How to Get Rid of Cat Pee Smell in Carpet

How to Get Rid of Cat Pee Smell in Carpet [quick and easy steps]

Removing cat pee smell from carpet consists of a few steps. 1) As soon as possible pinpoint the exact location of the area your cat peed on. 2) Determine which cleaner you will use to clean up the cat urine. Baking soda, Vinegar, and Enzyme cleaners top the list. 3) Get busy cleaning!

All cat owners know that at some point your cat is going to pee on something you don’t want them to. 

cat urination behavior problem
Cat Urination Behavior Problem

Why Do Cats Pee Outside Their Litter Box?

After your cat pees on your couch or on that fancy area rug you have well you might think it’s because your cat is vengeful, and wants to punish you for something. 

Maybe you blame yourself. What did I do wrong? You’re probably thinking that you don’t play with your cat enough. Or they don’t like the food you have chosen for them. Or you took a long weekend and they didn’t like being alone. 

The truth of the matter is, cats aren’t vengeful animals. Luckily, veterinarians say that cats don’t have that kind of thinking ability to plot against their owner! 

Keep in mind that your furry friend loves you and probably didn’t do this on purpose!

Why Is My Cat Peeing Everywhere All of a Sudden?

Why Is My Cat Peeing Everywhere All of a Sudden
Why Is My Cat Peeing Everywhere All of a Sudden?

Your cat peeing outside of the litter box could be a sign that they are trying to tell you something. It is possible they have a problem.

Does Your Cat Have Medical Issues?

There are some medical health problems that can cause a cat to pee outside of its litter box.

  • Inflammation of the Bladder
  • Bladder Stones
  • Urinary Tract Infections
  • Kidney Problems

Older cats can also have problems controlling their bladder and will urinate where they shouldn’t be urinating.

If you suspect any of these issues take your cat to a veterinarian right away. 

Cat Pee Smell

Here’s a little background for you so that you know what you’re up against. The main reason that a cat’s pee smells is for marking their territory, especially if you have a male cat. 

Male cats pee in order to alert other male cats to stay away from the area, and that same odor is to allow female cats to know that he is around to mate. 

Why Does Cat Urine Smell So Bad?

When a cat has not been neutered, its pee is filled with testosterone in order for the smell to be stronger. 

For both neutered and unneutered cats, as the urine starts to dry up or decay, certain chemicals begin to get released into the air that creates a horrible smell. 

Why Does Cat Urine Smell So Bad
Why Does Cat Urine Smell So Bad?

Believe it or not, those chemicals that are in a cat’s pee are the same chemicals that are in skunk spray that gives skunks their bad smell. 

This is why it is important to clean the stain as soon as possible. 

Determine the Specific Location of the Cat Pee

The first step is to find the stain and figure out the size of the spot. Depending on where your cat decided to pee determines what kind of cleaner you are going to use.

Also, what kind of tools you will need to get rid of the stain, the smell, and prevent your cat from doing it again. 

Urine stains are hard to get out if you don’t know about them immediately, which is why location is important. You don’t want to delay and allow cat urine odor to become a problem in your house.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is your cat peeing behind something in private? 
  • Are they peeing right in the middle of the floor? 
  • Is it a mattress, a pillow, or furniture? 
  • Is the stain on a hardwood floor or on the carpet? 

Black Light to Detect Cat Urine

Tip! A black light can help you easily find cat urine spots. Black lights use ultraviolet light to literally make the cat pee spot glow! 

Black Light to Detect Cat Urine
Black Light to Detect Cat Urine

Just shine the light on the area in question and like magic, you will see the cat urine spot show up as a yellow-green color spot. The black light will also show an old stain if one exists.

Now that you have found the cat pee spot gather up what you need to get rid of the stain fast!

Chemicals to Get Rid of Cat Pee

Here is a list of the best products to clean up the stain and kill the smell.

  • Baking soda:

    This sodium bicarbonate product is great at getting to the stain and lifting it out of the fabric. Baking soda also helps to eliminate odors by neutralizing odor-causing bacterias.
  • Vinegar:

    It is true that vinegar has a smelly odor as well. You may be wondering why you would want to create another bad smell on top of an already existing bad smell?

