Life Hacks: How to Get Cat Pee Out of Clothes and Carpet


Cats are Jerks Who Pee

Let's just get this part straight. Cats, while precious and adorable in photographs and laps, are truly the work of the devil. This is coming from a girl who has four and, if not for the influence of a sane husband, would have more.

Why cats choose to do certain things like eat houseplants, destroy fine china, sleep in cardboard boxes and very large shoes, and pee on $90 jeans is beyond human logic. That's okay, because we don't need to understand it. All we really need to understand is how to fix it. And clean it. Learn how to do that in this article.

Tips to Prevent "Accidents"

The truth is, when a cat pees outside the litter box, it's never an accident. It's an evil plot to destroy the sanctity of your home by making it smell like a pet store in a questionable part of town. Here are a few tips to prevent your little buddy from creating any more havoc:

  • Spay or neuter. If you haven't already done so, spay or neuter the perp. Not only is it the responsible thing to do, but it will help deter your cat from feeling the need to "mark" territory.
  • Clean up previous pet stains. For reasons unknown to those who aren't cat therapists, cats seem to go back to spots where they or another pet have urinated to cover over it. Properly cleaning the area can help your cat to forget there's somewhere important they have to pee.
  • Keep laundry and blankets off the floor. Because cats just like to add to the chaos, keep piles of dirty clothes and folded blankets off the floor. These are like cat magnets. First they cuddle, then they pee.
  • Purchase rugs that don't have a rubber bottom. As weird as this may sound, sometimes certain smells can attract cats to a spot that they just have to pee on. The smell of rubber is one of them.
  • Take your cat in for a check-up. Sometimes peeing outside the litterbox can indicate a health problem in your cat, such as diabetes. If all else fails, get the critter checked out.


How to Remove Cat Urine from Clothes

The good news is, of everything your cat could choose to take a leak on, clothing is the most washable. Unless, of course, it's some insanely ridiculous fabric. For your run-of-the-mill Gap wardrobe, however, you can do the following:

  1. Assess the damage. It sucks doesn't it? If the urine is old (as in, you just discovered the accident two days after the deed was done), throw the pile into a plastic laundry basket and douse the clothes in baking soda to help lift the urine. Let the clothes chill like this for the better part of the day. If the urine is fresh, though, just head straight to the washing machine.
  2. Wash clothes. Throw the clothes in the washing machine with a regular dose of laundry detergent, 2-4 cups of white vinegar (depending on how large the load is), and a liberal scoop of baking soda. The white vinegar deodorizes the urine, while the baking soda helps lift the urine out of the fabric. Wash on hot.
  3. Hang to dry. Because you're washing on hot, it's best to hang this load to dry to prevent shrinkage.

Note: This method works for towels, curtains, and small area rugs too.

How to Remove Cat Urine from Carpet

Cleaning cat pee out of carpets and large rugs that can't be thrown in the wash is a different game. While the agitation from the washing machine helps to throw the urine out of the fabric, so to speak, cleaning carpet is tricky. This is because, if you're not careful, you'll just sort of rub the pee in more. Thankfully, if the urine hasn't been there for too long, you may be able to save the carpet—or at least prevent the stain from soaking too deeply into the baseboard. Try the following before ripping any of your Berber up:

  1. Soak up the stain. Use paper towels to soak up as much of the pee as you can, without rubbing.
  2. Spray white vinegar on the area.
  3. Soak it again. Again, use paper towels to soak up the moisture. Repeat this step once or twice more, depending on the severity.
  4. Use baking soda, next. Sprinkle the stained area with baking soda to absorb as much vinegar and urine as possible. Let that sit until dry.
  5. Vacuum up baking soda.

If that doesn't seem to have done the trick, try a cleanser formulated to clean the enzymes found in cat urine and follow the directions on the bottle.

You can also use a black light to find places you may have missed (as with human bodily fluids, black lights pick up cat urine as well).


Comments 37 comments

bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 3 years ago from Central Florida

Kierstin, you can also use ammonia when cats have peed on the carpet. Ammonia works with the same premise as two negatives make a positive. The ammonia counteracts and eventually negates the pee smell.

Kierstin Gunsberg profile image

Kierstin Gunsberg 3 years ago Author

Whoa, I had no idea! Thanks for the tip = )

bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 3 years ago from Central Florida

Your welcome!

