how to clean a fabric cat carrier
Pet Health Questions and Answers

How to Clean a Soft-Sided Pet Carrier (and Remove Stains from Urine)!

Dogs pee. It’s a fact of life. For the most part, it’s nothing to worry about – once they have been trained appropriately, canines are completely in control of their own bladder function and will wait until their outside before eliminating. Every now and again, however, there will be an accident (though some accidents have more intent than others!).

Maybe this will be in the house, or maybe it will be while out and about. There are all kinds of reasons why a dog may pee at an inopportune moment, and they should never be punished for it. Instead, just read on to learn techniques for cleaning pee from a dog or cat carrier – and steps that should prevent it from happening again.

Why Do Adult Dogs Pee in Their Pet Carrier?

There are many reasons why an adult, otherwise healthy dog pees in their pet carrier. These include:

  • They have not been trained appropriately. This is especially likely if your dog has been adopted or rescued. It’s not something that any of us like to think about, but mistreated dogs (for example, those that come from puppy mills or disreputable breeders) may be used to being trapped in a tiny space. This means that they will instinctively find a small corner of ‘their’ territory for bathroom use.
  • The dog carrier smells of urine. Dogs are very much driven by their nose, and if their pet carrier smells of urine – either their own or that of another canine that has previously used the carrier – they’ll assume that this is supposed to be where they eliminate.
  • There is a puppy pad or similar item inside the carrier. These items are scented to attract dogs and encourage them to pee in a particular place. If you’ve lined your dog carrier with such an item, there’s every reason why they might assume that it’s where they’re supposed to empty their bladder.
  • Your dog was desperate for the bathroom. Maybe your dog has drunk too much water. Maybe they are hugely excited or prone to subservient behaviors. Perhaps they just forgot to go earlier, and are stuck in their pet carrier on a long journey.

Should I Be Worried That My Dog Peed in Their Pet Carrier?

Not necessarily – there could be many reasons why this is happening. If it’s the first time that your dog has peed in their carrier, you should investigate the reasons why this could have been. If you’re comfortable that it’s not an issue for a vet, clean it up using the methods discussed below and move on. Accidents happen.

If your dog is regularly peeing in their pet carrier, maybe it’s the scent – as we’ve just discussed, if your dog gets a whiff of pee they may start to think that this is the spot that they are supposed to eliminate and will happily do so with regularity. Make sure no lingering smell could plunge Fido into confusion.

pet safe disinfectant spray to removes urine smells

If you are quite confident that you have taken every reasonable step to prevent your dog from peeing in their carrier, it may be time to consult a vet or some other kind of behavioral specialist. Maybe your dog is suffering from a fear or phobia associated with their carrier and is trying to send you a message. Alternatively, it could be a health problem that is causing incontinence.

How Can I Discourage My Dog from Peeing in a Pet Carrier?

This is the same method that comes from housebreaking your dog in the first place – you need to train your canine companion into understanding that peeing is an outside activity. Remember, if your dog is using their carrier as a bathroom, they’re not necessarily sending a message that they don’t care for it. They’re just confused about the purpose of the item.

If your dog is slow to learn this, you could try encouraging them into their pet carrier within the home by placing their meals inside it, or a comforting blanket that makes them think of bedtime. Dogs are hardwired to avoid peeing where they eat or sleep, so this may prevent them from making a mess within their carrier! This will be particularly effective if you use a substantial crate as opposed to the typically smaller carriers that you may be used to.

Likewise, you could also try lining your pet carrier with treats while your dog is out and about. This may distract your dog and ease any nerves about the purpose for the carrier, and make the kind of trips that are most typically used for – the vet, for example – less of a scary experience.

How to Clean Pet Urine from a Carrier

If your dog is prone to peeing in their pet carrier, line it with a puppy pad (or place your dog in a canine diaper if you prefer) to minimize the impact on the fabric or plastic of your carrier. Regardless of whether or not you do this, however, you’re still going to have to clean up the carrier after the event.

How to Clean Dog Urine Stains

It’s considerably easier to clean up dog urine from a plastic pet carrier than a fabric equivalent.

If your dog carrier is constructed from plastic, follow these steps.