    NOTE: Apple Cider Vinegar or White Vinegar both work.

    Vinegar is actually a great odor remover. Here is why vinegar works on cat pee. When you chemically look at vinegar, it is an acid. What do we all know about acids? They break things down.

    The acid in the vinegar will not only break down the stain, but it will break down the smell as well.

    Vinegar sort of traps the smell, and as the vinegar dries and its smell begins to dissipate and disappear altogether, it will take the urine smell with it.
  • Enzyme Cleaners for Cat Pee:

    This is another fighter against the stain and the odor. An enzymatic cleaner has special enzymes that will break down the uric acid in the urine.

    Enzyme cleaners are powerful and you can use them on just about any surface. Be sure to follow the directions on the bottle though!

    They are great for fabrics like mattresses and pillows, but they also work great on carpets.

    Enzymes contain good bacterias that will kill the bad bacterias that are causing the smell of cat urine to permeate through your home.

    If you own a cat, you may want to have an enzyme cleaner on hand under the sink just in case there is ever a small accident.
enzyme cleaners for cat pee
Enzyme Cleaners for Cat Pee

Can I Make an Enzymatic Cleaner with Natural Ingredients?

Yes, you can make an enzymatic cleaner with natural ingredients such as fresh citrus peels. Mix a combination of the fresh citrus peels along with sugar, yeast, and four cups of warm water.

Should You Use Ammonia to Clean Up Cat Pee?

No. One rule of thumb you should keep in mind is to never use products that contain chlorine bleach or ammonia. Why?

Don’t Ever Use Ammonia to Clean Up Cat Pee!

Cat urine is actually ammonia-based. If you clean up the spot with ammonia, your cat is going to mistake the smell for their own urine. Cats will typically pee in the same spot over and over.

Using ammonia is basically putting an “X” marks the spot right where they want to go to the bathroom.

Tips For Cleaning Up Cat Pee

Depending on where your cat has decided to pee, here are a few tips on cleaning up specific areas of your home from the smell of cat odors.

How to Remove Cat Urine From a Mattress

If your cat has decided to use your mattress as a bathroom, the first thing you should do is to soak the affected area and around it with water.

The water will start to break up the stain. Then take a clean towel or even quality paper towels, and start to blot out the stain as some of it may have started to rise to the surface. 

Your next step is going to be to take the enzyme cleaner and pour that onto the stain. The enzymes will start to break down the stain and smell and ‘lift’ it out of the fabric.

After about 15 minutes take more towels and continue to blot the stain out. Then, let the mattress dry.

how to remove cat urine from a mattress
How to Remove Cat Urine From a Mattress

Caution, it could take days to fully dry so be prepared for that if you need to sleep on the mattress. 

You could leave some dry towels on the wet spot during this ‘drying’ time. Also, put a piece of tin foil on your bed so that your cat won’t go back up there. 

Sometimes, mattresses need some extra attention, so you may have to repeat the process after a day or two. 

How To Clean Up Cat Pee on Cushions

Cleaning cushions is the same process as cleaning the mattress as both materials are similar in texture and fabric. Soak the area in water first to break up the stain and the acids.

Next, blot the area with a dry towel, then apply the enzyme cleaner to the area. After 15 minutes, blot out the enzyme cleaner and simply let the cushion dry. 

Obviously, it is easier to let the cushion dry by just placing it out of the way. This will also make it harder for the cat to find it, so you won’t have to worry about a repeat accident. 

It is also a good idea to place tin foil on the couch to keep your cat off of the furniture. Another idea is to use couch cushions to cover your couch. 

This way if your cat pees on the cushion it is easy to remove and clean it.

How to Get Rid of Cat Pee Smell in Clothing

The approach to clothing is different as the fibers are generally varied in clothing. This method will require a vinegar solution to be put on the soiled area. 

First, rinse the area with cold water. If you can, rinse it under the sink for optimal rinsing power. 

Next, put everything in the washing machine with a cup of baking soda to break down and lift the stain. 

how to get rid of cat pee smell in clothing
How to Get Rid of Cat Pee Smell in Clothing

If you don’t have baking soda, or if you want to charge up the cleaning powers of the washing machine, put a quarter of a cup of cider vinegar into the washing machine with the detergent instead. 

