KITTENS

How to Get Cat Urine Smell Out of Carpet: Six Sure Tips to Lose the Stench

Image of a cat laying on the carpet
Stella Noble
Written by Stella Noble

You have just walked into your house, and that strong ‘fragrance’ says hi to you first. No, it is not the sweet-smelling air freshener. Rather, it is a sign that your cat has just peed somewhere that’s not the litter box in the house. To make matters worse, you notice a dark stain spot on one of the carpets you laid out in the house, or perhaps it’s the carpet flooring. This happens to the best of cat parents, and like them, you won’t need to get frustrated if you know how to get cat urine smell out of carpet.

Getting your carpet soaked with water produces an after smell that is bad enough. Thinking of what kind of smell it would then give off when soaked with cat urine can be nauseating. You won’t be able to get the smell out with just water, but with a specific combination of cleaning solutions or even the things you’ll find in your pantry, you will be soon freed from the sharp stench of cat urine. There are cheap, quick, and easy to make home remedies that will solve this problem for you.

Little kitty laying down next to a scratcher

In this post, we will be discussing how you can get cat pee stains (and odor) out of carpets. With years of experience in dealing with cats, we have amassed quite a library of knowledge in dealing with cat pee stains and stench ourselves. As an added bonus, we have thrown in a few tips on how to get the same smell out of other surfaces in your house.

Removal of Cat Urine from Carpet

Since carpets are not easy to clean—especially if it’s a carpet flooring—the first thing that comes to your mind could either be to call in the experts or take off the whole thing so you can wash it. But the truth is, there are easier solutions to this problem. Here’s how you can effectively get rid of that putrid smell

Act Fast, Don’t Delay

Most of the time, the reason why your cat’s urine smells so bad is because you left it unattended for too long. When a cat’s urine is left unattended for a long period of time, bacteria start to act on it. The action of such bacteria then causes the urine to decompose, giving off gases with an ammonia-like smell.

If, after this stage, the urine is still not attended to, the second stage of decomposition starts to occur. This second stage is where the cat urine starts to give off the same kind of substance that gives skunk gas its notorious bad smell. Aside from the obvious smell which a cat’s urine gives off, there are other reasons why you should get to it as fast as you can.

A man cleaning the carpet

Cats and dogs (as well as most predatory animals too) have a habit of doing their business in the last place they did it. That is why it is not uncommon for cats to sniff around the place, locate the exact location where they peed last and do the same again. In the wild, this helps concentrate their scent in one place, making it harder for other predators to track them. Not removing the smell from your carpet is like giving the cat an open invitation to keep using that location for potty business.

It’s not always possible to clean up the urine as soon as the accident happens—you may be away at the time as there’s no way to predict when your cat will decide that the litter box doesn’t fit their cleanliness standards anymore—but make sure that you take care of it as soon as you get home even if you’re tired. Delaying will make the situation worse.

Locate the Source

Before you begin the cleaning process, you need to locate the spot(s) where the smell is coming from. This would be an easy task for fresh urine.

A person trying to clean the stain out of caarpet

Otherwise, you might have to spend quite a bit of time in locating the exact source of the foul smell. Since dried urine usually leaves patches around the areas it has spread to, look for darker areas on the rug.

Start Blotting

If the urine is still fresh (or relatively so), you should get to blotting it out with paper towels as fast as possible. Press down on the affected spot with your paper towels, allowing the towels to absorb as much of the moisture as possible. Repeat this procedure with multiple paper towels until you feel that they can’t absorb any more moisture from the carpet fiber.

A person wearomg yellow gloves removing the stains from the carpet

In the process of blotting out the stains/urine, don’t make the mistake of rubbing the paper towels on the spot. You will be working the urine into the carpet further, not to mention spreading the stain over a larger area. Just press down on it gently but firmly.If the urine had dried into the carpet already, you can skip this and go to the next step

The Vinegar Solution

Get a bowl and mix in vinegar and water. Keep the vinegar at equal proportions with the water. So that you don’t get a discolored carpet after, try the solution on a small part of your carpet first. If it doesn’t cause any issues, go ahead and use it as is. Otherwise, dilute with more water to reduce the acidity of the vinegar.

