How to Clean Cat Pee From Carpet | Eliminate Urine Odor


Jul 22, 2023
How to Clean Cat Pee From Carpet | Eliminate Urine Odor
Although this article has been written by a veterinarian and is based on scientific research and expert knowledge, it is intended for informational purposes only. It does not replace consulting your own veterinarian and establishing a patient-doctor relationship. To support our efforts, this site contains affiliate links to products we recommend and find helpful, which may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Read more.
Table of Contents


In this article, we share the easiest and most effective way to remove cat urine from carpet, including:

  • How to find all the cat pee on the carpet
  • The most effective carpet cleaners for odor elimination
  • The best technique to remove all traces of cat pee from the carpet
  • How to clean really tough carpet smells and stains
  • How to deter your cat from peeing on the carpet again
  • Tips for cleaning other items in the home, such as beds, couches, and clothes, and other surfaces, such as wood and concrete

To find out the causes and solutions for a cat not using the litter box, read Why Is My Cat Peeing Everywhere and How Do I Stop Them?

How to Find Where Your Cat Peed

It's essential to find and neutralize all the pee, as not only will your home smell better, but if your cat detects urine with their keen sense of smell (they have 40x more smell receptors in their noses than we do), they will continue to view the carpet as a toilet and continue to pee on it. ‍

A UV light, such as Simple Solutions Urine Detector, is the best way to find all the cat urine on your carpet. Shine the flashlight up and down the carpet in a methodical pattern, so you don't miss any stains. Any urine present will fluoresce (glow). However, fresh urine may not show, whereas dry urine usually does. It's best to check at night with the lights off so the glow is more obvious. 

Other substances may also fluoresce, such as cleaning products (especially if they contain optical brighteners) or bits of white fluff and paper. However, they usually glow blue-white, whereas urine tends to be seen as a fluorescent yellow or yellow-green stain. Additionally, urine stains on carpets have a characteristic pattern and usually appear as puddles with splash marks.

Outline any urine you discover with tape, such as Scotch Masking Tape or Scotch Painter's Tape, by placing a piece above, below, and on either side to remember its location and size.

Cat urine fluorescence - seen glowing with UV blacklight
Cat urine stains that were previously unseen are glowing under the ultraviolet flashlight.

Simple Solution Urine Detector

Simple Solution Urine Detector

  • Urine glows in the dark under the UV light
  • Helps you find all the odorous urine so it can be properly cleaned
  • Look for urine on both horizontal and vertical surfaces

Best Cleaners for Urine Stains and Odor

Enzyme cleaners are the best products to neutralize cat urine and permanently eliminate the smell. This is because they break down the source of the odor rather than temporarily covering it up, and are more effective than the frequently recommended combination of vinegar and baking soda at urine removal.

Our favorite enzyme cleaner is Anti-Icky-Poo Odor Remover by Mister Max, which is highly effective and safe to use on nearly all materials. If visible stains remain after eliminating the odor, they can be treated with Stain Remover by Mister Max.

Anti-Icky-Poo Odor Remover is suitable to get rid of cat pee odor from:

  • Carpets 
  • Rugs
  • Bedding
  • Couches
  • Curtains
  • Tiles and grout 
  • Linoleum
  • Walls
  • Hardwoods
  • Softwoods
  • Concrete 
  • Plastic
  • Stainless-steel 
  • Leather 

Mister Max Anti Icky Poo Odor Remover

Mister Max Anti Icky Poo Odor Remover

  • A highly effective, non-toxic enzyme cleaner
  • Permanently removes odors
  • Can be used on almost any type of surface or material
  • Both unscented and scented versions are available
  • Can also be used for other smells, such as feces, vomit, sweat, skunk, sour milk, tobacco, etc.

Another enzyme cleaner we love is Cat Extreme Stain and Odor Remover by Simple Solution, which effectively removes cat urine odor and stains, and leaves behind a clean, pleasant scent. 

Cat Extreme Stain and Odor Remover by Simple Solution is suitable to get rid of cat pee odor from:

  • Carpets
  • Upholstery
  • Bedding
  • Clothing
  • Fabric toys
  • Water-safe surfaces
  • Not leather 

Simple Solution Cat Extreme Stain and Odor Remover

Simple Solution Cat Extreme Stain and Odor Remover

  • Enzymes break down and permanently eliminate the smell of urine
  • Can be used on fabrics and water-safe surfaces
  • Removes tough stains
  • Also effective for feces and vomit

How to Remove Cat Urine From Carpets

This technique is highly effective at removing wet or dried cat pee smell. However, it's always recommended to check and follow the instructions for the product you are using. 

