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How to Get Cat Urine Smells & Stains Out of a Couch: 6 Expert Tips

Kathryn Copeland

By Kathryn Copeland

cat urine on sofa

Cats are funny, gorgeous, elegant, fluffy goofballs that we just can’t enough of! They can go from being completely adorable and loveable one minute to annoyingly destructive the next. This might even include peeing on your couch.

You should first ensure that your cat isn’t suffering from some kind of health condition, particularly if this behavior is completely out of character. After that, you’ll need to tackle the stain before it sets in. Don’t forget about the unpleasant stench that will emanate from it!

Our guide will walk you through the methods and products that you can use to remove the stain and stench quickly and relatively easily.

Why the Couch and Not the Litter Box?

Before we get into the how-to-clean-it-up part, we look at the whys of the situation. There are several reasons that your cat might have peed on the couch, and it’s important that you know them so it doesn’t happen again.

  • Medical Problems: This is always a possibility. Several different conditions can cause your cat to start avoiding the litter box, such as painful bladder stones and urinary tract infections, leading to an association of pain and the box. There could also be an increase in urination due to other conditions, such as diabetes, kidney disease, and liver disease.
  • Litter Box Issues: There are all kinds of problems with the litter box that could make your cat decide that it’s worth avoiding. The litter box itself could be too small, or your cat might have difficulty getting into it. Location can also be a problem if it’s in a high-traffic area. Then there’s the litter. Most cats prefer a medium or fine clumping litter that’s unscented, or perhaps it isn’t being cleaned often enough.
  • Stress: If your cat has been experiencing more anxiety and stress lately, that could also help explain the behavior. Has a new pet or person been introduced to the household, or have you moved recently? Cats are creatures of habit, so when things change, it can cause behavioral problems.

Speak to your vet if you’re ever worried about your cat’s behavior or health, to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.

The 6 Tips on How to Get Cat Urine Smells & Stains Out of a Couch

urine residue on a bed_cunaplus_shutterstock
Image Credit: cunaplus, Shutterstock

1. Blot Away

If the urine is “fresh,” your first step is to blot it dry. Don’t rub. Try blotting and dabbing gently. If you rub at the stain, you’re essentially scrubbing it further into your couch, which is obviously the last thing that you want to do.

Use a clean paper towel or rag, and gently press it into the stain so it soaks into the rag instead of the couch.

2. Cover and Wait

Now that you’ve blotted, you should cover the spot with a clean paper towel or rag (another one) and leave it. This will allow the rag to absorb more of the excess liquid, which also means it will dry quicker.

girl spraying the sofa with water
Image Credit: Shyntartanya, Shutterstock

3. On to the Cleaning

Once the urine has been mostly absorbed, you’ll need to use a bit of elbow grease, along with a suitable cleaner. There are several options that you can use, including some that you might already have in your home.

4. Enzymatic Cleaner

If you already have one, this is probably your best bet. Otherwise, for the future, you could invest in one like TriNova Pet Stain & Odor Remover.

Enzymatic cleaners work by breaking down the uric acid in your cat’s urine, which is what causes the rather unpleasant odor. Most enzymatic cleaners are sprayed onto the stain and left to sit for about 5 minutes or longer. Some cleaners might tell you to scrub a little, so be sure to read the instructions for whichever kind you have.

Once you’ve finished cleaning with the enzymatic cleaner, cover the spot with a clean towel (or something else that’s clean and absorbent), and keep it there until the area is completely dry. This might take several days in some cases. If this occurred on your couch cushions and the weather is excellent, you can try putting them in the sun to speed up the drying.

Some of these cleaners are only meant to remove the odor and not the stain, so check the listing before purchasing. That said, enzymatic cleaners can work well at removing any residual cat urine smell after you’ve removed the stain.


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5. Vinegar and Baking Soda

If you don’t have any enzymatic cleaners on hand, you can use white vinegar and baking soda. You’ll want to dilute the white vinegar with water (distilled is best, but you should be okay with tap water) at about 50/50.

Add the vinegar/water mixture to the stain – your best bet is to have it in a spray bottle so you can lightly spray the area. Let it sit for about 10 minutes, and then lightly blot and dab at it to remove most of the excess moisture. This is where the baking soda comes in.

Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda over the stain and let it sit for several hours. This should help absorb the odor (from the urine and the vinegar) and absorb any extra moisture. You might need to repeat both steps a few times.

6. Dish Detergent, Hydrogen Peroxide, and Baking Soda

If the stain is really in there or old and stubborn, you might need to use something a little stronger. Most people have dish detergent and hydrogen peroxide lying about, so it won’t cost you anything extra.

After you’ve done your initial blotting of the urine, mix approximately 1 cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide with about 1 teaspoon of grease-cutting detergent and 3 tablespoons of baking soda in a spray bottle.

Spray the stain with your mixture, and let it sit for about an hour. If you can still see the stain, repeat the process until it’s gone. Using a damp, clean cloth, start dabbing the area and then blot with a dry and clean towel until the cleaning solution is gone.

macro shot of dish soap being squeezed onto green sponge
Image Credit: Jim Barber, Shutterstock

What If Your Couch Is Leather?

If you’re wondering how to clean cat urine from a leather couch rather than a fabric one, there are a few differences to be aware of.

Most enzymatic cleaners work well on fabric couches but are likely to cause discoloration or fading on leather. Biokleen Bac-Out Stain+Odor Remover can be safe for leather couches, so you could invest in this one.

Before using any cleaner on your leather couch, you should pre-test a tiny spot in a place where you won’t notice it. You’ll need to allow it to completely dry before you see the final results and whether it will discolor your couch.

You’ll need to soak the area where the urine is with the cleaner and let it air dry. Repeat if necessary. Follow up with a leather conditioner to prevent it from drying out.

You can also try the homemade remedies. Just dab it or spray it on, let it sit for a few minutes, and wipe it off. Again, try a test area first.

cleaning leather sofa
Image Credit: Lion Day, Shutterstock

A Few Warnings

Before cleaning the mess, you should consider a few things.


Don’t use any ammonia-based products or cleaners. Ammonia is actually what makes cat urine so pungent, so if you use any kind of ammonia cleaning products on it, it will likely keep drawing your cat back to the same area.


Before using any product, homemade or not, on your couch, you’ll want to do a little test run first. Find a small spot that no one will notice, and test it out there. As long as no damage occurs, you’re free to use it on the actual stain.


Hopefully, by following these tips, you’ll eradicate that stain and odor in no time! In some cases, you might end up needing to pay for a professional cleaner if all else fails. If the stain is gone, but the smell is lingering, you can attempt a few other ideas.

Try filling a bowl with coffee grounds or activated charcoal, and place it near the offending smell. Leave it overnight, and hopefully, the odor will have been absorbed. Avoid using essential oils, as they are highly toxic to cats. If your cat gets any on their fur, they could ingest it, which could prove fatal.

Just a little patience and determination are needed here. Ensure that you’ve figured out why it happened in the first place, and fix the problem. Not only do you want to keep your furniture free from cat urine, but you also want your cat to be okay.

Featured Image Credit: cunaplus, Shutterstock

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