How To Get The Smell of Cat Urine Out of Carpet

Ugh. That undeniable smell of cat pee.

There is nothing quite like the smell of cat urine in the carpet, is there? For some reason, cat urine is worse than all the others. The older it is, the worse the smell is, too. When a urine stain is allowed to dry on carpet, the chemicals in it crystallize and allow stinky bacteria to grow. Those miniscule crystals and bacteria are tough to get rid of.

Relax, though. You don’t have to get rid of your precious cats or replace the carpet; you can get the smell out with a few simple household items.

Steps for Removing Cat Urine Stains from Carpet

Step 1: If the stain is fresh (if it’s old or already dry, kip to step 2), grab some paper towels and soak up as much moisture from the area as you can. Fold the towels into “pads” and step on them (with shoes!!), replacing them with clean ones, until you can’t get any more liquid out.

Note: If you can smell the smell, but can’t find the spot, turn off all the lights and creep around the house with a black-light. The urine stain will glow in the light…and so will all kinds of other stains. Brace yourself, this is often a learning experience!

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Step 2: Mix some plain white vinegar with an equal amount of water. Pour it slowly over the whole stain and use a scrub brush to work it into the carpet. Let that sit for a few minutes to really penetrate well.

Step 3: Use a clean white cloth or paper towels to blot up the excess liquid. You don’t have to blot as carefully as in step 1, just make sure it’s damp and not wet.

Step 4: Turn a fan onto the area and give it an entire day to dry. The room will smell like vinegar, but that will fade.

Step 5: Sniff it. If there is any lingering urine odor, repeat steps 2-4 for another day. It can’t hurt to go ahead and do this two or three times regardless of whether you can still smell an odor…sometimes the scent is faint, but will grow stronger if you don’t get the carpet completely clean. The extra treatments will ensure that you got the stain completely removed.

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Step 6: When the area is completely dry, sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda onto the area and work it into the carpet with a clean, dry brush or even a clean broom. Let that sit for a couple hours to absorb any lingering odors in the area.

Step 7: Vacuum up all the baking soda, making sure to go over the area several times to draw all the little bits of powder up through the carpet fibers.

These steps should make the carpet smell nice and fresh, and the vinegar should kill any odor that would make your cat want to revisit and re-odorize the spot. The baking soda is also a safe and cheap deodorizer you can use every time you vacuum, even throughout the entire house. It will absorb odors from sweaty feet, cigarettes, and musty smells from normal living.

A few other tricks…

Although this method has worked for me for years, some people have different luck with different products. If you still need some ideas, here are a few other tricks that might get that smell squelched:

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Laundry Detergent– Some have had luck with washing the area with a laundry detergent that contains enzymes. Tide is one of them. Just use some water to make it sudsy, and scrub it into the carpet with a brush. Rinse by pouring and blotting water until all the soap is gone.

Steam– Others claim that the best way to get rid of a urine stain in carpet is to steam clean it with just water…no solution necessary. Just go over it several times to dilute the stain until it’s gone.

Dish Detergent– This is used in the same way as the laundry detergent, just dilute it with water and then continue to rinse until the suds are all gone.


Use ammonia on a cat urine stain. Although it can successfully remove a stain, the ammonia smells like urine to a cat, and it will continue to “go” in the spot to cover that strange almost-pee scent.

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