How to Clean Cat Urine & Spray

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Trying to clean stains and the smell from cats urinating on carpets is tricky business but removing carpets, padding and floor boards is not an easy or practical thing to do for many.

TabbyHere’s a handy tipsheet to help you get the job done. Next you’ll find tips and recipes for dealing with spray from adults.

Warning:

  • Any treatment to carpets could discolor or damage the fibers. Always test in a small, unnoticeable corner first.

First:

  • Try finding all the spots where the urine is, you may be surprised at how many there are.
  • You can do this by using a black lightbulb in a lamp or by purchasing a handheld black light…the urine will glow in the dark with your black light on.

Method #1

1 16-oz. bottle Hydrogen Peroxide
1 TBS Baking Soda
1 tsp dish detergent (liquid)

  • Mix ingredients into an old plastic container and stir well with a plastic or wooden spoon (do not use metal utensils or metal dishes).
  • Once powder is dissolved, pour liquid into a plastic squirt bottle and squirt on stain, completely saturate the spot and surrounding area. Do not scrub or touch the spot, leave the solution to set and air dry for at least one hour.
  • After it’s completely dry, vacuum the spot–there may be baking soda residue. You can wipe with a rag if needed.

Method #2

  • Scrub spot thoroughly with soap and carpet cleaner. Then saturate the stain with hydrogen peroxide and allow to dry naturally.

Method #3

  • Scrub out the stain as best you can then saturate spot with Listerine (original) or malt vinegar to kill the smell. Do this 2 or 3 times a day for a few days until there is no more smell.

Method #4

  • Try commercial products such as Spot Shot, Nature’s Miracle

Removing From Washable Items

  • If it’s on your clothes, blankets or something washable, simply load the washing machine with the items and pour in a large bottle of malt vinegar. This helps kill the odor so the animal won’t smell it and urinate on the item again.

If your pet keeps returning to a spot to do it again, it’s because she still smells it from before and this will trigger her to do it again. You must remove the odor completely before she’ll stop.

If the above tips don’t stop the behavior, try pouring a box of baking soda over the area and leave it sit there for 30 days (!). You could also try setting a bowl of vinegar right beside the spot, this may deter your pet and break the behavior.

Please Note: Cats urinating in the home could be a sign of a medical problem (such as kidney or bladder infections). Check with your vet.

Title

*First published June 16, 2009 and moved to this page for better organization

If you’ve ever had a tomcat stroll by and spray around your basement window or front door, you know what a stink that is!

This is pretty potent stuff and the smell is not something that dissipates easily. The quicker you wash it up, the better chance you have of avoiding a repeat performance (the spray from one can trigger more action from others).

Here are a couple recipes I have on hand for both indoor and outdoor messes along with some deterrent suggestions.

Recipe #1

This is to tackles messes outside the home, be aware that this treatment may affect lawn and plants that the solution comes in contact with. If it’s on surfaces like the house, windows, patio, sidewalk, deck, etc., scrub the mixture in with a brush before rinsing off with clear water.

  • 3/4 cup Original Tide (or any laundry detergent with enzymes)
  • 1 quart hot water

After washing the area, spread a thick layer of baking soda over the spot after the surface is mostly dry or a mix of 50/50 vinegar and water. This will help dispel odor and (hopefully) deter future incidents.

Tips:

  • You could also try washing the area with a garden hose then pouring straight vinegar around the area, this might just do the trick for you (may also affect plant life).
  • If you can’t get to it immediately, try to at least throw a bucket of water on the area to dilute the area until you can get to it.

Recipe #2

This recipe is to tackle jobs inside the home, test an area for colorfastness first.

1 16-oz. bottle Hydrogen Peroxide
1 TBS Baking Soda
1 tsp dish detergent (liquid)

Deterrents

There are various plants and methods you can use to try and deter the neighborhood prowlers from your property, a few suggestions:

  • Citrus rinds tossed in the flower beds (orange and lemon peels).
  • Coffee grounds.
  • Fill flower beds with a thick layer of pine cones, rocks and cedar chips. If they can’t dig in the dirt, they’ll look elsewhere.
  • Plants: They aren’t fond of Lavender, Marigolds and Chamomile. Also try plants that have strong scents since they don’t tend to like them.