Jennifer Suchey profile image

Jennifer Suchey 3 years ago from Northern California

I love your hub and I think you're pretty awesome. I like your writing style and the fact that you love cats and you homeschool. ;) My most amazing kitty who I loved massively died a few months ago. :( I will get another one some day but not sure when. I guess I thought I might as well read your post since I do know the frustrations of cat pee issues. Great info and fun to read. You're going to do well here. Thanks!

Kierstin Gunsberg profile image

Kierstin Gunsberg 3 years ago Author

Jennifer, thank you so much for the encouragement!! I'm sorry about your cat : ( I had a cat pass away a couple years ago and I STILL have dreams about her, I miss that silly girl. I currently have a calico named Meredith and she's a little hellion but she's precious. Good luck on your kitten search!

trusouldj profile image

trusouldj 2 years ago from Indiana


amanda 2 years ago

I wouldn't use ammonia being a cats urine is ammonia based. So they will just pee again on it...

Nancy 2 years ago

Maybe you can help me. I have cat pee on a case it 3 ringer binder, the type used for coupons, if that helps you understand what I'm talking about. I need to get the smell out of it. Any ideas?

Jenn 12 months ago

Our cat Puffy has been driving the entire family crazy with his peeing everywhere. We bought de-scenting sprays and special cleaners, which he ignored and re-marked all over the house...some advice? (I refuse neuter my cat.) Thank you.

Liza 12 months ago

Well, you can find guides that solve this and other training issues. Instead of the expensive sprays, they show you how to make your own herbal mixtures that do the trick to guide your cat to "not think out of the box". HaHa! I found out what we were doing wrong and quickly solved what my cat's communication problem was.

Kristen Howe profile image

Kristen Howe 12 months ago from Northeast Ohio

Great tips. I'll keep this hub in mind for future reference. I use vinegar all the time for laundry loads. I'll try baking soda too.

Chloe 5 months ago

I agree with the cleaning tips, strongly disagree with much of your assessment of cat behavior.

A) vet diagnosis for physical/mental health should be first step. Cats don'the emilinate out of their box to annoy folks, they're trying to tell you something is wrong!

B) cats pee on things that smell like their human for comfort - again a former of communication, not an evil plot.

C) YES - spay/neuter is essential for happy, healthy cats! Desexing your cat preventspecific many behavior issues (see Jenn above) and prevents several types of cancer. It also allows your cat to focus on loving you and your family rather than being driven wild by their hormones (imagine being a teenager your whole life).

Dallas 5 months ago

Can I use Apple cider vinegar instead of white?

Kierstin Gunsberg profile image

Kierstin Gunsberg 5 months ago Author

Hi Dallas, yes you could try apple cider vinegar. It's not going to hurt anything and I've used it to remove other pet stains and odors :) Good luck!

Kierstin Gunsberg profile image

Kierstin Gunsberg 5 months ago Author

Chloe, thanks for the insight! You're right, if a cat is suddenly urinating outside her box when she's never done it before then that's a red flag to take her to the vet. I will add that to this article.

However, I do have a cat who, for the past ten years has always urinated on piles of clean or dirty laundry, bathroom rugs, carseats, etc. He's healthy, it's just a very annoying quirk--especially when he does it on stuff that belongs to my kids. Needless to say, he was my inspiration for writing this.

Janette 4 months ago

OMG do NOT use AMMONIA! It smells like urine to them, and tells them this is the spot to go!

And Jenn, if you refuse to neuter your cat, you deserve what you get.

Ann 3 months ago

Worked like a charm, thank you!

Ashley 3 months ago

I am concerned about damaging the clothes and discoloration. The baking soda and vinegar will not discolor, correct? It's a black shirt... Thanks!

Kierstin Gunsberg profile image

Kierstin Gunsberg 3 months ago Author

Awesome, Ann, I'm so glad to hear that!!

Ashley, it won't ruin your clothes- has never ruined mine! They're pretty gentle cleansers. Once you've efficiently removed the ammonia from them (with the vinegar and baking soda) you might even try an extra wash using OxyClean. I love that stuff and it's never failed to remove nasty odors. I just don't know that I would mix it with straight cat urine, so that's why I suggest using it after thoroughly rinsing the items first.