Pour the vinegar-water mixture generously onto the surface of the carpet where the cat urine stain is. Allow the mixture to work deep into the fibers of the carpet, then start blotting all over again.

Image showing vinegar and water and soda ona  table

As we have mentioned above, don’t rub. Instead, dab and try to get as much moisture as possible with the paper towels. If you are not good with paper towels, a wet vacuum will come in handy.

The significance of this mixture is to reduce the odor and remove stains from your carpet. Ammonia (the main substance in cat urine that causes the foul smell) is easily neutralized by a strong organic base (such as vinegar). Allow the area to completely dry before you move on to the next step.

Remove the Odor

If you have any experience with cat urine at all, you will agree that the smell is stubborn. While the vinegar from the step above would have done away with a larger percentage of the smell, a little bit of the smell could still remain. Attack the rest with baking soda—an effective odor neutralizer.

A person with gloves removing the stain from the carpet

While we would like to tell you the exact measurements of baking soda to use, we can’t. You will have to use as much as you deem fit to get the stench out of the carpet. Always keep in mind, though, that moderation is key. You don’t want to ruin your carpet with baking soda.

Kill the Bacteria

Even when you have eliminated the smell, you might not have killed off the bacteria causing it. Leaving them in the carpet might mean further problems, so we want to guard against that.

hydrogen peroxide solution in a bath

Measure half a cup of hydrogen peroxide solution and mix it with about two teaspoons of any liquid detergent you have around. Pour this over the affected area to kill the bacteria, stop the stench, and have an overall cleaner carpet. You should take care when handling the hydrogen peroxide so that it isn’t exposed to sunlight. Otherwise, the liquid will decompose and become less/not effective.

Scrub! Scrub!! Scrub!!!

The baking soda and hydrogen peroxide marriage would have made a paste on your carpet. Wear some gloves, get a good brush and start working the paste into the carpet. After you’ve gotten a good hand on the stain and odor, step back and let the baking soda dry before you vacuum the carpet. And that’s how you remove cat urine as well as the smell completely from your carpet without having to call in the experts or remove the whole thing.

Removal of Cat Urine from Other Surfaces

The stink of cat urine in carpets has to be the greatest of them all, but every other surface they pee on can be just as smelly too. Below is a brief guide on removing cat urine from other surfaces in the home.

Walls and Cement Floors

Wash the affected area with clean water and an appropriate cleaning agent. Make sure the cleaner does not contain any ammonia at all. After doing that the first time, go about it again, then remove any residues left in the area with clean water. It is now time to bring out your bleach.

Image showing a room in apartment

There is the chance that the bleach will react negatively with your cement floors and walls, so be careful with the amount you use. Mix 10 parts of water with every one part of bleach to be on the safer side. Work the mixture into the area for about 30 seconds, after which you should clean the area with a wet piece of cloth.

Cushions and Mattresses

The procedure is almost the same as when you want to get the cat urine smell out of carpets. Wet the area with water and dry out as much of the moisture as you can with a paper towel.

Remember what we said about not rubbing and commit it to mind. When you’re done with that process, pour the homemade vinegar solution onto the affected area, allowing it to sit for about 10 – 15 minutes.

Image showing a Cushions velvet daybed

Afterwards, try to squeeze as much moisture as you can from the cushion. When you can’t get any more of it that way, start blotting with towels. For drying, it is advised that you leave the cushion outside for as long as possible.

In case your cushion doesn’t get dry fast enough, lay some aluminum foil over the affected area. That is mainly to prevent your cat from retracing their steps and undoing your good work again.

Laundry

If you got the cat pee in your laundry, don’t panic. Before throwing the laundry into the washing machine, run some cold water over the spot and gently hand-wash it. Then, you can put the clothes in the washing machine with some detergent to go.

