Skip to Content

9 Tips for Getting Dog Smell Out of a Couch

smell couch

A doggy odor in your couch and furniture can be a pain when you have guests. So read on for nine tips to get that dog smell out of your couch and upholstery.

Cleaning after your dogs must be one of the most challenging parts of owning a furry friend, and for most of us, dog smells on the couch are a part of life. Unfortunately, you may have gotten used to dog smells on your couch, but your guests likely haven’t.

There are many reasons dogs can leave a bad smell. However, the bottom line is that dogs can be pretty stinky. So here are 9 things you can do to get the dog smell out of your couch. But first, let’s look at why dogs can cause your furniture to smell in the first place.

What Causes a Couch to Smell Like a Dog?

What Causes a Couch to Smell Like a Dog?

Dogs, as lovable as they are, can be smelly creatures. The all-familiar foul dog smell results from a variety of environmental and physical causes. The biggest cause of doggy smell on your couch is simply that the dander, loose hair, skin cells, and drool all contain organic material. This organic material is rife with bacteria, microbes, fecal matter, urine, and other invisible nasties that stink up your furniture.

The bacteria and yeast on your dog’s skin can find their way into the fabric of your couch, causing it to smell. On top of these microbes, other factors listed below give dogs their characteristic stench that you can’t miss.

Excessive sebum production

The oils in your pup’s skin (sebum) can emit an odor that causes your dog to stink. Excessive sebum production (seborrhea or seborrheic dermatitis) results when sebaceous glands release too much oil. Many dogs will have an odor due to seborrhea resulting in a musty smell that can linger on your couch.

Excessive sebum production can occur when you bathe your dog too often with harsh shampoos and soaps. Additionally, hormonal imbalances like in Cushing’s disease can result in too much sebum. Atopy or allergic reactions are a common cause of seborrhea which results in dry and flaky skin.

Medical reasons for stinking

Medical issues such as ear infections and bacterial or yeast infections of the skin cause dog odor. Hot spots in particular have a horrific smell and they’re the bane of any pet owner with a sensitive nose. Mostly, allergies lead to infections when your pup scratches themselves vigorously due to itchiness. Dogs with floppy or hairy ears like the basset hound are at greater risk of ear infections.

Environmental smells that stink up your dog

Dogs pick up the smells in their surroundings after a long day of playing. Dogs that spend their time in the yard may come back smelling like grass. Dogs that stay on their owners’ laps may smell of their perfumes or oils. If your dog often stinks after being outside, they probably play around with something foul-smelling when they are outside. 

Don’t forget, accidents can happen too. A dog that vomits or struggles with incontinence can also leave an inconvenient and smelly mess. 

Here are 9 tips to get rid of dog smells from your couch.

Getting Dog Smells Out of Your Couch

Getting Dog Smells Out of Your Couch

Sprinkle some baking soda

Baking soda is a highly effective odor remover that is a household staple. To use baking soda, sprinkle a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of baking soda on your couch once you notice it has bad dog smells. Once sprinkled, leave the baking soda for at least one hour—although the longer, the better.

You can leave the baking soda on your couch overnight to reap all the freshening benefits it has to offer. Once enough time has elapsed, vacuum the surface until it’s clean to the touch. Baking soda works well on large surfaces, so it’s convenient when you aren’t sure of the exact problem area on the couch.

Commercial pet odor eliminators

Products specifically made for cleaning pet waste stains are a fast and powerful solution for dog smells on the couch. The PawSafe Odor & Stain Eliminator spray is an dog pee cleaner that combats stains on a molecular level. The spray is also safe on fabric, making it suitable for use on the couch. This also makes it a gentler option than most products that can damage the fabric with harsh chemicals. 

Bio-enzymatic cleaners effectively eliminate odors by utilizing harmless bacteria that gobble up the odor-causing microorganisms. Normal detergents and cleaners aren’t as effective as enzymatic ones because they don’t work on the stain molecules. They are also made from much harsher chemicals such as ammonia and chlorine and are less environmentally friendly.

Use vinegar

White vinegar is an excellent urine stain remover. It works by breaking down the uric acid in urine which lifts the stains from the couch fibers. To use white vinegar to get rid of the musty doggy smell, mix water and white vinegar in a 1:1 ratio. Leave the solution on your couch for a few minutes to give it time to break down the urine acids. Make sure you dilute the vinegar though, as the acidity can damage the fabric.

White vinegar is a readily available product that is safe for your canine friend. This potent cleaning solution will most likely leave previous stains on your couch virtually undetectable. After spraying the vinegar solution on the problem areas, blot the spots dry with a T-Shirt or a paper towel.

