My cat, the fashion critic
October 4, 2010 7:33 AM   Subscribe

I love my cat who pees on stuff as a hobby. I also love my cute blue purse. What I don't love is that these two things have intersected. Can this relationship handbag be saved?

The purse is a Nine West PVC handbag, lined with nylon. Yesterday, I was organizing my closet and realized that the cat had somehow managed to urinate inside the bag (which was hanging from the back of a chair), as evidenced by a small Moleskine notebook left in the purse that was definitely a direct target. The bag was a gift, and I would very much like to salvage it.

What is the best approach? I haven't done anything yet, but am considering a variety of tactics: soak in vinegar/water or Nature's Miracle, run through the washing machine, fill with kitty litter/baking soda/Dryel sheets and let it sit, purchase a noxious chemical odor remover, bring it to the dry cleaner and hope she doesn't refuse to clean it. I don't know if Nine West uses a PVC with a fabric backing; if necessary, I can remove the lining, but I'd rather not (no outside pocket for a phone).

[The cat in question is a male neutered Abyssinian named Philip, age 6, whom I believe to have been given up for adoption due to the inappropriate urination thing, which has vastly improved since I adopted him but still happens sometimes. I had no idea he had this kind of aim, though.]
posted by catlet to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
No vinegar. Your bag will just smell like Easter eggs and cat pee. Plus, the cat will still want to pee in it. Try 3% peroxide, or on-brand Oxy-Clean dissolved in water. Soak, then rinse. Let dry in direct outdoor sunlight if possible, especially the lining. UV radiation breaks down noxious stuff in cat pee quite well.

Nature's Miracle will help, but is super expensive for what you get. 3% peroxide is cheap and--usually--won't bleach the crap out of clothing.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 8:09 AM on October 4, 2010

Incidentally, sometimes I'll recommend alcohol solutions for cleaning organic stink out of things. This is not one of those times, because some dyes are alcohol-soluble, and that is a big, messy bummer.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 8:19 AM on October 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Nature's Miracle or other enzyme cleaner is the way to go. Just spray thoroughly and let dry. And though its expensive for a one time use, you'll already have it on hand for the next mess.
posted by southeastyetagain at 8:25 AM on October 4, 2010

I agree with soaking/saturating it with some sort of enzymatic cleaner; I like Kids & Pets for this. However, having went through this with a purse earlier this year, I'm going to say the chances aren't good. I now put my purses on a table vs. on the floor.
posted by bizzyb at 8:28 AM on October 4, 2010

I've had great success with enzymatic cleaners. The only thing that doesn't work very well is carpet, probably because it doesn't dry as easily. Peroxide is likely to do stuff to the dye, so that would be my 2nd choice.
posted by jeather at 8:35 AM on October 4, 2010

I've washed cat peed-upon clothes - cotton stuff mostly - with a cup of white vinegar in addition to regular clothes detergent with perfect results. Clothes do not come out smelling like vinegar or cat pee.
posted by Acton at 8:48 AM on October 4, 2010

Whatever you, please get a second opinion on the smell after you clean it. My mother tried to fix one of her purses that had been peed on, and while she *thought* she'd eliminated the odor, I can assure you that she most certainly did not.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 8:51 AM on October 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

Vinegar will not remove the urine smell for your cat, even if you can't smell it. Especially if he already has problem elimination behavior.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 9:00 AM on October 4, 2010

water (cold or warm, only) and mild soap.


because if memory serves, one puts alcohol on vinyl to shrink it. haven't checked my ingredients list on enzyme cleaners, but it probably has some form of alcohol in it.

(says she who used to own a large collection of latex and vinyl garments.)
posted by jbenben at 9:19 AM on October 4, 2010

I have fostered cats with peeing issues. And I would run things through the washing machine with all the things people recommended above - and the cats would pee on it again. I figured it was because they could still smell the pee, even if I couldn't. Then I started using Simple Green, and they wouldn't pee on it anymore. I always ran the offending article through the washer with regular laundry soap and a couple of cups of undiluted Simple Green, and put it through the regular cycle. That stuff is magical, although if you use a heavy dose, the peppermint smell can be overbearing. For your purse, you could probably spray it heavily and let it sit overnight, and then rinse thoroughly.

And if you can't find it in the store near the cleaning products, look in the automotive section.
posted by MexicanYenta at 11:12 AM on October 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

I had a leather bag get peed in. I filled it with, and submerged it in, enzymatic cleaner (2 full bottles of this brand) and let it soak in a small bucket overnight, then I rinsed for a long time. The leather changed colour a bit, but the smell went away. There is probably a sliight cat pee smell left in the leather still- several honest humans said they can't smell it, and neither can I, but once in a while another cat will investigate it very earnestly.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 7:32 PM on October 4, 2010

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