Why Does Artificial Grass Smell of Dog Urine—and How to Remove It? 

Apr 16, 2024 | Artificial Pet Turf

For homeowners with dogs, pet turf systems provide many solutions to common backyard problems but also a couple of challenges—most notably the potential smell of dog urine.

If you’ve got that problem, you certainly know about it! It’s an unpleasant reek.

So, what’s causing it and, most importantly, how to remove the urine smell from artificial grass?

If you have a urine odor problem, there are a few possible causes. The solutions range from relatively simple fixes to ripping up your artificial turf lawn and starting again…

Artificial grass smells of dog urine—why?

Image Source

Synthetic turf is generally very dog-friendly in backyards and is even used to great effect in dog runs, dog parks, dog kennels, and elsewhere.

Dog pee problems are the exception rather than the norm with any properly installed turf area. A few strange odors are possible on any turf but if your artificial grass regularly smells of urine, you don’t have to look very far for the culprit.

However, it’s not time to scold your dog, who’s only doing what comes naturally. If you’re going to scold anyone, first look at yourself! 

In our experience, most dog pee problems with artificial grass are down to homeowners cutting corners or not following best practices when installing artificial grass with pets.

For instance, artificial may smell of urine because the pet pee doesn’t drain away properly. Urea or uric acid is present in dog (and human) urine and when it is exposed to the air, this can lead to an overpowering ammonia-like smell.

Image Source

Uric acid does not decompose naturally but rainfall helps to flush it away. In times of low rainfall, the pee may just sit there if adequate drainage has not been prepared during installation or if something is trapping it, such as a misplaced membrane underneath the turf. Ammonia is slowly released into the air and this creates a whiff.

Another possible cause of pet pee smells is a poor choice of infill. This granular, bead-like dressing material serves many purposes when spread on top of artificial grass. It keeps the blades standing upright and helps protect your turf area, while also aiding drainage and helping your grass appear more realistic.

The makeup of the infill material matters. Pet owners should avoid crumb rubber or sand as this will absorb and trap the dog pee smells. Instead, a special antimicrobial infill should be used to neutralize odors.

Image Source

You also need to take care of artificial grass with pets. A lack of maintenance will cause unnecessary odors to result. We cover this in more detail below in the section on how to prevent artificial grass dog pee smells.

Note that if you have a small artificial grass yard area and your dog pees in the same place every day or several large dogs all pee in the same area, you may be fighting a long battle with dog pee smells—a consideration to make before installing artificial grass.

The problem may be most noticeable worse on the hottest and most humid days of summer or when there is a lack of rainfall to flush the dog pee away.

The best artificial grass for dogs, when properly installed and looked after should be able to easily cope with any dog peeing in a moderate sized area. The pee should simply drain away and any urine odors should be neutralized. 

To summarize, artificial grass can end up smelling of dog urine for any of the following reasons:

  • Insufficient/inadequate drainage
  • Too many dogs in too small an area or several large dogs
  • Poor quality turf with a low-permeability backing
  • Turf with latex backing that traps urine
  • Poor installation e.g., using a poorly placed membrane under the grass surface
  • Wrong infill, e.g., crumb rubber 
  • Lack of lawn care

Image Source

How to remove urine smells from artificial grass?

The cost of artificial grass is higher than real grass so if homeowners are hit with a lawn that stinks of dog urine, it doesn’t go down very well after making such an investment.

The usual practical tips for cleaning and maintaining artificial grass may not be enough to remove the offending odors. Even using diluted vinegar may not be a powerful enough solution to remove the smells.

So, here’s what you can do to neutralize the urine odors so that you and your family (including the pooch!) can use the artificial turf area as planned…

Try an enzyme-based cleaner

Uric acid is not water-soluble, so simply spraying the lawn with water alone won’t eliminate stubborn urine odors.

By using a cleaner containing enzymes and live bacteria, you will attack the problem with a more powerful solution, breaking down the acid that’s causing the pungent smells and more effectively getting rid of the odors.

Generally, enzyme-based cleaners can be applied using handy bottles that hook up to the garden hose to spray over the artificial grass—but always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. No brushing or scrubbing should be required and you’ll usually just need to rinse the area down afterward. 

Image Source

Change the infill

Check what your artificial grass infill is made from. This may be the culprit and until you get this part right, you’re fighting an uphill battle with urine smells.

Crumb rubber or plain sand infill should set the alarm bells ringing. Both of these materials will absorb and trap pet pee odors (crumb rubber also absorbs heat and makes artificial grass hot in summer).

It’s far better for pet owners to use a special antimicrobial infill, which will prevent ammonia and odor-causing bacteria from forming and help you maintain a hygienic and sanitary backyard space.

To change the infill, vacuum out all of the old infill and clean the area using an enzyme-based cleaner (described above). Then, add a good amount of the new antimicrobial infill—around two to three pounds of infill per square foot. This should be evenly spread using a plastic-pronged rake or equipment specially designed for the purpose.

Image Source

Clean with a commercial disinfectant

Don’t use undiluted bleach on artificial grass but many alternative commercial disinfectants can eliminate the smells of urine from turf areas. Choose a heavy-duty broad-spectrum disinfectant, which should deal with most unwanted odors.

The only problem is that you may replace the odor of pee with another strong and unwanted odor from the disinfectant.

You might like to try a disinfectant liquid that contains fragrance. If you dilute it and spray over the affected area, the disinfectant will leave a scented smell behind on the grass after cleaning and disinfecting. 

Image Source

A quick note about using commercial cleaners: there are hundreds on the market and not all of them perform as they claim. Some of them simply mask the smell of pee for a time before it returns. Do your homework, research the best cleaners before buying, and if you’re unsure about whether they will harm your grass, test a small area first.

