by Lauren Voyles
If you have a cat, you may know how bad cat urine smells, and how unpleasant it is to have on your bed, carpet, sofa, or clothes. You may have tried before to remove the stains and/or odors without success. There are many commercial cat urine cleaners, but not all of them work. You might have thrown things away because you think that you just can’t get the smell out. Thankfully, there are ways to remove all evidence of cat urine from carpets, furniture, and clothing.
First of all, I must give a warning. NEVER use a steamer on cat urine that has not been treated with a product. It will bake the urine into the surface and make it harder to remove. For furniture and carpet, I tell you to do a colorfastness test. This means testing the surface to see if the spray permanently changes the color of the surface. You can do this by spraying once in an unnoticeable area and dabbing it up immediately. Check the spot you tested 20 minutes later. If it is lighter, do not use the product over the entire surface.
I’ll start with cleaning urine out of furniture, carpets, or mattresses. These spots are the hardest places to clean urine from, because you can’t just simply put them in the washer. The key to cleaning these surfaces is not a store-bought urine cleaner. I have had the most success with a cleaner I can make myself.
To make this cleaner, you will need:
An empty spray bottle
Citrus Pine Sol
First, clean out the spray bottle thoroughly, including the tube that carries the liquid to the sprayer. You can do this by putting the bottom of the tube in water and spraying several times. If there are any chemicals left in the bottle, it can react with the new mixture. It is best to use a new empty spray bottle that you can get at any store that carries cleaning products.
Then, after you determine how much mixture you need, pour some hydrogen peroxide into the bottle. Hydrogen peroxide will be the main ingredient. Keep in mind when deciding how much to use that the mixture must be fresh each time it is used. You will have to pour out any extra mixture.
Third, You will add the citrus Pine Sol. You don’t technically have to use the citrus scent, but it’s best to use because the smell of citrus repels cats. Make sure not to add more Pine Sol than the peroxide you added in the last step. You should add a little more than half the amount of peroxide.
Next, you will add the baking soda. Use a normal spoon or a teaspoon to put it into the bottle, because you will spill it if you try to add a large amount to the bottle at once. You won’t need very much baking soda for this mixture. Obviously, the more liquid you have, the more baking soda you will need.
Lastly, before you start spraying, gently (emphasis on the gently) swish around the mixture to “stir” in the baking soda. If you shake it, or swish it too much, it will bubble up and be hard to use.
Now, you will start cleaning the surface. If the urine spot is still wet, then you should soak up as much as you can with a towel or paper towels. If you are having trouble locating the urine, use a black-light. The urine will light right up.
Beds: Strip away all of the sheets and pillows. It is best to take the mattress off of the box springs, but this is not always possible. Locate the spot on the bed. Spray the mixture until the entire spot is thoroughly soaked. You will need to let it soak in for a while. After it has soaked in for 30 minutes to an hour, you can dab up the excess. Get a towel or a roll of paper towels and push down. You will use many, many paper towels and potentially more than one towel, because there is a lot to soak up. You do not have to soak all of it up, but you should get the majority or the mixture. Allow the leftover mixture to dry up.
To clean your sheets, comforter, and pillowcases, do a pre-wash soak in a water and Pine Sol mix in a large sink or bath tub. This is not necessary, but it’s best for very smelly sheets or thick comforters and blankets. In the wash, use your regular detergent and fabric softener, and add in a small amount of Pine Sol (any scent) to the wash. If all of the items are white, use bleach. Dry normally. Use the mattress method for urine-stained pillows.
Sofas and other furniture: Always do a colorfastness test before cleaning furniture. First, take the covers off of the furniture if possible. Remove the cushions from the couch. Locate the affected areas, either by sniffing, black-light, or visible stains. Soak the spots thoroughly with the spray and let it set from 30 to 40 minutes. After you let it set, dab up the excess with a towel or paper towels. It should still be a little bit wet when you’re done.
For cushions that are not removable on the couch, I recommend looking for a zipper on the bottom that leads to the stuffing. Not all couches have these, but it’s easier to clean if they do. If you can unzip the cushion, get out some of the stuffing and inspect it for urine smell or yellow color. The best thing to do with couch stuffing with urine in it is to throw it out and replace it. If this is not an option, spray small pieces of stuffing at a time and immediately dab the spray out. You may need to let the pieces air dry a little afterward. When it is all dry, put it back into the cushion through the zipper and fluff it up. You will still need to clean the outside part of the cushion. This is easier to do when some of the stuffing is out. If you can’t take the stuffing out through the zipper, spray the outside cushion very, very thoroughly to allow it to soak into the stuffing inside. If you could take the stuffing out of the cushion and clean the stuffing separately, you only have to let it set for about 20 minutes before soaking up the excess spray.
However, if you had to let it soak into the stuffing you will need to let it soak in for about an hour before using a towel to soak up all of the excess liquid you can. There will be a lot. The process is the same for furniture like ottomans. To clean the cushion covers, put them through the wash, following the instructions for sheets and blankets above.
*Note*: if you notice that the spot you sprayed looks lighter, it’s just because of the baking soda. Wipe or vacuum it up.
Carpet: Do a colorfastness test first in an area that’s not very noticeable. Thoroughly soak the urine spots. Soak up the excess after a few hours or just let it dry on it’s own for large spots. For small spots, you can set a paper towel down on the spray immediately.
*Note*: If you notice that the carpet looks lighter, it is the baking soda. Vacuum it up.
Now, on to clothing. Cleaning cat urine out of clothing is relatively simple. If there is only a very small spot, spritz the area gently with the spray and rinse it out. Put it through the wash as normal and add a small amount of any scent of Pine Sol to the load.
For large urine spots or spots that have crystallized, you will most likely need to do a soak in warm water with a small amount of Pine Sol.
Shoes are a little harder to clean. If the shoe is composed completely of hard surfaces, just spray some of the mixture on a paper towel or rag and wipe over the affected area thoroughly. Shoes with soft surfaces are a little harder to clean. You will need to spray a small amount of the mixture onto the affected area and give it a little time to soak in. Then, absorb the spray with a rag or paper towel. Put the shoes through the washing machine, if possible. If the shoe contains padding or foam you will need to use more spray.
Now, unfinished suede shoes, like moccasin boots. Sadly, this is the only exception to the “anything” in the title. Unfinished suede (the type that can’t get wet) is impossible to clean any wet substance off of. If the spot is unnoticeable, you can try wearing them anyway. If a large area of the shoe is affected, you will have to throw them away. I have experienced the pain of having to throw away great shoes because of urine stains. The key to this problem is prevention. Do not leave shoes of this type out where a cat can urinate on them.
There you have it: the solution to cleaning cat urine off of your prized belongings. No longer do you have to get angry at Fluffy or throw away nice things.