How to neutralize the smell of cat urine in carpets

Updated November 21, 2016

Cat urine can be one of the most onerous smells in a household. Urine on a hard surface may be simple to clean, but urine stains in carpet can be difficult to eliminate. Common commercial cleaners, including bleach, can often make the odour worse instead of better. Learn to attack the odour directly and eliminate the smell completely.

Identify the location of the urine. Since the odour of cat urine can be overwhelming, it may be hard to specifically locate the soiled area in the carpet. Sniff the carpet at floor level or use a black light to find all soiled locations.

Eliminate your cat's access to the soiled areas. Cats will continue to urinate in the same location, so it's important not to allow your cat to return to the soiled area until it is cleaned. If you can't block off the room completely, cover the soiled area with aluminium foil or a plastic sheet. Cats will avoid walking on both surfaces.

Investigate the reason for your cat's urinating outside of the litter box. Urinary tract infections are the most common cause of litter box problems. If you clean the area, but don't resolve the reason for the soiling, your cat will continue to urinate outside of the litter box.

Soak up any wet urine. It is impossible to neutralise the smell of cat urine if the carpet is still wet. Place old towels on the wet spots, and press firmly to soak up as much urine as possible. Don't rub the spot with the towel, as this will spread the urine over a wider area.

Saturate the soiled area with an enzymatic cleaner designed to clean cat urine. The strong smell in the urine is due to a high concentration of protein. Enzymatic cleaners break down the protein structure, neutralising the smell and allowing for easier clean-up. Depending on the amount of dried urine present, you may need to saturate the area two to three times to begin noticing a decline in odour.

Generously sprinkle baking soda over the area once the enzymatic cleaner has dried.

Vacuum the baking soda from the carpet after 24 hours. Repeat the enzymatic cleaner and baking soda as often as needed to completely neutralise the odour.

When the odour is completely eliminated, you may want to sprinkle a citrus-based carpet deodoriser on the soiled patch. Cats will generally avoid citrus smells, so the deodoriser will discourage your cat's return to the area.


Vinegar may be used in place of enzymatic cleaners. Although the vinegar is not as effective as the enzymatic cleaners, it still will break down the proteins and neutralise the odour.


Do not use bleach or any ammonia-based cleaning products. Cat urine contains ammonia, and the smell of ammonia will encourage your cat to continue urinating in that location. Avoid using a steam cleaner. The moisture and heat will make the odour worse and will not remove the odour from the carpet.

Things You'll Need

  • Enzymatic cleaner
  • Baking soda
  • Old towels
  • Vinegar (optional)
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