Sprinkle with baking soda

After cleaning a stinking area of artificial grass, try also spreading a natural deodorizer, such as baking soda. The powder should be left on the turf for 20 minutes before sweeping or vacuuming it away.

Because you need to remove the powder afterward, it’s best to deodorize like this when you change the infill. If the whole lawn is affected, this can be quite a major task.

Image Source

How to prevent artificial grass dog pee smells

You know the phrase “prevention is better than cure”? Well, it definitely applies to dog pee smells on artificial grass.

It’s best to ask yourself how to prevent dog pee smells on your artificial lawn at the installation stage rather than later when you’re overwhelmed with the odors.

That said, if you’re reading this post, you likely have an odor issue now and will need to follow the tips above to try to eliminate the smell of dog urine before trying prevention methods.

If you’re just starting to plan for artificial grass with dogs, here’s what you’ll need to do…

Select high-quality synthetic grass

Select artificial turf from a renowned supplier and be upfront about your dog situation. A pet turf supplier should be able to help you choose a suitable turf with a permeable polyurethane backing that is non-absorbent, provides excellent drainage, doesn’t trap smells, and is washable.

Lower-quality turf can cause several issues that help to trap odors or lead to poor drainage—and it may also be less resistant to heat and UV light from sunshine. Avoid turf with latex backing, in particular.

All pet turf installed by DFW Turf Solutions is designed to help combat not only the wear and tear from dogs but also unwanted odors.

Arrange a professional installation

Installing artificial grass for dogs involves much more than simply flattening a piece of ground and rolling out a lovely green carpet. That won’t stay looking—or smelling— pristine for very long.

You need to prepare the ground for adequate drainage so that pet pee and rainfall drain properly. You must also ensure that each layer beneath the grass is in the right place, especially if you use a membrane. Choosing and spreading a high-quality antimicrobial infill is also essential.

The basic installation steps to note are the following:

  • Flatten the ground and then add a compacted, permeable sub-base layer made of aggregate and granite dust/chippings. This will allow liquids to pass through the artificial grass. Do not use sand as a sub-base layer as it will not compact properly and may cause sagging, as well as trapping odors.
  • If you add a membrane, place it underneath the turf foundations (sub-base layer) rather than directly underneath it as this will trap moisture/odors.
  • Add a deodorizer layer below the grass.
  • Spread a special, highly absorbent, antimicrobial, zeolite-based infill, which has a natural honeycomb-like structure that absorbs pet pee odors.
  • if you’re worried about weeds, use a non-toxic weedkiller rather than a weed membrane.

At DFW Turf Solutions, we ask plenty of questions about pets and your backyard usage before we recommend artificial turf and prepare the installation. That way, we know what we’re up against and can help you prevent urine smells on your turf.

Image Source

Look after your turf

Artificial turf is low maintenance compared with real grass but not maintenance-free if you have dogs.

There’s no regular watering, cutting, trimming, aerating or fertilizing but you’ll need to do the following to prevent pee odor problems:

  • Rinse the turf with water from the garden hose at least once a month (once a week during drier spells, if possible).
  • Remove any solid waste or debris as soon as possible to avoid bacteria buildup.
  • Top up the infill from time to time and ensure it is applied evenly across the area.
  • Remove the old infill and replace it periodically if it starts to develop unwanted odors.
  • Occasionally deep clean the turf fibers with an enzyme-based cleaner.

These steps are all relatively simple and shouldn’t take much time. Just bear in mind that if you have more than one dog, large dogs, and/or a small backyard space, you’ll need to work a little harder to stay odor-free, especially in the hotter, drier months.

Image Source

My artificial grass was installed incorrectly—what can I do?

If your artificial grass smells of urine and the main suspect is an installation problem, you may require professional assistance to fix it. You can disinfect, deodorize, and change the infill but the problem could keep coming back.

If a membrane has been installed under your grass, for instance, spraying water will simply move the trapped urine around. And, anyway, who wants to blast the lawn with a high-pressure hose daily? Part of the reason why you installed artificial grass was to save the hard work and the watering!

If none of the tips outlined above fix the problem, you may need to consider a reinstallation of the artificial grass. Start by talking to our friendly team.


How do you remove solid waste from artificial grass?

Remove solid waste from artificial grass as soon as possible as you would with real grass. Collect the waste with a bag or scoop, rinse the area with water, apply a disinfectant cleaner, and then rinse with water again.

Can dog pee cause yellow staining on artificial grass?

Artificial grass is highly durable and will not discolor with dog pee. 

How often should I clean my artificial grass?

This depends. If you have dogs, a weekly rinse would be beneficial in the hotter, drier months. At other times, once a month will help. If you don’t have dogs and your turf was installed correctly with adequate drainage, an occasional spray with the hose will help keep it fresh but the most important thing is to keep it clear of debris, which can attract bacteria.

Do dogs like artificial grass?

It appears so. There are many reasons why your dogs will enjoy artificial grass, including being outside all year round to play, run, and roll. There are fewer toxic odors used, fewer bugs and fleas, and the area, if installed properly, stays flat and mud-free.

Of course, it’s also great for owners with very little maintenance and no digging, muddy paws or yellow patches.

Customized artificial grass free of dog urine odors…

If the right artificial grass is installed properly by professionals and you perform some basic maintenance on your artificial turf, you should have few issues with dog urine smells. Don’t be tempted to cut corners if you have dogs as you may also reduce the many benefits of having artificial grass.

If you experience pee odor problems, try enzyme-based cleaners, some disinfectants, and deodorizing, as well as changing the infill. If that doesn’t work, you may have an installation problem, which likely needs deeper troubleshooting,

Our experienced team of turf professionals is ready to discuss your artificial grass installation with you. We’ve helped homeowners enjoy customized odor-free areas in their front and back yards for many years…

Related Posts