As a cat owner, you ought to be accustomed to accidents happening. One of the most unpleasant issues to deal with is the smell of cat urine on your clothes. Cat urine can be tough to remove from clothes, and it tends to leave a pungent odor that lingers long after washing, primarily when the cleaning methods cannot deliver the required results.
As such, you must learn how to get cat urine smell out of clothes the right way
In all cases involving cat urine, you require cleaning solutions that completely break down the organic compounds in cat urine that give off an unpleasant odor, such as urea and uric acid.
We will explore some of the compounds found in cat urine that make it smell so bad and explain why they are challenging to wash off with water alone.
Luckily, you can use several effective methods and supplies to remove the cat urine stain and odor and leave your clothes smelling fresh again. For example, certain enzyme-based cleaners or DIY cleaning products can effectively kill off cat urine odors instead of merely masking them like perfumed fabric softeners do.
It would be best to completely eliminate the urine smell from the affected clothes, as the whiff can quickly invite the cat to pee on them again. Cats use urine to communicate with other cats; while the smell of cat urine is pungently repulsive to humans, cats find it welcoming.
Let’s explore some of the best methods for removing cat urine smell from clothes once and for all and ways of preventing such nasty habits in your cat.
Why Cat Urine Smells So Bad
Compounds found in cat urine include:
- Uric Acid
- Urobilin/urobilinogin and,
- Electrolytes like sodium and chloride
- And in some cases, microorganisms such as bacteria
Urea is produced following the breakdown of proteins in the cat’s liver and is expelled from the cat’s body through urine.
Once the urine has stained your clothes, bacteria on the urine spot decompose the urea, eventually producing ammonia and mercaptans, which have an ammoniacal smell like skunk spray. The ammonia and mercaptans can last on your clothes for many months if not cleaned well.
Learn More about Why Cat Urine Smells Like Ammonia
Most of the compounds in cat urine can be found in other mammals’ urine, including human urine; however, their concentration is exceptionally high in cat urine. It is also worth noting that male cat pee tends to smell much more than female cat pee owing to the differences in testosterone levels, a vital hormone for muscle growth, and other male attributes.
Learn More about Why Cat Urine Smells So Bad
Worse, the odor-producing uric acid in cat urine is not water-soluble, making it hard to wash off with water alone. This is why your cleaning products need to be specially formulated to disintegrate these organic compounds in cat urine and not allow the urine crystals to sit on the fabric for longer.
Generally, the combination of urea, uric acid, and other compounds makes cat urine smell highly foul. However, other factors like dehydration, stress, nutrition, and underlying medical conditions like weak kidney function can make the scent mustier.
Precautions To Take
Before we begin, let us review some vital precautions to keep yourself and your cat safe and protect your clothes from accidental staining or damage. They include:
- Wear protective gloves and any other clothing you might require to keep yourself safe. Cat waste may contain dangerous parasites that endanger human health.
- Do not toss urine-affected clothes or upholstery into the washing machine straight away without first treating or removing the stain using other methods. The soiled clothes will likely contaminate other clothes with the cat urine stain and odor, giving you more work. Additionally, giving full focus and attention to each item and cleaning it in the best possible way is more likely to eliminate the urine spot and the pungent urine smell.
- Sort the clothes based on fabric type and color to prevent color bleeding. Isolate the white clothes from the dark and the delicate fabrics from the tough ones.
- Also, read and follow the care instructions labeled on your clothes to determine each fabric’s appropriate washing cycle, temperature limits, and drying method.
- Test the cleaning solutions you use on an inconspicuous area to avoid damaging your clothes.
- Avoid mixing chlorine bleach and ammonia (present in cat urine), which can produce toxic fumes. However, you can use oxygen bleach, commonly called Oxiclean, or a detergent containing Oxiclean, such as Arm Hammer Detergent.
How to Get Cat Urine Smell Out of Clothes: General Steps
Below is a summary of the steps to take to stop your clothes from smelling like cat urine:
Step #1: Locate The Stain or Residue
As if washing the stain is not enough, locating the stain can be frustrating. Identifying its location helps to focus your cleaning effort and attention on the specific spot and enhance your chances of success.
Consider using a blacklight in a darkened or low-light environment to find the cat’s urine stain and make it much more manageable. The stain should ordinarily re-emit a fluorescent white light when you cast the blacklight’s UV light upon it.
If the stain is still wet, finding it can be relatively straightforward as it will be a damp patch.
Step #2: Use An Appropriate Cleaning Solution
Here, you can use homemade solutions like white vinegar and baking soda. Specifically, white vinegar is acidic and neutralizes the alkalinity in cat urine; it does not stain clothes. Later in this post, we will show you how you can combine baking soda and white vinegar to make an effective odor remover.
