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  • Writer's pictureVickie Foster

How to Remove Dog Hair, Stains, and Smells from Your Car

Tired of fuzzy seats and a smelly car interior from your dog? Read our tips for how to remedy the problem.

How to Remove Dog Hair, Stains, and Smells from Your Car

Its summertime and road trips with your pooch are plentiful. But has a trip with a dripping, smelly dog straight from a swim left your car less than fresh? We’re here at the rescue for you with tips on how to freshen and clean your car’s interior after Fido has done his best.

Dog Hair

To defuzz your car’s upholstery and carpet your tool of first choice is an upright vacuum cleaner with a nozzle. This can get the worst hairballs out of the interior. For smaller hair problems a cordless, handheld vac should be useful, too.

After removing the major mess, try using a carpet rake like the Uproot Clean Pet Rake

A tool like this will help to get embedded hair out of your carpet. You can also try using a reusable pet lint roller and a pumice stone with its scaly texture on your upholstery. Another suggestion is to try running a kitchen rubber glove over the offending area. Even dryer sheets when run over hairy spots can pick up loose hairs and leave a fresh smell too.

Dog Stains

Even the best mannered dogs can have a bout of motion sickness or a potty accident from the excitement of a car trip. Open the car windows to air it out then try some of these methods to remove stains.

For stains from bodily functions use a pet-safe enzymatic cleaner. These products break down organic particles completely, removing both visible pet stains and odors. Just note that they are not safe for leather.

Follow the instructions on the cleaner for best results. Generally, these are the steps to clean a stain:

  1. Apply the cleaner - open the window for ventilation.

  2. Allow the cleaner to sit and do it’s work for the time in the instructions which is usually about 15 to 20 minutes

  3. Blot as much liquid as possible with a paper towel.

  4. Allow all remaining moisture to air dry completely, usually overnight.

A stubborn stain may require the process to be repeated.

If you prefer a more natural approach, you can use a vinegar mixture on stains.

  1. Mix a solution of one part white vinegar with eight parts water.

  2. Apply the mixture to the stain and scrub with a soft bristled brush.

  3. Rinse the stain with water and blot with a lint-free cloth.

  4. Air dry with the windows open. Let it dry completely.

Dog Smells

Dog odor can linger in a car long after the trip. It's best to deal with an odor problem right away.

If you know the odor source is from bodily fluids use a pet-safe enzymatic cleaner. This works on smells as well as stains. Follow the same directions above for removing stains. Always crack the car window a bit to let in ventilation.

For a natural solution use baking soda. This is best for a general, wet doggy smell instead of a specific spot. It can be used alone or with an enzymatic cleaner.

1. Spread a light layer of baking soda over your seats and mats

2. Leave it overnight.

3. Vacuum it up in the morning.

You can also leave a tray of it overnight on the floorboard.


1.Groom your dog before a trip. This will remove loose hair and dirt that you won’t have to vacuum up afterward.

2. Wipe down your dog before letting him back in the car during the trip. Keep a designated dog towel for this. There are even portable dog paw cleaners similar to the Paw Plunger below that remove bacteria and allergens.

3. Protect your car seat. Investing in a seat cover can keep pet hair and stains off your seat. Alternatively you can throw a sheet or blanket over where your dog will be sitting.

4. Limit the clean-up area. A smaller area to clean will make the job simpler. Trying a dog crate on your trip will be safer for your pooch too. A dog harness that attaches to the seat-belt is a safety feature that will limit the area to clean also.

Follow these tips for a fresher smelling and cleaner car. The effects of a road trip won’t linger long after the trip is over.




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