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Why Does My Carpet Smell Like Urine After Shampooing?

If you’ve shampooed your carpet and it has started to smell like urine, then don’t worry.

Hot water combined with shampoo can reactivate the bacteria and urea that lies dormant in your carpet, which will bring the smell of urine back.

This is usually the case when urine has been left in your carpet for such a time that the smell has actually gone away, but the bacteria is still there. You may think that the urine has ‘gone away’ just because it doesn’t smell, but this is not actually the case.

Let’s take a look at why carpet shampoos are not actually effective at removing uring, and what you can do to properly get rid of them.

Doesn’t Shampoo Remove The Urine?

Although most shampoos in stores will claim that they remove urine, they actually only mask the smell by using a stronger odor. So, you might think that you’ve thoroughly cleaned your carpet because it doesn’t smell anymore, but this isn’t the case.

If your shampoo isn’t strong enough, or if there is a lot of urine in your carpet, then the smell of urine will overcome the shampoo anyway leading to the aforementioned problem.

Shampoo Only Cleans The Surface

Another problem with shampoo is that it only cleans the surface of a carpet when in reality the urine is likely to have settled at the bottom or even in the carpet padding.

This is yet another reason why, even if the shampoo claims to remove or even mask the odor of urine, the odor of urine will still remain. Even if you mask the urine that is still in the upper layers of your carpet the hot water is likely to drip down to the lower layers and activate any urea and bacteria present leading to an awful smell.

Shampoo Can Also Cause Urine To Spread

Another issue with shampoo is that it can mix with urine and spread it further into your carpet without you realising what has happened.

So, not only will shampoo not properly clean up the urine, but it will also spread it out and make the problem bigger.

How to Locate Urine Stains

If your urine problem is only small then it’s worth finding the spots where the urine has entered the carpet to make it easier to clean up properly. This can also save you money if you decide to get a professional clean as well.

The best way to see where urine stains are is by using a black light torch, our personal favourite is the Eletorot UV Torch, which can be used to easily identify any urine stains on your carpet.

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Simply shine the torch over your carpet with all the lights turned off and curtains closed, and any stains will light up and be easy to see. This is a great way to see the extent of your urine problem and to identify whether you need to get a professional clean done or not.

Urine In The Carpet Pad

Another big issue is your carpet pad becoming saturated with urine. A carpet pad will act like a sponge and absorb just about any liquid that makes its way through the carpet layers.

This is a major issue because no matter the extent of cleaning you do to your carpet, the smell of urine will always be there or ready to be activated by cleaning the carpet above. Luckily, carpet padding can be very cheap compared to a carpet so it shouldn’t be too big of a deal to replace it.

Saturated Carpet Pad

In some severe cases, your carpet pad may be saturated with urine, which can lead to pools of urine collecting underneath your carpet.

This will most likely be noticeable before shampooing your carpet and requires a flood extracting unit to clean up the excess urine from the floor. Depending on the amount of time the urine has sat you may also have some issues with mold as well which would need to be tackled by a professional.

What Should You Do If Your Carpet Smells Like Urine

The first step is to read our guide on how to protect against urine in carpet, so you can learn exactly how to prevent this issue from happening in the future.

If you’ve got a problem with urine in your carpet the only real solution is to contact a reputable carpet cleaning company that will charge you a reasonable amount to properly get rid of the urine.

You’ll want to make sure they also lift your carpet to check for further damage to the carpet padding and floor beneath it, otherwise, you’ll only tackle half of the problem.

Home Remedies?

If you don’t want to get a professional clean done, which is the best option, there are a few things you can try at home to tackle urine problems.

These work best if you are able to clean the urine straight away, if the urine has sat for extended periods of time you will have little luck dealing with this problem on your own. Let’s take a look at a few options.

Enzymatic Cleaners

Enzyme-based cleaners are the best option when it comes down to it.

These are specifically created to break down the components of urine to not only remove the smell but also the bacteria as well. These are likely what a professional carpet cleaning company would use if you decided to hire one.


Bleach should really only be used as a last resort to clean up urine because it can react with the ammonia in urine to form chlorine gas.

This only happens in very, very small amounts but if you do decide to use bleach make sure all the windows are open and that there is a good flow of air throughout the room. We also don’t recommend this method if there is a lot of urine to clean up, for obvious reasons.

You can only really use bleach on white carpets as well because it can remove the colour from carpet fibres easily, so keep that in mind.

Final Thoughts

Don’t forget that it’s actually super common for a carpet to smell like urine after it has been shampooed and that there are plenty of things you can do to fix it.

We recommend hiring a professional, but there are some other options you can try at home!