Alternatively, use an enzyme-based odor remover like Nature’s Miracle Enzyme Pet Odor Cleaner or Mister Max Anti-Icky Poo Unscented Odor Remover to remove the cat urine odor. An enzyme cleaner is formulated to break down the bonds holding the organic compounds together, disintegrating them into harmless and odorless byproducts such as water and carbon dioxide.
Therefore, apply the cleaner to the stain and allow it to sit on it for at least 10 minutes or more, depending on the cleaning product’s label usage instructions.
Step #3: Use A Fabric Odor Eliminator to Remove Any Odor Residue
Now wash the affected clothing with an effective odor-eliminating laundry cleaner. Try OdoBan Disinfectant and Odor Eliminator. You must use each product according to its instructions on the label and clean the clothing according to its care instructions.
Step #4: Use An Appropriate Post-Cleaning Treatment
Consider rinsing and repeating until you have removed the laundry detergent and any remaining urine odor from the fabric. Then, air-dry the clothes in a well-ventilated room or outside with plenty of fresh air and sunlight.
Preparing For The Cleaning Process
Before attempting to remove the smell of cat urine from clothes, begin by preparing for the cleaning process. First, gather all the necessary tools and materials. Typically, you will require the following:
- Protective gloves
- Enzymatic cleaner
- Baking soda
- Vinegar (white vinegar does not stain most types of fabric)
Learn How To Get Rid Of Cat Poop On Shoes
Getting Fresh Cat Urine Smell Out of Clothes
There are various ways to get cat urine smell out of clothes, depending on the severity of the odor and the fabric type. Here are some effective methods to try:
- Step #1: Blotting The Urine With A Towel, Paper Towel, Or Cloth
Place the stained clothes on a flat and stable surface and use paper towels or a dry cloth to absorb as much urine as possible. Avoid rubbing the urine stain into the fabric, which can embed or spread the stain and intensify the smell. Repeat the process until the cloth or towel no longer shows any signs of wetness.
Then, rinse the stain with cold water before you apply any other cleaning method. The water penetrates the stain, helps to dilute the urine, and makes it easier to wash off before it crystalizes on the fabric. Do not use hot water as it has the undesirable effect of setting in the urine and odor.
- Step #2: Applying or Soaking The Clothes In Enzymatic Cleaners
Enzymatic cleaners are designed to break down the uric acid and odor-producing proteins in cat urine and remove the smell. Soak the clothes in the cleaner for at least 30 minutes before washing them while following the usage instructions on the product’s label.
Use an effective enzyme-based laundry detergent (preferably one with protease, one of the best active enzymes) or a detergent specially formulated for removing pet odors from clothes.
Alternatively, you use a DIY solution such as baking soda, vinegar, baking soda + vinegar paste, hydrogen peroxide, or a baking soda + hydrogen solution.
However, a baking soda + hydrogen peroxide solution is more suitable for cleaning clothes. To prepare this cleaner, mix a cup of hydrogen peroxide with a tablespoon of baking soda and a few drops of dish soap in a bowl, small basin, or spray bottle. Then, apply the mixture to the stain and let it sit for 10–15 minutes before washing.
- Step #3: Rinse The Pre-Wash Treatment Solution
Now, rinse the affected clothing to remove the cleaning solution and any residue urine stains.
- Step #4: Hand Wash The Clothing Item
You can clean the fabric in a washing machine if it is machine-washable. You can also add a suitable enzyme cleaner to the detergent dispenser.
Use cold water to rinse out the cleaning solution. Rinse and repeat these steps if necessary, as it may take multiple washings to get rid of the odor completely.
- Step #5: Dry The Clothes
Dry the clothes according to the care instructions for the fabric you are cleaning. You can air-dry the clothes outside in the sun and flowing air. It is not advisable to use a dryer, as the heat can cause any residue stain, however minute, to set in the fabric.
Remember, if you cannot remove the persistent odors, you can always take the soiled clothes to a professional cleaner for assistance.
Using a Washing Machine to Remove Cat Urine Smell
A washing machine can also help effectively remove the cat’s urine smell from clothes. Here are some tips to follow:
- Step #1: Pretreating The Clothes Before Washing
Apply a stain remover or an enzymatic cleaner to the stained area to help effectively remove the smell and stains. Allow the enzyme cleaner (preferably one with protease, the best active enzyme) to sit and work on the stain for at least 10 minutes or more, according to the product’s usage instructions.
- Step #2: Selecting The Correct Washing Cycle
Use a cold water setting with a heavy-duty process to help break down the urine and remove the smell. Avoid using fabric softeners, as they can lock in the scent.
