How to Get Rid of Cat Pee Smell: A Guide

Or, If We’re Being Polite, Eliminating That “Inappropriate Elimination” Odor

It’s all fun and games until the cat pees in your house. Kitty tinkle is one of the most unique and pungent smells on the planet, perhaps rivaled only by the notorious durian fruit. Cleaning cat pee isn’t very intuitive either – it’s actually sort of like a science experiment. Whereas you’d instinctively use warm or hot water to clean basically anything else, using hot water on cat pee is only going to set and amplify the stench. So if you’re having a cat pee-mergency, follow our guidelines below to neutralize that stinky urine.

General Cat Pee Removal Guidelines:

  • Eek! Where’s the pee?! First, track down the source of the smell. And do it quickly. The longer the cat pee sits on your mattress or couch, the worse it’s going to smell.
  • Blot with COLD water. Once you’ve located the cat pee spot, you’ll want to use cold water and paper towels or an old rag to blot the spot, absorbing as much as the cat pee as possible. If you’ve got an extracting wet vac on hand, feel free to use that on the cold setting. Do not scrub, that will just make the cat pee angrier and more resilient, rubbing it further (and more permanently) into the couch, floor, or garment.
  • Neutralize it! Then you’re going to want to douse the spot with an enzymatic cleaner or simply make your own cleaning solution by combining (white or apple cider) vinegar and water in a 1:1 ratio. Because the vinegar is acidic, it will neutralize the bacteria in the cat pee, offsetting its odor. Let the solution sit for 3-5 minutes or carefully follow the instructions on the cleaning product’s label.
  • Rinse + Repeat. Using a fresh paper towel or wet rag, do one more quick once over the stained spot. If you’re using a wet rag, remember to use cold water.
  • Freshen up! For additional freshness, try using Febreze Fabric Pet Odor Eliminator once it’s completely dry. You can also use Febreze Air Heavy Duty Pet Odor Eliminator around the litter box area to dull that lingering cat pee odor.

If your cat peed on the carpet, mattress, or couch:

Follow general guidelines then also sprinkle baking soda on the stain, letting it sit for an hour or so before vacuuming it up. This will aid in neutralizing the cat pee smell.

If your cat peed on tile, sealed wood flooring or baseboards:

Follow general guidelines or use a DIY solution of hydrogen peroxide and water (1:2 ratio) or straight up undiluted white vinegar on the stain.

If your cat peed on unsealed floors:

Well, that’s a little more complicated. If your floors are not sealed, after you clean up the cat pee with cold water, scrub the stain with straight vinegar and rinse with more cold water. Blot stain with a towel until you can no longer detect moisture. Enzymatic cleaners could potentially damage your unsealed floors, so test some in a subtle location before liberally using on the stain.

If the cat pee stain and odor don’t go away, you may have to bust out the sander because the urine could’ve soaked into the wood. We recommend sealing your floors, but that’s a project for a whole ‘nother day.

If your jerk cat peed on your clothes:

Time for a new cat. So. Rude.

But seriously, a common mis-cat-ception is cats confusing laundry baskets for litter boxes. Do not throw your cat pee clothes straight into the washing machine, no matter how tempting. If you do this, the odor will set and your clothes will be trashed. Think of the cat pee like it’s smallpox: The smell is super contagious and can be transferred to other clothes in the same laundry load and then you’ll need a whole new wardrobe.

Stop and breathe.

Rinse the cat pee stain on your clothes with cold water and blot with towels, just like you would the floor or a piece of furniture. Remember to blot, do not scrub. Throw soiled clothes into a bucket with a ½ cup of oxygen bleach (not chlorine bleach!) for 2-3 hours. Next, remove clothes and soak in a bath of vinegar and water (1:3 ratio). Add some baking soda directly to the stain, letting the mix sit for 10-15 minutes. Then and only then can you add the cat pee clothes to the washing machine, set to cold, and run without any detergent. Hang clothes to dry, as the heat from the dryer may still cause the odor to set.

If this seems like a lot of work to get rid of a stain, you’re not wrong. We would reserve this sort of care and diligence for your most cherished articles of clothing, otherwise, it just might be time to go shopping.

The Future Is Feline

To avoid future rogue cat pee incidents, be sure to keep a clean litter box. Kitties loathe a dirty litter box. If your cat continues to pee outside of its box for no real reason (new pet, new house, change of scenery, change of kitty litter), consider taking it to the vet for a check-up.

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