In some cases, the smell may not go away even though the stain has been lifted. If that is the case, rerun the cycle, but put enzyme cleaner in it instead with the detergent.

This will help eliminate the odor and any remaining staining that you may not see. Take everything out of the machine and hang it up to dry. 

When you use a dryer it acts like an oven and it basically bakes any pet stains or smells into the fabric. Air drying will help the fabric breathe and will get more of the stain out of the material. 

If needed, you will have to rewash the item again. 

Caution! Never mix bleach and ammonia together as they will create a harmful gas. Ammonia should never be used to clean up cat urine.

How to Remove Cat Urine in Carpet

Getting stains and pet odors out of carpet fibers requires a bit of an extra push. First and foremost, you don’t necessarily need a professional carpet cleaner to do this. 

As a matter of fact, don’t use any steam or heat-based machines as they will make the stain and stench worse. 

If you are able to catch the stain right away, grab a towel or paper towel and try to blot out as much of the stain as possible. 

This will prevent any kind of cat urine or odor from seeping into the carpet fibers. Immediately rinse the area with water. 

Either pour some clean water onto the affected area or use a spray bottle to apply it. As long as the area gets covered that’s all that matters. 

The next thing to do is to use a wet/dry vacuum to suck up the water out of the carpet and hopefully suck up some of the stains as well. 

A wet vac is actually made to suction up liquids so it may be a better choice than a dry vacuum.

When you are done getting the excess water up, apply the enzyme cleaner to the area. Spray as much on as you wish and then let the solution sit on the carpet for about 10-15 minutes.

This allows the enzymes to work on breaking down the stain and odor. Once that time has passed, start blotting the area to get up the solution so that it doesn’t discolor your carpet. 

When you are all done, the stain and odor should be gone. If not, then reapply and repeat the process. 

How to Stop a Cat From Peeing on the Carpet

To prevent your cat from getting anywhere near the area again, flip over a laundry basket on the area. Put a large box there or maybe block off that room with a gate.

Also, an old trick is to put some tin foil down because the sound bothers your cat’s ears and they will avoid the area. 

IMPORTANT! Remember if you don’t clean up carpet stains immediately the stain may soak down into the carpet pad and subflooring. 

If that happens, you have to pull the carpet up and use an oil primer on the floor to remove the stain and odor. The carpet pad will then need to be replaced. 

If you don’t do this, the odor will never leave your house and it will have a distinct pet odor all the time. 

Related Questions

Should I Use a Steam Cleaner to Get Rid of Cat Pee on Carpet?

No, steam cleaners use heat and heat can ‘set’ the stain in your carpet. The heat may also may the odor worse.

Can I Use Hydrogen Peroxide to Get Rid of Cat Pee on Carpet?

Yes, hydrogen peroxide can be used to help eliminate odors from cat pee on carpet, furniture, and clothing. It works especially well for removing odors on hard surfaces such as kitchen tiles and hardwood floors.

What If I Can’t Get Rid of the Pet Urine Smell?

Sometimes the strong odor from pet urine is just too strong and no matter what you do it just won’t go away.

This means you have missed a spot (or two),  didn’t clear a wide enough area, or you didn’t clean the spot well enough.

It might be time to get some help! Professional cleaners are experienced in getting rid of pet odors and have access to commercial products.

Calling a professional may be your best solution if you can’t solve your odor problem.


In the end, your cat may be trying to tell you something. Especially if your cat is an older cat, you may want to take them to the vet to make sure they are still in good health. 

Contacting The Human Society of the United States is also another resource that will help you find answers to why your pet is not using the litter box. They have a website that is full of great information.

It may be something as simple as arthritis preventing the cat from getting into the box, or it could be something more serious like kidney disease. Either way, have your cat checked out as soon as you can. 

To prevent them from soiling the spot again, change the purpose of the area. Change its meaning to your cat.

Place their food in that area. A cat will never use the bathroom where he or she eats. You can also try playing with your cat in that area. 

If your cat sees that as a place where they put their toys, they will most likely not want to pee there again.

how to get rid of cat pee smell in carpet

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