Effective Methods for Removing Pet Hair and Odors from Your Car

fact check policy
Updated on:

June 26, 2023

Professional Techniques for Removing Pet Hair and Odors from Car Interiors

We really love our four-legged friends. They go everywhere with us, to parks, to the pet food store for their favorite, on vacation, and to a host of other places. Taking dogs along for the ride means they spend a lot of time in our cars with us. Those rides can take their toll on vehicle interiors in the form of excessive pet hair, along with urine, feces, and vomit from doggy accidents. All of those things can leave your car smelling not only unpleasant but also downright disgusting. What’s a dog owner to do?

Key Takeaways:

  • Regular detailing, including steam cleaning, is crucial for removing dog hair, odors, and pet urine from your car. Perform this maintenance every few months to keep your vehicle looking and smelling fresh.
  • Take preventive measures to minimize dog hair in your car, such as brushing your pet before rides and using seat covers. Utilize various tools like pumice stone, rubber gloves, lint rollers, and duct tape to remove pet hair from upholstery.
  • Neutralize pet odors by using natural remedies like baking soda, vinegar, vodka, Listerine, or an ozone machine. Change or clean your cabin air filter regularly and consider shampooing and steam cleaning your car for a thorough clean. Apply a protective coating to surfaces to prevent pet urine and stains, and regularly clean your car's interior to maintain freshness.

Request FREE Ebook about Car Interior Detailing

Table of Contents (Show)

Table of Contents (Hide)


  1. How to remove Dog Hair
  2. How to clean Pet Urine and Odors
  3. How to keep your car fresh

1. Regular Detailing is the Answer to Removing Dog Hair, Dog Smells and Pet Urine

Fortunately, giving your car interior a little bit of tender loving care through periodic detailing that includes a comprehensive steam cleaning will have your vehicle interior looking and smelling like new in no time. Follow these easy steps every few months so that Fido will remain a welcome passenger.

2. Removing Dog Hair

dog hair inside the car

2.1 Take Preventive Steps

You’ll find dozens of methods of removing pet hair from your car, but one of the best involves the adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Think about it. Shed happens, but anything you can do to minimize shedding in your car interior will cut down on the work you need to do during detailing.

Brush your pet before allowing them to enter your car to remove loose hair. If you don’t have time to brush your friend before the car ride, make sure you do it daily. Have your dog groomed regularly to reduce the amount of hair left on interior surfaces. Bathing your dog also helps to remove dead hair, plus your pooch will smell better, too, cutting down on that lingering smell.

If your pet has an excessive shedding problem, consult your veterinarian for the right food and fatty acid supplement that can reduce shedding.

2.2 Buy Seat Covers

Seat covers won’t stop shedding, but they will protect your seats from pet hair. You can remove and wash them, making seat covers a great option if your dog regularly rides with you. Specially designed pet seat protectors are nonslip and waterproof. If you don’t have a seat cover, place a towel over the area where your dog usually sits.

2.3 Tools for Removing Pet Hair

Many everyday items can help remove dog shed from your vehicle interior. Try these various methods to see which one picks up your dog’s hair best.

Rubber Gloves

Using rubber gloves to lift pet fur from car upholstery is one of the most popular methods. Put on a pair and wet the glove surface thoroughly. Apply a mist of water with a spray bottle over the car seats and then rub the gloves vigorously over the dampened seats to remove the hair. Dip your gloves in a bucket of water to remove the hair.

The Balloon Method

Static electricity is the idea behind using balloons. Blow air into several small balloons and tie them. Rub the balloons over the fabric in your vehicle cabin to develop an electrical charge, and then rub the balloons over the upholstery where the fur is located. The pet hair will stick to the balloons. Roll the hair into a ball to dispose of it. The one drawback to this method s that it won’t remove all of the fur, but it will make some stand on end for easier vacuuming.

Dryer Sheets

Keep a handful of dryer sheets in your vehicle as they are handy for effortlessly removing pet hair and dirt from interior surfaces when you are away from home. Simply rub them over surfaces and throw them away.

Lint Rollers

This method is another effective on-the-go solution. Run the roller along car upholstery to pick up the most stubborn and embedded pet hair.