  • Remove the top half of the pet carrier and pour the collected pee out of the bottom. You may want to wear some rubber gloves!
  • Use an old towel, or handfuls of kitchen towel, to mop up anything that may be left.
  • Use a disinfectant spray to clean up the plastic, ensuring that every inch of the carrier is covered and cleaned up. Check the ingredients here to ensure that they are pet-safe, or follow our instructions on how to mix and create your own.
  • Wipe down the plastic one last time, and leave it to dry. Ensure that there are no traces of cleaning solution left before you place Fido back inside.

The cleaning of a fabric pet carrier is a little more complicated. You may be fortunate and find that the pet carrier can be placed in a washing machine, but in the likely event that you have to do it yourself, follow these instructions.

cleaning soft cat carrier at home

  • Mix a solution of water and white vinegar (aim for an even, 50/50 split here.)
  • Scrub this solution onto the stain – use a little elbow grease, as you don’t want any trace of the scent to remain.
  • Once you’re comfortable that the stain has been washed thoroughly, you should dry it out as much as possible using a towel or kitchen towel. This has killed the ammonia found within the urine.
  • Sprinkle a little baking soda over the area then pour a little laundry detergent and water over it (if you use a laundry gel, this is fine). Scrub it into the stain once again.
  • Clean up the stained area, and use a hoover to collect any powder that might be left behind. Even though all these ingredients are not toxic to your dog, they won’t thank you if they consume them.

It’s a lot of work, but you’ll be glad that you took these steps. Not only are urine stains hugely unsightly, but they can also smell.

How to Eliminate Dog Urine Smells

Cleaning up the stains on your dog’s pet carrier is only half the battle – it’s more important to eradicate any hint of the smell, as that’s what will attract your dog to repeat the trick time and again. You can purchase dog-specific odor eliminating sprays and liquids from any pet store (one that’s designed for use on a rug is usually fine).

Don’t use bleach – you’ll permanently mark your pet carrier, and potentially leave behind dangerous traces of the chemical that will be harmful to your dog! The fabric on the average pet carrier tends to be somewhat delicate, so take care not to do any permanent damage during your cleaning.

Alternatively, you could try masking the smell with something equally potent such as lemon juice and allowing that to dry, but remember that dogs are naturally citrus-averse. If your furry friend is already less than crazy about using their pet carrier, this may make them even less likely to take to it.

My Dog Peed in Their Pet Carrier – Do They Need a Bath?

It’s certainly advisable. There isn’t a huge amount of space in the average pet carrier. This means that your dog is likely to be splashing – and possibly rolling – around in his or her own pee. That may smell like pheromones to your dog and their canine chums, but it’s unhygienic and pretty unpleasant for the rest of us.

If your dog has endured an accident in their pet carrier, give them a good shower at the first opportunity. Don’t rely on wet wipes in this instance – this scenario relies upon a proper bath using a reputable doggy shampoo. Fido won’t enjoy this one bit, but if you act fast enough, he may put two and two together and avoid peeing in his crate in the future.

How to Make Your Own Pet-Safe Disinfectant Spray

If you’re looking to create a spray that can be used at home to clean up after your dog, there are many different ingredients that can be used. Perhaps more importantly, however, various qualities are toxic.

removing urine smells from dog carriers

Chemicals to Avoid When Making a Pet-Safe Disinfectant Spray

If you’re aiming to make your own cleaning products to keep your pet carrier clean, avoid any of the following:

  • Bleach
  • Ammonia
  • Alcohol
  • Phthalates (aka artificial fragrances)
  • Perchloroethylene
  • Phenols
  • Formaldehyde

Chemicals to Use When Making a Pet-Safe Disinfectant Spray

For everything that is to be avoided, however, there is an alternative product that is perfect for the task at hand. If you use any of these particular products in a cleaning solution, you’ll be able to get your pet carrier cleaned without posing any health risk to Fido.

  • Baking Soda
  • White Vinegar
  • Lemon Juice
  • Tea Tree Oil
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Unscented Liquid Soap

Any or all of the above will need to be diluted with water to make an effective cleaning solution.

Keeping your dog’s pet carrier safe is a hugely important part of your relationship with your canine, especially if you frequently take them on lengthy trips. Sooner or later your dog is liable to have an accident, but as long as you follow these steps, you’ll be able to move on without any fuss.