How to get cat urine smell out of clothes

Updated February 21, 2017

Even the best-behaved cat occasionally gets stressed out and urinates where he shouldn't--on the carpet, on a hardwood floor or on a pile of clean clothes. That ammonia-like urine smell can be difficult to eliminate even after repeated cleanings. Several methods work well on these nasty, foul-smelling odours, while others only make the smells linger. Luckily, many special products exist for removing cat urine smell from fabrics and clothing, making this unpleasant job much easier even for a busy cat owner.

Treat clothes with spray cleaner or rub white or apple cider vinegar on still-damp cat urine stains. They're easier to remove when fresh; once the urine has dried, you'll need to use stronger cleaners.

Choose from a variety of specialised cleaning agents to remove cat urine. Keep in mind that all fabrics respond differently to these products, so check with your dry cleaner if you're unsure about which one to use. Wash urine-stained clothes with detergent containing bleach instead of regular cleaners. If the smell doesn't disappear after an initial wash, try an enzyme-based liquid or spray formula made specifically to eliminate pet odour. You can purchase these products in the laundry aisle of large discount stores.

Use a natural cleaner from your refrigerator or cabinet. Apple cider vinegar, renowned for its all-around cleaning and medicinal properties, works wonders on cat-urine-soaked clothes for those who prefer a homespun approach. Use your regular washing powder on the clothes at the beginning of the wash cycle. Then pour 1/4 cup of this folk remedy into your wash during the rinse cycle, and it will get rid of the cat urine smell.

Remove clothes from the washer and let them air-dry, preferably outside. Placing them in the dryer will cause the urine smell to get worse.

Prevent future errant peeing by checking the location of your cat's litter box. Make sure it's in an area convenient for the cat. For example, if your cat likes to sit on the windowsill, place the litter box close to the window. If you have more than one cat, use multiple litter boxes. If inappropriate urination persists, take the cat to the vet to rule out any medical causes. Cats often urinate on clothes when they're stressed. Peeing on items that contain their owners' scent calms them down. Improve your cat's immediate environment, and pay special attention to them to reduce anxiety.


Always keep your cat's litter box clean to prevent the cat from peeing elsewhere in the house.


Do not use ammonia on clothes stained with cat pee. This will make the smell worse and encourage the cat to urinate on it again.

Things You'll Need

  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Bleach-based cleaners
  • Washing machine
  • Clothesline
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About the Author

Marianne Moro is a copywriter and journalist based in Hollywood. She has been writing professionally since 1999, specializing in home remodeling, interior decorating, pets, travel and holistic health. Moro was a part-time editor and contributing writer for, a home remodeling and decorating website, and has also contributed to the Cutting Chair and Entertainment Today.