- Step #3: Adding Odor-Neutralizing Products
Add a cup of white vinegar or baking soda to the washing cycle to neutralize the odor and leave your clothes smelling fresh. The white vinegar solution and baking soda can work together to remove the cat urine smell from your clothes.
Aside from vinegar and baking soda, you can use an enzyme-based product (preferably one with protease, the best active enzyme) or a high-quality detergent specially designed to remove pet odors from upholstery. Add it to the machine’s detergent dispenser.
Rinse the clothes to remove any residual cleaning products. Repeat if necessary.
- Step #4: Air Dry Your Clothes
You can air-dry the clothes outside in the sun and flowing air and allow them to dry completely. It is not advisable to use a dryer, as the heat can cause any residue stain, however minute, to set in the fabric.
Getting Cat Spray Out of Clothes
Cat spray is different from cat urine, requiring a different cleaning approach. Cat spray is a secretion cats use for communication, containing pheromones that can attract other cats. To remove cat spray from clothes, follow these steps:
- Step #1: Pre-Treat The Stain
Mix white vinegar with one part water, and apply the solution to the stain. Alternatively, treat the stain with a pet urine enzymatic cleaner.
Let the solution sit for 15–20 minutes before washing the clothes in cold water or applying any other method.
Step #2: Wash, Rinse, And Dry Your Clothes
Wash and rinse the clothes to remove the vinegar solution or the pet odor enzymatic cleaner from the clothes. You should repeat these steps to remove any residual cleaning solution or odors altogether.
Thereafter, air dry the clothing until it is completely dry.
Getting Old Cat Pee Out of Clothes
Old cat urine smell on clothes can be challenging to remove because the urine and odor have had time to set in the fabric, but it’s not impossible. Here are some practical ways to remove the old cat urine smell from clothes:
- Step #1: Pre-Treat The Old, Dry Urine Spot
Using enzymatic cleaners – Enzymatic cleaners are designed to break down the uric acid in cat urine, making them a practical option for removing old urine smells. Soak the clothes in the enzymatic cleaner for several hours before washing them.
Using white vinegar – Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water and apply the solution to the stained area. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes before washing. The vinegar effectively neutralizes and disintegrates any residual uric acid crystals on the fabric and does not stain most types of fabrics.
However, you should be wary of soaking the clothes in vinegar for long as it might discolor them.
Using baking soda – Mix a cup with a gallon of warm, cold water and soak the clothes in the solution for several hours before washing.
- Step #2: Hand Wash Or Machine Wash The Garment
Once you have washed off the urine stain and odor, you can clean the clothes to remove the residual cleaning solution from the fabric. If the clothes are machine-washable, select the correct setting to avoid damaging the fabric.
Consider repeating these steps if necessary if you notice cat urine odor before drying.
- Step #3: Air-Dry The Clothes
Air-dry the clothes in a well-ventilated room or in the sun with flowing air to benefit from the sun’s natural deodorizing qualities.
Cleaning Tips & Warnings
Here are some pro tips and warning to live by as you get cat urine smell out of laundry:
- Act as quickly as possible and clean the affected areas comprehensively. Use products that can break down the odor-producing organic compounds in cat urine, such as enzymatic cleaners. Failure to remove the cat urine smell from your clothes invites the cat to pee on them again.
- Unless the sunlight causes the clothes to fade, the sun’s UV rays are a natural deodorizer, helping to remove urine odors and other mucky smells from fabric.
- It is not advisable to use a dryer, as the heat can cause any residue stain, however minute, to set in the fabric.
- Remember, if you cannot remove the persistent odors, you can always take the soiled clothes to a professional cleaner for assistance.
- You might unknowingly put your clean clothes in a suitcase with cat urine, exposing your clothes to the odor. Always do a sniff test on your suitcase or bag before placing your clothes.
- On the other hand, avoid punishing your cat for inappropriate urination excessively, as this can only stress the cat and aggravate the situation. Importantly, contact a professional vet to help address inappropriate urination in your cat and rule out medical conditions such as bladder stones or urinary incontinence.
- Avoid using cleaning products with ammonia. Ammonia is already present in cat urine in substantial amounts. Cleaning with ammonia-based solutions leaves your clothes smelling like cat urine and will likely invite the cat to pee on them again.
- Protect your cat from coming into contact with or ingesting cat spray deterrents or solutions containing phenols, which are toxic to cats.
How to Stop Cat From Peeing on Clothes
Some of the ways you can deter your cat from peeing on your clothes include:
Ensure your cat is in good health, as anxiety and medical issues such as bladder stones and urinary tract infections can lead to urinary incontinence or litter box aversion. If your cat is urinating inappropriately, consider taking it to a professional vet to rule out medical issues.
