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How to Get Cat Urine Smell Out of Carpet [3 Easy Steps]

How to Get Cat Urine Smell Out of Carpet [3 Easy Steps]

It’s all fun and games until your cat decides that your carpet is an excellent substitute for her litter box. 

The smell alone might force you to think that this unfortunate carpet needs to go.

Trust me…

You don’t need to toss out your carpet and get a new one. 

While cat urine can be sharp-smelling, you can effectively and permanently remove it from your carpet, or any other surface for that matter. 

Below, I’m going to show you how to get cat urine smell out of the carpet. 

I’m also going to shed light on what exactly makes cat urine smell and whether the same steps can be used to remove dog urine smell…or any pee odor for that matter.

What Makes Cat Urine Smell So Terrible?

Cat Urine Smell on a rug

Cat urine isn’t any different from other animals’ urine at first, so how can we explain the pungent urine smell we associate with our cats’ litter boxes?

In general, cat urine contains urea, uric acid, sodium, pheromones, and bacteria. 

Believe it or not most of these urine contents are odorless. 

However, cat pee tends to magically worsen as it sits for a bit, and before we really notice it.

Here’s what I mean:

After your cat pees, bacteria begin to break down the urine contents, releasing ammonia.

This, in turn, causes that acrid stench we’re all too familiar with. Yuck!

Then, the second stage of the pee decomposition produces mercaptans, a foul-smelling gas.

What’s more, male cat urine smells especially bad because it’s laden with felinine, testosterone, and certain steroids. 

Yep, those are party of the smelly problem!

These chemicals are meant to mark a cat’s territory and to attract female cats through their strong scents. 

They have a slight odor initially, but the odor worsens as these chemicals break down.

Age is another factor that contributes to the pungent smell of cat urine. 

It’s normal for old cats’ kidneys to lose some of their efficiency. 

As a result, the urine of older cats may smell worse than that of younger cats.

Cat urine doesn’t dissipate quickly, which is why not all common household cleaners can simply wash the pee smell away. 

You’ll need something that can break down and neutralize the sulfur-based compounds in your cat’s urine, such as vinegar.

How to Get Cat Urine Smell Out of Carpet and Padding

There’s no need to panic if your cat pees on your carpet.

Even if you don’t notice your cat peeing on the carpet right away, you should be able to clean it and remove the smell effectively.

What’s more, the following steps will eliminate any urine stains without affecting the carpet itself, so you won’t have to worry about your carpet spotting. 

You can also use these steps to clean cat pee on a rug, furniture, bedding and more.

Let’s do this – here’s how to clean cat pee from carpet:

Step 1: Prepare the Necessary Cleaning Materials

Cleaning Materials

If your cat pees on a carpet and you want things back to normal, you have to come prepared. 

Some of the cleaning materials mentioned here are traditional household cleaners that you almost always have in your cleaning cupboard.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Paper towels or a clean rag
  • Extractor vacuum (if possible)
  • An enzyme cleaner or a high-concentrate white vinegar solution
  • Cleaning gloves
  • Baking Soda

Step 2: Clean the Area

Step 2.1: Blot the Spot (if still wet)

Place as many paper towels or a clean rag on the spot where your cat peed. 

You need to blot up as much of the urine as you can, preventing it from seeping deep into the carpet. 

Be sure to wear cleaning gloves because you don’t want any urine near your skin.

If you have an extractor vacuum, see a great model here, rinse the spot with clean cold water. 

Then, vacuum it until you’ve removed all the liquid. 

The extractor vacuum can make this step much easier and quicker than blotting with paper towels.

IMPORTANT: Don’t scrub the carpet! 

This will only make the cat urine more stubborn to remove because it’ll rub deeper into the carpet. 

You should also avoid using steam cleaners and hot water because the heat can set and bond the smell into the carpeting materials even more.

Step 2.2: Soak the Spot

Apply a generous amount of enzyme cleaner to the spot and leave it to sit on the area for a few hours, or as directed by the product.

This type of cleaner, such as BISSELL Professional Stain and Odor Remover, contains special enzymes that can literally break down urine and odor-causing molecules.

If you don’t have access to an enzyme cleaner and want to attempt to fix a small odor spot, you can make your own cleaner at home. 

Mix a high-concentrate vinegar and water in a 1:1 ratio, and spray liberally on the spot. 

Allow the vinegar solution to sit for three to five minutes. The vinegar’s acidity will help neutralize the urine smell.

Step 2.3: Blot Again

Just like the first step, blot up the enzyme cleaner or vinegar solution from the carpet using cold wet paper towels or a piece of cloth.

There’s a chance that the urine smell may not disappear completely. That’s why you may need to reapply the cleaner or solution.

Believe me when I saw more often then not, you’ll need to repeat the steps. That’s just the way this goes!