Step 1. Blot Fresh Pee

If the cat urine is fresh and still wet, blot firmly with paper towels to remove as much as possible from both the surface of the carpet and deeper layers. Avoid rubbing, which will spread the urine further.

Step 2. Perform a Spot-Test

If you want to make sure that your carpet cleaner won't cause damage, test it on a small, inconspicuous area first. 

Step 3. Soak With Enzyme Cleaner

Saturate the urine stain and twice the surrounding area, to include any splashes, with your enzyme cleaner. When cleaning carpet, since urine often penetrates into the deeper layers, rather than only spraying the surface, be generous and ensure the backing and padding are also saturated. 

Diagram of carpet layers showing how urine can soak into the carpet backing, padding and subfloor

Step 4. After 10 Minutes Blot

The enzyme solution should be left for 10 minutes, then blotted with paper towels because the more urine that can be removed, the better. 

Step 5. Re-Soak With Enzyme Cleaner

Saturate the pee and twice the surrounding area again. This time do not blot. 

Step 6. Leave to Air Dry

Leave the enzyme solution to dry, which usually takes 24-48 hours. Do not use a fan to dry the area since the enzymes take time to work and must remain wet. 

Step 7. Sniff Test

Once the enzyme cleaner has dried, sniff the area to ensure the pee odor has gone. If the smell is still present, repeat soaking and leaving it to air dry until it has completely disappeared. Usually, an area needs to be treated 1-3 times. It may be helpful to have a friend or family member sniff test your home since our noses can become accustomed to the smell. 

Step 8. Remove Stains

Although enzyme-based cleaners are good at breaking down stains as well as odors, if any stubborn stains remain after getting rid of the odor, follow with Stain Remover by Mister Max, which is a complementary product to Anti-Icky-Poo Odor Remover by Mister Max. First, saturate the affected area, let it sit for 10-15 minutes, saturate it again, and then rub and blot with a clean cloth to lift the stain.

Mister Max Stain Remover

Mister Max Stain Remover

  • Effective at removing stubborn urine stains from carpets and all types of fabric
  • Also removes stains from feces, vomit, hairballs, blood, oils, grease, and more
  • Compliments Mister Max Anti-Icky Poo Enzyme Cleaner

Tips to Tackle Severe Odors

1. Inject Cleaner Into the Carpet

If cat pee has penetrated the padding layer of your carpet, the Anti-Icky-Poo Carpet Injector enables you to reach the source of the odor and infiltrate it with cleaner.

Anti Icky Poo Carpet Injector

Anti-Icky Poo Carpet Injector

  • Helps tackle urine that has soaked deep down into the fabric
  • Use it to inject enzyme cleaner into the carpet pad, a cushion, a pillow, or a mattress

2. Lift the Carpet

When cat urine has built up in the same area, if possible, the carpet may need to be peeled up to allow a thorough soaking of all the individual layers with an enzyme solution, including the carpet backing, padding layer, and subfloor.

Diagram showing different layers of carpet, including backing, padding and subfloor
Lift the carpet to saturate the backing (underside of the carpet that secures the tufts and provides structure), padding (cushioning, spongy layer), and subfloor (flooring underneath the carpet, often made from concrete or plywood).

3. Odor-Blocking Primer on the Subfloor

‍If the urine has penetrated the subfloor, which is the concrete or plywood underneath the carpet, and it still smells after being treated with an enzyme cleaner 2-3 times, apply two coats of Kilz Maximum Stain and Odor Blocking Primer, which is highly effective at blocking all remaining stains and smells.   

Kilz Maximum Stain & Odor Blocker Primer

Kilz Maximum Stain & Odor Blocker Primer

  • A primer that can be used on subfloors, wood, brick, ceramic tile, drywall, masonry, painted metal, and plaster
  • Effectively seals and blocks strong pet odors and stains

4. Tackle Large Areas With a Pressure Sprayer

To quickly and effectively cover a large area, use a pressure sprayer, such as the reliable and affordable Chapin Garden Sprayer, with a Gallon of Anti-Icky-Poo Odor Remover.

5. Replace the Carpet

In cases where cat urine has built up over time and the smell cannot be removed, you can either replace the entire carpet or only a small section of carpet, known as carpet patching. The subfloor should also be treated with an enzyme cleaner and, if required, apply a couple of coats of Kilz Maximum Stain and Odor Blocking Primer once dried. 

