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How to Get Rid of Cat Pee Smell: Tips for Every Surface

Written by: Kristin Hitchcock

Last Updated on July 2, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

cleaning carpet at home

How to Get Rid of Cat Pee Smell: Tips for Every Surface

One of the worst things about owning a cat is the possibility of cat pee on your carpet or wooden floors. Every cat will likely have an accident at some point. Usually, kittens have accidents before they are litter box trained. However, even adult cats can have accidents for a wide range of reasons. UTIs cause inappropriate urination, for instance.

Cat pee is incredibly stinky. Anyone who has ever owned a cat knows that. Getting that smell out of your carpet or hardwood floors can be nearly impossible and time intensive.

In this article, we’ll have a look at how to remove this smelly urine from your carpet and hardwood floors.

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What Not to Use When Cleaning Cat Pee

There are several things you should not use when cleaning cat pee. Your first instinct may be to run and grab some hot water. However, hot water is only going to amplify the smell and help the stain set. It is not particularly good at removing the smell and will likely only spread it around. For this reason, it is not recommended in the least.

Instead, you should always use cold water, which we will discuss more in-depth below.

You also don’t necessarily need to use heavy-duty cleaning products either. There is no reason to bring out the bleach. Many other substances can neutralize the odors more efficiently and are much less harsh. Furthermore, some of these chemicals can harm your flooring and should not be used anyway. You have to be particularly cautious with hardwood floors, as many cleaning products can damage the finish and warp the flooring.

Never use a cleaning product that is not rated for your floor. Something that is completely safe to use on the carpet is not safe enough to use on hardwood. Always check the back of the cleaning product to ensure it is appropriate to use on your flooring.

Alternatively, you can follow out instructions below for various types of flooring.

Image Credit: Fotos593, Shutterstock

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Removing Cat Urine Smell from Carpet

Carpets tend to soak things up, which can make removing the cat urine smell difficult. However, there are actually many things you can do to remove the smell. If you follow the right steps, it can actually be quite easy.

1. Blot the Spot

If the spot is still wet, you should blot it with a towel. Don’t rub, as it will just spread the urine around. Use a towel you don’t mind messing up, as removing the smell from the towel may be difficult. You can use paper towels, but you may end up going through quite a few. Plus, they will stink up your trash! Plan to take it out right away.

Alternatively, you can put the paper towels in a plastic bag and then close it. This will keep the smell in and prevent it from stinking up your garbage.

2. Rinse and Vacuum

Next, use cold water to rinse the area. You only want to use a little bit to re-dampen the spot. If you use too much, you may end up spreading the stain, which is the last thing you want to do. Then, use a wet vacuum to remove the excess water. You may want to repeat this a number of times until the majority of the urine appears to be removed.

If you don’t have a vacuum capable of sucking up liquids, you can blot the stain again with a towel. If you decide to go this route, we don’t recommend using paper towels, as you will go through a lot.

man in blue uniform cleaning carpet with vacuum cleaner
Image Credit: Andrey_Popov, Shutterstock

3. Use an Enzymatic Cleaner

You don’t just want to use any cleaner when cleaning cat urine. Instead, you should aim to use an enzymatic cleaner. These cleaners contain enzymes, which help remove the cat urine specifically. There are many available at pet stores and online.

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Use the cleaner as directed. Usually, this involves spraying the spot and letting it sit for a few moments. Read the directions and follow them closely for the best results.

When removing the cleaner, be sure to blot it. You don’t want to spread the cleaner or the stain around, which you will do if you rub.

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Removing Cat Urine from Cushions

Cushions are also difficult to remove cat urine from. Preferably, you should utilize your washer if the cushions are small enough to fit. If it can’t, you’ll need to be the washer.

1. Soak the Area in Water

Get the affected area as wet as possible. You may do this by actually dipping it in water, or you may want to pour water on the stain. Then, blot it with a paper towel. You want to remove as much of the actual cat urine from the cushion as possible. Repeat this step as many times as necessary to remove the urine.

You’ll notice the urine is gone once the affected spot is no longer discolored.

Cleaning white sofa
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

2. Use an Enzymatic Cleaner

Just like when cleaning the carpet, you’ll want to use an enzymatic cleaner. Ensure you get one that is safe to be used on a cushion, as many are only suitable for carpets. Use the cleaner as directed. You may need to let it sit for a little bit according to the instructions.

You should not need to use the cleaner twice if it is high-quality.

3. Let the Cushion Dry

You’ll want to let the cushion dry as much as possible before using it again. Some cushions may take days to dry. You can decrease the drying time by placing it in the sun. Placing the cushion outside may also reduce the smell if there is still some lingering.