A very effective deterrent is a motion activated sprinkler, they’re not that expensive and animals will scat as soon as the water starts. Each time a critter comes into range, the sprinkler will automatically turn on and soak it with water. If you can’t find one locally, they are listed on Amazon.

Many folks try to discourage these animals from entering their yard not only to prevent spraying, but also to protect their own house pet from being exposed to nasties like roundworm eggs and the Toxoplasmosis parasite (and to avoid finding feces in their garden). If you find keeping them off your property is impossible, consider planting catnip in a far corner away from where you want them, most will happily stalk the area and hang out there ;).

Did You Know:

  • They will spray for a variety of reasons including marking territory, proclaim mating intentions, as well as a symptom of stress and anxiety.
  • Both males and females will do it, neutered or not, but it is mainly the un-neutered male that is the culprit.
  • Cat spray is urine and pheromones.

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Published: December 14, 2006
Updated: August 18, 2012

What Readers Are Saying:
50 Comments to “How to Clean Cat Urine & Spray”
  1. Kurt says:

    Warning! Never use clorine bleach to clean up urine since urine turns to vinegar when it ages. Mixing vinegar and chlorine releases deadly chlorine gas – it may kill you.

  2. Kurt says:

    Sorry, the urine turns to ammonia, not vinegar, and it is the ammonia mixed with chlorine bleach that can kill you. The nitty-gritty details of the chemical reaction aren’t important, but the end result is a release of chlorine gas. Chlorine gas is so dangerous, it was used as a chemical warfare agent in World War I.

  3. Michelle says:

    Well, we are prepping our floorboards for laminate flooring. We moved in here and aparently they had a cat that urinated all along the edge of one room all the time–so much cat pee. We are replacing the edges of the floor boards but unsure of how to ‘ensure’ that we’ll remove the smell entirely. Please help!

    We were thinking of using KILZ on both sides of the new floor boards???

    • Tina says:

      Hi,
      Not real sure when you posted this, but wanted to add that I bought a house that apparenly the last owners had a cat and once we pulled up the carpet to replace with laminate the plywood underneith was literally soaked with cat urine. I poured tomato juice all over the spot (after mopping up wet urine of course) and let the juice sit for about 30 min., then I mopped up all the juice. The smell was completely gone. Of course it looked like someone/something was murdered in the diningroom, but once the laminate was down it was covered. Tomato juice is something that coondog hunters use to get skunk smell off their dogs and out of their pickups. It really does work as long as you are cleaning something that doesn’t matter if it is stained.
      Hope this helps!

  4. TipNut says:

    Michelle totally replacing the floor boards is a good move, but was there cat pee along the walls and on the floor too, I’m thinking there must be? You’re going to have to really wash those areas too, especially before laying down the new laminate. I’d go at least a foot up the wall. There’s a spray you can buy to saturate the floor before laying down new flooring, check with the hardware stores–they’ll know what it is I’m sure. If you don’t do that you’ll still have problems with smell, even with the new floor boards and laminate.

  5. Karen says:

    20 Mule Team Borax is the ONLY item I have ever found to truly take care of cat urine smell, old or new. After 8 cats, it’s ALL I will use. Inexpensive, found at most grocery stores in the laundry booster section; just mix with water, no particular recipe. I have used it on carpeting, clothing, and other items without damage. For urine-soaked wood, try soaking the wood, then fully drying. Repeat, if necessary.
    Clean up any residue with a vacuum because Borax ‘dust’ can be an irritant.

  6. Kevin says:

    I am thankful for all these great tips. We have had the carpets professional steam cleaned, vinegar solution, and odour destroyer, and nothing. The house still smells of cat pee. Our tenant had seven cats and they sprayed everywhere. The black light and cat urine killer cocktails are greatly appreciated and we are going to try them out tomorrow.

  7. greenidruby says:

    After my cat soaked a corner in my living room, My whole house STUNK to my dismay. I mixed NABC, {a industrial strength bathroom cleaner, some Febreze in to some very hot water and litterally soaked the area. After letting it sit for 15 minutes, I ‘pulled it up’ with a wet/dry shot vac. Did it a few times more, and VOILA! no more smell. Happy days again.

  8. leona says:

    Every time I rinse and vac the carpet in living room I get a horrible ammonia smell any Idea’s

    • Angie says:

      Leona – that smell usually happens when your carpet has a high wool content

      Once dry the smell will go … I have no idea WHY this happens but it only ever does to high wool content carpets / rugs

  9. Glee says:

    My cat had an accident on my new couch. I used the clear scope mouthwash directly on it and the smell has disappeared completely.

