How to Clean Dried Cat Urine Smell from Carpets?


Cat urine is one of the most challenging and smelly odors to get out of a carpet, but it can be done. The odor of cat urine intensifies the longer it is left, so clean as soon as you can. Eliminating the smell is also important to ensure your cat does not revisit the area again and re-mark the spot.

To clean dried cat urine from a carpet, you will need to deep clean the carpet with a carpet cleaning machine and use an enzyme cleaner to break drown the protein particles in the urine which create the strong odor.

Here are some tips and cleaning mixtures to remove that bad odor from your home. (Also check out our review of the best carpet cleaning machine for pet urine here.)

Steps for Cleaning Dried Cat Urine

Ideally, you would use an Enzymatic Cleaner. Enzymatic Cleaners are more effective than normal cleaning agents and also replace the need for harsh cleaning detergents. They’re both natural and biodegradable!

They work efficiently at cleaning stains using natural enzymes that break down the protein particles in the urine which cause it to stain and smell. (They work on most animal waste, including urine, feces, vomit and blood.)

With a Carpet Cleaning Machine

Dried Cat Urine that has saturated the carpet requires a deeper clean compared to a newly soiled spot. A carpet cleaner is the best way to get into the fibers of the carpet. Here’s how…

  1. Pre-treat the area with an enzyme cleaner
  2. Add an enzyme cleaner recommended by the manufacturer to your machine’s water tank
  3. Run the machine over the spot and let the bristles work at the stain
  4. The carpet cleaner will wet, clean and then suck the urine and dirty water from the area
  5. Repeat if you can still see the stain on the surface
  6. Allow the area to dry

By Hand

If a Professional Carpet cleaner is not an option, we’ve included a quick DIY solution. Combined with some serious scrubbing, you’ll be able to improve, if not eliminate the problem.

  1. Depending on how much and how deep the urine has soaked and dried into the carpet will determine how much cleaning will be required
  2. Saturate the area with an enzyme cleaner, this will help break down the urine stain as well as the smell. Vinegar can also be used to neutralize the smelly dried cat urine
  3. You can also use a carpet shampoo (Avoid over-scented products, the idea is to remove and neutralize the smell, not mask it)
  4. Scrub the area to allow the cleaner to get into the fibers and lift the stain
  5. Then allow the enzyme cleaner to sit for 15 minutes
  6. Towel dry the area as best as you can
  7. Apply baking soda or a baking soda-based air freshener to the surface (DIY Recipe Below)
  8. Let the area dry completely before vacuuming the baking soda and walking on it


Home Made Remedies

Enzymatic cleaners can be expensive, so you may want to use some more common household ingredients like Vinegar…

Does Vinegar Remove Cat Urine?

Yes, vinegar breaks down the enzymes in the cat urine that cause stains and strong odor. It is effective at removing urine odors and stains.

Do vinegar and baking soda remove cat urine from carpets?

Yes, both vinegar and baking soda helps remove cat urine stains. Vinegar breaks down the protein enzymes in the urine and works as a disinfectant while baking soda neutralizes the odor.

They are two affordable ingredients easily found in most homes, so make a great DIY alternative to more expensive Enzyme Cleaners.

How Do You use Vinegar and Baking Soda to Remove Cat Urine from Carpets?

  1. If the cat urine is wet, absorb as much of it as possible with an old cloth or paper towel
  2. Then apply the vinegar (1 part water to 1 part vinegar) to the affected area
  3. Let the vinegar soak for 5-10 minutes
  4. Blot up the vinegar solution
  5. Sprinkle baking soda onto the surface of the stain
  6. Work the powder into the fibers where the cat peed
  7. Allow it stand overnight for maximum absorption
  8. Once the area has dried, vacuum away the powder

Once you’ve cleaned the carpet, you can also apply some carpet freshener…

Home Made Carpet Freshener

To help lift any remaining odor and replace it with a clean refreshing scent, try this…

  1. 1 cup dried lavender – crushed
  2. 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  3. 1 teaspoon baking soda

Sprinkle the mixture over your carpet and leave it for 10-20 minutes before vacuuming.


Extra Advice

It is always best to deal with the cleaning as soon as possible by blotting up as much urine as possible (A paper towel is pretty effective). This will make the remaining urine easier to deep clean.

Urine has an especially potent and offensive smell and it’s difficult to remove from a carpet. Even worse, if the cat urine is from an unneutered male, the odor is much stronger and will take some attention to get rid of.

The same cleaning above instructions would apply to upholstery if you have a cat spraying curtains and other surfaces like furniture. However, if furniture covers are removable, it is much easier to throw them in the washing machine.

Let us know how you fared. Which cleaning approach worked best for you?

What Not to Do

  1. Avoid using a steam cleaner as the heat can cause the stain to set, making it more difficult to remove. Steam cleaners also release a lot of moisture, this could cause the urine to penetrate deeper into the carpet lining which is much more difficult to remove.
  2. Strong detergents or vinegar may cause the cat to revisit the area so opt for pet approved cleaner or a neutral fragrance.
  3. Trying to mask the smelly cat pee will only aggravate the problem. If the pee odor remains after cleaning, it is advisable to repeat the process. It is nearly impossible to camouflage the smell of pet urine with room sprays.
  4. Use enzymatic cleaners or shampoos as recommended. Diluting products incorrectly or mixing them with other solutions could weaken their cleaning strength and make them less effective.

Get Your Cat To Use the Litter Box

Prevention is better than cure, if your cat keeps returning to a spot to urinate, here are some tips to get them to use ONLY their litter box.

  1. Get an extra litter box. Cats are clean animals so they may not want to go in the same spot as they went in earlier that day.
  2. Clean the litter box more frequently.
  3. Puppy Training Pads are ideal for absorbing pet urine. If you can’t put a litter box in the spot where your cat soils the carpet, put the pad on the spot to avoid damaging the carpet. The pad is disposable so can be dropped in the bin if used.
  4. If your cat is “marking” or spraying for territorial reasons, spaying or neutering may be an option. This tends to reduce the strength of the urine smell as well as marking habits.
  5. Give your cat some attention or rewards after peeing in the right place. Using your carpets as a bathroom may be a cry for attention. Cats are wonderfully lovable, but nothing if not complicated… it’s worth a shot.

Good luck and happy cleaning!