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How to Get Cat Urine Out of a Wood Subfloor for an Odor-free Home

How to Get Cat Urine Out of a Wood Subfloor for an Odor-free Home

Yes, cats will stick to their litter boxes most of the time. 

Yet, accidents still happen, right? 

While getting urine off a tiled floor can be a breeze, removing cat urine from wood subfloor will be more challenging because wood absorbs liquids. 

So, how do we solve this smelly problem?

Thankfully, there are many products you can use to get cat urine out of wood subfloor materials, and I’m here to share them with you. 

In this post, I’ll discuss the science behind this annoying issue, list the steps you can take to solve it, and answer a few questions you might be having.

Let’s go!

What Makes Cat Urine So Hard to Come Off Wood Subfloors?

It all comes down to the natural properties of the bottom wooden layer of your floor. Basically, wood is a porous and hygroscopic material

In other words: 

It’s often plywood or some form of compressed wood; and it’s just like a sponge that will quickly absorb liquids if you don’t immediately wipe them off as soon as they’re spilled.

So, when a cat makes it a habit of urinating on the same spot on the floor, the wood will soak the liquid in. 

While carpeting, carpet pad, laminate or tile layers on top can help “catch” some of the offending liquid, you’re probably here because the subfloor is showing signs of getting penetrated.

And, because urine contains ammonia, this part of the floor will start to release a pungent smell.

typical subfloor sheet

The more you attempt to “wash” it away, the more you’re just re-activating the stubborn molecules within that release the unmistakable odor.

Believe me, these molecules can take a decade or more to decay and “fade” away. You don’t want to wait that long!

Besides the bad odor, having cat urine on your wood subfloor may weaken its structural strength thanks to the urine’s acidic nature

This is why, as soon as you catch a whiff of the unwanted smell, you should start looking for ways to solve the problem.

You might’ve considered using wood bleachers or detergent to reduce the smell, but they can only get you so far without getting to the bottom of the issue. 

They might mask the unforgiving odor, but they won’t get rid of the stubborn stains.

Luckily, by sticking around, you should find the answer to your puzzle shortly!

A Step-By-Step Guide on How to Remove Cat Urine from Wood Subfloors

My secret recipe is to use an enzymatic cleaner, a blend of household cleaning agents, and ion-based treatments. 

It’s the same formula that works on furniture, carpet and even pet urine stains on concrete.

Those should work their charm in a matter of a day or two, and that’s simply how to get cat urine smell out of wood subfloors.

Ready to get work towards a better smelling home?

Follow these steps, and we’ll have odor-free subfloors before you know it.

Step 1: Ventilate the Room

How to Ventilate the Room

As soon as you take note of the pungent smell, roll back the carpet, if there’s one, and get some air into the room. 

Cleaning the carpet should be fairly easy on your own or by hiring a team of experts to do it. 

If the accident did affect this top layer, you’d obviously be wise to clean any cat urine from the carpeting as well.

Now, let’s focus on removing cat urine from subfloors.

Make sure to open all the windows and doors to the room, inviting some fresh air in. 

Not only should that eliminate a huge part of the smell, but the change of air could also get rid of any floating urine particles. 

No one wants those landing on their furniture, curtains, walls or noses!

Step 2: Use Enzymatic Cleaners to Remove the Urine Stains

Using Enzymatic Cleaners

After aerating the room for a few hours, it’s time to ask an enzymatic cleaner for help. My favorite is Rocco & Roxie – check it out here!

But what makes this buddy any different from good ol’ detergent?

Detergents won’t work on cat urine stains because they’re not designed to remove ammonia. 

On the other hand, enzymatic cleaners are specially made to handle stains without damaging hardwood floors

They also don’t include chlorine, so they won’t compromise the integrity of the wood.

To be 100% safe, make sure to test the enzymatic cleaner on a small part of the floor. 

If there’s no reaction, you can finally pour some on the urine-soaked area. 

The next step would be to wait for at least 24 hours until the cleaner has dried, then do the all-important smell test to see if the odor is gone. 

You might need to repeat the process if the odor is too strong until you get the desired results.

Step 3: Give Home-Based Cleaning Solutions a Try

Hring cleaning agents

To get rid of the smell more effectively, you could use the power hidden in your pantry. 

Yes, I’m talking about a nice blend of household cleaning agents. 

Not only are those almost always available, but they’re also chemical-free.

Start by mixing the following:

  • 1 cup of warm water
  • ¼ a cup of baking soda
  • ¼ a cup of white vinegar
  • ¼ a cup of mild dishwashing soap

Next, put the mixture in a spray bottle and shake the container well. 

After testing the solution on an inconspicuous part of your floor, spray some on a cloth and wipe the urine stain.

Another cool alternative is hydrogen peroxide, especially if it’s a fresh stain. 

Just saturate a cup of this solution over the wood. 

Then, let it permeate through the urine-soaked area for a couple of hours before wiping it with a clean cloth.

Step 4: Use an Ionizer to Get Rid of Any Lingering Smell

Using Ionizer

Now that the stains are efficiently removed, you may want to give your room a breath of clean air and remove any remnants of the bad odor. 

Here, you could include an ionizer like this one in your final touches.

This little guy should purify the air inside the room by eliminating any lurking harmful substances, a.k.a urine particles.

It also doubles as a deodorizer, releasing low-concentration ozone to remove unwanted smells.

Step 5: Give Your Floor a Final Sweep

Sweeping floor

All you have to do at this stage is rinse the floor with warm water to wipe off the cleaners you used. 

Just remember not to rub roughly at the floor so as not to scratch it, but dab it instead with a cleaning cloth.

Next, once the surface is completely dry, put the carpet back where it was and enjoy your urine-free wood subfloor!

Step 6: Prevent Urine Stains in the Future

Of course, and I’ve learned it the hard way, you can’t always control the actions of your cat! 

So, he or she might end up peeing on your floors once again.

Yet, you can still have a semblance of control by sealing or refinishing your hardwood floor

This way, there will always be a protective layer between any liquids spilled and the actual wood material.

Apply several layers of floor sealant to ensure that no urine could reach the wood even if the floor gets scratched under your cat’s paws.


How can I stop my cat from urinating on my hardwood floor?

Well, there are a few ways you can minimize the chances of your cat using your wood subfloor as a toilet, so here are some steps to follow.

  • Make sure the litter box is always clean
  • Ensure the box is larger than the cat’s body to make it more inviting
  • Spray the areas that your cat has marked with a mix of peppermint and water to keep him/her from revisiting them
  • Monitor your cat’s behavior and make sure there he/she isn’t stressed or ill

Will I need to replace the carpet that was on top of the subfloor?

Oftentimes, your subfloor is a recipient of an accident that happened above it, on your carpet.

You can use the same methods described above to clean and de-odorize the carpet and carpet pad where the stain occurred.

Since these top layers are even more absorbent than the plywood layer itself, it may take a few cycles of treatment. 

The good news is you can use a wet vac to literally suck out the offending molecules after you thoroughly saturate the carpet fibers with water and the cleaners.

If you still can’t rid the smell, then it may be time to replace the carpet. 

It wouldn’t do much good to fix the subfloor odors and stain, only to keep smelling the urine coming from the carpeting.

To Summarize

Discovering cat urine in subfloors could be quite an unpleasant surprise, especially with the too visible stain and the odor you just can’t ignore. However, after reading my step-by-step guide, you should be prepared to solve that issue.

By using home-based solutions, enzymatic cleaners for cats, and a cute little ionizer, the stains and smell should disappear. 

“How to get cat urine out of wood subfloor?” Instead of asking that question, now you have enough knowledge to answer it with confidence!

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