How to Get Cat Urine Smells Out of Carpet

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Cat urine in or on a carpet is no fun whatsoever! When a cat pees on the carpet, it can cause embarrassment, anger, disgust, and bewilderment. As the urine soaks into the carpet, the smell becomes revolting. Then, the cat revisits these areas of the carpeting, making it harder to eliminate because the carpet padding and subfloor can become soiled too.  Making things worse, standard carpet cleaners (and even some odor elimination products specifically made for solving you cat urine and carpet crisis) rarely clean carpeting or remove the smell effectively. This makes eliminating cat pee odors from rugs, carpets, and carpeting a particularly difficult task. Fortunately, there are good answers to how to get cat urine smells out of your carpet. It may take a little trial and error with a few different methods or products, but with persistence you can restore most carpets to freshness.

A Comprehensive Presentation on Making Your Carpet “Cat-Pee-Odor-Free”

I added this after writing the article because I think it will really help you get it right the first time. For some reason, I’m having trouble formatting the size of Slideshare, so just click  on that little “X” on the bottom, right hand corner of box.

Why Does it Smell So Bad?

By nature, cats don’t consume much water. In fact, cats eating a dry food diet drink less fluid than they need for optimal health. As a result, their urine is very concentrated, creating an incredibly strong, pungent, and undesirable odor. The chemical makeup of cat urine also plays an important part. It contains proteins and a high level of uric acid. Fresh urine is acidic; as it dries, uric acid crystals form and the residue becomes alkaline. The outcome is a powerful, acrid smell. Once feline urine dries into a carpet, its odor can smelled throughout a large room and sometimes an entire home.

How to Find A Cat’s “Go To” Spots on the Rug

Before tackling cat urine odors in your carpet, you have to find their source. If you can see the stains, it’s an easy job. Unfortunately, on most carpets the urine stains are invisible. This is good news if you’re concerned about the appearance of your carpet, but it’s not very helpful when you are trying to eliminate your cat’s urine smells from your carpet and home.

It’s useful to know which areas of a carpet cats typically choose to soil. Although there are always exceptions to the rules, most cats urinate discreetly in corners, around borders or in hidden areas. Cats engaging in urine marking behaviors, which have a different cause than inappropriate urination, often target vertical surfaces like walls and doors. The urine then drips down the wall and into the carpet. On the other hand, cat’s that are already spayed or neutered tend to pee on horizontal or flat surfaces. When inspecting your carpet, plan to cover the entire room, and start by checking the perimeter. Move furniture if necessary. Take note if the places you find are on flat or vertical surfaces. If you they tend to be on walls, the sides of couches, or other areas,

There are a few methods for detecting the areas of your carpet that your cat urinated on. The easiest and most effective method is to use a black light. Here’s an entire post dedicated to finding cat urine smells with a black light. In short, to use the “Black Light Method” to discover odor sources, turn out all the lights and shine the blacklight over every inch of carpet and any other suspicious areas. The proteins in dried urine will cause it to glow a bright greenish yellow under the black light. Some stains may show up at a distance, but others require a close proximity to the black light. Keep in mind that the black light may also reveal the presence of other protein-based substances such as blood, vomit and other bodily fluids.

If you don’t have a black light, you can use your nose! Old-fashioned sniffing is simple and somewhat effective. If your up to the task, crawl on your hands and knees and use your nose to locate any smelly areas. Don’t worry; inhaling your cat’s urine odor is not harmful. It’s just unpleasant!

If you do use a black light, a follow-up sniff test can help you avoid treating areas that may not actually be a source of the smell. Be sure to mark all affected areas as you discover them; you will need to find them again with the lights on. Masking tape, sticky notes, chalk, or other small objects can serve as markers.

How To Video: Cat Pee Carpet Cleanup 101

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Why is It So Difficult to Eliminate The Smell of Cat Urine from Carpeting?

Removing urine odor from carpeting is quite a challenge. Second its outdoor equivalent of removing cat urine odors from concrete, it’s probably the most difficult and persistent pet odor problem for pet owners to manage.

Carpet actually has four different levels or surfaces that fluids can access. When a cat urinates on your carpet, the urine may reach several or all each of these. The top layer is the carpet itself. This is the most visible portion of the stain. Beneath this, there is the backing, the pad and the sub-floor. The larger the volume of urine and the longer it remains undetected, the more layers it will seep into and the more difficult it will be to eradicate.

How to Remove Cat Urine Odors from Carpets

It’s a common mistake to focus only on the upper carpet layers when treating a urine stain. Many urine odor products come in a spray bottle. This is convenient packaging, but it erroneously suggests to users that surface treatment is adequate. The reason so many products fail is partly because they never truly reached the entire urine stain; they may have only addressed the top layer. If you tried a spray product, and it seemed to work at first but odors later returned, this may have been the reason.

In practically all cases of penetrating urine stains, the treatment solution should be poured onto the spot so it can reach all layers of material from the carpet’s pile to the sub-floor. When effective solutions reach their target, the chance of successful odor removal is much higher.

Wet vs. Dry Urine in Your Carpet: How to Respond

It’s often impossible to find a urine stain the moment it occurs, but when you do, treat it immediately. Use old towels to absorb as much of the liquid as possible. If you have a shop vacuum or spot cleaning machine, use it to extract the urine from the carpet. Diluting the area with a little warm water and vacuuming again can help get even more of the smelly uric acid out of your carpet. After extracting the liquid, proceed to the usual treatment plan.

