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Buying guide for best pet stain and odor removers

It goes with the territory that when you have pets, you’re going to clean up after them. As much as we love our fur babies, they do sometimes make messes, and having a good pet stain and odor remover on hand is a must. Most of these products use specially formulated enzymes to break down organic matter – feces, urine, vomit, and even drool – to eliminate the stain and its odor. Others use a more traditional, detergent-based approach to clean up pet messes. With so many pet stain and odor removers on the market, you might be overwhelmed by the choices. How do you decide which formula is best for your household?

At BestReviews, we’re here to help make that decision easier for you. If you’re shopping for a pet stain and odor remover, take a look at our top recommended picks. If you want general tips on how to choose the right product for you, keep reading our shopping guide.

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Activate the enzymes by shaking bottles of enzymatic pet stain and odor remover before use.

Key considerations

Accidents happen

Pet accidents can happen for a number of reasons: your pet doesn’t have access to the outdoors or the litter box, your dog or cat gets sick, or your puppy is in the process of being toilet trained. This means your house is fair game for their bodily functions, and the result can be a mess on the carpet, hardwood floor, clothing, furniture, or pet bed. Many times we can’t catch pet messes right when they happen, and they seep into the carpet, upholstery, or floor. The key is finding a pet stain and odor remover that works to deep clean these types of surfaces without destroying them.

Types of pet stain and odor removers

Detergent cleaners: These products are designed to work on carpets and upholstery, and many of them are compatible with or exclusively for use with carpet cleaners. These products tend to lather up, especially when used with a machine. Although these pet stain and odor removers may contain chemicals, you can find ones with biodegradable or less-toxic ingredients. Look for ones that follow the Safer Choice Standard of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Enzymatic cleaners: The beauty of most enzymatic pet stain and odor removers is that they’re safe to use on virtually any surface your pet has soiled. These work gently yet effectively without releasing harmful toxins into your home, making them naturally an eco-friendly and safe choice for households with pets and children.

  • How they remove stains: Enzymatic cleaners for pet stains mainly use biological compounds called enzymes to rapidly break down other biological compounds – the pet mess. These products are formulated with specific enzymes, such as protease, to tackle protein-based stains like urine and feces. As unpleasant as this sounds, these bio-enzymes “feed” on ammonia crystals and the organic matter of feces until they’re all gone. Enzymatic cleaners can provide a deeper clean than detergents because they get into every nook and cranny of the surface they’re working on.

  • How they remove odors: One downside of enzymatic cleaners is that they must dry completely to work, which can be a bit of a waiting game. The drying process is what eliminates the odor, so you might have to wait up to 24 hours to notice that the odor is gone. These longer-acting cleaners have a reputation for getting rid of odors more effectively than detergent cleaners because they actually break down the odor-causing bacteria rather than mask the smell.

How to use enzymatic pet stain and odor removers

When approaching a pet mess, you first want to remove or blot up as much of the surface solids or liquids as you can with paper towels. Depending on the product bottle, either spray or pour the cleaner directly onto the remaining stain. No need to rub or scrub. Let the enzymes “eat away” the mess. Most removers require that you leave them on the stain for five to ten minutes. Then use an absorbent towel to blot or wipe the area and allow to dry completely.

  • Carpets: For carpets, be sure to saturate the stain with solution so it reaches the carpet pad. Some solutions also require an application of water, particularly with urine stains, so be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions before using.

  • Upholstery: Most pet stain and odor removers work on any surface, but for upholstered furniture we recommend looking for a product that is certified safe for carpets by the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI). It’s also recommended that you test the colorfastness of the fabric by applying the product to a hidden area (like the underside of a couch pillow). Allow it to sit for five minutes and wipe it away with a white cloth. If color appears on the cloth, you know you can’t safely use the product on your upholstery.

