Do you feel like your whole house smells like a litter box? Getting rid of cat odors in carpets and furniture is key to getting your house to smell fresh and clean. How do you go about truly removing cat odor and not just covering it up? The key is knowing a little science behind the smell.
Why Cat Urine Is So Potent
Cat urine contains uric acid, which can last in carpets, fabrics and wood for years! Although baking soda, vinegar, soap, and hydrogen peroxide may neutralize the odors temporarily, a humid day can cause the uric acid to recrystallize, and the infamous "cat odor" will return. The only way to destroy the uric acid is to use an enzyme cleaner, according to TheCatSite.com. The affected areas on the carpet or fabrics need to be soaked in enzyme cleaner and allowed to air-dry completely. The enzymes break the uric acid into gases, and through natural drying, the gases evaporate, leaving your carpet and fabrics smelling fresh again. Enzyme cleaners can be found online and at most grocery stores.
How to Clean It
Whether your cat recently urinated on a surface in your home or you have old stains and odor, it's important to address the mess with some strategy. Here are some basic guidelines to get you started:
- Use an old towel to blot and absorb as much urine as possible as soon as you find a spot.
- Let an enzyme cleaner sit on the stained area for a few hours and dry naturally.
- Put a laundry basket over the area while it's being treated to keep kitty away from the cleaner.
- Open windows and run fans to keep the airflow moving and help odors leave your house.
- Try to identify why your cat is having accidents (urinary issue, stress, change in routine).
Cleaning the area thoroughly with vinegar first and then applying an enzyme treatment will break down and evaporate the uric acid and your home will be free of cat odors. Vinegar and enzyme cleaners work on all surfaces: hardwood floors, carpets, mattresses. But remember, all types of flooring and fabrics can be affected differently by cleaners, so always test a small area before doing any treatment.
One key point to remember, however, is to never use a steam cleaner or heat on cat urine stains or spots, petMD warns. It can set the stain and make it more difficult to remove. If you have steam cleaned rugs or mattresses already, be sure to do the enzyme treatment a few times. Strong odors usually linger in fabrics and carpets longer and may need a few treatments.
Preventing Cat Odors
The best way to keep cat smells from overtaking your house is to avoid them in the first place. Keep the litter box clean and add baking soda to help absorb odors. If your cat seems to be having urinary stress issues (which cause her to have accidents) or is constantly throwing up hairballs all over your house, consider gradually transitioning her to a food that helps reduce hairballs and urinary issues.
Most animal smells in your home may be due to bodily fluids, but it is also important to not let cat hair pile up in your home; this can lead to cat odor as well. To easily remove cat hair from upholstery, mix some fabric softener with water in a spray bottle and lightly mist the surface. After spraying the surface, use dampened rubber gloves to scoop up and remove the cat hair.
Once you have your house smelling fresh and clean, you can usually keep it that way by providing your cat with healthy food, a clean litter box, and regular brushing. If you need a temporary quick fix and use things such as air fresheners, make sure they are safe for pets, so as to not create more problems than when you started.
Chrissie Klinger is an educator, writer, and mother of two children, three dogs, and three cats. She enjoys living an active and eco-friendly lifestyle.