Cat urine is difficult to completely remove, but here's how to do it:
If you have cats, you've probably dealt with cat urine spots. Sadly, it's one of nature's nastiest substances, and is incredibly difficult to remove from any surface, especially fabric ones, such as carpet. And you've probably already noticed that it never really seems to go away, no matter how hard you clean it.
That's because you'll actually need to use a cleaning product that's designed to specifically attack the molecular structure of the urine itself. Unlike other animals, cat pee is made up of tiny crystals that stick to pretty much anything, and will easily withstand "standard" cleaning chemicals, including warm water, soap, detergent and most carpet cleaning solutions.
You will need a cleaning product that's up for the challenge of removing cat urine. And not all pet stain removers are up for this task, so make sure you read the label carefully before buying.
Here's How To Clean Cat Urine From Carpets Or Rugs
It's always easiest if you can treat a cat pee spot while it's fresh, before it has a chance to dry and "set in." That's because of those urine crystals I spoke about earlier; once the actual liquid dries, these crystals stay behind and bond to anything they touch, making it much harder to clean. But if you don't have the luxury of cleaning a fresh cat spot, don't worry, a good cat stain remover will effectively destroy the molecules of dry pee, but it may take several attempts.
The following are some general guidelines, but always follow the instructions on your product, even if they conflict with these.
Step 1: Always test your cat urine remover on a hidden piece of carpet before applying on any actual cat spot. This is to make sure it won't discolor or ruin your rug. I'd recommend a hidden corner, like inside of a carpeted closet.
Step 2: Soak the cat spot with the cleaning solution, and allow it to penetrate. Give it a few minutes to really "attack" the nasty, smelly cat pee.
Step 3: Blot it up with a towel. Try to soak up as much moisture as you can. I personally like to step on the towel to get a little extra muscle power.
Step 4: Repeat steps 2 and 3. I like to repeat this process at least twice, just to make sure nothing gets left behind (I'll explain why this is necessary in a moment).
Step 5 (Optional): Steam clean the carpet with a pet formula carpet shampoo solution. I like doing this just for extra redundancy. Plus, it gives me an excuse to clean my carpets as a whole.
Why Is Cat Urine So Hard To Get Rid Of?
Unlike other pets, cat urine is extremely tough. And there is a biological and evolutionary reason for it. Animals within the cat family, from big to small, are extremely territorial, and they use their urine to mark their territory boundaries. As a result, it's exceptionally strong, smelly and nasty.
This is a huge advantage in the wild. The strong chemical bonds will help the pungent smell last through rainstorms, snowstorms, the hot summer sun and any other type of weather. But it's a huge disadvantage in the home, where we as pet owners find ourselves fighting with tens of thousands of years worth of evolutionary biology.
Dog urine isn't nearly as difficult to remove as cat urine. Nor are most other pets' wastes.
What Happens If You Don't Clean All Of The Cat Urine?
Your home will continue to smell if you don't get all of the urine out. Even just a few of these tiny microscopic crystals will cause some serious odor, which is what makes getting cat urine out of flooring so difficult. This pee is so nasty that even a tiny bit will make your carpet smell horrible. That's why I recommended cleaning the spot several times, even if it seems redundant.
And no amount of air fresheners, scented candles or open windows will help. Sure they might mask the problem, but they won't make it go away. And unlike some smells, cat urine won't "wear out" very fast. Remember, this stuff is designed by nature to last for a very, very long time in the harshest climates, so simply waiting it out will only make you miserable and unsatisfied.
Also know that cats tend to "remark" the same spots if they can smell urine. That goes for the same cat "hitting" it over and over again to define its territory, as well as other cats who will try to cover up the original scent with their own.
Recommended Carpet Cleaners For Cat Urine
There are several carpet cleaning products designed specifically for removing cat urine stains and odor, and I haven't tried all of them so I can't say which ones work better than others. But at the risk of over generalizing, I would say that anything that specifically includes "cat urine" in its labeling should work.
That said, those ambiguous "Pet Urine Cleaners" might not work as well. That's because other pets don't have the same kind of pee that cats do. So while they might clean dog urine out of carpet with ease, it's likely they'll struggle against cat spots.
I wouldn't even waste your time with general carpet cleaners or even basic detergents. These are made exclusively for dirt and grease, and not for organic matter. Washing dirt, lent and dust off any surface is much easier than breaking down biological substances. And while basic carpet shampoo or detergent can make your rug look brand new, it won't break the chemical bonds of cat urine (or any other pet urine, for that matter). The result is a gorgeous looking carpet that still smells horrible.
Surprisingly, baking soda seems to work well in a pinch. That's because it will actually react with the urine chemicals and break their molecular death grip on the carpet fibers. I'd still recommend using a proven cleaner at your first available opportunity, but if you have no short-term options, then this might work well. Just be sure to test it on an unseen piece of carpet; and then remember to vacuum it up once its worked its magic for a while.
Cats make wonderful pets, but they make horrible stains - both visually and smelly. But now that you know how to get cat urine from carpet you can spend more time enjoying your pet and less time scrubbing your rug.