House Grail is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

How to Get Cat Urine Stains and Smells Out of a Carpet: 5 Potential Methods

cat pee at the carpet

No matter how much you love your cat, it is impossible to love the smell that their urine can leave around your home. Cats might be marking, experiencing health issues, or protesting a dirty litter box, but no matter the cause, it is critical to get the urine smell and stain out of your carpet as soon as possible.

To help our fellow pet owners, we have compiled a list of five potential ways to reclaim your carpet from cat urine, along with some key things to remember no matter which method you use.

divider 4

Before You Start

Hot water can set stains and odors into fibers and make them harder to remove, and that’s true for clothes and carpets. Avoid using a steam cleaner when cleaning urine stains and odors.

Additionally, be sure to test any products on a small area of your carpet before spraying the cleaner, just in case there is any discoloring.

If you see a new accident, use an absorbent towel to blot the stain, but do not rub the carpet fibers. If you’re cleaning an old or dried urine area, pour a small amount of cool water on the stain before blotting.

The 5 Top Ways to Get Cat Urine Stains and Smells Out of a Carpet

1. Break it Down with Enzymes

cleaning carpet at home
Image Credit: Syda Productions, Shutterstock

The chemical makeup of cat urine causes its pungent, long-lasting smell. An enzymatic cleaner works by introducing the correct type of bacteria needed to fully break down the urine, eliminating both the smell and stain. This complete breakdown will also help ensure your cat does not return to that spot with a full bladder.

However, these cleaners do need time to do their work. Blot up as much of the urine as you can before thoroughly applying the cleaner. After 10 to 15 minutes of soaking, blot again. The cleaner will continue to work until it has completely dried, and if there is still an odor, it’s fine to repeat the process.


Are you looking for an enzyme cleaner that can keep your house clean and your pet happy? We recommend the Hepper Advanced Bio-Enzyme Pet Stain & Odor Eliminator Spray, which permanently gets rid of the most stubborn stains and smells. There’s even a 100% satisfaction guarantee so you can try this cleaner risk-free! Click here to order your first bottle.

At House Grail, we’ve admired Hepper for many years, and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding products of this cool cat company!

2. Make a DIY Cleaner

baking soda and vinegar
Image Credit: focal point, Shutterstock

Enzymatic cleaners work well, but they can be pricey. Some cat owners may be wary of damaging their carpets with cleaners or prefer products with less plastic waste. If this is the case, there are plenty of recipes that can help remove the smell from your carpet.

Common combinations include vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and dish soap. These homemade cleaners will not have the same power as the enzymatic cleaner to break down components like uric acid, so cat owners using this method will need to keep their recipes on hand. Humidity in your home can cause the crystals left behind to reactivate and begin to smell again.

Additional Considerations

Cats have much more sensitive noses than humans, and if your cat is in the habit of having accidents, they may revisit the spot. Keep a close eye on the place you cleaned, and, if possible, introduce a physical deterrent to make that patch of carpet unattractive. If you’re cleaning up after a one-off accident (if your cat was closed in a room without access to the litter box, for example), this is less of a concern.

3. Bring in the Heavy Machinery

cleaning carpet
Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

We recommend using a mechanical advantage when waging war with urine stains and odors. You can invest in a full-sized or hand-held wet vacuum or rent one from a local retailer. Either way, these appliances can help with new and set-in stains.

Hand-held wet vacuums are particularly effective if your cat has regular accidents, perhaps due to a medical condition or old age. The small size and capacity make it easier to carry the vacuum to the spot to clean it up.

  • Do think of this as a multi-step process. If possible, first use only the suction on a fresh urine spot to pull up as much as possible. Then wet the area and continue rinsing until the water appears clean.
  • Do use a urine-specific cleaner after using your wet-vac or use a pet-specific additive to your tank.
  • Don’t use a steam cleaner or add hot water to your tank! Heat will further set the stain and odor.

4. Call in the Professionals

female worker cleaning carpet
Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

Everyone needs help sometimes, and if you have a particularly problematic pet or inherited a home or apartment with previous pet odors, it may be worth the cost to pay for a professional carpet cleaning.

Be sure to let them know that you’re specifically seeking treatment for pet odors, as many companies have specific processes and products they will use in that case.

5. Use a UV Light

black light illuminating spot of cat pee
Image Credit: In The Light Photography, Shutterstock

A flashlight isn’t a method for cleaning, per se, but it is a great way to level up your carpet cleaning strategy. By using ultraviolet light (aka black light), you can see biological stains on your carpets. That includes urine stains that you may not smell yourself or see with the naked eye.

Once you’ve identified the stained area, use any of the above methods to clean them up, remembering that you may need to take several passes at the spot to fully remove it.

Related Read: How to Get Cat Poop Stains and Smells Out of a Couch: 8 Potential Methods

What About Ammonia?

It’s no secret that cat urine smells like ammonia to the human nose. For your favorite feline, ammonia smells like their urine, and ammonia-based cleaners may encourage them to use that spot again.

We heavily discourage the use of any ammonia cleaners for urine stains, as they will likely do more harm than good if you’re trying to stop your cat from using the carpet as a bathroom.

divider 4


As much as we try to avoid them, pet accidents are just part of pet ownership. Knowing the best way to clean up urine from your carpet will only increase your enjoyment of your pet. Get your black light and enzymatic or DIY cleaners, in combination with a wet vacuum, and you’re all set to spot-clean your carpet. If the stains are too overwhelming, many professional carpet cleaning companies have protocols for pet-specific cleaning.

You might also be interested in:

Featured Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock


Related posts

OUR categories

Project ideas

Hand & power tools