Add a cup of baking soda (or a quarter of vinegar) and start the washing cycle. If you can still smell the urine at the end, run another cycle. If you are tempted to use bleach, lose that thought. Bleach reacts dangerously with ammonia. The mixture could end up releasing harmful gases, so you have to avoid it completely.

Laundry basket on the background of the washing machine.;

In case the accident happened on linens, spread the material out to dry instead of using the machine dry option. Otherwise, you could end up locking in the smell in the fabric before it gets a chance to dry off completely.

Note that some cloth items will not let the smell go, no matter what you do. This seldom happens, but if it does, you might have to throw out the cloth or turn it into a rag instead.

Tips to Prevent Future Occurrences

It seems counterproductive that you have gone through all that trouble to get your cat a litter box, and they still find joy in urinating on your carpet. To prevent future occurrences, you will have to find the root of your cat’s aversion to the litter box so you can erase it and help your cat do their business in the right place again.

There are three reasons why your cat might not be using their litter box as consistently as you have expected. Naturally, to prevent future occurrences, you will have to keep these reasons in mind and devise countermeasures.

Keep the Litter Box Clean and Proper

The first reason borders on the fact that your cat might not be used to the litter box or they might not like it. If the litter box is not suitable, find them a better one and make it a good environment for them to do their business in.

Kitty getting out of the litter box

Clean out your cat’s litter box at all times, keep feeding areas far from litter area, and buy more than one litter box to give the cat options. Cats are notorious for being picky. The litter box has to be just the way they like it, or they will rebel.

Now, this may seem obvious, but if your cat has not been trained in the art of the litter box in the first place, they won’t pee in the litter box. If you don’t know how to potty-train them, we are sure there are some professionals that will help you with that.

Spay the Cat

Unfortunately, you can have a cat that has been potty-trained regularly mess up the house with their urine too. Animals use their urine to mark territories in a bid to protect their ‘kingdom’ and ward off intruders.

Veterinarian examining cat in vet's surgery

This innate instinct of your cat could be driving them to mark the areas of your carpet with their urine. On the issue of territory, cats that have not been spayed will use their urine as a unique scent to attract females in mating season. If your cat tends to urinate more on your carpet during a certain time of the year, you should consider getting him spayed.

Take the Cat to the Vet

If your cat suddenly starts peeing outside the box for no good reason at all even though they’re usually very consistent about using it, it could be caused by a change in their physical condition.

Take your cat to the vet for regular check-ups to rule kidney or bladder problems out of the equation. If their urinary tract is blocked, for example, and they feel pain when peeing, they might associate that pain with the litter box. In an attempt to relieve themselves of that pain, they would try to pee in other places.

Veterinarian examining teeth of a cat while doing checkup at clinic

Some other times, it could be because you are living with older cats. They could have joint problems that prevent them from getting into the litter box as easily as they could when they were still young.

You will want to solve this by replacing the litter box with one that’s easier for older cats to get into ASAP, or risk dealing with a seriously bad smell in the house. You should understand that their kidneys are weaker than normal. Thus, their urine is bound to contain a lot of substances (majorly proteins) that should have been absorbed by the body.

Wrap Up

Now you should have more than enough information to effectively remove cat pee stench from your carpet and deal with any other such situations in the future. Time to start working the urine out of the carpet, don’t you say? If you don’t have much elbow oil to spare for this task, you can always have a professional carpet cleaner handle it for you, but in terms of preventing future occurrences, it all depends on you.

Woman and cat feeling well relaxing on bed

How do you usually get that urine stench out of your carpet? Did your cat get it when you said it was not okay the first time or did the accident happen again? Share any tips and tricks on dealing with cat urine on carpets or other surfaces in the comment box below!

About the author
Stella Noble
Stella Noble

Stella Noble lives in Warren, Michigan with her family and three cats. She is a Certified Cat Trainer and a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.

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