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How to Remove Old Cat Urine From Hardwood Floors (3 Simple Steps)

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

male hand wiping the hardwood floor
Image Credit: Stokkete, Shutterstock

There is arguably no smell more recognizable and pungent than the smell of cat urine. It not only permeates the entire room but can stick around long after cleaning too. Wood floors are notorious for holding in the odor of cat urine due to the porous nature of the wood, which the urine seeps into, and the smell can be extremely difficult to get rid of. Carpets can easily be washed, but wood floors are far more of a challenge.

Luckily, there are solutions! While it may not be easy, with the right products and a bit of determination and patience, you can rid your hardwood floors of the smell of cat urine for good. Read on to find out how!

Why Does Cat Urine Smell So Bad?

Cat urine consists primarily of urea, urobilin/urobilinogen, uric acid, sodium, creatinine, and pheromones, all of which are in a concentrated form. Bacteria break down the urea, which releases ammonia, resulting in a pungent odor. Also, the pheromones in cat urine get stinkier as they break down, a result of cats in the wild marking their territory and requiring the scent to stick around for as long as possible. This is why typical household cleaners and soaps do little to get rid of the smell of cat urine.

cat peed in shoes
Image credit: AJSTUDIO PHOTOGRAPHY, Shutterstock

Step 1: Preparation

The first step is to gather all the materials and products that you need. You’ll need a large bucket, a sponge, scrubbing brush, a mop, and the product of your choice. There are several over-the-counter products for odor removal, but you can use homemade mixtures too. Baking soda and vinegar is a tried-and-tested solution, but it won’t remove old, really soaked-in odors. Hydrogen peroxide is another solution but must be diluted with water. Around 3% peroxide to one part water is a good ratio, so roughly 3 milliliters of peroxide to 1 liter of water.

Step 2: Spot clean the affected area

Before applying your solution, you’ll need to give the area a thorough spot-clean with a sponge or mop and a solution of soapy water. Wait for the area to dry thoroughly, and give it a light sweeping to remove any debris before applying your solution of choice, and dispose of any sponges that you used to clean.

Engineered hardwood floor portrait
Image Credit: Pexels, Pixabay

Step 3: Apply the solution

Once the area is clean and dry and free from hard particles, you can apply your solution. If you’ve chosen a commercial, enzymatic cleaner, follow the instructions on the product for odor removal. If you’re using hydrogen peroxide, apply a moistened cloth or sponge of the peroxide solution to the affected area, let it rest for 1–2 hours, and wipe the area clean with a separate, clean cloth.

Vinegar and baking soda are also great options that are non-toxic and safer for pets and highly effective when used together. Sprinkle the soda onto the affected area, and let it rest for 10–15 minutes to soak up any residue. Next, pour a diluted solution of vinegar (roughly ½ cup of vinegar to 2 cups of water) onto the baking soda. You’ll notice the solution fizzing and bubbling, and you can let this stand for another 10 minutes or so before cleaning with a mop or cloth.

If All Else Fails

Usually, these methods should be enough to rid your floors of old cat urine smell, but there are some exceptions. Some houses have impermeable surfaces, meaning they are sealed with a varnish of some kind that makes these methods almost useless. Old cat urine has slowly soaked into the seams of the flooring, making the smell difficult to remove. If these methods don’t work, you may need to sand and then reseal the area to get rid of the smell or in extreme cases, replace the affected planks if the urine has really settled in.

sad cat
Image Credit: avi_acl, Pixabay

Final Thoughts

Old cat urine can be extremely difficult to get rid of in hardwood floors, so cleaning it as quickly as possible is vital. Of course, this is not always possible, and you may need to take more drastic measures. A carefully applied solution of either commercial cleaners or over-the-counter products can do the trick, but in rare cases, you may need to sand and reseal the area or even replace the planks.


Featured Image Credit: Stokkete, Shutterstock

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