The Best Way to Remove Cat Urine Smell from Carpet

There are a multitude of reasons why your cat might be urinating on your carpeting, such as an aversion to her litter box, which may occur when a new cat is introduced into the household. There are few odors more pungent than a cat's urine, but with careful cleaning, you can eliminate the odor in your carpet and other flooring, and neutralize the area.

Tabby Kitten relaxing on carpet
A quick response and proper cleaning can eliminate the smell of cat urine from your favorite carpet.
credit: dnsphotography/iStock/Getty Images

A Quick Response

One of the most effective ways to eliminate a cat urine smell from your carpet is to remove as much of the urine as possible when it's wet. Using paper towels or clean rags, blot the spot until no urine is detected on the towels. Pour a small amount of clean water onto the soiled area and continue to blot until the towels are clear when removed from the carpet.

Cleaning and Deodorizing

Once you've removed as much of the urine as possible, use an enzyme-based cleaner to break down the urine and remove the smell. Your cat may return to the area to eliminate again if trace smells remain. Using a wet vacuum to shampoo the area will help, but avoid using a steam cleaner, as heat may seal the smells into your rug. Once the area is dry, sprinkle with baking soda, allow to set for an hour, and then vacuum to further neutralize the odor.

The Evasive Urine

Occasionally, you may not be present when Kitty decides to tinkle outside the litter box, and the urine may dry and set in your absence. When this occurs, you need to get your detective gear and go on the hunt for the source. Additionally, pet odors are often inherited from previous tenants or homeowners. When this occurs, a black light can assist you in locating the source of the urine smell. Turn off the lights in the affected area. The urine will glow under the black light. You can mark the area with paper towels. Use the enzyme-based cleaner to remove as much of the old urine smell as possible, the wet vacuum to clean the area, and the baking soda to further deodorize.

Other Flooring Types

Kitty might be kind enough to avoid the carpet, but urine odors and stains can be pesky on other flooring types. A mixture of 1 part hydrogen peroxide and 2 parts water can effectively remove urine odor from hardwood and subflooring, which may need to be treated if the cat's urine has permeated through the carpet to the plywood underneath. If the subflooring is badly damaged, the affected area may need to be removed and replaced. For tile and linoleum, consider an enzyme-based cleaner, boric acid, bleach or apple cider vinegar to clean and neutralize, but when using bleach, don't leave the bleach on the flooring for any length of time. Consider diluting it in mop water and mopping the area until the odor is neutralized. Similarly, bleach is effective in removing the smell of urine from concrete floors.