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cat parent must-knows

How to clean up cat urine at home

In this exhaustive guide to ridding your home of cat urine, we share key tips and tricks to remove cat pee stains and neutralize stinky odors.

Updated September 29, 2021

Created By

Madison Timmerman,

The last thing you want your house to smell like is cat urine — its pungent odor leaves a foul greeting for you and your guests every time you enter the house. So, even if your guests don’t see your cat, they can smell that you’re a cat parent. And, even if a stain isn’t present, you can often still smell the urine.

If you find your cat is relieving themself anywhere but the litter box this could be a sign of a more serious problem. But, we’ll get into that later.

The key to cleaning up cat pee is time and paper towels. Make sure you take quick action to clean the soiled area as soon as possible. Blot up as much of the cat’s urine as you can with paper towels. This will make it easier to remove the odor and treat the spot later.

Cleaning products to remove cat urine: What you’ll need

Keep your home clean and odor-free from cat urine with these products, many of which you can find in pet or grocery stores:

  • Paper towels
  • Enzymatic cleaner
  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Wet vac
  • Carpet and stain remover
  • Detergent
  • Spray bottle

Natural products to remove cat urine

  • Enzymatic cleaner. Enzyme-based cleaners are great for eliminating odor. Best for carpeted surfaces and fabrics, the natural enzymes work by breaking down uric acid in your cat’s urine, while also removing its bacteria.
  • Vinegar. Neutralize the odor quickly with vinegar. Vinegar uses its acidity to negate alkaline salts in urine to help neutralize the cat pee smell.
  • Baking soda. This natural odor neutralizer is easy and likely already in your kitchen cabinet. Apply to the stain to fight the cat urine odor.

Household products to remove cat urine

  • Wet vac. Make sure to use a cool water wet vac on carpeted surfaces to remove the stain. This will help clean the area and stop the odor from setting in.
  • Carpet and stain remover. Perfect for surfaces, carpet and stain removers help break down pet stains and odors in your home. We recommend this spray that acts as a carpet and stain remover by Rocco & Roxie to tackle tough urine stains.
  • Detergent. Fight cat urine odors with detergent. After washing soiled items in the washer without detergent, for lingering odors, wash fabrics in the washer with detergent. This cloth diaper detergent by Rockin Green is a natural solution to smelly odors. Made for babies but also apt for pet pee, this will dissolve odors in no time.

👉 Avoid using products that contain ammonia as this will attract your cat to pee there.

How to clean up cat urine on fabrics and surfaces

Each surface in your home is different. To ensure the best cleaning results, we’ve put together a guide on how to clean up your cat urine on fabrics, carpeted, and non-carpeted surfaces. Let the cleaning solutions commence.

How to clean cat pee from carpets

The first step to cleaning carpets is to remove as much urine as possible from the affected area. Start by blotting the carpet with paper towels, then cover the area with a pile of paper towels or an old towel, if available. Wearing shoes, stand on top of the covered area to soak up the cat urine.

After you’ve seeped up as much cat pee as possible, it’s time to take out the carpet cleaner. Vacuum the area or use a cool water wet vac. If you don’t have a carpet cleaner on hand, clean with a mixture of water and dish detergent. Let this sit for one to two hours.

👉  Don’t use a steam cleaner, this will set the odor into your carpet. 

Rinse the area, saturate with club soda for 10 minutes, and then repeat with rinsing. Lay down paper towels or a towel to cover the area underneath a weighted object overnight. Finish by spraying the spot with an enzymatic cleaner.

How to clean cat urine from wood floors

Sealed wood floors. Good news for cat parents: If your wood floors have a sealant, it’s much easier to get rid of the cat urine odor. Simply use paper towels to wipe up the cat urine and clean the surface with a wooden floor cleaner made for pets. Consider this enzyme-powered odor and stain remover by Rocco & Roxie Supply Professional. Amazon reviewers give it a 4.5-star rating and rave about how effective it is for removing surface odors.

Wood floors. If your wood floors aren’t sealed, the cleaning process is a bit more intense. Similar to sealed floors, make sure to start by absorbing the urine with paper towels. Add white vinegar to the spot, wait a few minutes, and wipe with more paper towels. Repeat the process, this time scrubbing white vinegar onto the stain, and rinse with water. Dry the affected area until it’s free from moisture and spray with an enzymatic cleaner.

👉  For hardwood floors that aren’t sealed, you may have to sand down the stained area to remove both the urine stain and odor.

How to clean cat urine from fabric and upholstery

Whether your cat urinated on your clothes, mattress, or bedding, you need to get the stain out. But, as tempting as it may be to immediately throw the stained fabric directly into the washer, don’t do it. This will only set the urine odor deeper into the fabric and make it more difficult to remove.

Instead, pretreat the soiled fabric before putting it in the washing machine. Start by rinsing the area with cold water, and blot the stain with paper towels. Then, soak in a half-cup of oxygen bleach and water for two to three hours. Move the fabric to a vinegar and water mixture of one-part white vinegar and three cups water. Add baking soda to the stain and let air dry for approximately 15 minutes.

Now, you’re ready for the washer. Set your washer on the cold water setting and wash without detergent. Hang dry when done.

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Why your cat isn’t using their litter box

👉  If your cat is having accidents or avoiding their litter box, this could be a sign of a larger issue. Make sure to consult with your vet to find the root of the problem and the best treatment option for your cat. 

There are many reasons why your cat isn’t using their litter box. Problems range from easy-to-fix inconveniences to more serious health issues that require the attention of your vet. Here are the most common reasons your cat isn’t using their litter box.

  • It’s new
  • It’s too large or small
  • Your cat doesn’t like the actual litter inside it
  • The box’s location isn’t quite right
  • It’s too clean or too dirty
  • Too many cats using one box (each cat should have their own)
  • Your cat has stress, anxiety, or behavioral issues
  • Your cat has health problems such as arthritis

Preventing your cat from peeing in your home

Simple changes can make your cat ready to use their litter box again.

Spay or neuter your cat — Cats use urination to mark their territory and to attract a mate. This is a part of their hormonal reactions and to put a stop to this habit, it’s best to spay or neuter your cat. ASPCA suggests spaying or neutering your cat as early as eight weeks to as old as five months, but don’t worry you can still spay or neuter your cat if they’re older.

Clean their litter box — If their litter box isn’t clean, your cat may not use it. Instead, they may urinate in the area outside of the box. Always make sure to clean your cat’s litter box once a day. Scooping it out regularly will not only keep your cat content but also limit their exposure to other problems like Toxoplasma. Make sure to fully clean out the litter box every week or two.

👉  Avoid using cleaners with strong odors when cleaning out your cat’s dirty litter box.

Add more litter boxes — Are you a cat parent to multiple cats? You may need to increase the cat-to-litter box ratio. The Humane Society recommends keeping one litter box per cat in your house, plus one additional litter box. For instance, if you have two cats, you’ll need one litter box per cat, plus one additional box for a total of three litter boxes.

Check with your vet — In some cases, not peeing in the litter box could be a sign of a health or anxiety issue. Take your cat in for a check-up with your vet for advice.

Move the litter box — Cats, like humans, prefer to do their business in a quiet, low-traffic area.

👉  Here’s our guide to finding the best litter box enclosures for your cat.