6. Professional Cleaning Service

Hire professional cleaners with specialized equipment and carpet cleaning chemicals that have expertise in pet stain and odor removal. ‍

Hire professional carpet cleaners with experience it pet odor and stain removal

How to Deter Cats From Peeing on the Carpet Again

Once the carpet has been cleaned, there are deterrents you can use to stop them from peeing in the same spot. However, deterrents alone won't work as there is always an underlying medical or behavioral cause that must also be managed. For more information, read our guide on Why Cats Pee Outside the Litter Box + How to Stop Them.

Find Out Why Your Cat Is Peeing Outside the Litter Box and How to Stop Them

1. Remove Urine Odor With an Enzyme Cleaner

If cats can still smell pee on the carpet, they will likely continue using it as their toilet. Therefore, follow the steps above to break down and eliminate all traces of urine completely. 

2. Block Access to the Target Area

During the process of getting your cat to only use the litter box, you may have to keep certain rooms closed to prevent access temporarily. If your cat always targets the same carpeted area, moving a piece of furniture there, such as a bookshelf, may help. 

3. Change the Target Area's Function

Since cats are unlikely to pee where they eat, sleep and play, place a food bowl, water bowl, bed, or cat tree on the target area. You can also have regular play sessions with fishing rod-type toys, such as Da Bird or PurrSuit (UK), or place toys and catnip, such as Yeowww Organic Catnip, to redefine the area as a positive place for fun.

Da Bird Handmade Feather Toy

Da Bird Handmade Feather Toy

  • Handmade fishing rod-style toy
  • Extremely high-quality and durable (mine has not broken, unlike others)
  • Irresistible to cats as its sound and movement mimic a real bird
  • If your cat always urinates on a particular part of the carpet, have regular play sessions there to change the function of the area

4. Make the Site Unwelcoming

To make the area of carpet they urinate on uncomfortable, try placing aluminum foil or prickly Scat Mats for Cats there. Waterproof sheets could also be used to deter your cat, and if they do urinate on them, it will be easier to clean. 

Since cats have sensitive noses and find citrus scents unpleasant, you could also place lemon-scented potpourri at the site or spray a lemon-scented fragrance on the carpet every 24 hours. Never use harsh techniques that may cause your cat stress and anxiety, such as spraying them with water or telling them off. 

5. Place a Litter Box Where Your Cat Urinates

If possible, place a litter box at the site where your cat urinates on the carpet. If it's in an inconvenient location, after two weeks of them consistently using the box, gradually (a couple of inches a day) move it to a more suitable area. 

How to Clean Other Items and Surfaces

Whichever item or surface you are cleaning in the home, we always recommend the following steps:

  • Find all the urine stains in a dark room with a UV light, such as Simple Solutions Urine Detector, and outline them with chalk or Painter's Tape, which can be removed without causing damage. Urine glows best under a UV light once it has dried and should fluoresce yellow or yellow-green. 
  • If your cat has just urinated, always blot up as much fresh urine as possible with paper towels.
  • Use an enzyme cleaner, our favorite being Anti-Icky-Poo Odor Remover, to permanently break down and neutralize the odor rather than temporarily cover it up. 
  • Spot-testing an inconspicuous area with cleaner is recommended to ensure it won't cause damage to the item or surface you are treating. 
  • If any stains remain after removing the odor, treat them with Mister Max's Stain Remover

Carpet / Rugs: Saturate the affected area plus twice the surrounding area with the enzyme cleaner. After 10 minutes, blot with paper towels to draw out as much urine as possible, then re-soak and leave to air dry. Repeat as needed. Consider temporarily removing rugs until your cat is reliably using their litter box.

Clothes / Bedding / Bath Mats: For removing cat urine from machine-washable items, the best way to do laundry is to put the items into the tub (or a bucket or bath) and cover them with water until submerged. Add a ¼ to ½ cup of Anti-Icky-Poo Odor Remover to the water, let everything sit for 12-24 hours, and then wash as normal. Pick up clothes, remove bath mats, and prevent access to bedrooms until your cat uses their litter tray reliably. 

Shoes: Saturate the shoes with an enzyme cleaner, blot after 10 minutes with paper towels to help remove cat urine, re-soak, and then leave to air dry. Repeat as necessary. If the shoes are machine-washable, follow the step above for laundry. 

Mattress / Couch: Saturate the urine mark and twice the surrounding area with an enzyme cleaner. After 10 minutes, blot with paper towels to absorb as much urine as possible, re-soak the area and then leave to air dry. Repeat as necessary. If the urine has penetrated deep into the couch or mattress, use the Anti-Icky-Poo Carpet Injector to target the source of the odor. 

