A dog sitting beside some cleaning supplies against a white background.

How To Clean Dog Pee With Rubbing Alcohol

Your puppy has just had an accident on your new cushions. You’re now frantically trying to figure out how to clean dog pee with rubbing alcohol that you found in your medicine cabinet because it’s the closest thing on hand. Don’t panic! We’ve all been there, and you’re in luck. Used correctly, rubbing alcohol is a great way to clean up messes. 

To effectively clean dog pee with rubbing alcohol, blot the area immediately. Spray generously with rubbing alcohol and allow it to dry. You may sprinkle baking soda on the area to remove residual alcohol odors. Be sure to keep your dog away from the area until it has dried completely though as rubbing alcohol is very toxic to dogs. 

What Is Rubbing Alcohol?

Rubbing alcohol is a solution of isopropyl alcohol or sometimes, ethyl alcohol that has been diluted to make it safe to use on the skin and in your home. Most commercially available products contain 70% isopropyl alcohol and are commonly used to disinfect minor cuts and scrapes.

Why Is Rubbing Alcohol A Good Choice To Clean Up Dog Pee?

A dog laying down next to a mop.
Uh oh, buddy. Watch out!

While urine from a healthy dog is usually sterile, a puddle of urine left sitting out for a few minutes can quickly become a breeding ground for bacteria. Rubbing alcohol is a bactericidal disinfectant; it kills bacteria on contact by dissolving the fatty cell membrane that surrounds the bacterial cell and destroying the proteins within. 

The same properties that make it a great disinfectant also make it a good choice when cleaning up urine. Alcohol is a degreasing agent because it acts as a solvent in which to dissolve oily substances in the stain that caused it to set. 

How To Use Rubbing Alcohol On Fresh Dog Pee

If you come across a wet puddle on a hard surface, a good wipe-down with a dry paper towel followed by a quick spritz of rubbing alcohol should do the trick. After the alcohol has dried completely, baking soda, dilute white vinegar, or any all-purpose cleaning solution can be used to eliminate any residual odors. Some dogs can be sensitive to fragranced cleaning products. So, remember to test it out on a small area before fully exposing your pup to it.

Fresh urine on absorbent surfaces is slightly more challenging to deal with though. Immediately rinse washable items in warm running water to remove as much of the urine as possible. Soak the item in warm water and liquid detergent for 30 mins and then rinse with water. 

If the urine is on an absorbent surface such as a couch or bed, immediately blot the liquid by pressing a paper towel firmly over the area using your fingers. Replace the paper towels as they get soaked through. Do this until they remain relatively dry.

Spray rubbing alcohol on the area and allow it to dry. You may perform an odor test by gently dampening the area and taking a whiff. Neutralize residual odor by sprinkling baking soda onto the surface and vacuuming off the powder once completely dry. Remember, baking soda isn’t the same as baking powder so make sure to read the label!

How To Use Alcohol On A Stain That Has Set

If you’ve ever come home to a guilty dog and noticeable yellow discoloration on your white cushions that is now dry, but still gives off that tell-tale odor, I hear your frustration! Thankfully, rubbing alcohol is an easy fix for removing a urine stain that has set on the fabric.

Dampen the stain with rubbing alcohol and gently tamp the surface in short strokes with a toothbrush. Use an absorbent pad or paper towel to dab the stain, changing pads frequently as they soak through. Do not rub or scrub at this stage. It will only spread the stain further and push it deeper into the fabric. 

Continue to dampen with alcohol and pick up the liquid until the stain has been removed. Allow it to dry and perform the odor test as previously described. If the smell persists, sprinkle baking powder on the damp surface and allow it to dry before vacuuming any excess powder. 

Which Surfaces Are Alcohol Safe?

You won’t be able to use rubbing alcohol to safely clean all surfaces. Finished surfaces, that is those that have been varnished, lacquered, or treated in any way can be tarnished on contact with alcohol. 

Alcohol can also damage some fabrics such as rayon, acrylic, modacrylic, acetate, and triacetate. It may be safe to use after diluting it in two parts water to one part alcohol, but we recommend other more fabric-safe alternatives.   

Precautions To Take When Using Rubbing Alcohol

Just because rubbing alcohol contains isopropyl alcohol, that doesn’t make the two the same. The CDC reports that isopropyl alcohol is safer and more effective at 70% concentration as found in rubbing alcohol. So don’t go reaching for the pure isopropyl alcohol to clean up those stains!

Alcohol should only be used as a spot treatment on small areas in well-ventilated rooms as the vapor is highly flammable. Remember to put out any candles or open flames nearby before you start cleaning. 

Never mix alcohol with bleach as the fumes produced in the chemical reaction are noxious and can be harmful; causing nausea and dizziness as well as organ injury if inhaled in sufficient quantities.

Direct contact with or ingestion of alcohol may be harmful to pets. Make sure to keep them away from the treated areas until they have dried completely.

Alternatives To Using Rubbing Alcohol To Clean Up Dog Pee

Rubbing alcohol isn’t the only way to clean dog pee. For puddles, mopping the floor with any household disinfectant is a safe and effective way to clean up the area. Just make sure to soak up as much of the liquid as possible with paper towels first, to avoid spreading the urine around with the mop.

For wet stains on fabric, rinsing and soaking with liquid detergent should be able to completely eliminate the smell. If it persists, soak it in a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water for up to 4 hours and then wash it as usual. You can also add 4 tablespoons of baking powder to the mix if needed. Sprinkle baking powder on wet stains on a couch or mattress to soak up smells.

While rubbing alcohol is actually a great way to lift dried urine stains, dampening the stain with water and rubbing the area with borax paste before rinsing it or blotting and lifting it with paper towels is a great alternative.

In Conclusion: Is Rubbing Alcohol A Good Choice To Clean Up Dog Pee?

Yes! Rubbing alcohol is a great way to clean up dog pee. In addition to being readily available and safe to handle, it is a strong disinfectant that can easily remove even dried-up urine stains. So, next time your dog has an accident and all you have on hand is some rubbing alcohol, grab that bottle and get to cleaning!

So, what do you think about using rubbing alcohol to clean up dog pee? Do you have any better ideas? Let us know your thoughts and why in the comments below!

Dr. Umaya Gunaratne (DVM)
Dr. Umaya Gunaratne (DVM)
Umaya Gunaratne is a veterinarian plus dog and cat mum currently pursuing her PhD in small animal cardiology. Her field of interest is degenerative mitral valve disorders in small breed dogs, but her passion lies in bridging the gap between academia and the real world. She enjoys helping pet parents understand the research-backed science behind raising their fur kids. She spends her free time playing football, clicker-training her cat, Ria, and spending quality time with her many houseplants.