Dogs are the best— they’re funny, snuggly, and they don’t need a babysitter when you leave the house. They’re best friends to their owners, and protectors of kids (well, sometimes). But one area in which our canine friends could improve? Well, their smell isn’t always rosey. Whether you’ve always allowed your dog on the couch, or like me, you started with the best intention of not allowing your dog up only to find yourself months later rearranging your position on the sofa to accommodate your pup, at some point you may notice that your couch smells, well, like a dog. And not in that sweet puppy way.
Here we talked with an expert upholstery cleaner about how to get dog smell out of your couch.
How to get dog smell out of a couch
When you’re lounging on your couch and you notice the upholstery has a funky smell, your first instinct may be to try to take care of it then and there. There are plenty of household items and pet-centric cleaning products on the market that can help you tackle the odor. But before you reach for your cleaning supplies, Joshua Hay, operations & marketing manager at Mega Clean, a Sydney-based upholstery and carpet cleaning service, tells Romper that it might be best to consult a professional first. “The machines and solutions we use are tailored to help combat pet smells and stains. A professional deep steam clean flushes the couch with water and a chemical solution (pet and child-friendly in our case) and [it’s] then extracted leaving you with a fresh and clean lounge.” He adds that this procedure helps eliminate bad odors (as opposed to simply masking them) and removes dirt and bacteria. The last step that a professional upholstery cleaner will generally take is deodorizing the couch which leaves it smelling fresh.
While this may be more expensive than spraying your couch with a deodorizing spray (or even perfume) or your other favorite household cleaner, these DIY methods can end up staining the couch and not even removing the smell, so you’re left with a bigger issue than you started with.
How to avoid dog smell in a couch
As someone who bathes my dog a handful of times a year, and usually because she rolls in something nasty, I know the advice to wash your dog more may seem laughable at best. But regularly bathing is just about the best way to keep their smell from building up in upholstery.
“Keeping the smell from building up in the first place comes down to two things. Firstly, we recommend professionally cleaning your couches a minimum of twice a year,” Hay says. “Secondly, wash your dog! A freshly cleaned dog kept in a clean environment whilst being fed good food will most likely not be leaving smells around the house.”
Fortunately you don’t have to lug your pet into the bathtub monthly to keep your couches in good condition. Dry shampoo exists for dogs (yes, you read that right) and it’s a super convenient way to keep them smelling fresh. There are plenty of dry shampoo for dogs on the market (sometimes called waterless or rinseless shampoo). I personally like the Rowan dry dog shampoo because it’s approved by veterinary dermatologists (another thing I didn’t know existed) and it’s made without sulfates, parabens, talc, or propellants. And it smells like coconuts.
Another easy way to prevent dog smell from getting into the couch in the first place is to put down throw blankets which can be periodically washed in the washer along with any pillows the comfort-loving dog lies on.
What can I use to get rid of dog smell in my couch?
I would venture to say it’s preferable to have a couch that smells like dog than it is to have a couch that’s stained or discolored, which is why it’s important to be super careful about what you use on upholstered furniture to eliminate odors.
“Store-bought products are problematic for the average home user. The issue with these products is the consumer sprays the harsh chemicals onto the fabric and does not have a reliable extraction tool to help flush out and dry what was sprayed on. The residue that is left can stain the fabric and potentially discolor and worsen the odor,” Hay tells Romper.
Looking for something safe to use on your couch to eliminate dog odor? Trusty baking soda has your back and it’s a solid odor remover, which is why people keep it open in the fridge. Just sprinkle the couch with baking soda, leave it overnight (not allowing the dog on the couch of course) then vacuum it off the next day. Darker couches may look a bit white in places afterward, but you can wipe off any excess powder with a damp rag.
Hay says Mega Clean also recommends ScotchGard. “We offer this with our cleans as an added protective layer. Scotchgard helps block stains so they don't set in, making it easier to clean up. The faster you clean the stains, the faster the odor is removed.”
If your dog vomits or has an accident on your couch and it needs to be addressed immediately (this was me earlier this week so I feel you) a pet stain and odor eliminator is usually safe. Enzyme-based pet cleaners (like this one from Rocco & Roxie) tend to be more natural and therefore pet-safe, but they still work well, just follow the directions closely.
Yes we love our pets, but that doesn’t mean we want our furniture to smell like them. These tips for getting dog smell out of the couch work well on all upholstery or even things like a quilt, pillow, or blanket that’s too big to fit in your washer.