It’s Saturday night, and you’re ready to go out, but it looks like your puppy has used your new kicks as a urinal again. While getting the yellow flecks off your white sneakers may be as easy as wiping them down with a paper towel, what are you supposed to do about the smell?
Here, you’ll find five ways to get that dog pee smell out of your shoes, once and for all.
1. If You Can, Toss Them in the Washing Machine
This is going to be the quickest and easiest (and likely most effective) solution. If you really want those shoes smelling clean again, toss them in the washing machine for a cycle.
This is only for shoes made of canvas, nylon, cotton, or polyester, and even then, you should read the care instructions before you do anything. You’ll also want to remove the insoles and laces before tossing them in the machine. If there’s pee on the insoles, they’ll likely need to be replaced (although you can try hand-washing them), but the laces can be put in a garment bag and washed with the shoes.
If there’s other debris besides dog urine on the shoes, take a brush or something similar, and knock everything off before putting your kicks in the machine. Then, put the shoes in a separate garment bag from the laces and toss them in the machine. You may want to include a few old towels to help balance the load.
Use a delicate setting to wash your shoes, preferably with no spin cycle. You’ll want to use a liquid detergent, as powder can get stuck in the various crevices of your shoes. You may also want to include a stain remover, although you should spot-test it beforehand.
Once the cycle is completed, take out your shoes and wipe off any excess moisture. It’s also a good idea to stuff rags or paper towels inside them; not only will this soak up water, but it will help them retain their shape. Then, put them somewhere where they’ll get plenty of sunlight and wait for them to dry completely before wearing them again.
2. Take Them to a Shoe Specialist
If your shoes are made of a trickier material, like leather, silk, or suede, you should take them to a shoe repair shop or similar specialist rather than tossing them in the machine. You can also take nylon or canvas shoes to a specialist if the washing machine didn’t do the trick.
You can try handwashing them instead, but that’s a tricky process that’s easy to screw up, and you could ruin your shoes if you don’t do things properly. Handwashing is also less likely to get the smell out.
For expensive shoes made of premium material like leather or suede, we urge you to only take them to a repair shop and follow their advice. Anything that you try on them is much more likely to ruin them than save them, so we wouldn’t use any other suggestions on this list for such shoes.
Simply go down to the repair shop and explain the situation to them. A pro offers your best chance of getting the smell out, and they’ll also let you know if your shoes are a complete lost cause. However, a specialist is also likely to be somewhat expensive — exactly how expensive will depend on the material of the shoes and the extent of the damage — and your kicks might not be worth it.
3. Use Water and Baking Soda
Rinse your shoes in cold water, then soak them in a tub of water with baking soda in it. Put in however much baking soda you think is appropriate, then add more (it should still be a liquid, though — if your mixture turns into a paste, add more water).
Let the shoes soak for about half an hour or so, then rinse off all the baking soda with more cold water. Lather them up with a mild soap, and scrub them well enough to remove any traces of baking soda, and then rinse them again.
When you’re done, dry them as well as you can, then stuff them with towels or rags and put them somewhere to finish drying.
4. Use a Product Designed for Cleaning Up Dog Pee
If you head down to your local pet store, you should find an entire shelf devoted to products designed to clean up pet messes. Unlike regular stain-removing products that you’ll find in the laundry section, which have to be effective against a wide variety of potential messes, these concoctions are specifically made to clean up pet accidents.
That means they have ingredients that are great at removing ammonia odors, which is the main thing that makes animal urine smell so bad. Some of these products use chemicals, while others use natural enzymes to break down the odor-causing particles.
There’s not a right or a wrong answer for which to pick, but the enzymatic cleaners are likely going to be gentler on your shoes. We like Nature’s Miracle, but be sure to get a pourable liquid rather than a spray bottle because you’ll probably want to soak your shoes in it.
Start by rinsing them with cold water, then soak them in Nature’s Miracle for a few hours. There’s not a recipe for how much Nature’s Miracle to use, so you can use the pure cleaner or mix it with water. Just make sure the pee-soaked areas are submerged.
When they’re done soaking, rinse them off with cold water or run them through the washing machine, then dry them using the rags and/or towels method.
You can use a spray bottle if that’s all you have handy, but you’ll really need to soak the affected area to see any improvement.
5. Try Sneaker Balls
If you look hard enough, you can find products known as “sneaker balls” or something similar. They’re basically deodorizing balls that you can stuff in your tennis shoes when you’re not wearing them, and they soak up odors and moisture.
Sneaker balls are great for getting persistent odors out of shoes, but keep in mind that they won’t actually get the urine out. You’ll either have to live with knowing that you’re wearing pee-soaked shoes or you’ll have to use another cleaning method to remove the mess.
6. Use Lysol or Febreze
Lysol and Febreze won’t actually get the urine out (although Lysol can kill the germs that now live in your shoes because of it). They’re both great at covering up odors, though.
You’ll want to spray your shades down with whatever you use. Think about what a person working at a bowling alley would do with their shoes, then triple it. Be sure to get in every nook and cranny, and target any spots with visible stains.
There’s a major drawback with this method, however. If you don’t remove the pee, the odor might keep coming back, forcing you to continually re-deodorize your shoes. As such, this isn’t a great long-term solution, but it can get your shoes ready to go in a hurry if that’s what you need.
7. Get New Shoes
There’s no such thing as a foolproof method for getting dog pee odor out of shoes. The mentioned methods can all work, but there’s no guarantees, especially if the pee has been sitting in the shoes for a long time.
Ultimately, you might have to wave the white flag and get rid of your shoes. That can be incredibly frustrating, especially if they were expensive or your favorites, but you don’t want to be known as the person who smells like pee.
Look on the bright side: It gives you an excuse to go shoe shopping.
How to Prevent Your Dog From Peeing on Your Shoes
While we hope these tips will salvage your shoes, this is one situation in which an ounce of prevention is definitely better than trying to clean up several ounces of dog pee (we think that’s how the saying goes).
If you want to keep your dog from peeing on your shoes again, there are a few things that you can do. If you have a puppy, housetraining them as quickly as you can is your best bet. You may need to take a day or two off work to do so, but that may end up being cheaper than replacing a bunch of shoes.
If your dog isn’t really peeing at all, but rather is marking with urine, you’ll have to work a little harder. This is usually an anxiety-based behavior, so you’ll have to figure out what’s causing them so much stress and deal with it.
Don’t punish your dog for the act, as that will only make the problem worse. Instead, try to alleviate the source of the stress. You may also need to enlist your vet for help, and they may recommend anti-anxiety medication.
Last but certainly not least, remember that your dog can’t pee on your shoes if your shoes aren’t on the floor (unless they have a powerful bladder and really good aim).
The Sweet Smell of Shoe
Dog pee-soaked shoes aren’t a fun problem to deal with, but in most cases, you can get the odor out without having to ditch the footwear. This list is a great place to start, and we’re confident that at least one of the tips will finally get the urine odor out of your shoes.
Featured Image Credit: rad fx, Shutterstock