Kierstin Gunsberg profile image

Kierstin Gunsberg 3 months ago Author

Jenn, absolutely spay and neuter your cats.


Not only will doing so help prevent yucky behaviors (like urinating and marking in places that they shouldn't) but it's just the responsible thing to do, come on.

Mon4e 3 months ago

Hi I have a russian blue and I breed her, she has been good not excellent but manageable. Now that the kittens are bigger something came over her and she started urinating the couch (the kittens to)... Uuuf I took the cushion out and I washed it with vinegar and detergent that didn't do it so I soakted it again in woter with white vinegar ... One more after that ... I don't know how to get the smell out. Now don't say neuter I have my breeding permit and all pedigree papers and I go to shows... So no offending OK. Thanks upfront for help. :D

Hi 3 months ago

Thanks for the tip because my cat just pee'd on my body pillow and my blanket and the worst part is that the pillow and blanket were my favourite pillow and blanket so now I'm very sad and I wish there is also another pillow the same and also the blanket as well and this did help me a lot but the worst fact is that we don't have white vinegar or baking soda at our place. So I might be out of luck right now but maybe we will go out and maybe buy the ingredients and maybe that will help me but at the moment I really dislike my cat we are not letting him back in the house because we don't trust him peeing on anything else in our house and thanks again for making this website so I will know what to do if he does it again and I will know exactly which website to go on and of course I couldn't thank you enough so bye bye and maybe you'll see me put another message on this app again I don't know what will happen but I just wanted to tell you I could not have thanked you enough whoever made this website thanks and I hope you will live the best life ever you probably will since your already making everybody's else's lives better so bye bye now!!!! Your the best

Amanda Hugginkiss 2 months ago

I read through all the comments and was definitely enlightened. Thanks for all the information. Although if Jenn refuses to snip snip...then that's her choice, why do we become so angry when someone has an opposing opinion of our own?

Keep up the good work!

Kierstin Gunsberg profile image

Kierstin Gunsberg 2 months ago Author

Mon4e - Since you breed cats I would definitely invest in an upholstery cleaner. I really love Bissell's Little Green Machine (the heated one) and the pet stain formula for that particular machine. I'd check out Amazon for the best price/suggestions. Also, it wouldn't hurt to get some OxiClean spray too to use as a pre-treat. I have two super messy tots and OxiClean has yet to fail me.

Debbie Champagne 2 months ago

I have the problem with my bed blanket and I tried everything and it is only a few of my cats that do it. I have a lot of cats/kittens at the moment. I washed in vinegar, laundry soap and pet urine spray. I can't get it out at all. They even pee on it when i am sleeping with it. I just dont know what to do. They are spayed and neutered.

Any suggestions

Toni 8 weeks ago

I hope this vinegar method will work on days old cat urine on carpet. I couldn't figure out exactly where the smell was coming from at first and finally discovered a couple spots in the closet! I don't even know which cat's been doing this, or why, after all these years.

Adam Beckford profile image

Adam Beckford 7 weeks ago from Atlanta, GA

When we moved to our new home, everything looked ok. After a time s nasty smell started coming from the carpet. Then I remembered that the previous owners had cats at home and because we liked the carpet we didn't throw it. At the end i tried whatever came to my mind to get rid if the smell, but it didn't help. At the end I called carpet cleaning guys ( ) who helped me out. So these tips above work great if the stain is fresh, but not when it's penetrated deep in the carpet's fibers.

Diana 6 weeks ago

Shoes? I received a large shoe donation from a house that has cats that spray from the strong scent on the clothes & shoes. Any suggestions?

Kierstin Gunsberg profile image

Kierstin Gunsberg 6 weeks ago Author

Hi Debbie, oh that is awful! I had a cat who would VOMIT on me while I was sleeping, so I can kind of feel your pain. First off, the blanket - you may want to trash it if you can't get the smell out. They'll keep peeing on it if they smell the pee. I'm not a vet, so of course I'm obliged to tell you that you should talk to your vet, but in my experience cats will urinate in the places they've gone before because they associate that as a peeing-spot.

Your only option that I can see is to fill you washing machine up with hot water and a cup of OxiClean Versatile and soak that bad boy overnight. Run it through, then rewash on hot then dry fully. If that doesn't work, I'd get a new blanket.