Duct Tape

How many uses do you have for duct tape? You shouldn’t be surprised then that duct tape is also effective. Roll a piece of duct tape around your hand, sticky side out, and then firmly place your hand on affected surfaces. Repeat as necessary until your car is clean by replacing the tape when it has lost its adhesiveness.


A rubber squeegee works in much the same way that rubber gloves do. This fast and economical option catches pet hair as your run the rubber along the seats and floors. Move the fur into one pile for easy removal.

Pumice Stone/Furzoff Tool

using pumice stone for dog hair removal

Be careful with this method as a pumice stone or Furzoff tool is abrasive and may damage. Always test it on fibers in an inconspicuous area first before using it on your entire car interior. Dilute a small amount of liquid fabric softener with water to create a weak solution and spray a mist on target areas. Run the pumice stone over the affected areas, removing pet fur and dirt along with other debris. This method will also give your car a boost in the fragrance department.

2.4 Final Step in Removing Dog Hair

After dog hair removal

No matter which method you use to remove pet fur, perform this final step to make sure that you accumulate as much as possible. Take a wire brush and run it along every nook and cranny of your upholstery, floor mats, and carpeting to pick up any loose and embedded hairs. If possible, use a dog hair remover brush specifically designed to remove dog fur from surfaces. These brushes generally have stiff, narrow-spaced bristles, so be careful not to damage softer interior surfaces. Move the hair into one area and then run a vacuum over the entire upholstery surface and carpeting. When vacuuming, use a thin nozzle tool to get down into seats where crumbs and other debris accumulate as pet hair will also be present there. Once you finish this step, you’re ready to shampoo and clean the car interior to get rid of pet urine stains and smells, and other unpleasant pet odors.

3. Removing Pet Urine and Odors out of car

Even though you have removed your pet’s fur, lingering odors will remain from drool, accidents. The fact that your best friend may have ridden in your car after a smelly outing will also leave lingering odors. To get the interior of your car clean again, you’ll need to prep the seats and other areas, like mats and carpeting, where pet smells remain. Scrubbing, following by steam cleaning, will take care of the problem.

Applying detergent for pet urine neutralization

3.1 Neutralize Dog Odors at the Source

Several natural remedies are effective at neutralizing pet odors, which can nestle deep in fabric seats and other interior surfaces. Try these best pet odor eliminators first before you try commercial chemical methods.

Baking Soda

This multi-use substance is an inexpensive and effective ally. Depending on how strong the smell is, you can use this deodorizer in several ways. To remove mild odors, place a plate of baking soda inside your vehicle and let it remain overnight. Baking soda has crystals that attract all kinds of microscopic molecules, including the smells that pets leave behind. Use a rimmed plate instead of a bowl or baking soda box, as the plate will expose more of the powder to the air. Repeat as necessary.

Another method involves sprinkling baking soda over the affected areas and let the substance sit overnight before vacuuming it.

Some smells can be stubborn, especially if your seats are stained. For these, make a paste of baking soda and water and rub it into the upholstery. Let the area dry, and then vacuum the area thoroughly. You can do the same to floor mats, although they will need a thorough washing to remove all of the baking soda from the carpet fibers.

Vinegar and Water

Take a spray bottle, place some white vinegar in it, dilute it with water, and then spray it on the affected areas. Vinegar is another excellent odor neutralizer. Let the solution dry and repeat as needed. Use one part vinegar to two parts water for the proper strength. Other possibilities include blotting the stained area with a vinegar solution before shampooing and working it into the fabric or carpeting. Adding a little bit of white vinegar to the boiler of your steam cleaner when you do the final step will help remove lingering pet odors even more.

Vodka and Water

Believe it or not, this mixture can get rid of offensive pet odors. Its best use involves spraying the mixture on the offending or stained area. Make sure you leave your windows open after spraying this mixture, as the smell can get into air filters and cause further problems down the road.


This mouthwash is great a removing pet urine odors. Dilute with two parts water and spray or blot it on the affected area. Leave the windows open while the mouth wash is drying as it also contains alcohol, and then place a stack of newspapers on top of the affected area to soak up the excess liquid. The Listerine smell should be gone within a few days.

