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Will Steam Cleaning a Carpet Remove Cat Urine Smell? Top Sanitation Tips

cat near wet spot on carpet
Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock
Last Updated on November 16, 2023 by Christian Adams
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Have you ever wondered which pet is easier to potty train—dogs or cats? Cat owners may argue that cats are much easier to potty train than dogs because of their natural inclination to use the litter box. While there is some truth to this, most cat owners have dealt with accidents with cats doing their business in places they shouldn’t—such as the carpet!

To deal with the smell, you may have considered steam cleaning your carpet of your cat’s pee. But does steam cleaning your carpet effectively remove cat urine smell? Steam cleaning alone will not remove the urine smell, and can even potentially make things worse.

While steam cleaning is a good way to clean your carpet, there are thorough steps to follow before steam cleaning. Read on to find out more!

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Cat Urine Smell

If your cat peed on the carpet, you have likely noticed how potent the smell is. The reason why cat pee on carpet can be difficult to clean is because of how the urine’s chemical composition interacts with the fibers of the carpet.

Cat urine contains high concentrations of uric acid. Uric acid can reach deep into the carpet fibers that can come into contact with bacteria, which produces the strong odor. Aside from uric acid, cat urine also contains sulfur compounds, such as thiols and sulfides that also have a strong odor. The uric acid and sulfur compound content is what gives the cat urine its strong stench, making it difficult to manage.

cat with pee stain on the carpet
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

Why Steaming a Carpet Alone Won’t Work

Steam cleaning may mask the smell for a short period, but it can actually worsen the situation in the long run. While steam cleaning uses high temperatures and pressure to clean the surface, it doesn’t work for cat urine on carpet as the heat can cause the proteins to bond to the fabric of the carpet. This can cause the stain to permanently set, which will make the odor more difficult, if not impossible to remove.

How to Clean Your Carpet

When cleaning cat urine on the carpet, you’ll want to make sure the carpet both looks and smells clean again. To properly clean and neutralize the odor, you’ll need to attack cat urine at a chemical level.

To effectively remove the odor and prevent fresh stains from setting, you want to blot the liquid with a  clean cloth to absorb as much urine from the carpet as possible. When blotting, avoid rubbing or scrubbing the area to prevent spreading the urine.

After blotting, use a cleaning solution of vinegar and water in a spray bottle on the affected area and let it sit for five to 10 minutes. Blot the cleaning solution, rinse, and blot again to remove any excess moisture. To break down the proteins, use of enzymatic cleaners should be used. When applying enzymatic cleaners, apply and let sit as recommended based on the instructions provided. Rinse with clean water, blot, and let dry!

It is important to note that some carpet materials may require special cleaning methods, so be sure to familiarize yourself with your carpet’s material and its proper care instructions before attempting to clean it.

When in doubt, you may also consider using professional carpet cleaning services to ensure that your carpet is left clean and fresh!

calico cat looking at mess on carpet
Image Credit: Kristi Blokhin, Shutterstock

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The 3 Tips to Preventing Accidents

The best way to deal with the smell of cat urine on the carpet is by preventing it in the first place. Here are a few steps on how to prevent your cat from peeing on the carpet.

1. Litter Boxes

Cats have a natural inclination to do their business in the litter box because of the texture of the area. So be sure to position their litter boxes in a space that they can easily access. Cats are very territorial animals, so it’s best to have one litter box per cat if you have multiple cats in one household. Be sure to place each litter box in a quiet area with low traffic to avoid stress and interruption while they potty.

Litter boxes are considered a cat’s personal space. This is a space where they are comfortable enough to go potty. Because of this, cats can get picky and have different preferences when it comes to their litter. If their litter has an overwhelming scent or a texture that they do not like, they may end up not using it and doing their business elsewhere.

Be sure to choose the proper litter for your cat to ensure that they use it instead of your carpet!


2. Address Stressors

Cats are creatures of habit and can act out if stressed or anxious. Small changes in the house or in their routine can stress them out, causing them to pee in unusual areas, such as the carpet. Cats can also experience stress and anxiety if not properly stimulated through play and exercise.

To address this, you want to identify what’s stressing your cat. Cats experiencing anxiety from the changes in their environment need more reassurance and attention, so be sure to spend more time with your cat. You can also provide scratch posts and toys to keep your cat stimulated.


3. Clean Up Accidents Immediately

One way or another, your cat may have an accident on the carpet. To prevent this from happening again, clean the spot right away before letting the stain set. This gives a signal to your cat that the carpet isn’t the right place to do their business.

cat pee on carpet
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

Cat ball divider 1Can I Still Steam Clean My Carpet?

Steam cleaning your carpet without any of the abovementioned steps can ruin your carpet and potentially worsen the odor from your cat’s pee. But if properly cleaned with blotting, cleaning solutions, and enzymatic solutions, steam cleaning can definitely be included as the last step in the cleaning procedure, which can greatly help clean your carpet and remove unwanted odors.

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Final Thoughts

The strong smell of cat pee is a challenge most cat owners are familiar with—especially if your cat pees in the wrong places, like your carpet. Steam cleaning alone is not an effective way to clean and remove the unpleasant cat urine smell on your carpet and can even potentially worsen it. Before steam cleaning, be sure to pre-clean the carpet stain with a cleaning solution and enzymatic solution first.

Steam cleaning is a great way to clean your carpet from your cat’s accidents, just be sure to do all the other steps first!


Featured Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

About the Author

Christian Adams
Christian Adams
Christian is the Editor-in-Chief of Excited Cats and one of its original and primary contributors. A lifelong cat lover, now based in South East Asia, Christian and his wife are the proud parents of an 11-year-old son and four rescue cats: Trixie, Chloe, Sparky, and Chopper.

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