  10. Dana says:

    Thanks so much for all the great ideas! I brought in a stray (that I absolutely love!) who thought my new sofa was a good place to urinate. I’ll definitely be trying out these suggestions right away!

  11. odette says:

    Help! I’ve cats galore from the neighborhood, and they all seem to take my front veranda as a short cut. But now they spray on my front screen and glass doors. How can I stop them coming near the house?

    • 4Cats says:

      I also had a problem with neighborhood cats hanging around the front and sliding glass door. At least once a week, sometimes more, I spray the bottom part of both doors with the a mixture of vinegar and water (more vinegar than water) and have not had a problem since. Make sure you do not rinse the spray, just let it dry.

    • Allan says:

      Do what I did, get a 200lb mastiff, don’t get me wrong I have 2 cats he loves and would never bite one but when they seen him laying there they found a new route.

  12. Shauna says:

    My cat seems to have peed on the toe of my boyfriends winter boots. I believe they’re leather, with thinsulate on the inside. I’ve tried spraying with “Get the Order Out’ which is usually a great urine-removing product. Didn’t work. I’ve tired wiping down with a vinegar/water/laundry soap solution, also no luck. It’s a tricky situation because I don’t want to damage his boots. Any suggestions?? I’ll take any and all ideas!

    Thanks!

  13. Judith says:

    How do I remove old dried on cat urine from a glass window?

  14. Valerie Amos says:

    One of my cats has urinated in one of my potted floor plants. This plant is huge and cannot be placed in a sink (or the bathtub for that matter) to flush the urine out of it. It’s too cold out side (-15F) to take it outside and repot and I CANNNOT GO ALL WINTER WITH THIS SMELL!!! Is there anything I can use to eliminate this odor and keep the plant from dying with out actually repotting it?

    • Lisa says:

      Late reply but I figure I’ll do it anyway:

      Get a cheap tarp from a home improvement store and lay it out on your floor and then dump the plant out, dirt and all. Fold the corners up and tie it together to dispose of the dirt. Put new dirt in and possibly large decorative stones. It will look much nicer (since dirt in a house, even in a pot, is quite revolting) and your cat most likely won’t be interested in going to the bathroom on hard rocks. Dirt is nice to dig around in, large rocks not so much.

      • Adrienne Latimer says:

        I was never able to get the stink out a house plant after it was used as a cat toilet. I changed the dirt. I threw the plant away.

  15. barbi says:

    I use a commercial product called SportWash (I find it in the hunting department at Walmart…it’s also available at Amazon) to remove cat urine–as well as any other stubborn odors–and find that it works very well. It works well on hard surfaces and even carpet but it is a laundry soap so it does suds up and has to be rinsed off. I even removed the smell from a leather handbag with it. Of course it is more effective the sooner you get to the problem. If an item is strongly scented by the cat, I soak it for several hours in a strong solution of the SportWash and water. Occassionally, two or more washings may be necessary. I had a very old, very sick cat who dribbled on quite a variety of items and I have never known this to fail. Since this is the only thing I have found which worked, I figure if the SW doesn’t work, the item is garbage anyway so I go ahead and give it a try even if washing it might ruin it–it’s ruined anyway if I can’t get the odor out. One work of warning: unless you are certain the odor is completely gone, don’t dry it in the dryer as the heat will set the odor and you will never get it out. Good luck!

  16. Matt says:

    There is absolutely no need to spend the extra money to get MALT vinegar. Cheap non brand name white distilled vinegar will work just as well. The culprits that you’re fighting are urea, and uric acid. The basic element you want to neutralize is ammonia which is neutralized by plain old vinegar. Malt, which comes from grains has absolutely no use at all here. For hardwood floors simply spray slightly diluted vinegar… dilute with water up to 50/50 depending on how long the urine has dried, or been re-peed on. If you can get your hands on some alfalfa oil, that also neutralizes uric acid. Hydrogen peroxide can be applied after the vinegar has been soaked up and dried. Don’t spray peroxide on wet vinegar though, because it makes a different chemical compound called peracetic acid which can be slightly harmful.