Hydrogen peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is yet another household staple that is effective at eliminating dog odors from your house. 3% hydrogen peroxide is the best concentration to use on your couch surface. You can mix the hydrogen peroxide with water and spray it on the couch or dab it directly with a piece of clothing.

Hydrogen peroxide destroys bacteria in the stains and gently bleaches out discoloration on the surface. Test the hydrogen peroxide on a small area of your couch first before using it to ensure it doesn’t damage it. You can read our article to learn more about DIY treatments to rid of urine stains in your house.

Air dry and Air Purifiers

The answer to your dog odors may lie in the simple act of air drying your couch. Take your cushions or even the entire couch (if possible) out on a sunny and windy day. The Ultra Violet (UV) rays from the sun will kill the odor-causing bacteria on your couch, and the wind will leave your couch smelling fresh.

Keep in mind that this can be useful, but prolonged exposure to the elements will damage the upholstery.

A quality air purifier can indirectly help remove dog smells from your couch by filtering the dander and bacteria out of the air before it settles on your furniture. So these are always a good investment.


This may seem like a no-brainer, but vacuuming your house and couch eliminates pet dander, the skin cells that animals shed, and pet dandruff. Dander and dandruff can accumulate and cause a foul smell on your couch. Not only do these coat wastes cause an awful smell, but they can also trigger reactions in those allergic to them.

Pet hair tends to float around, especially because you leave your windows open for proper circulation. Make sure you vacuum the entire couch to catch all the flyaways. To take vacuuming to the next level, invest in an upholstery cleaner that uses powerful spray and suction to eliminate the waste particles. It’s wise to invest in a quality vacuum cleaner with a range of accessories, these are especially useful when cleaning your carpet from dog mess and pee.

Wash the couch washables

Sometimes, the smell comes from the beddings and cushions on the couch instead of the sofa itself. Check on the labels on the cushion cases and blankets for whether they are safe for machine washing. If they are, toss the washables into your washing machine to get them clean. 

Consider throws and couch covers to keep as much pet residue from actually getting onto your couch itself. Putting a layer of clothing between your dog and the couch goes a long way in protecting the sofa.

Additionally, these dog blankets are easy to wash after your dog lies on them for a while. Sometimes, dogs pee where they sleep, including their beds. We have covered why dogs pee on beds to give you a better grasp on the matter.

Train your dog not to get on the couch

It is undeniably pleasant to snuggle with your furbaby on your couch during a lazy day. Tempting as it is, allowing your dog to your couch teaches them that staying there is okay, even when you aren’t around. When your dog plays on your sofa, they leave a bunch of fur and smells you’ll be left to deal with. Another problem is that some dogs love to “dig” on their favorite sleeping spots, which can damage your couch in addition to the smell. 

For many dog parents, this is a sacrifice we are willing to make. But there is also no harm in teaching your dog that the couch is a no-go zone, and encouraging them to stick to their own beds. One way to start this process is to introduce the “place” command.

Crate training your dog does a beautiful job at preventing your dog from doing damage to your house as well. If you have to leave shortly to run errands or even for a long time, leave your dog restrained in the crate. 

Keep in mind that your dog does not have to be on the couch to leave a smell on your furniture though. Pet dander in the air can settle on your furniture and leave a scent over time. So cleaning your couch and perhaps investing in that air purifier will go a long way.

Cleaning flooring is a much easier task than individual furniture, so getting your dog used to a special sleeping spot on the floor can help to reduce additional work.

Get professional cleaning services

If all else fails, consider seeking professional cleaning for your couch. Professional cleaners use commercial-grade cleaning agents that will definitely leave your couch odor-free. They also use potent deodorizing products that will leave your couch smelling fresh.

Experts recommend that you get your sofas cleaned every 6 months to keep them clean and durable. You can stretch this time to 12 months if the couch is still okay by your judgment. An upholstery cleaner is a staple for professional cleaning, which may be costly to get for yourself.

Final Thoughts

Dogs are lovely animals, but they can stink up your house, including your couch. Baking soda is a potent anti-odor ingredient that works best after treating the spot with white vinegar. Using a vacuum (upholstery cleaner if possible) gets rid of hair and dander that may cause a foul smell.

If the awful smell persists, opt for a pet odor eliminator spray which will combat the stench on a molecular level. Professional cleaning for your couch is the final step if you have tried everything, but the smell resists all the treatments available to you.


Tamsin De La Harpe


Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions.

Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Got Questions? Video A Vet 24/7, Any Time, Anywhere 🌎

Vetster connects pet owners to thousands of licensed veterinarians ready to provide the best online vet services through video chat

Book an online vet now