vehicle. The obvious prevention for this is to limit your pet to a certain area of the car, making future treatments that much easier.

Once you’ve identified the areas where odors are particularly nasty, it’s time to treat! 

We recommend that you use one of Unique’s top-notch pet odor-eliminating products. Our products contain effective bacteria and enzymes that eat up and completely eliminate odors and stains at their source. 

No masking the real issue. No overpowering fragrances that are worse than the original smell. Powered by Nature, and Formulated with trust. 

For cleaning upholstery, we recommend that you use Pet Odor and Stain Eliminator—although our other products will also do an excellent job. 

Simply follow these steps, using Pet Odor and Stain Eliminator, to remove odors: 

  1. Saturate the smelly upholstery area with Pet Odor and Stain Eliminator
  2. Unique Pet odor and Stain Eliminator ready to use bottle on a bright blue background
    Use your hand, a soft brush, or the bottom of your Pet Odor and Stain Eliminator bottle to work the product into the fabric upholstery. By pressing down on the fabric and rubbing the product in, you’re making sure that the bacteria and enzymes within Pet Odor and Stain Eliminator make contact with and remove all those disgusting odors!
  1. If you have a specific stain or an area where you know your pet had an accident, it’s best to cover the area with a damp, white towel for a few hours. This creates the perfect environment for the bacteria within Pet Odor and Stain Eliminator, helping them to break down stains and odors.
    During this period, you should keep your car well-ventilated and out of direct sunlight if possible. 
  2. If you placed a towel over your problem area, remove it after the treatment period and allow the affected upholstery to air dry. Again, make sure your vehicle is well-ventilated, preferably with a few windows or doors open on either side of the car, and out of direct sunlight.

How to Remove Pet Odor From Your Car’s Carpet

Another likely place your pet may have either had an accident or otherwise left some smelly DNA is in your vehicle’s carpet. 

Luckily, Unique has you covered here as well!

Carpet Shampoo is Unique Clean Home’s quintessential odor eliminator for carpets of all types, and your car is no exception. 

Carpet Shampoo functions much like other Unique products, It can be used on your carpet floor mats to easily and effectively remove stains and odors. It also removes pet pheromones, which are essentially odors only your pet can smell. 

If the source of these odors isn’t removed, your pet may continue to resoil the same spot more than once.

If you have a carpet extractor, you can use Carpet Shampoo as a cleaning solution. A carpet extractor is an industrial carpet cleaning machine that forces water and a cleaning solution into the carpet and extracts it back out, leaving the carpet like new. (If you don’t have a carpet extractor, no problem! See below.)

To clean your car’s carpet using a carpet extractor machine, follow these steps:

  1. Mix 4 ounces of Carpet Shampoo to every gallon of warm water. 
    Unique Carpet Shampoo on light blue background
  2. Let the mixture sit for several minutes. This causes the bacteria in Carpet Shampoo to come out of spore form and start working. 
  3. Clean your car’s carpet using your extractor machine. Be sure to follow all instructions for your particular machine. 
  4. If odors are particularly nasty, we recommend that you leave some water and product in your carpet. In other words, don’t extract out as much as you normally would. This will leave the carpet a little damper than normal, allowing the bacteria in Carpet Shampoo to continue working for a longer period of time. 
  5. Keep your car well-ventilated, with windows or doors open, throughout this process. 

If you don’t have access to a carpet extractor, you can still clean your car’s carpet! However, we do suggest that you use a slightly higher concentration of the product. This is because you won’t have a machine forcing the product deep into the carpet fibers and therefore cleaning more thoroughly. You can compensate somewhat for this factor by using a mixture of Carpet Shampoo with a stronger concentration of bacteria. 

To clean your car’s carpet WITHOUT a carpet extractor, follow these steps:

  1. Mix 1 part Carpet Shampoo to every 10 parts of warm water. It’s best to mix your solution in a pump-up sprayer or spray bottle. 
  2. Allow the mixture to sit for several minutes, giving the bacteria time to activate.
  3. Spray the mixture onto your car’s carpet, making sure to saturate the affected area.
  4. Agitate the carpet to work the product deep into the fibers.
  5. Let the carpet air dry. Be sure your vehicle is well-ventilated throughout this process. 

How to Remove Pet Odor From Your Car’s Leather Interior

puppy in car by gear shift

While most vehicles may have fabric upholstery, there are a growing number that bypass traditional fabric for the sleek look and feel of leather. But many people find themselves at a loss to know how to clean leather upholstery or other interior vehicle materials made of leather.

In reality, however, while you may need to take some extra precautions when cleaning leather, the process is quite simple and effective! 

Important Note: While we are confident in our products, we do recommend that you test the procedures outlined below on an inconspicuous area of your vehicle’s leather material. Certain types of leather can react differently to products, so it’s a good idea to see how your particular material behaves before attempting to clean a more visible area.

First, like with other materials, you must identify the area most affected by a stain or odor. This can be more difficult with leather since odors or stains can be fainter and harder to detect. Again, odors will likely accumulate in your pet’s favorite spot, but it can also be a good idea to lightly treat a wider area of the leather material just to cover your bases. 

Cleaning your car’s leather interior is simple: 

man cleaning car seat
  1. Saturate a sponge, white microfiber towel, or traditional white towel with Pet Odor and Stain Eliminator. A microfiber towel is not essential but can be gentler on your leather upholstery. 
  2. Apply the product to the leather surfaces of your car with a towel or sponge, being sure to do so as evenly as possible.
  3. Work the product into the leather slowly by applying pressure in a circular motion.  Passing over the affected area several times with your towel or sponge can help the product to fully absorb into the leather. You may need to add more product to the towel or sponge as needed.
  4. Remove any excess liquid from the leather by wiping it away with a dry cloth. 
  5. Allow the leather to air dry. Preferably, your car will be well-ventilated at this point. We suggest that you open at least one window or door on either side to create a draft and keep your vehicle out of direct sunlight if possible 
Our pets form an integral part of our lives, and of course, we want to take them everywhere we go! But pets are also smelly sometimes, so it’s no surprise that odors can start to become an issue, especially when combined with the close quarters and, frequently, high temps inside our cars. 


Golden retreiver in the back of car with door open there is a yoga mat and cooler in the back of the car


Unique Pet Care has you covered every step of the way with products that are extremely effective and easy to use. 

We pride ourselves on helping our customers solve any issues they run into, which is why our friendly staff is ready to assist you anytime with any issue! 

Simply reach out to us at, and we’ll do our best to get you back on track!

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