HELP! My Whole House Smells Like Cat Urine. What Do I Do?

help my whole house smells like cat urine
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Having a cat with a peeing problem is one of the most distressing issues a cat owner can have. It’s frustrating, and if you don’t know why your cat is doing it, then it could be an endless cycle which you may never be rid of.

In addition, it can be expensive. Many pet owners simply give up and get rid of the carpets in their home, or forfeit their security deposit to their landlord because the whole house smells like urine.

However, there are ways to get rid of cat smells and stains, and in this article, I’ll tell you about my own personal battle with a cat who became litter box shy, and the product I used to end our cat urine nightmare. First thing’s first though.

Identify the trigger!

There’s no point in wasting your time, energy, and money on cleaning your carpets if your cat is still actively peeing on them!

Before you proceed, visit this article and figure out why it’s happening first.

For us, it was a mixture of anxiety from a move and dealing with new, not so quiet neighbors, but your situation could be different.

Our poor cat is timid as can be. He’s scared of everything from weed eaters to thunder to probably his own farts.

So, when we moved cross-country, it was a literal nightmare for him, and he has just started to calm down after about 7 grueling months.

You can read my account of what I did to stop his peeing problems here if you’re still struggling with this issue yourself.

How Long Does Cat Urine Odor Last, and will it go away on its own?

Cat urine smell is potent, and I think it will literally last forever. It never seems to die down, and sometimes it seems to get worse, I guess if it gets hotter out maybe it brings out the stench? Ugh.

Sometimes, even if you think it has been cleaned, if it’s not all gone then the smell will return to torment you once more. Keep reading if you want to be rid of the wretched hell that is cat urine smell.

How To Get Cat Pee Smell Out Of House & Carpets

This process could take you a while, especially if the peeing has been going on for some time. Our place stunk. It was literally unbearable, and it took me several days of targeted and aggressive cleaning with the right tools and materials to get the job done, but it did work. Here’s what to do.

Find ALL the affected areas

If you don’t hit all of the peed on areas in your home, then the smell of cat urine stains will persist and continue to drive you crazy. This can be difficult, because sometimes the areas are not always apparent.

Fortunately, there is a very cheap and easy way to make this process easier. I invested in a small flashlight style black light from Amazon to help me identify the tainted areas and get them cleaned up. This should cost you $10-15, and it’s worth every penny, but you may hate what you find.

how to get cat pee smell out of house
Pictured: Urine stains which were previously cleaned, but not good enough.

A quick sweep of the house revealed numerous areas where our darling fur baby had been secretly urinating on the carpet, but also some areas which could certainly use a little more cleaning attention which he was not responsible for. (ick!)

The black light method is, of course, not foolproof. It will pick up anything that is white, such as lint or dust as well. However, it does significantly help in identifying obvious urine stains on the carpet, including some spots on the baseboard I’d missed which suffered “splash damage”.

When using the flashlight, urine will appear as a bright blue color.

It may be harder to see in areas which you’ve already tried to clean, but untouched ones will be very obvious.

Here’s a test shot I did of the litter box where the urine was more concentrated.

If you’ve previously used a less effective carpet cleaner (like I did) then it may be harder to see the spots. That’s because the surface stain has been removed, but many of those products, like the foam ones, do not soak all the way down, leaving the smell of cat urine rooted deeply into the carpet.

If your cat has been religiously going in the same spot for a period of time, then this is likely the case. Don’t worry though, hope is not lost, and that brings us to our next section!

Choose the right product for the job

Once I realized the peeing issue had begun, I immediately made as much of the house off-limits to our cat as possible. As a result, the bedrooms suffered little damage, and I was able to clean them using a foaming surface cleaner. The smell has not returned there, and this is likely because it was not enough cat urine to saturate the carpet pad.

Unfortunately, my attempts to restrict him to the kitchen failed, and he managed to find spots to pee all over the living room in greater quantities. Since this meant the carpet was more thoroughly soaked, it also meant that the product I had successfully used the first time did nothing, and I was back to square one. With a carpet that now smells like pet urine and horrible perfume. Ugh.

best product to get cat pee smell out of carpets and rugs
Thanks to bubba’s I can enjoy my living room again.

The good news is, after scouring Amazon for several hour, I happened upon Bubba’s Pet Stain and Odor Terminator.

It was a good bit more expensive than what I’d used before, but the reviews made me confident enough to give it a shot, and I’m glad I did.

Unlike the spray bottle formulas and foams sold at most big box stores, this product will saturate the carpet and pad, remove the odor!

It also lacks the terrible after-scent the foam product I used before had, which is a plus.