Pillow drying on the clothesline in the sun
Image Credit: Cat2003, Shutterstock

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Removing Cat Urine from a Mattress

Removing cat urine from a mattress can be difficult, but it is perhaps the one area that you simply must remove all of the smell from. No one wants to be sleeping on something that smells like cat urine. Luckily, you can remove the smell through a similar method as the other options we’ve discussed thus far.

1. Soak the Area

Like most other materials, you will need to get the area plenty wet with water. Because it is so large, you’ll have to pour the water onto the mattress. Use cold water, not hot water. Hot water may help set the stain and won’t flush the smell out as well. Blot out the water right away to remove as much urine as possible.

Do not rub it around, as this will only spread the stain and make it more difficult to clean.

dry cleaning of an old white mattress
Image Credit: Olga Aniven, Shutterstock

2. Use an Enzymatic Cleaner

Even after the water, you’ll likely need to use an enzymatic cleaner to completely remove the smell. Make sure the cleaner can be used on your mattress, as mattresses tend to be a bit more sensitive than other options.

Follow the directions on the cleaner. You’ll likely need to let it sit for a minute and then blot it up.

3. Let It Dry

You’ll probably need to use the mattress again before it is completely dry. You can place towels down over the wet spot and then make the bed. The towels should prevent the water from soaking through the sheets. Alternatively, you can flip the mattress upside down.

It’ll probably take a few days for it to be completely dry.

man demonstrating quality of mattress
Image Credit: Friends Stock, Shutterstock

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Removing Cat Urine Smell from Clothing

If your cat has soiled your clothing or other linens, you’ll likely have an easier time getting the smell out.

1. Rinse the Clothes

Before throwing the clothes or other linens into the washer, rinse them in the sink in cold water and then wring them out. You may need to do this a few times to remove the majority of the cat urine.

Hands squeeze wet cloth
Image Credit: Janis Smits, Shutterstock

2. Wash with Detergent and Baking Soda

Put your clothes in the washer to wash them as you normally would. However, also add a cup of baking soda or a quarter cup of vinegar. Either one will help remove the smell from your clothes.

3. Add an Enzymatic Cleaner

If the smell persists, you will need to use an enzymatic cleaner. Not all cleaners are suitable for clothes, so you’ll need to check carefully before choosing one. You may be able to skip this step, as the baking soda or vinegar is often plenty.

As always, follow the directions on the package. You’ll likely need to run your clothes through the washer again, but the specifics do vary from product to product.

woman spraying cloth
Image Credit: Tinnawat Pechrak, Shutterstock

4. Air Dry

Do not run your clothes through the dryer after washing them. The heat can make the scent stay around for longer. You’ll likely need to run it through the washer once or twice to completely remove the scent. If you run it through the dryer before the scent is completely gone, you risk setting the scent in for good.

5. Rewash as Needed

You’ll want to rewash the clothes as necessary to remove the scent. Repeat the same steps above when rewashing, including adding the baking soda or vinegar.

blue fabric in white and grey washing machine
Image Credit: Tima Miroshnichenko, Pexels


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Removing Cat Urine Smell from Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors require a very different method from other surfaces. It is important to follow these directions carefully to avoid harming your hardwood floors.

1. Clean Up the Liquid Urine

If the stain has not set, you should be able to remove most of it through the use of paper towels. This is especially true if you have a sealant on your floor, which would stop the floor from soaking up the liquid itself.

2. Use a Hardwood Cleaner

Next, you should use a hardwood floor cleaner. You don’t necessarily need to use one for cat urine in particular since most of it would have been removed using the paper towel.

male hand wiping hardwood floor surface
Image Credit: Stokkete, Shutterstock

If your floors aren’t sealed, things are a bit more complicated. You’ll need to take some extra steps.

3. Scrub the Floor with Vinegar

After wiping up as much of the urine as you can, you’ll need to scrub it with vinegar. Don’t dilute the vinegar. Instead, just use straight vinegar.

4. Rinse It with Cold Water

Next, rinse it with cold water. Blot the water up with a towel to remove as much moisture as possible. You shouldn’t leave moisture on wood, as it can cause swelling and discoloration.

Do not use an enzymatic cleaner on unsealed floors, as it can break down the wood and potentially damage it.

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So now you know how to get cat urine out of a variety of surfaces. The key in any case is to work as quickly as possible. In most cases, an enzymatic cleaner works wonders as well. And of course, don’t forget to investigate why your cat is peeing outside of the litter box in the first place to prevent it from happening again!

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Featured Image Credit: Syda Productions, Shutterstock

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