Dog ownership is becoming increasingly popular in America, and its popularity doesn't seem to be slowing down anytime soon. According to the 2017-2018 National Pet Owners Survey, 60 million out of 85 million American families who own a pet have at least one dog at home. If you are like many other Americans who own a dog, odds are that your furry friend has been in the car with you at some point in time. For a lot of dog owners, driving with their dog in the car isn't just fun, but a necessity. For example, more families are taking road trips with their dogs now more than ever. And even if you're not traveling cross country, there are still plenty of other reasons your dog may ride in your car.

Even though most dog owners love spending as much time as possible with their dog, driving with them can be an unpleasant experience if they leave behind a foul odor. You know – that dog smell. Sometimes, it can be so bad that you may even reconsider taking your dog in the car with you!

In this post, we'll give you some ways to get rid of that unpleasant odor your dog may leave behind and provide you with some ideas to help keep those odors at bay.

Vehicle Seat Covers

Seat covers are probably the easiest way to help keep your car clean and free of dog odors. Available in a variety of sizes, from bench seat covers to just one seat covers, these covers are easy to install and can be removed when not in use. Car seat covers are also good for keeping your dog contained to one area of your car for added safety and helps contain excess fur during shedding season. To clean, you can simply machine wash vehicle seat covers and let air dry.


Vacuums do a great job of cleaning everything, and dog odors are no exception. If the odor your dog left behind is caused by a physical substance, then vacuuming your car is the first thing you should do before anything else. The first step to eliminating the odor in your car is to eliminate the cause of it, and vacuuming does just that! Vacuuming can be labor intensive, but it's worth the effort because it is so effective. Be sure to use a hand-held vacuum or a powerful shop vac with extensions, to access all areas of the interior, especially hard-to-reach places where fur has settled. Vacuuming your car's interior regularly can help keep those dog odors at bay.

Change Your Car's Air Filters

Regularly changing the air filters in your car is something that many people don't do, but should be doing. Air filters do an excellent job of filtering out polluted air in your car, and if you don't change them regularly, they begin to get clogged and will no longer work how they're supposed to. After you take a ride with your dog, changing the air filter is something that you should do in order to help ensure that your air filters do not get clogged with any particles your dog may leave behind. However, constantly changing your car's air filters can get time-consuming and expensive, especially if you drive with your dog in the car frequently. Therefore, we suggest purchasing some washable and reusable air filters.

These types of air filters are easier to change than traditional ones and will end up saving you money in the long run. Most washable, re-usable air filters should be cleaned and and oiled after every 50,000 miles, as opposed to disposable air filters, which should be changed after 15,000 miles. Re-usable air filters will cost you more money upfront, but will save you money in the long run.

Car Shampoo

There are many different types of shampoos you can choose from, but choosing a shampoo made for cars and pet odors will clean up the source of the smell better then regular general shampoo. This is because the chemicals in the car shampoo are designed to break down chemical compounds of pet urine, a process that eliminates odors. Other shampoos may not be formulated to handle dog urine and smells, so if your dog has an accident in the car, we highly recommend using a shampoo designed to eliminate pet odors.

Shampooing the interior of your car is also a labor-intensive way to combat stains and odors, but it is an effective way to do so. A combination of vacuuming and changing your car's air filters, along with shampooing regularly can help guard your car's interior against your dog's smell.

Vodka and Water

Believe it or not, spraying a mixture of equal parts vodka and water will act as an air freshener and will eliminate four odors. If you decide to spray this mixture in your car, make sure that you spray it where the source of odors is coming from, and that you leave the windows own after you spray it. If you don't leave the windows open after you spray it, you run the risk of the mixture getting into your car's air filters, and that is something that could be problematic in the future. There is also a risk of you car smelling like alcohol if you get pulled over. So, make sure that you leave enough time for the smell of alcohol to dissipate before you drive, just to be safe.


If you're looking for more of a holistic way to get rid of your dog's odors from your car, consider laying down several pieces of bread on a dish towel in your car. You should leave the bread in your car overnight for enough time to soak up odors. Don't worry about finding a specific type of bread to use because all breads will do the job. When you have finished using the bread, throw it out for the birds so there is no waste!

Baking Soda

Baking soda is another natural way to get rid of your dog's odors in your car! All you have to do is place some baking soda in a bowl and leave it in your car overnight. If the smell is really bad, repeat this process multiple nights in a row until the smell is gone. If the odor is unbearable and you're in a hurry to get rid of it, this is not the option for you, as this process does take some time.

White Vinegar

White vinegar acts as a natural odor remover and will do a great job of eliminating foul odors in your car. If you mix it with water and spray it in your car, the smells should be gone after it dries. However, just like the vodka and water mixture mentioned previously, you do not want this solution to get stuck in your car's air filters, so it's important that you leave your car's windows down until this mixture dries.


In summary, if you are a dog owner, there are going to be times when you have to drive with your dog in the car. Unfortunately, dogs have the tendency of leaving foul odors in your car, and this can make driving with them an unpleasant experience. Thankfully, these simple and easy tips will help remove any type of foul odor from your car and make it much more enjoyable to ride with your dog.


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