Leather: We recommend using Anti-Icky-Poo Odor Remover, which is safe for leather. Saturate with enzyme solution, blot after 10 minutes to extract as much urine as possible, re-soak, and leave to air dry. Repeat as necessary until the odor has gone. 

Wooden / Concrete Floors: Spray an enzyme cleaner to soak the urine and twice the surrounding area, then leave it to air dry. Repeat if the odor is still detectable once it has dried. A garden pressure sprayer, such as the Chapin Garden Sprayer, can be used with a Gallon of Anti-Icky-Poo Odor Remover if you have a large floor area to treat. When treating concrete or plywood subflooring, if the odor remains after 2-3 treatments, apply two coats of Kilz Maximum Stain and Odor Blocking Primer

Frequently Asked Questions

How to Stop a Cat Peeing on the Carpet

The first step is determining if a cat is peeing or spraying (urine marking), as they are different behaviors and are treated differently. Next, medical causes, such as cystitis, arthritis, chronic kidney disease, etc., should be ruled out. If your vet gives your cat a clean bill of health, there is likely an underlying behavioral cause, such as stress or not liking their litter tray. For further information, read Why Cats Pee Outside the Litter Box and How to Stop Them.

How Long Before Cat Urine Smells?

Cat urine has a sharp, acidic odor that is noticeable immediately after they have peed. If the urine is not promptly cleaned, the odor gradually becomes more pungent, musty, and unpleasant. This is because urine contains urea, which is broken down by bacteria in the environment into ammonia, the chemical responsible for the characteristic smell of old, stale urine. 

Since the domestic cats' ancestors are desert-dwelling and drinking water was often limited, cats can produce highly concentrated urine, which is partly why cat urine smells more potent than dogs or humans. Tomcat (unneutered male) urine has an especially pungent odor. Health issues, such as urinary tract infections and diabetes, can also affect urine smell.  

How Long Does Cat Pee Smell Last?

The smell of cat urine is very persistent, and although it may fade over time, it usually lingers for months or years without proper cleaning.‍ Also, the odor may fade but become noticeable again on hot, humid days. Additionally, if it is not cleaned thoroughly, your cat will continue to smell their urine and think it's their toileting spot. 

Exactly how long the smell lasts depends on the amount of urine present, the type of surface sprayed (if it is nonabsorbent or absorbent), and the degree of ventilation in the room. For example, the smell may never completely disappear from a room with little ventilation, such as the basement, if a large amount of urine has accumulated over time on an absorbent surface, such as carpet, upholstery, or concrete. However, if there's only a little urine on a non-absorbant surface, such as a stainless steel oven or glazed ceramic tiles, and the room is well-ventilated due to open doors and windows, the smell may fade sooner.

Why Does Cat Urine Smell Like Ammonia?

Urea is a component of urine, which is broken down by bacteria in the environment to ammonia, the chemical responsible for the characteristic smell of old, stale urine. Therefore, do not use ammonia-based cleaners since they smell like urine to cats and will encourage them to urinate where you have cleaned.  

Can You Clean a Cat Urine Stain With Bleach?

Bleach is not usually recommended as it can cause discoloration or damage to many surfaces. It will also be problematic if it comes into contact with your cat. Additionally, mixing bleach with ammonia, a component of cat urine, can produce harmful fumes.

How to Tell Which Cat Is Peeing?

To identify which cat is peeing in your home, we recommend setting up a motion-activated pet camera, such as the affordable Wansview Wireless Pet Camera with Night Vision, where you tend to find urine.

Before pet cameras became so readily available, vets sometimes fed fluorescein dye strips in capsules to one cat at a time. A black-light would be shone on the urine, and if it was from the cat who had eaten the dye, it would glow a very bright yellow. However, the dye isn't always reliably excreted in the urine, so results can be unreliable, and the dye also causes permanent staining of furnishing. 

Wansview Wireless Pet Camera

Wansview Wireless Pet Camera

  • Affordable motion-activated pet camera
  • Easily monitor your cats at home
  • Find out who is urinating outside the litter box

How Often Does a Cat Pee?

A healthy cat usually urinates 2-4 times per day.

How Much Does a Cat Pee?

Healthy cats produce 24-48 ml/kg of urine per day (1-2 ml/kg/hour). For example, a cat weighing 5 kg will make 120-240 ml of urine daily. If they urinate twice daily, they will produce 60-120 ml of urine each time. A cat with excessive urination due to chronic kidney disease, diabetes, or hyperthyroidism may produce more than 50 ml/kg of urine per day. 

Catastrophic Creations