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How to Get Dog Poop Out of Carpet and Get Rid of the Smell

You’ve landed in exactly the right place you never wanted to be—reading about how to clean dog poop out of the carpet! Believe it or not, cleaning up dog poop correctly is a bit of an art. And guess what? Most pet parents are doing it wrong.

I’ve had more than 30 pets in my lifetime, so I have cleaned up my share of poop, including diarrhea, poop that’s been unnoticed for a long time and hardened (we all know it happens!), and fresh poop. I’ve also had extensive conversations with folks who manufacture cleaning products, and I’ve tried dozens of cleaning products.

So here’s the poop on cleaning up poop!

Poop Cleaning Supplies

Contrary to popular belief (i.e., what you’ve read on other blogs about cleaning up poop), simple household cleaners just won’t cut it. I’ll explain why in a bit, but first, grab your cleaning bucket and fill it with the following items:

  1. Rubber/latex gloves
  2. Paper towels—lots of ’em if you’re dealing with diarrhea
  3. Garbage bag
  4. An enzymatic cleaner (this one is the one I recommend
  5. 1–2 clean white rags
  6. Fork (optional)
  7. Vacuum (optional)
  8. Carpet extractor, like this inexpensive one (optional)

Now, let’s get to work!

How to Really Get Dog Poop Out of Your Carpet

I’ve heard some people make specific recommendations about cleaning up diarrhea instead of firm poop, but they often include letting diarrhea sit and harden… um, eew!

The fact is, the faster you can clean up poop, the better. Ultimately, what creates the stain and smell is the same for any kind of poop: biological bacteria from your dog’s digestive tract. It’s also best to clean dog poop as soon as you see it because it can carry harmful bacteria and parasites that can make you sick. Plus, it can attract flies and other pests. You may need a special cleaning solution like an enzymatic cleaner to eliminate the smell and stain, so you may want to stock up on that.

But I will admit removing dog poop stains immediately means you’ll have to stomach a bit more cleaning. But not to worry, I’ll help you make the process as painless as possible.

how to use an enzyme cleaner

So put your gloves on, get your paper towels and garbage bag ready, and let’s go to work to clean dog poop!

1. Scoop Up as Much Poop as Possible

No matter the consistency of the poop, use your paper towels to lift as much waste away from the carpet as you can and dispose of it in your garbage bag. Avoid touching the carpet so you don’t “smush” any poop into the fibers.

If the poop has hardened and is stuck to the carpet fibers, you can use a fork to free the small pieces. Vacuum them up if necessary.

Dog Sniffing carpet with enzyme cleaner in foreground
My dog, Tulip, can no longer find the stink!

2. Saturate the Spot with an Enzyme Cleaner

Here’s where your enzymatic cleaner reports for “doody.” Some may recommend vinegar, baking soda, or ordinary household cleaners, but here’s why I take issue with those options:

  • Vinegar may stain your carpet, and it’s typically unsafe for use on wool carpets.
  • Baking soda may absorb some of the smell, but it will do nothing to kill the bacteria causing the smell.
  • Household cleaners aren’t designed to neutralize bacteria from biological sources. They are a spray and wipe-away formula that won’t neutralize the bacteria causing the smell and stain.

On the contrary, an enzymatic cleaner like this one (it smells sooo good!) will eat the bacteria in your dog’s poop (or pee or puke, for that matter)! Have you tried an enzymatic cleaner in the past without success? You may not be using it properly.

The number one mistake pet parents commit when using these cleaners is to spray and then wipe away. The product must saturate the mess, preferably overnight, to interact with the organic material and render it dead.

So here’s how to clean dog poop using your enzyme cleaner:

  1. After the poop is scooped away and you’re left with the “spot,” saturate it with your enzyme cleaner like Kinderbean’s No Stress Mess Eraser
  2. Use the bottom of the bottle to agitate the product into the area. 
  3. Place your white rag over the top of the area and let it sit for 12-24 hours. 
  4. Re-treat if necessary

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pin how to clean dog poop out of carpet

3. Use a Carpet Extractor if Necessary

You may find using a carpet extractor removes any residual dog poop stains, but you need to let the enzyme cleaner do the dirty work first, as you want to neutralize that biological material and its resulting smell.

If you were to reverse these steps, the brush in the carpet exactor might force the poop deeper into the carpet, making it harder for the enzyme cleaner to reach it and effectively eat the odor and stain-causing bacteria.