Ozone generator

Ozone machine treatment will do your car justice and make sure that the car does not smell like cat or dog odor. Things like fur smell and urine can be hard to remove, but the ozone generator kills the bacteria, viruses along with smell on a molecular level, destroying the bad cells entirely.

This device is used in all odor removal including mold, smoke and pet smell.

Learn more about smoke smell removal out of car.

3.2 Change Your Cabin Air Filter

Speaking of air filters, they can harbor offensive smells. When you detail your vehicle interior, change the cabin air filter, which can quickly become clogged with debris, pet hair, and other items. Changing the air filters is something you should do regularly if your pet is a frequent passenger. Washable, reusable air filters are easier to change than regular ones and will help you save money. The ability to change air filters on your own will also keep your car smelling fresher for longer.

Check this guide for air filter cleaning

3.3 Shampooing and Steaming Your Car

The final steps to ridding your vehicle interior of fur, pet odors, and stains involve thoroughly shampooing and steam cleaning it. For additional detailed tips on how to detail your vehicle interior, refer to these tips.

shampooing of carpet for dog urine stains remoal

If you feel that one of the natural remedies has sufficiently lifted pet odor, then using a mild detergent may do the job. However, sometimes stains and smells will continue to linger. In these cases, use a detergent specially formulated for removing pet stains and odors for upholstery seats and other interior surfaces.

Using a commercial steam cleaner like one of those offer by Fortador will also do a more thorough job of cleaning and extracting pet smells from your vehicle’s cabin. Working with one of our larger models will allow you to shampoo, extract excess water and steam clean with the same machine, making your job easier and quicker. Steam cleaning will not only lift the remainder of the pet hair and stains from interior surfaces but will also disinfect the entire cabin, removing all bacteria, dirt, and other undesirable particles that your pet leaves behind. The result is a vehicle interior that looks and smells like new again and will be a more pleasant area for you, your furry best friend, and other passengers. For stains that insist on remaining, refer to our article linked above.

4. Keeping Your Vehicle Cabin Fresh

Some of the same tricks that you can use to remove pet odors in the first place also work to keep it smelling fresh once you have detailed it. Put a plate of baking soda in the car overnight after a day at the lake to get rid of wet dog smell. A piece of bread will do the same thing. Just remember to take it out before your pet rides again, so he doesn’t eat it. A piece of charcoal will also help absorb odors.

Remember to remove and wash blankets regularly, seat covers, and similar items to refresh them. The same goes for vacuuming. Periodically vacuum the interior to pick up hair so you’ll have less work the next time you detail it.

steam detailing is the best method for keeping your car odor free

A great way to protect your seats from pet urine and stains is to apply a protective coating on interior surfaces. Consider applying Kevlar coating to the seats and other cabin surfaces that your dogs regularly touch, even the windows. Fortador offers a complete Kevlar kit that includes a primer and activator, coating paste, a soft brush, a professional sponge, and premium polishing microfiber cloths to finish the job.

Fortador also offers environmentally-friendly detailing chemicals that will also help you keep your car smelling fresh.

Learn more about mold smell removal out of car.

By regularly cleaning your car interior, keeping your best four-footed friend clean, and wiping off and removing messes as soon as they occur, everyone will be much happier and more comfortable during every car trip.

About the Authors

Sergey "Serg" Paskevich
Panama-based detailing pro, proud owner of Car Care Performance Detailing studio in Panama-City. Specializing in Paint Correction, Ceramic Coating, and comprehensive Car Detailing services
Ugur Sezmis
Renowned in the world of Professional Detailing, Fahrzeugaufbereitung is not only a master in restoring automotive brilliance but also a distinguished Rupes Trainer based in Germany. With a commitment to perfection, he enhances car aesthetics while sharing his expertise through top-notch training.

Learn More

Car Carpet Stain Removal: A Comprehensive Shampooing Guide


Headliner and Car Roof Cleaning 101: The Ultimate Guide to Reviving Your Car's Interior


Ultimate Guide to Clay Mitts: How to Use and Choose the Best Clay Towels for Cars


Contact Us
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
This is some text inside of a div block.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.