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Cat sitting near pee spot on a bed

The essentials

  • Use enzymatic cleaners — Enzyme-based cleaning products break down the acid in cat urine and help eliminate odors in couches, curtains, mattresses, and pillows.
  • DIY solutions work, too — You can use a 1:1 ratio of diluted vinegar and baking soda solutions to tackle unwanted cat urine stains and smells.
  • Avoid ammonia-based cleaning products — Cleaners that contain ammonia encourage cats to urinate in the areas where they’re used, and they often set stains deeper instead of getting rid of them.

When your cat is relieving themself anywhere but their litter box, the smell can be enough to ruin your day. Beyond the unmistakable smell, irregular pee patterns could signal a health issue in your pet pal — making it a stressful situation for everyone involved.

If your cat pees on anything around the house, it’s important to neutralize the odor as soon as you can to discourage them from doing it again. Use this guide to eliminate cat urine odor and stains and keep your home pee-free.

How to get rid of cat pee smell in 4 steps

Cat urine owes its potent scent to a compound called uric acid, which lingers in materials like carpet, fabric, and wood. It generally gets harder to remove the longer it sits without being cleaned up.

Follow these steps to properly clean up cat urine in your home, and reduce the risk your cat will “go” there again.

1. Locate the source

Follow the cat urine smell to the source, and temporarily clear the surroundings to give yourself room to clean. Check nearby objects to see if they’ve been splashed with urine, and wipe them clean using a pet-safe household disinfectant.

👉 Remember: Cat pee odor gets worse over time as the bacteria in the urine start to decompose, so it’s important to track down the source of the smell as soon as you notice it.

2. Blot and absorb the urine

Once you’ve figured out where the odor is coming from, you’ll need to determine how old the urine stains are.

Dab fresh urine spots with cold water and an absorbent cloth to remove excess moisture, and soak older, drier spots in warm water to help lift them from the surface they’re on (especially carpet). Avoid scrubbing urine on any surface, as it can cause stains to set or deepen.

3. Neutralize the smell

Enzymatic cleaners are the most effective option for eliminating cat pee odor. The natural compounds in these products are specifically designed to combat the acids and bacteria in cat urine responsible for the unpleasant smell. To clean, simply follow the directions on the bottle, and our best practices by surface down below.

If enzyme-based cleaners aren’t available, you can clean urine spots with vinegar before applying diluted dish soap detergent to the area. If you’re worried about damage to your surfaces, you can use a solution of 50% white vinegar and 50% water to gently get the cat urine out.

Soft carpets and furnishings can be cleaned by liberally sprinkling some baking soda on the stains, going over them with a cool water wet vac after a few minutes, and wiping down the surface with a specialized cleaner. You can do this multiple times until the affected area has been completely saturated with cleaner.

👉 Never use steam cleaners to get cat pee out of soft surfaces, as they can set marks and make them impossible to get out. 

Sealed wood floors are extremely easy to clean. Just use paper towels to wipe up the cat urine and clean the surface with a wooden floor cleaner made for pets. Hardwood floors that aren’t sealed can be cleaned similarly to other surfaces. Start by absorbing the urine with paper towels, add white vinegar to the spot, and wait a few minutes before wiping with more paper towels.

👉 Unsealed wood floors may need to be sanded down to sufficiently remove the stain and the odor. 

4. Repeat the process as needed

The key to cleaning up cat pee is to get to a point where neither you nor your cat can detect the scent anymore. If your cat can still smell it, there’s a good chance they’ll pee in the same spot.

In some cases, you may need to repeat the cleaning process several times before you finally get rid of the lingering scent. Use cold water on each repeat cleaning, as heat can set the smell instead of working against it.

DIY solutions for removing cat urine odors

Some household products work similarly to enzymatic cleaners by neutralizing odor-producing compounds found in cat urine. If you need to clean up an accident ASAP but don’t have any store-bought cleaners on hand, consider these DIY alternatives.

Vinegar. A naturally pungent product in its own right, vinegar uses its acidity to negate the alkaline salts in dry urine stains and neutralize the smell. Apply vinegar directly on cat urine before tackling it with dish soap detergent, or use a solution of equal parts water and vinegar on pee-stained walls and floors to gently return them to their former glory.

Detergent. Detergent solutions can be effective for combating cat urine without the help of enzymatic cleaners. Mix a tablespoon of dishwashing detergent with two cups of cold water and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to blot away fresh urine stains, or use laundry detergent to get stains out of soiled clothing. Just remember to wash with cold water first.

👉 This cloth diaper detergent by Rockin Green is a natural solution to smelly odors. It’s made for babies, but can also be used for pet pee — and it can dissolve odors in no time.

Baking soda. This natural odor neutralizer is easy to use and likely already in your kitchen cabinet. To use this DIY solution, start by soaking stained items and surfaces in a mixture of baking soda and warm water for 15 minutes. Rinse the area thoroughly afterward, and throw it in the washing machine if it’s a small rug or article of clothing.

Everyone has accidents sometimes — even our cats. Show your kitty lots of patience when determining the reason they’re urinating outside the litter box, and don’t be afraid to try new strategies to successfully address the problem. When in doubt, the best course of action is always a professional consultation with a licensed veterinarian. Connect with your veterinarian if your kitty pee habits are getting out of control.

Frequently asked questions

Will cat urine smell ever go away?

You should be able to permanently eliminate cat pee odor by thoroughly cleaning the urination site with an enzymatic cleaner. Unfortunately, the smell can still resurface on very hot days. If this happens to you, repeat the cleaning process until the smell is gone.

What kills the smell of cat pee?

Enzymatic cleaning solutions contain enzymes and bacteria that actively combat the odor-producing acids and bacteria found in cat urine. Other acidic substances, (like vinegar), can also eliminate the smell by breaking down the urine’s alkaline salts.

How do you get rid of cat pee smell on carpet?

Use a paper towel or cloth to blot up as much of the urine as you can. Then, rinse the area with cool water and remove the excess liquid with a wet vac. After you’re done, liberally apply an enzymatic cleaner to the area and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes before blotting it up with a fresh cloth.

If cat urine has had time to soak through your carpet, you may need to temporarily remove the carpet to properly clean the soiled carpet pad underneath.

Will cat pee smell eventually go away?

Not on its own. Unless you take the time to properly clean the affected surface or item, the smell of cat urine can be a permanent hassle.

How do I make my house not smell like cat pee?

Invest in a quality enzyme-based cleaner and locate all the spots around the house where your cat is relieving themselves. You can do this easily using a blacklight.

Once you do, apply the solution and let it soak for several minutes before washing it off with soap and cold water. Avoid using hot water at any point in the cleaning process, as heat sets the smell of cat pee.

Does vinegar remove cat urine odor?

Vinegar is an acidic substance that breaks down the alkaline salts in cat urine, effectively neutralizing the lasting odor it leaves.