Anyone who has owned a cat knows that cat urine is an especially strong odor that is difficult to remove from carpets. Even well-trained cats have been known to leave cat urine on the carpet, sometimes out of anger, due to a health problem, or disgust at a dirty litter box. After you have identified the reason for your cat’s naughty behavior and done what you can to prevent a reoccurrence, it is important to learn about the best methods of removing cat urine from your carpet.

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Removing Cat Urine Odor From Carpets

Our cats bring us great joy, but sometimes they do things we don’t understand. When they urinate on our carpets, it’s a frustrating and smelly issue. Cat urine is possibly one of the most potent, unpleasant smells you’ll ever experience. When it has dried into your home’s carpeting, it can be a source of embarrassment and annoyance. Complicating things further, the urine is likely to be in the carpet for some time before it’s discovered, which makes the odor even harder to eradicate. Although standard carpet cleaners provide little help, it’s usually possible to remove cat urine odor. There are several different approaches to try, and it may take more than one remedy to get rid of the smell completely.

Cat Urine’s Powerful Odor

Cat urine has a very distinct odor that is caused by proteins and high levels of uric acid. By nature, healthy cats don’t drink large amounts of water. This makes their urine more concentrated. At the time of urination, the fluid is acidic. As the urine dries, the uric acid forms crystals or urine salts and becomes alkaline. This gives our furry friends the most pungent-smelling urine that a poor carpet can suffer.

How to Find Invisible Cat Urine Stains

The first challenge of eliminating odors is finding them. Cats tend to urinate in corners, hidden areas and against borders. A helpful strategy is to check the perimeter of the carpet first. On some carpets, stains may be visible, but in many cases they’re not. There are several ways to locate the source of the smell. The first is to purchase a hand-held black light. The ultra-violet rays used by black lights use the same wavelength as biological waste such as urine. When using a backlight to find cat urine spots , turn out the lights and shine the black light over all areas of the carpet. Most urine stains will produce a noticeable glow. Use small objects to mark stained areas; you’ll need to find them again with the lights on. Unfortunately, black lights don’t work 100 percent of the time. Sometimes you may have to find stains the more difficult and distasteful way— by crawling on your hands and knees and using your nose to sniff out smelly spots.

Getting Rid of the Odor

Why It’s Difficult to Get Cat Urine Out of Carpets

Aside from removing urine odors from concrete , carpet is generally the most difficult surface to remove odors from. Let’s take a look at a this diagram to understand why. 

When a cat pees on the carpet, it’s actually peeing on 4 different surfaces; the carpet its self, the carpet backing, the carpet pad, and the sub-floor. The longer the pee saturates in the carpet, the more layers it will effect, and the more layers it effects, the harder it will be to remove. Regardless of what approach you’re using to get rid of the smell, it’s important to remember that, to be effective, the solution needs to reach any part of the carpet that that the urine may have touched. One of the biggest mistakes people often make is only focusing on the upper layers of the carpet. This is partly a result of the packaging that is common with cat urine odor removal products, i.e. the “spray gun” bottling. Nine times out of ten, you’ll need to take the top off of the solution and pour it on the spot. This type of saturation allows the cleanser to reach all instances of urine and/or uric crystals, greatly increasing the likelihood of success. 

First Response: Wet and Dry Stains

While it’s sometimes impossible to find stains soon after they occur, if you do happen to find a wet stain, treating it immediately will give the best results. Absorb as much of the liquid as possible by blotting with an old towel. If you have a wet/dry vacuum or spot cleaning machine, use this to remove as much fluid as you can.

Dry stains can be treated with full strength product as soon as they’re discovered. There are a variety of home-made and commercial products that are designed to remove urine stains and odor. Before using any of these, test them for safety. Some chemicals and home remedies can stain, bleach or damage carpeting. To prevent ruining your carpet, try the product in a closet or hidden area first.

Natural Treatment Methods

  • Vinegar and Water

Dilute white vinegar with equal parts water and saturate the carpet stain with this solution. After 30 minutes, remove as much of the liquid as possible. Several treatments may be required. The strong vinegar smell will dissipate once it’s dry.

  • Hydrogen Peroxide and Baking Soda

This may be used alone or after vinegar treatment. Sprinkle dry baking soda over the stain and work it into the fibers. Mix one-quarter cup peroxide with a teaspoon of dish detergent. Use only three-percent hydrogen peroxide. Pour or spray this over the baking soda and work into the carpet with a toothbrush. Once it’s dry, vacuum away the residue using an upholstery brush attachment.

  • Club Soda

Pour club soda directly onto the stain. When it stops effervescing, blot the liquid away with a towel. Repeat if needed. This remedy is more likely to work on recent stains that aren’t very strong. It’s a good alternative for when you don’t want to smell vinegar or have a powdery mess on your carpet.

Commercial Products

  • Enzyme Treatments

Enzymatic cleaners such as Nature’s Miracle neutralize odors without producing a strong smell like vinegar. Multiple treatments may be needed, but enzyme cleaners are generally very effective and safe for most carpets.

  • Combination Products

Anti-Icky Poo, a product that uses both enzymes and genetically altered bacteria, is a favorite product of many cat owners.

  • Oxygen Cleaners

Oxi-Clean and similar products are slightly less effective but may work well on recent stains. Test in an inconspicuous area before use.

  • Total Cleansing

If you can’t locate the stains, or repeated search-and-destroy missions have not proven effective, you may want to consider using a steam cleaner or carpet shampooer to treat the entire room. If you don’t own one, you can rent one and buy special carpet shampoos that are designed to remove pet odors. If you want to let the professionals handle it, consult your local carpet-cleaning services to see what pet odor removal suggestions and systems they have to offer.

Preventing Repeat Performances

Once you’ve rid your carpet of cat urine odors, you’ll want to ensure that they don’t return. Be sure that all odors are completely neutralized and undetectable. If your cat can still smell them, it may entice him to urinate in the same area again. Most importantly, find out why your cat is peeing outside of his litter box . Have your vet check for health problems and urinary infections, and invest some time in a little detective work so that you don’t have to face that horrible smell again. 

Thanks to this article, you now have the option of creating your own home recipes of cat urine cleaner or purchasing the most effective commercial cleaners. 

If you have tried all of these cat urine removal methods and you can still smell the odor of cat urine, it may be time to call in a professional to revive your carpets. The Maids will be happy to help you get rid of pet odors.