How to Deodorize Dog Poop Smell

If you’ve properly cleaned up the dog poop, there shouldn’t be any odor left! However, if you’ve cleaned up the area and there is still an unpleasant smell, you may need to repeat the process. Simply go back and repeat steps 2 and 3.

I don’t recommend using any kind of synthetic spray, as this will merely mask the odor. Trust me; your dog can still smell it! An enzyme cleaner should have a light scent, with natural substances. I find many enzyme cleaners to have a rather noxious odor, and some can be downright too strong for pets.

Getting Poop Stains Out of Carpet

If dog poop stains have been there for a while, they may have left a mark, especially if the poop was not well formed. After completing the steps above, you may need to re-treat the spot.

Follow up with an inexpensive carpet extractor like this one. You can even add some of your enzyme cleaner to the tank. Amazon reviewers have remarked how well this cleaner works for old stains, and I agree!

Why Baking Soda and Vinegar Can’t Properly Clean Up Dog Mess

Vinegar and baking soda are often hailed as effective, pet-friendly options for general cleaning, but they have their limitations when it comes to eliminating dog poop smell and stain. These household cleaning products may neutralize odors and lift light stains to some degree, but they’re not as effective or as convenient to use as specialized cleaners for dog poop.  

Vinegar is not a professional-grade carpet cleaner despite its myriad cleaning applications. Yes, its acidic properties may help remove some dog waste and odors, but it often lacks the cleaning power to fully extract fecal stains, especially when they have penetrated into the carpet fibers. Even after rigorous application and scrubbing, the result may still be an obvious stain or discoloration—not to mention that vinegar smell!

Similarly, while a good odor absorber, baking soda may not effectively remove the source of the poop smell: the fecal residue within the carpet. It can eliminate airborne smell but may leave behind remnants that attract future soiling.

Another concern is that both substances can leave residues behind that attract dirt, leading to faster soiling in the cleaned area. Moreover, the prolonged use of baking soda can cause a build-up that may damage your vacuum cleaner. So while baking soda can be beneficial in immediate situations, frequent or large amounts might lead to costly repairs and maintenance of your cleaning equipment. 

Carpet manufacturers often don’t recommend DIY cleaning methods if the product is still under warranty. Using DIY cleaners can possibly void your warranty. It’s always safest to check the manufacturer’s cleaning recommendations before using any cleaners. 

From a health perspective, it’s safer to avoid using vinegar and baking soda around dogs to prevent irritation and accidental ingestion. The strong smell of vinegar might be irritating for dogs who have a more sensitive sense of smell, while baking soda can pose a health risk if your dog accidentally ingests a substantial amount of it.

Vinegar and baking soda can provide a quick temporary solution to clean dog poop from carpets, but they are not the best solution. They may cause potential carpet damage and affect our pets’ comfort and health. For serious or recurring issues, consider asking the help of a professional carpet cleaner.

The Tail End

Almost every dog will have a poop accident in the house at least once! However, if your dog has repeated accidents, it’s time to do a little detective work. First up, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to rule out anything medically serious. 

If your dog is in good health, it may be time to look at training or retraining your dog to go outside. If your dog is peeing indoors on the regular, it’s time to curb the behavior!

Need more tips for serial indoor poopers? Check out my guide, Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Your Dog Peeing Indoors!

Click here to download your free copy

Get the free urine marking ebook today!

Kristen Levine is a nationally acclaimed pet expert, influencer, and Fear Free Certified® Professional with over 30 years of experience working with pets.

Through this blog and her book, Pampered Pets on a Budget, Kristen has helped millions of pet parents solve problems and provide the best care for their dogs and cats.

Working alongside hundreds of pet professionals, including veterinarians, behaviorists and trainers inspired Kristen to become a pet parenting “guide”, providing readers with reliable information about health, wellness and lifestyle for dogs and cats and the people who love them.

A dogged advocate for pet adoption and rescue, Kristen has featured over 1,000 adoptable dogs and cats from the SPCA on live television and radio appearances to get them adopted. Her blog, KristenLevine.com has been featured in over 100 media outlets – including the New York Times, USA Today, FOX & Friends, Good Morning America, Women's Day, Reader's Digest, Good Housekeeping, Pop Sugar and more.

To stay up to date on the latest health and lifestyle trends for pets, Kristen regularly attends the top veterinary and pet product conferences, where she’s often a featured speaker.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. The blog’s tips on cleaning dog poop out of the carpet are a lifesaver for dog owners. Thanks, author, for these practical cleaning methods. My carpets will be poop-free and clean again!

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