Our feline companions comfort us at the end of a long work day, but arriving home to find a wet couch, reeking of cat urine doesn’t exactly inspire feelings of affection. Cats urinate on a variety of different types of furniture (couches, ottomans, loveseats, and anything else you probably don’t want them to pee on) and for a variety of different reasons. Your tomcat could be spraying or a cat of either gender could be ill or simply stressed out. Accidents might happen if the cat has a sudden and urgent need to relieve himself, but chances are you have a problem (such as scent-marking behavior) that needs your attention. Whatever the reason behind this not-so-subtle message, the result is an unmistakable, overpowering odor that will make your favorite couch or recliner the most uninviting seat in the house.
In this post, I’ll teach you how to remove cat urine smells from furniture, as well as provide you with some resources and information to prevent your cat from peeing or spraying outside the litter box in the first place.
Use the slide deck below for an interactive tutorial, especially if you’re on a mobile device.
If your cat decides to add his or her special aroma, i.e. urine, to your furniture, don’t panic. Effective cat odor-removing remedies can restore your furniture to normal. And, our odor elimination process doesn’t require special skills or large amounts of money.
Couches, Loveseats, Ottomans and Upholstered Chairs
When cat urine saturates upholstered furniture, removing the smell is a challenge. Most fabrics are easily penetrated by liquids, so your cat’s pee can seep deep into the underlying foam or filler materials. If you only treat the surface, you won’t get rid of the cat urine smell. Fortunately, you can eliminate the pungent smell by saturating the affected area with either a pet odor treatment product or a home-made remedy. It’s important to treat the odor-source and stain as soon as it’s discovered. This will increase your chances of success.
If the cat tinkled on the couch, I doubt he spared the the carpet. You can eliminate that nasty cat urine smell from the carpet too!
Treat any removable cushions separately. This will help to isolate the offending odor and prevent it from contaminating other parts of the furniture. If the cat’s pee only soaks into removable cushions, the prognosis is favorable. Even if you can’t completely remove the smell, replacing cushions is much more economical than replacing an entire piece of furniture. If your cushions have washable fabric covers, remove and clean them according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. If it’s safe for the fabric, you may add an enzyme-based laundry odor remover to the washing machine, tub or sink as necessary.
To treat the cushions, use the same approach for natural and synthetic fillings. If you are treating a cushion with removable covers, you won’t have to worry as much about any odor remover products causing unsightly stains. But, if your cushion covers must stay in place, you’ll need to be sure that whatever product you choose isn’t going to stain or harm the integrity of the clothe or fabric.
If you know what the fabric is made of, it will be easy to determine if a particular product is safe by reading the packaging, calling the manufacturer, or searching online for information. If you aren’t sure, it’s best to test the product in an inconspicuous area first. Designate a testing spot on the underside of a cushion or the back side of an upholstered couch or chair.
The Odor-Removal Process
Before you begin, choose a suitable place to work and gather all the necessary tools and products. What you need will depend on the odor removal method you choose, but old terry cloth towels, strong paper towels and a spray bottle will come in handy for any method. Since non-removable furniture coverings are highly visible, you can’t use ingredients that may bleach or discolor the surface. The safe alternatives are vinegar, water and baking soda. You may also choose an enzyme digester or commercial urine odor remover product with both bacterial and enzymatic action. This costs a little more, but it’s often more effective for treating stains that aren’t discovered until after they have dried. The step-by-step instructions below explain how to treat both removable cushions and non-removable portions of the furniture.
When urine stains are fairly new, you can deodorize most cushions using this inexpensive home-made method. If it doesn’t work, treatment with an enzyme-based product or another product specifically designed for removing urine smells usually will. One of the tricks when using pet urine odor elimination products is to completely saturate the soiled area. The cleanser needs to come in contact with every molecule of cat urine, so be sure to apply plenty of the odor removal product.
- Remove and treat covers separately. Machine or hand wash and tumble dry if appropriate.
- Use clean towels or durable paper towels to absorb liquid from the stained area. Apply as much pressure as you can to help reach urine deep inside the foam or padding.
- Pour dry baking soda over the affected area. This helps draw moisture to the surface. Allow the baking soda to remain for about three hours, and then vacuum or brush it away.
- Mix equal parts of white vinegar and distilled water, and funnel them into the spray bottle.
- When the waiting time is over, spray the cushion liberally with the vinegar and water. Scrub with a clean towel to distribute the solution deep into the filling.
- Allow the treated cushions to dry. It may take several hours, especially if the cushion’s filling is particularly dense. The vinegar odor will dissipate when the material is dry.
- Check to see that odor is fully eliminated. If not, you may need to repeat the process or resort to an enzymatic product.
- If the urine smell is gone, replace any covers and reassemble cushions on the furniture.
When an ottoman is your cat’s victim, or he has urinated on portions of upholstered furniture that can’t be disassembled, you must take extra care to see that the surface isn’t marred during treatment. Since vinegar and water produces an unpleasant odor, and the furniture will probably stay in the house during treatment, you may want to use an enzyme-based odor product instead. Either way, be careful not to over-saturate affected areas during treatment. They may take longer to dry than removable items such as cushions.
- Soak a clean, white towel in cold water and wring it until it’s slightly damp.
- Applying even, moderate pressure over the urine-soaked area, use the towel to absorb as much urine from the filling as possible.
- Refresh the towel and repeat this process until the surface is mostly dry.
- Let the spot dry for several hours.
- Mix your enzyme digester or other products as directed, and apply them using the spray bottle. Don’t overuse the spray, but be sure to use enough product to reach as deeply as the urine did.
- Allow the spot to dry thoroughly before using the furniture. As it dries, the enzymes will work to break down the structure of the urine and eliminate odor.
How to Remove Cat Urine from Wood Furniture
Occasionally, cats will urinate on smooth surfaces. If your cat urinates on a wooden table or bookshelf, you’ll need to tend to it quickly to prevent warping. Particle board is especially vulnerable to water damage. Generally, the smell of urine is more of a problem on upholstered furniture, but since wood is porous, it can potentially absorb and hold the odor. Unlike fabrics, wood doesn’t tolerate long periods of saturation without some structural damage, so treating the problem early is essential for preventing odors while keeping the wood safe from harm.
- Absorb the urine with a clean towel or paper towels. Apply pressure to soak up moisture from pores in the surface.
- Apply the vinegar and water mixture. Cover the entire area that was exposed to urine, but don’t allow the spray to run onto unaffected areas. Do not let the product remain on the wood for more than 30 seconds.
- Use a clean, dry towel to remove the solution.
- If residual odor remains, sprinkle the surface with a little baking soda and rub it in. Wipe the baking soda away with a damp towel.
Although it may take a little time and repeated treatments to remove some urine odors, your careful efforts are almost always rewarded with intact, clean-smelling furniture. Once you have removed all urine odors, be sure to investigate the reasons behind your cat’s behavior so that you don’t have to repeat the process.