On a side note, I keep bringing up OxiClean because it's a product that WORKS, I don't gain anything from suggesting it.

Kierstin Gunsberg profile image

Kierstin Gunsberg 6 weeks ago Author

Toni, depending on the size of the stain this may work or you may want to try a method that would penetrate into the rug pad. I use the BISSELL Little Green ProHeat.

^^ (not an affiliate link, just a really great machine to have if you have pets, small children or clumsy dinner guests).

Kierstin Gunsberg profile image

Kierstin Gunsberg 6 weeks ago Author

Adam, I agree. If you have really old pet stains and you're not positive of their location it's a good idea to have a deep cleaning done on carpet. And especially if it wasn't your cat, yuck.

Kierstin Gunsberg profile image

Kierstin Gunsberg 6 weeks ago Author

Diana, that's a really good question. What is the material? For canvas tennis shoes I'd try soaking them in hot water and a cup of OxiClean Versatile, then running them through once more on a hot setting and letting them air dry, preferably in the sun. For something like suede or leather, I would wipe down the surface of the shoes with a clean cloth and a mixture of white vinegar and water. I would clean the inner sole with an upholstery machine like the BISSELL Little Green ProHeat.

Good luck, and report back and let us know what worked and what didn't!

Susan 5 weeks ago

my 6 month old kitten has started to pee in his various bed...his beds!

Also in some of the cardboard boxes he & his brother like to play in. Marco doesn't pee outside litter but Izzy(the demon brother),seems to take pleasure in it. I am in the process of washing beds with your formula. Any thoughts why he pees in his own bed?

Kierstin Gunsberg profile image

Kierstin Gunsberg 5 weeks ago Author

Hi Susan! First off, are they fixed? If not, that would be the best first step :) My neutered cat pees in cardboard boxes too though so I feel you. You may have to just pitch the boxes, unfortunately. I'm not a vet so I can't say for sure why he pees in his own bed, but in my own experience with cats, he is probably doing it because he or his brother did it there once and now he's continually going back to it to urinate for reasons that I don't fully understand. My cat has also done this and I ended up just having to forego all plush cat beds for him. I hope you can get it cleaned up. Come back and update if his behavior stops, I'd love to know if cleaning his bed helped :)

Maggie 4 weeks ago

I have good cats but I rescued one who proceeded to mark a room where the previous owners cat smell was. I tried all I could to re-train her, get rid of the smell but it just got worse & worse. She's been re-homed.

I deep cleaned the carpets with pet solution then went over the area with the machine with a water/vinegar solution... 1 cup/4ltr, in the bad areas I doubled the vinegar.

Unfortunately this alone did not do it so I was very glad to find a site that said to sprinkle plain baking soda, a lot, then spray it with a solution of 1/4cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide & 1 tsp Dawn dish soap (multiply it larger areas), use a soft bristle brush to rub it it then leave it to dry well (a few hours). When it is completely dry vacuum it up. Depending how bad the stain/smell, you may need to do this a couple time... but it has worked!!!

BTW...another page warned to never used a steam machine for carpets when you are dealing with a cat stain/smell as the hot steam will set it into the carpet... I am wondering if this will be the same for the laundry...???

The page I got the info off of also suggested using products with OXY in it as it most likely contains hydrogen peroxide.

*****One warning about the hydrogen/baking soda solution... it MAY stain your carpet.

It didn't stain mine and I left it on over night but always test a small area first and don't be shocked if you see the baking soda start to bubble, it is supposed to do that... be sure to add enough solution.

Now I get to go tackle the laundry that hasn't been willing to release the pee smell :'(

By the way... I have a cat who pees on laundry if it is left on the floor... the littler box can be completely clean & she is in perfect health she is just a dominant cat and this is her way of saying that something is out of place and needs to be corrected (yes, I still consider her a good cat, she has a valid reason for what she did, lol!).

Cats don't do things just to be jerks, there are always reasons behind things, take the time to find out.

Depnomore 4 weeks ago

Another thing to try is ACTIVATED CHARCOAL

Georgia Cowboy(GaCwby) 3 days ago

I used this method on a bed set my brother was going to throw away ... it is an expensive set ... with the vinegar and baking soda I added liguid dish detergent ... The cat pee stain and odor was removed and now I have a Queen size bed ... it works great ... Thanks for sharing your knowledge

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