Step 2.4: Sprinkle Baking Soda

Once you’ve eliminated the urine smell, sprinkle a thin layer of baking soda over the spot. 

Let it sit for at least an hour, then vacuum the carpet. 

The baking soda should help eliminate any lingering cat urine smell.

baking soda

One note here:

If you suspect or can tell the offending urine has seeped down below your carpet you may have odor-causing crystals taking residence on the layer beneath your carpet padding.

Should your carpet be on top of a concrete slab, see our article on removing pet urine odor from concrete surfaces to take care of any issues there.

If you’re carpet is installed on top of a wood, use our guide on cleaning cat urine out of subfloors.

You might just be better off knowing you’ve thoroughly cleaned each layer of your floor.

Step 3: Ensure Your Cat Doesn’t Pee in the Same Spot Again

Once you’ve rid your carpet of cat urine, you’ll want to prevent future cat pee on carpet incidents. 

Here’s what you need to do:

Neutralize the Urine Smell

The first thing that you should do is make sure that you completely neutralize the cat urine all around where the accident occurred. 

If your cat can still smell urine, he may pee in the same spot again.

You can use an odor neutralizer, such as the Simple Solution Extreme Pet Stain and Odor Remover

This spray is a pro-bacteria and enzyme formula that can break down cat urine.

Deodorize the Carpets

You should also deodorize your carpet to make it as fresh as possible. 

Sprinkle baking soda on the carpet and allow it to sit for at least an hour. 

After that, thoroughly vacuum the carpet.

You can repeat this whenever you vacuum your carpets. You can also do this even if your cat doesn’t pee on the carpets. 

Deodorizing your carpets can ensure your house remains fresh and clean longer. That’s always a plus, right?

Spray Essential Oil Solution

Cats simply hate the smell of some essential oils, which means you can use them as a deterrent.

Peppermint, lavender, eucalyptus, and lemongrass are among the essential oils that cats can’t stand. 

Citrus essential oils are also an effective cat deterrent.

In a spray bottle, mix about 16 ounces of warm water with 10 drops of the essential oil of your choosing. 

Then, spray the areas where your cat usually pees.

Maintain Your Cat’s Litter Box

You have to make sure that your cat’s litter box is well-maintained. 

Cats take their hygiene very seriously, so if their litter box is constantly dirty, they might try to find somewhere else (like your carpet!) to pee.

You should scoop out any pee clumps or poop at least twice a day—more if your cat frequents the litter box several times each day. 

You should also wash and scrub your cat’s litter box at least once a month.

Sprinkling litter deodorizer or baking soda can also eliminate any bad odors and keep the litter box fresh.

Pay a Visit to the Vet

Cats who frequently pee outside of their litter box may be attempting to communicate to their owners that something is wrong.

While it may be nothing serious, it’s best to take your cat to the vet if you can’t figure out why she’s peeing outside the litter box.

Can You Get Rid of Dog Urine Smell from Carpeting the Same Way?

dog urine on carpet

Because dog urine is more diluted than cat urine, it usually smells less foul. 

That said, any pee left uncleaned will emit a pungent ammonia smell.

You can use the same products we’ve used with removing cat urine smell from carpet. 

These products’ formulas work just as well on dog urine.

Once you’ve located where your dog peed, soak up the urine with paper towels or cold wet rags. 

Douse the area with an enzymatic cleaner to neutralize the dog’s urine smell.

There are carpet-friendly sprays that you can use on areas where your dog pees to prevent him from urinating on your carpets.

You can also make your own neutralizer spray at home. 

Combine equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle, then shake the solution before spraying it on your carpet.

Remember that any vinegar other than white vinegar can stain your carpets.


Does cat pee on carpet ever go away?

Baking soda and vinegar can neutralize the uric acid from your cat’s pee, but it doesn’t go away completely.

Humidity can cause the uric acid to recrystallize, making the carpet, padding, or rug smell of cat pee again.

You can get rid of the uric acid once and for all using enzyme cleaners for cats and allowing the carpet to air-dry completely.

The enzymes in the cleaner break down the uric acid into gases, which evaporate when the carpet is air-dried.

Can you clean cat pee on a wool rug the same way you would a carpet?

Cat pee on rugs, especially on wool rugs, can seem catastrophic. 

The good news is that you don’t have to get rid of your wool carpet if your cat pees on it.

You can use the same methods you clean cat pee from carpet on a wool rug.

Still, if you’re hesitant about cleaning your wool rug yourself, you can send it to a dry-cleaning service. 

They’ll take care of it for you!

In Summary

Trying to remove cat urine smell from carpet can be extremely frustrating. 

Cat urine becomes more pungent the longer it soaks into carpets.

Unless you’ve seen your cat do it, you might not realize she took a quick tinkle on your carpet until later.

Don’t worry, though, because as pungent as cat urine can be, following the above-listed steps can effectively eliminate the odor and have your carpet (and house!) smelling back to normal.

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