What are the most effective pet cleaners for pet urine?

Enzymatic cleaners vs. Oxidative cleaners

If you have pets, it’s guaranteed you’ll have pet messes and you will need cleaners! Finding the right product that will not only remove the stain but remove the strong odors that are left behind can be overwhelming and confusing. Been there, done that!

There are so many products on the market, but do they really work? Most importantly, what works best for what mess?  To understand this, it helps to understand how they work.

There are 3 main types of cleaners.

1.     Enzymatic cleaners. Aka bio-enzyme

2.     Oxidative cleaners

3.     Surfactant cleaners

Enzymatic cleaners

Enzymatic cleaners use enzymes and/or bacteria to essentially eat the proteins found in organic material. Urine, blood, dirt, grass stains are examples of organic material. Cleaners that contain enzymes will continue to work until all the organic material has been removed by the enzymes. This is why these cleaners are great for getting rid of the odor left behind even after the stain is removed. The downside to using enzymatic cleaners is that they are very sensitive to certain elements in order to work properly. In really dry or humid climates, the enzymes struggle to work at full potential. If your pet is on a special food diet or medications, this could change the effectiveness of the cleaner. There are also several products marketed as “Bio-enzyme or “Enzyme” cleaners that use a lot of added soap to the formula. These type of products can leave behind residue long after the water has evaporated, the soap remains in your carpet attracting more bacteria! Yuk!  You can check the soap content by shaking the bottle and seeing how much it suds. There are a couple of enzyme cleaners that I found to use less soap and are very effective at cleaning pet messes and getting rid of the pet odor.

Oxidative cleaners

Oxidative cleaners actually break down organic material and converts it to the simple form like nitrogen, carbon dioxide and oxygen. This starts working immediately after applying it. When the compound is broken down this is also key for removal of visible stains not only the odor. Unlike the enzymatic cleaners,  things like climate or other environmental factors do not affect the way this type of cleaner works.

As with the enzyme cleaners, many of these oxidative cleaners have added additional soap to the formula. Unless you are able to fully extra all of the product, soap is never a good thing when it comes to removing any type of pet stain. So do the bottle shake test to ensure you’re getting a product will low or no sudsing.

These cleaners in my opinion surpass the enzymatic cleaners for removing the odor, PERMANENTLY! Which is so important when you are working on potty training your pet!  My favorite product is called Stink Free! I used so many different products and this one truly saved my carpet! It completely removes all traces of pet urine. What I like most about this product is that you saturate the entire area and just let it dry. That’s it! It doesn’t sud at all which is exactly the type of product I was looking for!


Surfactants is a rather broad term but it basically means soap or detergent. As I stated above, unless you are able to fully extract the cleaning solution from your carpet, surfactants are not the best choice when dealing with pet messes. Surfactants work by attracting the oil, dirt and grease and pulling them away from the surface. They use the water in the formula which sticks to the soil and dislodges it from the area. Surfactants can be really effective at removing the actual stain however the odor is merely masked. If you do not have the ability to to extract every last drop of the cleaner I don’t advise these types of cleaners for pet messes on carpet or rugs.

In summary:

You can test a oxidative cleaner and a enzymatic cleaner for soap content by shaking the bottle. If it’s suds A LOT, it means it contains a lot of soap. Low sudsing or no sudsing means it’s a winner!!!!

Oxidative or oxidation type cleaners are a fantastic choice to completely remove urine odors AND all pet stains. They continually work until all the organic matter has been broken down and converted into it’s basic form. This is why the smell will NOT return!

Enzymatic cleaners can work really well as long as the climate being used in is not humid or dry. If your pet is on medication, enzymatic cleaners will struggle to get the job done.  Enzymatic cleaners WILL fully remove the pet odor such as strong cat urine or dog urine and they can work for the lighter colored stains.

Surfactants are not recommend for pet messes on carpet or rugs but can be effective for hard surfaces. They can also be effective if you have a deeply soiled area that you are able to fully extract the cleaner.

Have you found an amazing cleaner that you love? We would love to hear about your favorite products. Drop us a comment below or an email!

I  linked my products of choice but you can find more cleaning products HERE.

I have not received any free or discounted products. I do not earn commission from the company products I feature. I do however earn a small commission through the Amazon Affiliate program if you purchase a product from Amazon via my links.

Here is a great article with a pet cleaning supplies checklist.

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Watch this video and learn how Jamie keeps her house smelling Clean & Fresh: