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How to Get Cat Urine Smell & Stains Out of Carpets

Brooke Billingsley

By Brooke Billingsley

cat pee at the carpet

Cleaning up behind a sick or misbehaving cat is one of the most challenging and frustrating parts of owning cats. Cat urine has a distinctly unpleasant odor that seems to seep into objects and stay forever. Knowing how to clean up cat urine properly can help prevent unpleasant odors in your home and noticeable stains on your carpets, and discourage your cat from making future accidents in the same place. Here are the tips and tricks you need to know on cleaning dried cat urine from the carpet or properly cleaning fresh cat urine from your carpets and rugs to prevent odors and stains.

Supplies You’ll Need

cleaning supplies
Image Credit: Michael Tavrionov, Pixabay
  • Paper towels or old rags, preferably white
  • Cold water
  • Enzymatic pet urine cleaner or white or apple cider vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Hydrogen peroxide (optional)
  • Dish soap (optional)
  • Wet vac (optional)

How to Clean Fresh Cat Urine from Carpets

1. Soak up the excess.

cleaning carpet with sponge
Image Credit: Stephen VanHorn, Shutterstock

Begin cleaning the urine as soon as you find it to decrease the chances of permanent stains and odors. Using paper towels or old rags, soak up the excess urine from the carpet. White paper towels or rags are a great way to monitor your cleaning throughout these steps as they will show less and less yellow as the carpet gets cleaner.

2. Avoid the urge to scrub at the urine spot!

Scrubbing can push the urine further down into the carpet fibers, making it more difficult to clean and more likely to leave permanent stains and odors. Scrubbing can also push the urine around, causing it to spread into a larger area. Gently press and blot at the stain until most of the liquid is gone and the spot is damp.

If you prefer, you can also use a wet vac if the urine spot is large or very saturated. However, do not use a steam cleaner or any other cleaner that will apply heat to the stain. Heat may set the stain and odor in further.

3. Find or make a cleaner.

person cleaning carpet
Image Credit: Andrey_Popov, Shutterstock

An enzymatic urine cleaner is your best bet here because it is formulated specifically to fight urine stains and odors. However, you can also make a similar cleaner at home by combining cold water and white vinegar or apple cider vinegar at a 1:1 ratio. If you’d prefer, you can try a 1:0.5 ratio and add more vinegar if needed.

Do not use hot water to make this mixture. Hot water can further set the urine stain and smell on your carpet. Cold water is your best friend when cleaning cat urine from carpets.

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4. Apply the cleaner.

Using a clean rag that has been dampened with cold water, apply the cleaner to the stain. You can use the rag to press the cleaner into the stain or pour small amounts of cleaner over the stain. Once again, avoid scrubbing the area. Pressing and blotting are the only motions you should be doing during this entire process.

5. Blot the cleaner.

person cleaning the carpet
Image Credit: VGstockstudio, Shutterstock

Allow the cleaner to sit on the stain for around five minutes, and then use a clean, dry rag to blot the moisture up. Do not scrub! Gently blot until the area is slightly damp to the touch and is no longer wet.

6. Apply baking soda.

Sprinkle baking soda over the urine stain wherever you cleaned it with the cleaner. To prevent further messes, make sure your pets do not have access to this area for the next hour. The baking soda needs to sit on the stain for an hour to work its magic on the odors.

Don’t scrub or press the baking soda into the stain. A gentle sprinkling of baking soda over the area should suffice and will not leave crusty areas in the carpet. If you grind baking soda into the damp carpet, it may leave behind crumbly, crusty areas.

7. Vacuum up the baking soda.

person vacuuming carpet
Image Credit: Andrey_Popov, Shutterstock

Using a regular vacuum cleaner, vacuum the baking soda until all of it has been removed. Keep in mind that if you did not properly pat the area dry, it might result in water being sucked into your vacuum cleaner.

8. Apply homemade stain and odor remover (optional step).

This step is entirely optional. By mixing a few tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide with a couple of drops of dish soap, you can make your own stain and odor remover. Hydrogen peroxide does have bleaching properties, though, so use caution with this mixture. It’s best to spot test it in an inconspicuous area before use.

Apply this mixture to the stain the same way you applied the previous cleaner. Allow it to sit for a few minutes and then blot the excess.

9. Repeat steps if needed.

person cleaning carpet with sponge
Image Credit: Andrey_Popov, Shutterstock

Once the area is fully dried, you will be able to get a good idea of if another round of cleaning is necessary. If you caught the stain early enough or if your cat has only peed in that area once, then one round of these cleaning steps is likely to clean the area and remove any stains and odors fully.

How to Clean Dried Cat Urine from Carpets

1. Apply the cleaner.

Spraying carpet cleaner on the carpet
Image Credit: Syda-Productions, Shutterstock

Use an enzymatic cleaner or homemade cleaner as discussed in the previous steps. Apply to the stain by pouring small amounts of cleaner on the stain or using a clean rag to dab cleaner onto the stain. Always make sure the stain is dry before this step. If it’s still wet with urine and you begin the cleaning process without absorbing the excess urine, your cleaning efforts won’t be as successful.

2. Blot the cleaner.

Gently blot the cleaner until the area is only slightly damp. Do not scrub or rub the stain. Even with a set-in stain, you are risking pushing the urine further into the carpet fibers and creating a bigger problem.

3. Apply baking soda.

woman holding a jar of baking soda
Image Credit: Dragon Images, Shutterstock

Sprinkle baking soda over the stain and allow it to sit for an hour.

4. Vacuum up the baking soda.

Vacuum the baking soda after an hour. Make sure to vacuum up all the baking soda powder to prevent buildup in the carpet.

5. Apply homemade stain and odor remover (optional step).

Cat looking on as human spray cleans carpet
Image Credit: Kristi Blokhin, Shutterstock

If you desire, you can make the homemade stain and odor remover discussed above and apply it at this point. Allow it to sit for a few minutes, and then gently blot it from the carpet.

6. Repeat steps if needed.

Once everything has been cleaned up and the area is dry, evaluate if you think another application of the cleaner is needed. Unfortunately, cat urine can be difficult to fully clean once set in. The odor is strong and distinct, and it can linger, even after multiple rounds of cleaning. You may need to allow the cleaner to sit on the stain longer for set-in stains.

In Conclusion

Your strongest weapon in your arsenal against cat urine stains and odors is identifying these soiled areas quickly. This can be difficult if you have a poor sense of smell or if you have multiple litter boxes that may disguise the smell of urine on the carpet. By following these steps, you have a good chance of successfully cleaning the area. However, cat urine can be a stubborn stain. There are some instances where you may need more powerful cleaning products or professional help to clean a stain fully.

Featured Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

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