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What is the Best Way to Clean Cat Urine?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 16, 2024
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Cat urine creates a significantly unpleasant smell and needs to be cleaned up right away. When urine is allowed to sit on carpets, floors or furniture it is often an invitation to one cat or more to use the spot as a toileting space. It can also create stains because it has an oily quality, and the smell of the urine can permeate the house. The first rule of getting rid of this smell is to clean the urine up as soon as possible after the cat urinates.

There are plenty of commercial products that promise to clean cat urine, but most people are better off making their own cleaning solutions at home, which can be easily accomplished with a few common household ingredients. Those who plan to use a commercial preparation should read ingredients carefully. Do not use any products that contain ammonia. Ammonia may actually encourage cats to urinate more, and may be viewed as an invisible signpost for cats that reads, “Cat bathroom here!”

Once a cat has “gone,” people should plan to use absorbent cloth towels or paper towels to soak up as much of the urine as possible. The goal is to remove the fluid so it doesn’t get rubbed into carpets, floor or furniture. Place several cloths over the cat “bathroom location” and push down gently to absorb the liquid. People may want to leave these cloths down for a few minutes, though it may be wise to change the cloths in a minute or two if they become totally saturated.

The next goal is to clean the area, and here pet owners must be advised that even homemade products may have an effect on fabric. The most common solutions to clean cat urine are a combination of gentle dish soap, white wine or apple cider vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and baking soda. People may want to skip the peroxide for light fabrics since this will lighten them slightly. With this solution, dab the urine soaked area (don’t rub it in). Keep dabbing over the affected area. Go back over the area with awater-saturated cloth, and then perhaps repeat again with the cleaning agents.

Some people merely use a combination of vinegar and water, since dish soap can be hard to get out of fabrics. On hard floors it’s fine to use dish soap because this can be easily removed. Another method is to fill a spray bottle with approximately 3 parts vinegar to 7 parts water, and spray the area. Once sprayed, begin the dabbing process until the fabric is nearly dried. For carpets and furniture it may be a good idea to follow up initial cleaning with professional steam cleaning or shampooing. Simply make sure that a cleaning company doesn’t use ammonia in their cleaning products.

To clean cat urine on exteriors like doors and windows, the most efficacious way is the spray bottle method. Liberally spray things like front doors or areas where cats seem to urinate most with vinegar/water solutions. This often stops cats from continuing to use these areas as toileting spaces.

It is usually easier to prevent cat urination on surfaces than it is to clean cat urine. A few things can help in this matter. Make sure cats have clean, regularly changed litter boxes as they are picky and may not use dirty ones. Alter cats before they reach the age of six months as this can eliminate or reduce spraying and marking behavior. Consider limiting areas of the home in which the cat is welcome, and crating the cat (with ample space and a litter box) at night. When cats seem unable to control toileting issues, they may have medical problems. Take any cat that appears to suffer from incontinence to the vet for a full checkup.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a HomeQuestionsAnswered contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By amypollick — On Jul 12, 2013

If you live in an area where it is available, try Fizzion. I saw something about it online and decided to buy some. All you do is drop the fizzing tablets in plain old tap water. The "starter" kit includes a spray bottle of water and a tablet. You keep the sprayer and buy more tablets. This stuff really works. Since it's clear, it won't stain carpets or furniture and it gets the stain and the smell out. Even works on laundry! It really is one of those products that works like it says it does. It prevents the space where the cat urinated from becoming a marking zone.

What can I say? It actually lives up to the hype.

By anon341515 — On Jul 12, 2013

I neutered my cat but had to keep him indoors for a month to heal an injury. A new male kitten in the neighborhood mistook my home for his new home and proceeded to spray all around the doors outside driving my poor neutered kitten insane. I caught him trying to spray the doors on the inside but in only a few weeks he was really spraying. I only hope he stops again after I git rid of all the spray.

By anon326538 — On Mar 22, 2013

Why does cat urine smell? Cat urine consists of three chemical parts. First, the urea, which makes the urine sticky. The second part is urochrome which gives the urine its ugly yellow color that stains carpets, furniture and he walls. The third part is made up of uric acid. The uric acid consists of salts and crystals that give off the extremely pungent odor.

The smell is made of invisible gases that have vaporized from the source. These vaporized odors float in the air attaching to the suspended cation particles which act like a sponge absorbing and carrying the odors and toxins through the air we breathe. Air-ReNu a paint additive, turns any wall, surface, into a permanent air purification system, with no electricity or filters required.

By anon278189 — On Jul 04, 2012

Another method that has worked the first time for me, was after cleaning a spot properly, put small dishes of food (or just put some dry food there with no dish) and the cat will associate the area as an eating area. Cats don't like to go where they eat, and don't like to eat where they go.

By anon104679 — On Aug 17, 2010

I have seven cats and three dogs. I use a product called SCOE10X for accident spots of the liquid and solid variety. It is a biologic product that actually eats and destroys all three parts of urine. It completely destroys the odor and my pets are not tempted to hit the same spot. My Husband is a wildlife photographer. SCOE10X works so well that I use it to “de-human” my husbands’ clothes before he heads out for a shoot. Even notoriously good sniffers like deer have a hard time locating him!

By Comparables — On Aug 10, 2010

A good method for cleaning cat urine and odor cleaner is to use an enzymatic cleaner. I find that enzymatic cleaners designed for cleaning car upholstery work the best. These cleaners come dry and you mix them just before use. Enzymes are most effective if you use them within an hour of mixing them with water.

You will have to douse the area with the enzyme cleaner and let it sit. You should also read the directions carefully. If you use them correctly, the enzymes will eat the bacteria, and destroy the odor.

By highlighter — On Aug 10, 2010

@ GiraffeEars- Another way to prevent cleaning cat urine from your carpet is to make sure their litter box is cleaned regularly. Every cat I have owned dislikes dirty litter boxes, so keeping them fresh and tidy will make them comfortable with using it.

By GiraffeEars — On Aug 10, 2010

One of the best ways to prevent having to clean up cat urine is to spay or neuter your cats. Your cats will not get pregnant with kittens that will surely urinate in your house, and they will not purposely urinate to mark their territory.

Also allowing them access to their litter box or outside will prevent accidents. For cats that urinate in plants, try to keep your houseplants off the ground, or place uninviting items on top of the soil (i.e. rocks, sticks, etc.). This will discourage them from jumping in your plant pots and thinking they are litter boxes.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a HomeQuestionsAnswered contributor,...
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