  17. Emma says:

    I witnessed a neighbour cat peeing on my bbq propane tank. I immediately rinsed it with boiling water. I was wearing crocks at the time and without thinkging, put them by the front door (inside). One of my cats peed on them. I can understand why. Needless to say I threw them out and the area carpet. I’ve tried to clean the floor/wall with vinegar and floor cleaner. The latest process I’ve tried (several times) was to clean the area with Nature’s Best, then spray with Hagen Indoor Cat Repellent. It doesn’t work. They/one of them keeps peeing. The flooring is laminate. I’ve soaked the walls, floor and all the crevasse’s I could think of but still peeing. I’ve tried cayenne pepper in little dishes but they peed right on that. It definitely seems to be a territorial thing, so how do I break that without having to get rid of my cats:(

  18. Nancy Sussan says:

    I read with interest all your comments and suggestions. My cat had urinary issues when he was young and sprayed or peed on the carpet. What I did was use tide in water with baking soda, and yes a splash of bleach. Nothing else removed the smell completely. I think it’s interesting about urine turning into ammonia and of course you can’t mix that with bleach, but on tile floors or baseboards and even carpet, nothing got rid of the smell better. Nothing at the pet store worked at all. Thankfully he is now fine and these issues are over. Keeping fingers crossed.

  19. mike says:

    i cleaned my area of my matress with dish soap then rinced also used a lil pine sol, when my cat peed on it 3 yrs ago , The smell was still there a few days a go so i used water down house hold bleach . the smell is gone . by the way cat pee does carry enough acid to make a bad gass when mixed with bleach .. just saying .

  20. mike says:

    doesnt make enough acid

  21. Barbara Lambert says:

    This is by far the most helpful, best information I have ever found. thank you.

  22. anne says:

    I don’t add baking soda to the hydrogen peroxide. I keep a spray bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide (as sold at the store) mixed with a 1/2 teaspoon of Dawn dish detergent (as a wetting agent) in my kitchen as a general purpose cleaner. Blotting up cat urine or puke, then soaking with the peroxide solution and blotting again, works better than the many commercial products I’ve tried over the years. Test all carpet and fabrics for color-fastness first. As a pet owner, I choose stain-resistant materials, so I’ve never had a problem.

    What I’d like to know is if anyone uses a steam cleaner on walls.

    Oh, and on plants: cats are often blamed for the urea smell produced by commercial potting mixtures as they break down. Urea is an ingredient and produces a strong ammonia smell when the plant is watered. The only solution is to repot in soil that does not contain fertilizers.

  23. CC says:

    Dollar Tree makes a pet urine/odor remover spray. Works really well.

    • Tammy says:

      I love the Dollar Tree urine remover spray. It worked wonders on my carpet. I could not believe that a 1.00 bottle would work.

      They don’t sell it in the new town I live in. I found out when the new addition to our home (dog) upset my older cat. Wish I could find it again.

  24. Jamie says:

    As to skunks: NOBODY uses tomato sauce to get the smell out. It simply doesn’t work, and never did. It makes the smell more tolerable for some, but it doesn’t get rid of it. For skunks you need hydrogen peroxide, dawn, and baking soda.

    Urine (ammonia) odors can be eliminated with a vinegar solution, but I’ve found that Pure Ayre works best. It’s non-toxic so you can use it around children and animals. You can also use it to get rid of skunk odor on your dogs head where you can’t use the peroxide solution.

    I have no idea how well it works for cat pee, but I’d be willing to give it a fair shot. Pretty inexpensive to buy, google it for stores in your area.

  25. Me says:

    My cat sprayed on a brand new metal file cabinet. It’s a thin metal & now the whole side of it has turned brown. Don’t know if I can somehow scrub this off with some sandpaper or something to salvage it. Has anyone had this problem in the past? Thanks.

  26. Randi says:

    Help! Ok so my cat peed on a pair of my husbands boxers. As soon as I found out I washed them. But now my house still smells like pee. He got locked in the bathroom last night by accident. I have tried Febreeze to get the smell out and I an trying to air out the house but it isn’t really working. Please help!

