This isn't going to help the trade-in value.
July 18, 2009 12:46 PM   Subscribe

How do I get cat pee out of my car's upholstery? Took my male (neutered) cat to the vet today, stupidly put him on the seat in his carrier instead of the floor. He peed in terror right out the mesh back, and now my car stinks all to hell.

I used the pet-smell-remover stuff we have for the carpets, but it's not doing it. Older cat-piss questions on AskMefi refer to things that can be laundered or soaked or repainted, but is there any way to get the smell out without replacing my seat's upholstery?
posted by emjaybee to Pets & Animals (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Did you let the enzyme-killer soak in the seat overnight? I imagine the urine went deep into the fabric and you would likely need a fair bit of enzyme killer. I recommend soaking it with as much as you can.
posted by multiphrenic at 12:59 PM on July 18, 2009

you won't be able to cover the smell, you have to actually remove the urine. i doubt there is a way to do it without soaking the material with something, whether detergent or the enzyme stuff ("natures miracle" i believe is the most common brand). sorry, cat pee is just vicious stuff!
posted by cvilleluke at 1:11 PM on July 18, 2009

I've had good luck with white vinegar.

If you can live without it you may want to remove the seat so it can air out more effectively. Many bucket seats come off with just four bolts. If it's the rear bench that is sometimes a single bolt, though it can be hard to get to.
posted by phearlez at 1:17 PM on July 18, 2009

I've had better luck with a mixture of 1 part white vinegar to 1 part baking soda applied with a brush than I have with enyzme cleaners. Allow to dry, then vacuum off.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:22 PM on July 18, 2009

This happened to me once. I tried everything - including, nature's miracle, vinegar, letting baking soda sit and then vacuuming it up. The smell never truly went away. I would start saving for a new seat and in the meantime, drive with the windows down.
posted by ainsley at 1:26 PM on July 18, 2009

I have to agree with ainsley here... I had the same thing happen on a vet trip.. it was not long before I called the wreckers to price a replacement seat... on the bright side I matched the colour exactly and got a seat in great condition for 50$.

I now put an old towel in the bottom of the cat carrier when we head to the vet's.
posted by Weaslegirl at 1:34 PM on July 18, 2009

Seconding putting a towel or a blanket in the bottom of a carrier before taking your pet to the vet. It'll be more comfortable for them and will prevent accidents.
posted by cellphone at 1:48 PM on July 18, 2009

Have you tried Anti Icky Poo? This stuff is expensive, but it often triumphs where others fail....
posted by lovermont at 1:51 PM on July 18, 2009

Start the engine. Turn on the AC and set it to "fresh air" (as opposed to recirculate) and shut all of the windows. Get a big bottle of Fabreze or similar. Spray the product into the cowl fresh air intake at the bottom of the windshield (y'know, where the wipers rest). Apply periodically and frequently over the course several hours, allowing the freshener to circulate and permeate the interior.
Don't worry. It takes virtually FOREVER for a car to run out of gas at idle. Occasionally check the odor of the interior. Apply air freshener until the smell is corrected or until the bottle is empty.
Car detailers use a trick like this to eliminate cigarette odors from used cars.
posted by Jon-o at 1:53 PM on July 18, 2009

It's probably gotten into the foam underneath the seat covering..
posted by rhizome at 2:00 PM on July 18, 2009

For a small rental fee, you can rent a Rug Doctor with an upholstery attachment (also called the universal hand tool). This, with the Rug Doctor Urine Eliminator, will get the job done, due to the continuous fresh spray action/water extraction action of the system. Plus, it does not leave water in your upholstery, where excess moisture can start mildew.

I don't own any Rug Doctor stock or rental business interests. Just a long time satisfied user of their products.
posted by paulsc at 2:11 PM on July 18, 2009

My cat was the same. Since he only travelled to the vet, getting put in the car terrified him, but he was less terrified if he could look out the window. So my car seat got doused several times. I used pet anti-odor products and they worked OK as long as weather was sunny and dry. In wet weather the car always smelled of cat urine. That dear old cat is dead now, and now in wet weather I'm reminded of him.

I didn't exactly answer your question. Sorry.
posted by acrasis at 2:18 PM on July 18, 2009

I used wet vacuuming with a shop vac, waterless carpet cleaner, baking soda, citrus air freshener, and enzyme cleaner from a pet store trying to get the odor of dog out of a car I purchased. I finally took the seats and carpet out and used a hose with soap and water. I would have saved time and money if I had started with this. I suggest looking in to what it will take to remove the seat.
posted by llc at 3:11 PM on July 18, 2009

Same thing happened to me a while ago, and I wanted to say there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I wish I had more precise info on what worked, but I'm pretty sure it was Nature's Miracle, applied very generously - it needs to get into the upholstery/foam.

Oddly enough with our cat, I found that the cloth/mesh carrier meant he would pee, while the generic cardboard kind worked fine for him.
posted by O9scar at 3:22 PM on July 18, 2009

Yeah, the cat-specific Nature's Miracle is better than the regular. Soak the heck out of the car seat, and remember it won't entirely stop stinking until the seat is completely and totally dry.
posted by oneirodynia at 5:43 PM on July 18, 2009

llc; you hosed down the upholstered seat? How did that not turn into a mildew nightmare?

Man, I never missed vinyl seats till today.
posted by emjaybee at 6:17 PM on July 18, 2009

Great responses, I also suggest natures miracle. The trick is; after you have tried cleaning with other cleaners first you have to generously apply the natures miracle and let it soak in and dry completely, then Wait!... like a week! It is an enzymatic cleaner so it takes time. You cant go putting vinegar or other cleaners on top of the natures miracle, as you are just killing the enzymes
posted by Wezzlee at 6:22 PM on July 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

In addition to the cleaners suggested above, try parking your car in the sun as much as possible, with one or two windows cracked. Two things at work here - one is that sunlight/UV destroys organic material, and the second is that getting the car very hot will help release the urine from the seat cushion and fabric. Yes, this method will take a long time (and the car will stink even more on entry), but a chemist friend of mine got rid of a skunky smell in a car by doing this (that he bought for cheap because it smelled so bad).
posted by kgbrion at 8:01 PM on July 18, 2009

Kids & Pets is another enzyme cleaner that works pretty well. I have found it to work better than Nature's Miracle.
posted by kindall at 9:22 PM on July 18, 2009

Yes, I used a hose on leather covered seats. Everything was air dried before reassembly.
posted by llc at 9:48 AM on July 19, 2009

Nature's Miracle is good.

Also good: We're currently using Stink Free, which is similar. A very slight perfume, but not enough to really bother me (and such things really bother me easily).

As noted, with either product you need to soak everything that absorbed the urine, and let it dry. In the summer, that shouldn't be too hard...

Afterthough: If it soaked through your car's carpet, it could have run a ways between the carpet & floor. Be generous with the enzyme.
posted by IAmBroom at 4:01 PM on July 19, 2009

Update; Nature's Miracle has worked, but only after soaking it half a bottle's worth...and waiting a few days did the smell noticeably fade.

Keeping the rest of the bottle in reserve in case it makes a comeback. Also, am using the rest of the bottle to help out with accidents while potty training my kid. Hey, pee is pee....
posted by emjaybee at 11:42 AM on July 29, 2009

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