  • Laundry: You can use pet stain and odor removers as a prewash treatment.on clothes or bedding soiled by pets  Spray or pour the solution directly onto the stain and let it sit for up to ten minutes, without scrubbing, before putting the item in the washing machine.

  • Hardwood floors: Most enzymatic cleaners can be used on all surfaces, but some aren’t suitable for hardwood floors and other uncarpeted surfaces like concrete, tile, linoleum, and vinyl. Be sure to check the product’s label before using it on these surfaces.

  • Tougher stains: If you’ve let the enzymatic pet stain and odor remover dry completely and still smell the odor, you might need to repeat the process a couple times. This isn’t out of the ordinary. You can also leave the solution on longer – at least an hour – and cover it with a towel weighted down by an object to better absorb liquid out of the fabric.

Pet stain and odor remover features

Spray vs. pour

Spray bottle: Spray bottles give you better control over how much of the solution you apply to a targeted area. Spray bottles usually contain 32 ounces. Although these bottles are generally used to deliver the solution through the spray nozzle, you can also unscrew the top and pour the solution directly on the stain.

Pour bottle: Pour bottles generally come with a larger volume of solution, typically a gallon. You pour the cleaner directly on the stain, making it harder to control the amount of solution you apply. However this may be the best choice for tougher stains. Also, if you have lots of pets or a pet that has lots of accidents, you might prefer the larger bottle.    


A big consideration when it comes to pet stain and odor removers is the scent. Some products have strong, even overpowering scents and some are less bold. Which you use comes down to your preference. If you’re sensitive to scents, look for an unscented enzymatic cleaner.

Other features

Some detergent pet stain and odor removers come with additional perks like sanitizing properties, Scotchgard, or a brush head attached to the bottle for scrubbing.

Pet stain and odor remover prices

These products range in price from $5 to $40.

Spray bottles tend to be less expensive than pour bottles and cost from $5 for a budget product to $30 for a high-quality formula.

Pour bottles come at a higher price point, between $20 and $40, but are an economical choice because they typically contain four times the amount in a spray bottle.  


  • Let the product dry. When using an enzymatic pet stain and odor remover, be sure to wait 24 hours for it to dry completely before vacuuming the area.

  • Avoid using hot or warm water with enzymatic cleaners. The enzymes don’t react well to extreme temperatures and won’t work effectively.

  • Use enzymatic cleaners at full strength. Most enzymatic cleaners shouldn’t be diluted with water. For tougher stains, look for a “concentrated” enzymatic cleaner, which contains more enzymes and is more effective.

  • Use a machine-formula product with a carpet or steam cleaner. These tend to be more detergent-based solutions that come in pour bottles. We recommend that you avoid using enzymatic cleaners in machines because of the high temperatures used by these appliances.

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If your pet is urinating frequently in the house and not in the process of being housebroken, it might be time for a visit to the vet to see if your pet is suffering from a urinary tract infection.


Q. What is the shelf life of pet stain and odor removers containing enzymes?
Typically one to two years. Store enzymatic cleaners away from heat or freezing temperatures. And don’t forget to shake the bottle before use to activate the enzymes!

Q. Is is safe for paws and little feet to be around pet stain and odor removers?
Enzymatic cleaners are safe for pets and children to be around. You might want to cover the treated area with a towel while the solution is working. Not all detergent-based cleaners are safe for little ones and creatures. Those with biodegradable ingredients tend to be safer, but the safest bet is to use an enzymatic solution. All household cleaners should be stored where children and pets can’t gain access.  

Q. Should I scrub the site of the pet mess with these cleaners?
You certainly can, and detergent cleaners may require it so the solution penetrates more deeply. For enzymatic cleaners, let the solution soak in first before you scrub. You may find that the enzymes do the work for you and save you some elbow grease.  

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The BestReviews editorial team researches hundreds of products based on consumer reviews, brand quality, and value. We then choose a shorter list for in-depth research and testing before finalizing our top picks. These are the products we considered that ultimately didn't make our top 5.
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