How to Clean Cat Urine

An orange tabby cat laying on a floor.

In my junior year of college, which was long enough ago now that the specifics are becoming fuzzy, it became cat time. Not only did I want one, I knew my girlfriend, Amber, would thoroughly enjoy the aspect of having something even furrier than myself wandering around the house. So we got Piper, a little Siamese cross, and about nine months later came Nina, a big fat tortoise shell. Unfortunately the cats didn’t come with a disclaimer stating “You will have to learn to remove cat urine from the carpet.” Otherwise, I may have thought twice before getting them…well…probably not. But, I would have been better prepared.

As my dad liked to point out at the time “Eric, you’re in college, it’s your job to be poor.” I couldn’t always afford to get the good enzymatic cleaners from the pet store I worked part time at. So, with the help, combination and tweaking of a few different recipes for cleaning cat urine, I was able to come up with an inexpensive, natural and highly effective cat urine remover to clean both new and old pet stains. And now, I’m gonna pass it all on to you. Just to be safe, try it out in an inconspicuous spot of carpeting first. You want to make sure it won’t cause any discoloration or damage.

Steps to Cleaning Cat Urine

  1. person standing on towel to soak up urineFirst, if it’s a fresh stain you’re dealing with, you’ll need to blot up as much of the cat urine as possible.Since we don’t want to waste a bunch of paper towels, gather up some old cloth towels, rags or unwearable clothes. Using one or two pieces at a time depending on thickness, lay them down on the wet spot and stand on ’em. Wear some shoes or sandals, you won’t want the urine soaking through the rag and into your socks. Continue this with a fresh rag each time until you see little or no wetness on the used towel. If you’re worried about not being able to use your rags again, don’t be, just put them in the wash with some detergent and about ¼ cup apple cider vinegar.
  2. pouring vinegar on carpet stainSaturate the stain with a water and vinegar solution.You will want to perform this step regardless of whether you’re dealing with an old or a new stain. Mix up just what you will need using three parts warm water to one part white vinegar. I usually do 1 ½ cups warm water to a ½ cup of vinegar. Poor the solution slowly over the stain and allow it to sit and soak for 3-5 minutes. Not only is vinegar a good natural solvent, it also kills bacteria.
  3. pouring baking soda on stainSprinkle the affected area with baking soda. After you get the spot good and dry again using the method mentioned in the first step, sprinkle the entire spot with baking soda. You don’t want to over do it, but you don’t be too shy about it either. Think glazed donut, not wedding cake.
  4. mixing hydrogen peroxide and dish soapBring together some hydrogen peroxide and some dish detergent. It’s time for another concoction. In a large measuring cup mix together about ¾ cup 3% hydrogen peroxide (yes, it’s the same stuff you keep in your bathroom for cleaning cuts, lightening hair, and gargling) with about one teaspoon of dish detergent (preferably a brand like Seventh Generation that is not petroleum based).
  5. working peroxide mixture into carpetDrizzle the hydrogen peroxide/dish detergent mixture over the baking soda. Again, don’t be too shy. You will want to saturate the spot pretty well without going beyond it if possible. Remember, peroxide can sometimes discolor or bleach fabrics which is the reason for first trying this in an inconspicuous spot. After you get it good and wet, use the tips of your fingers or a brush of some kind to really work that baking soda down into the carpet. Baking soda is highly absorptive so it plays an important part in the cat urine removal process.
  6. person sitting on couch with cat in lapKick back and let it dry. Give the peroxide, baking soda and dish detergent a few hours to dry and work it’s magic. This is a great time to grab yourself a glass of wine or a nice cold brew (assuming you are of legal drinking age). After all, you’ve earned it. Once the carpet has dried thoroughly, get out the vacuum cleaner, suck up the baking soda, stand back and admire your work. While it’s only happened to me a couple times, if you run across a particularly tough cat urine stain, it may require a second run through.

Why clean green when cleaning cat urine? What to use?

If you don’t have the time for removing cat urine and cat urine stains with the method mentioned above, or you just have more money than I did as a college student, there are many products out there that work quite well for the removal of cat urine. Just remember to keep it green. Yes, protecting the environment is the most important reason for this, however, there are others. The main ingredients in many a commercial cat urine cleaner are perchloroethylene which is used in dry cleaning and can cause dizziness, nausea, and damage to the kidney and liver, and naphthalene which is in fact a petroleum product. Naphthalene, besides being a neurotoxin and a possible carcinogen (according to the EPA…but what do they know?) also leaves an oily film on the carpet that can actually attract more stains.

These days when I remove cat urine from carpet I usually just spot clean. No point in doing the entire carpet for one little spot right? Simple Solution NATURAL Stain & Odor Eliminator is usually my cat urine cleaner of choice. It has a biodegradable formula that works quite well. I have in the past also used natural enzyme/bacteria cleaners such as Nature’s Miracle, Bac Out Stain & Odor Eliminator by Bi-O-Kleen, Capture Pet Stain and Odor Neutralizer and Complete Pet Stain and Odor Remover by 8in1. If your cat urine problems are a little more widespread and you do need to do the whole carpet, there are some good natural/green carpet shampoos for the large extraction cleaners. Look for products such as Earth Friendly Products Carpet Shampoo, Enviro-Rite Carpet Cleaner and Ecosafe Products Carpet Cleaner.

Clean Cat Urine Naturally

spray bottle of seventh generationSeventh Generation is one of the most trusted names in organic cleaning products. The carpet cleaner is no exception. Not only does it take care of cat urine in carpet it also cleans many other organic stains such as coffee, wine, beer and grease. Seventh Generation carpet cleaner will not create any unpleasant fumes and won’t leave any harmful residues behind.

bottles of natumate cleanersNatumate Pet Stain & Odor Remover combines a number of organic substances (Coconut-based surfactant, purified water, enzymes, corn-derived alcohol, & lemon oil) to create a cleaner that works not only on pet urine, but also vomit, blood and food stains. This cleaner can be used on carpets, dirty laundry, fabric, tile, sealed wood floors, upholstery, and furniture.

bottle of simple solution cleanerSimple Solution NATURAL Stain & Odor Eliminator is perhaps my favorite product for removing cat urine from carpet. These guys know how to remove cat urine. Natural bio-cultures, corn-based ethanol and plant-based cleansers are combined to make cat pee go bye-bye. You can order a bottle of it from Amazon if you need.