Using positive reinforcement will help mold better behavior in your cat. Look for opportunities to reward your cat with treats whenever it exhibits positive behavior.
Keep the litter box clean, in an accessible, private area, and as appealing to your cat as possible. Cats hate using dirty litter boxes. Provide sufficient litter boxes for your cats. Consider experimenting with different litter boxes to find the one your cat prefers in color, design, and size.
Maintain consistent cat-feeding and litter-box cleaning schedules. Cats are creatures of habit, and inconsistency can make them anxious and promote hideous bathroom habits.
Provide your cat with its preferred type of litter box. For example, does your cat prefer an open or closed box? Try out various types before settling on the right one for your cat.
Keep your cat physically active and mentally stimulated. Some of your cat’s bad litter box habits stem from boredom, anxiety, or simply unspent energy. Give your cat enough playtime, exercise, and some outdoor space. Alternatively, invest in pheromone diffusers or sprays to help your cat stay calm and improve its behavior around certain areas.
You can also stop your cats from accessing locations in your home where your clothes (dirty or clean) are stored by closing doors and using physical barriers. Also, keep your clothes stored well.
Use cat-deterrent objects or motion-activated sprays to dissuade the cat from visiting certain places. You can use citrus-scented cotton balls.
Consider spaying or neutering the cat to stop it from spraying around your home.
Learn How to Stop your Cat Peeing In your House
Removing the smell of cat urine from clothes can be daunting, but it’s possible with the right tools and methods. From enzymatic cleaners to washing machines and natural remedies like vinegar and baking soda, there are several effective ways to remove the smell and stains from clothes.
Remember to act fast and treat the stain promptly to prevent the urine from seeping more profound into the fabric. These tips and tricks allow you to keep your clothes fresh and odor-free, even if your furry friend has an accident.
Key Takeaways On How to Get Cat Urine Smell Out of Clothes:
- Cat urine contains uric acid, urea, and bacteria, which can create a pungent odor that lingers for weeks.
- Prepare for cleaning by gathering the necessary tools and materials and sorting clothes based on fabric type and color.
- Effective ways to remove the smell of cat urine from clothes include blotting the urine, soaking clothes in enzymatic cleaners, and using baking soda and hydrogen peroxide.
- When using a washing machine, pretreat the clothes first and find other ways of removing the stains before throwing the clothes into the machine; select the proper washing cycle; and add odor-neutralizing products like white vinegar or baking soda.
- For cat spray, mix one part white vinegar with two parts water and apply it to the stain. Use enzymatic cleaners, white vinegar, or baking soda for old cat urine.
Q: Does laundry detergent get rid of cat pee? Can I use regular detergent to remove the cat urine smell from my clothes?
A: While regular detergent can help clean the clothes, it may not effectively remove the cat’s urine smell. It’s best to use a specially formulated enzymatic cleaner or a mixture of white vinegar and baking soda.
Q: How do I prevent my cat from peeing on clothes?
A: Cats may urinate on clothes due to stress, anxiety, or medical issues. Ensure your cat has access to a clean litter box, provide plenty of toys and scratching posts, and consult a veterinarian if you notice any changes in their behavior.
Q: Can I use bleach to remove the cat urine smell from clothes?
A: You should not use regular chlorine bleaches to remove the cat urine smell from your clothes. Bleach can react with the uric acid in the urine, creating a toxic gas. Additionally, bleach can damage certain fabrics. Instead, use Oxiclean or oxygen-based bleaches.
Q: Can I use a fabric softener to remove the cat urine smell from clothes?
A: No, fabric softener can trap the urine smell in the clothes, making it harder to remove. Instead, use an odor-neutralizing product like white vinegar or baking soda.
Q: Can I dry clothes with a cat urine smell on them?
A: You should not dry clothes with a cat urine smell. The heat from the dryer can set in the odor and make it harder to remove. Air dry the clothes or rewash them before drying.
Q: Can I use hydrogen peroxide on all fabrics?
A: Maybe. Hydrogen peroxide can bleach certain fabrics. Before using hydrogen peroxide, check the fabric care label and test it on a small, inconspicuous area first.
Q: Can I use cat urine removal products on other urine stains?
A: Yes, enzymatic cleaners and other cat urine removal products can effectively remove different types of urine stains, such as dog urine or human urine.
Q: What is the best way to remove cat urine from clothes?
A: The best way is to use a combination of methods, from homemade solutions like vinegar and baking soda and graduating to commercial cleaning products like enzymatic cleaners.
Q: Will vinegar eliminate the smell of cat urine on clothes?
A: Yes. White vinegar can remove the cat’s urine stain and odor from the fabric. You should apply it multiple times depending on the severity of the stain or use other cleaning products.