Treat dried stains as soon as you find them. Use your choice of treatment product at full strength. There are plenty of commercial and home-made products at your disposal for treating urine stains. Before you use any of them, test them for safety. Both commercial products and home-made recipes may stain, bleach or degrade certain types of carpet. It’s difficult to determine color-fastness and stability without a test, so try the product inside a closet or another hidden spot before risking damage to highly visible carpet areas. When possible, it’s best to test products before you actually need to use them; this way you can avoid treatment delays and won’t miss signs of damages that develop over time in test areas.

Home Remedies: Natural Treatments & Solutions

Cheap Vinegar and Water

Mix one part white vinegar and one part water for this simple and effective remedy. Saturate the stain thoroughly, and allow it to sit for 30 minutes. Extract or absorb excess liquid. While effective, this solution may require several treatments to achieve the desired results. A vinegar and water treatment is very inexpensive, so it’s a great choice for those with a limited budget or for treating a large number of stains. Vinegar has a strong smell on application, but this dissipates quickly and does not leave residual odor behind.

Peroxide and Baking Soda

This recipe can be used by itself or following vinegar treatment. Start by sprinkling dry baking soda on top of the stain and work it into carpet fibers with a cloth or small brush. Mix one-fourth cup of three-percent hydrogen peroxide with a teaspoon of liquid detergent. Apply this on top of the baking soda and work it in with the brush. Allow it to dry, and then vacuum the area with an upholstery or brush attachment. Unlike vinegar, this solution doesn’t create an unpleasant smell, but be sure to test it on an inconspicuous area before use since peroxide has bleaching properties.

The Club Soda Trick

Club soda has earned a reputation as an effective stain remover, especially for red wine or fruit juice spills, but many people don’t realize it can also help battle urine stains. To use, saturate the stain liberally with the soda. After it stops effervescing, use a towel to blot up excess liquid. Repeat if necessary. This method works best on limited and very recent stains. It’s a great quick fix in an emergency or when you don’t want a vinegar smell or messy baking soda in your carpet.

Ready-to-Use, Commercial Cat Pee Odor Elimination Products

Enzymatic Cleaners

Enzyme-based cleaners like Nature’s Miracle work by breaking down the chemical structure of urine. They are generally non-toxic and safe for most carpets, and they don’t create unpleasant odors. Multiple treatments are sometimes required to completely eliminate odor, but when used correctly, enzymatic cleaners are very effective. They cost more than home remedies, but homeowners who want to avoid handling toxic chemicals or bleaches can use them with confidence. Some brands, such as the favored Anti-Icky Poo, use enzymes mixed with genetically altered bacteria to break down the odor-causing molecules.

Oxi-Clean and Other Oxygen Cleaners

Oxygen cleaners use a combination of ingredients such as sodium pencarbate, hydrogen peroxide, sodium carbonate and sodium perborate to lift stains with a bubbling action. Although not as effective as similar products, they may work well on fresh stains, and they are generally non-toxic and safe.

Do You Need to Steam Clean Your Carpet?

For persistent problems or phantom stains that you can’t locate, a cleansing and treatment of the entire carpet may be necessary. If you don’t own a steam cleaner or shampooer, you can either rent one or hire professional steam cleaners to do the job for you. If you’re taking on the challenge yourself, look for carpet cleaning solutions that are designed for pet odors and stain removal. When choosing to hire professional carpet cleaners, talk to local companies to see what solutions they offer for pet odors.

Preventing a Cats from Re-Soiling a Carpet

When you have successfully banished urine odors from your carpets, you’ll want to be sure they don’t come back. Although human noses are good at picking up urine odors, a cat’s nose has infinitely better skills. If your cat can detect the distant remains of urine odor, this may encourage him to urinate in that same spot again. Be sure that every area is thoroughly and effectively treated before allowing your cat access to it. This includes making sure that carpets are completely dry after a steam cleaning.

Find the Underlying Cause

The most important part of managing cat urine odors is to find out why your cat wants to soil your carpet in the first place. There are both psychological and physical reasons that cats urinate outside of their litter boxes. It may require a little patience to get to the bottom of the problem. Just remember that your cat probably doesn’t realize he is doing anything wrong, and scolding or punishing him may just make the situation worse. Before trying to analyze the problem yourself, have your veterinarian conduct a thorough check to be sure there is no underlying illness causing the behavior. Urinary tract infections, chronic pain and even problems with the legs and paws can contribute to litter box avoidance. If your cat has not been spayed or neutered, the urination problem is likely a direct result, especially if you have noticed a pattern of urine marking on vertical surfaces or other hormonally mediated behaviors.

If there is no physical cause evident, start looking for behavioral patterns or situations that might be causing your cat anxiety or stress. These could include changes in routine, the introduction of a new pet, a major move or even the emotional stress of someone in the family. Cats are sensitive creatures, so approach the problem with sympathy and respect. With persistence and a little detective work, you should be able to eliminate cat pee nightmares from your life permanently.

Cats enrich our lives in many ways, but sometimes their natural behaviors baffle us. This is especially true when they damage our homes and belongings. Urinating outside of the litter box (i.e. inappropriate urination) is a common problem that frustrates pet owners. Sadly, some cats even lose their homes due continuously urinating in places that leave their owner’s home stinking like cat urine.

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