If you want to try some other cheaper options first, that’s cool too, but just make sure they are an enzyme cleaner. Any other kind is only covering the scent up and not getting rid of the smell.

Bio-enzymatic cleaners actually digest the waste particles found in biological stains like cat urine and break them down.

Anything else is not worth your time or money and is like spraying expensive perfume on a giant pile of dog droppings.

How To Use Bubba’s Pet Stain and Odor Eliminator To Get Cat Urine Out Of Your Carpets

This cleaner worked really well for me, but you need to follow the instructions. Here’s what I did step-by-step to get rid of the god-awful cat pee smell from our wall to wall carpeting.

Step 1: Identify spots using the black light

Use your black light to identify spots to clean on the carpet.

You may even want to use some masking tape or painter’s tape to make an outline.

This will allow you to clean without holding the flashlight and to make sure that you get the entire area of the “accident”.

I worked in small areas, Identifying and marking the stain, and cleaning it before moving on to the next one.

Step 2: Saturate the carpet with cleaner

When I say saturate, I mean saturate. Pour that stuff into the carpet and really soak it through! You need to get the cleaner through the carpet and into the pad. I made the mistake of using a spray bottle head the first time, and I wasted some time and product when it only reached the top layer of the carpet. So, dump it on there! Especially if you’re trying to clean old cat urine stains, as these are difficult to pull up.

Step 3: Wait for at least 1 hour

Give the cleaner some time to do it’s work. Wait at least an hour before you proceed to the next step. Set a timer on your phone if you have to, or go watch some TV, or do some chores until it’s ready.

Step 4: Lay some towels on to the carpet to soak up the cleaner

how to get cat pee out of carpets
Put down a layer of towels to pull the liquid from the carpet.

After your hour is up, it’s time to lay down some towels. I used shop towels because they’re more durable, but anything will do. Just make sure it’s not something you plan on keeping. Layer the towels on top of the stain. I folded mine in at least 3 layers for each session.

Step #5: Weigh down the towels with something to promote absorption

how to remove cat pee from carpets

The best way I found to do this was with a piece of wood, but anything equally flat and reasonably heavy will do. I also put a weight on top of the board for good measure.

I waited for a few hours, and then I checked on the towels. If they were thoroughly soaked through, then I replaced them with new towels. I think I did this 3-4 times, and the next morning, removed everything after I saw that the carpet was reasonably dry.

Make sure that you are repeatedly changing the towels. You need to soak up as much liquid as you can in this step! Leaving it on the carpet will leave odors behind, which is a frequent complaint for this product.

Step 6: Run the vacuum and re-evaluate

The Bubba’s instructions tell you to run the vacuum afterward. I guess to pick up any dried particles of the cleaner which may be lingering? In any case, do that, and then it’s time to re-evaluate our situation.

For the really bad spot in the hall, I ended up doing this a few times to get it all. That was our cat’s “preferred area”, and he really did a number on it. If your pet has done similar, then you may need several rounds to be rid of the smell completely, so keep that in mind.

Areas which have suffered less “pee saturation” may be gone with only one session. Especially if the cat urine stains did not make it all the way down.

Closing thoughts..

As you clean, you should be able to see less and less using the black light. This is a pretty good indication that you’re getting that spot clean, but keep in mind that you can’t see the pad underneath. So, if the smell persists, don’t be afraid to hit those areas again to make absolutely sure.

If you believe this is the case for you, then blocking off the area, or covering the impacted spot on the carpet with something could help to force your cat out of the habit (and into the litter box) until you can get it cleaned up.

Some people cover it with an upside down laundry basket, or you can barricade the area in a way that it makes it inconvenient, or impossible for your cat to comfortably squat there.

It should also be noted that sometimes peeing in the same spot is a habit which you must now break! It’s likely they will pee in the same spot again even if the smell is gone. Please see my other article for help with this.

Tip: Most cats hate aluminum foil, and you can lay it down to deter them from “visiting” certain areas until you get their litter box habits under control. Some cats also respond to “alternative scents“, and will avoid them but not always.

For cats who are peeing on furniture such as couches, beds, or chairs.. I’ve not used Bubba’s for that purpose personally, but it does say it can be used for that. I’d probably do it the same way, but it may take more time to dry, especially for items containing foam, like cushions or mattresses.

Michelle Rei
Michelle Rei
Michelle is a pet parent turned amateur pet product researcher. After adopting a fur baby with digestive issues caused by bad pet food, she's poured hundreds of hours into research to find the best of the best to help him and other pets live happier and healthier lives.
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