  27. Erica says:

    My cat sprayed a couple hours ago on my leather winter boots. (They are that soft to the touch kind of leather not the smooth shiny kind). They have the faux fur around the top of the boot and on the leather straps that corset up around the boot(zip up insides) with faux fur pompoms on the ends! How do I clean those?! Could I just wash them in the washing machine on a delicate cycle or would that damage the leather and fur?! My coat matches the boots(not leather though and not planned they are from different places) with a detachable faux fur hood that is dry clean only so, that is why I ask about the boot fur. HELP! Thanks!

  28. kim john says:

    Tried and True: Massengill douche not only rids the odor from cat potty and spray, it dissuades them from future use. This is the only product I have found to work and my neighborhood cats gave me a run for my money. It worked!! Moth balls around the perimeter of the yard also kept most of the cats away, or at least at a distance, but the smell of the moth balls over-powered many of the flowers.

    • T says:

      I tried Moth balls and found my cat was actually ATTRACTED to the smell !!! My cat is also attracted to the smell of Vapo-Rub. Is my cat wired wrong, or are other cats this quirky?

  29. Kwiw says:

    Great information, I have just looked at this site as I have a tomcat coming in the house during the night and spraying different areas, I have clean neutered cats of my own so can’t lock them in at night, or put them out. I have a cat flap. However, i will try the vinegar and baking powder remedy and hope that works. In 30 years with cats I have never had this problem before ! March 16th/12

  30. Regina says:

    We had 3 cats in our unfinished basement for about 3 years. My husband has recently built a cat pen outside, and the cats seem to really enjoy being outside. However, we need to get rid of the urine stains and smell in the basement. What is the best way to cleam the concrete basement floor? My husband was planning to use bleach until I told him about the toxic gas created by bleach and ammonia from the urine. We are planning to finish the basement and turn it in to a playroom for my young grandchildren. I want to make certain there are no lingering side effects from the cleaning method.

    • Adrienne Latimer says:

      I used Kilz with success in most areas, but my cat is extra persistent. It worked for my other cats without issue though! And it is water resistant.

    • Ellen says:

      Why in the world would you keep cats in a basement? Are they prisoners? They need sunshine and fresh air and human contact.

  31. Carl says:

    I used ammonia to clean out a cat box. Never had cats before and I thought the smell would rinse away while cheaply sanitizing the box. A mistake? The male cat just can’t stop pooping on the living room rug. Female cat still uses the box. Boxes not that expensive, should I just spring for a new one? Thanks

    • Dave278 says:

      As to the litter box question .. Yes. Get rid of it and put in a new one. I have three big cats and I buy one of the large plastic storage tubs. (They run about $7.00 at Lowes. I cut a hole in side large enough for cats to go in and keep the lid on it. It has high sides and holds about 40 pounds of litter. Works great.

      • Adrienne Latimer says:

        Mine like a Rubbermaid too and it cuts down on litter flinging. Male cats love to fling litter I have found.

  32. Matt says:

    Regina, Paint the concrete floor with two coats of Kilz paint. It will cover the smell for sure. Also use the Kilz to paint the first few feet of sheetrock on the walls. When putting down the floor use an underlay with a plastic vapour barrier just incase, however Kilz is the best product you could use and it does work.

  33. Brenda says:

    How do you keep cats from urinating on upholstered furniture? I need to buy a new sofa and this has happened several times in the past.

  34. emma says:

    My cat peed on my daughters mattress I scrubbed it with lemon scented multi purpose cleaner and then a anti bac spray…thought that it had worked only for my daughter to call me into her room to find that “pee wee” (not his REAL name!)had done it again.Does ANYONE have any tips to remove the cat pee smell from the mattress,there’s only so many times I can scrub the mattress and turn it!Should I try the vinger and warm water theory

    • linda says:

      We had to buy a mattress cover with plastic lining. Vinegar and water spray works, but you have to really soak it good.

  35. Kt says:

    Ok… what about a lazyboy recliner? I’ve had cats forever and for some reason my new/only cat decided to pee there

  36. Jennifer says:

    My dog keeps sniffing around some grass that has been sprayed by a neighborhood cat. His snout constantly stinks. I don’t want to over bathe him and I can’t exactly spray his face with cleaner. Any ideas?

  37. LB says:

    My cat has decided to start peeing on my bed. It’s an old vinyl waterbed mattress and the urine has also gotten on the rails of the bed. It seems to soak up the urine and nothing I’ve tried has worked to get the smell out. Anybody have suggestions for vinyl? (or whatever waterbed mattresses are made of)

    Thanks.


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