How to use vinegar to clean cat pee smell out of a leather couch?
November 9, 2010 11:24 PM   Subscribe

Another cat pee smell on couch question. Specifically, leather couch with cushions that do not come off. Multiple repeat offender cat. Multiple varied attempts to remove smell/prevent new "accidents". Now I'm going to try vinegar. Any step by step methods for these specific circumstances?

I've only managed to find instructions for using vinegar on leather couches with cat urine odor that involve removing cushions or covers. I'm pretty sure the smell is coming from INSIDE THE CUSHION and not the leather itself. I don't mind the couch smelling like vinegar for a while, but not forever, and I don't want to mess this up. Any advice or experiences?

The background:

The couch has been through a lot but it's our first nice expensive-ish couch and I really don't want to have to replace it. The first pee event was about 2 months ago. Since then, we have tried spraying it with different products, soaking it with different products, and all the while keeping the cat off with aluminum foil (which works 99% of the time). Now it has a strange smell that has evolved from cat pee and the various products we've used, which easily transfers onto anything that makes contact with it.

The main spot is between the seat cushion and the back cushion. None of the cushions are removable, so to saturate this area we've either held it open and sprayed, or poured it on to soak entirely through so that it even drips out the back (an attempt to simulate the path of the pee to make sure all parts were treated). I wonder if inadequate evaporation prevents the smell from being removed, though mold does not seem to be an issue. It does dry completely (eventually) and does not smell like mold at all.

We've tried enzymatic products (Nature's Miracle and Zero Odor) but not the chemical-y carpet cleaners for fear of messing up the couch. Nature's Miracle and (especially) Zero Odor HAVE worked really well for us on carpets and in laundry.

Also... :)
We're keeping the cat, no matter what. Also, we have been to the vet and she is physically healthy with no infections or illnesses causing the misbehavior. We have two cats, and two litterboxes that are cleaned daily. Our current theory on why she pees outside of the litterbox is a combination of a fear of poop (she doesn't bury her own and will prefer to pee in the litterbox with no poop when given the option), territoriality (the other cat is also a girl, and they get along very lovingly and adorably, but the one is very very good about the litterbox i.e. scratching after every use even if not her own), conditioning (it's been a problem for a while and she sticks to the same pee spots), and stress (she has occasional neurotic mood swings.... you know, cuz she's a cat).
posted by and1 to Pets & Animals (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Take the seams apart and have the foam inside the cushion replaced. An upholsterer can do it for you.
posted by fshgrl at 12:28 AM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Don't know much about leather couches, but I've used vinegar to neutralise the smell of cat pee a few times. The good news is it works almost unbelievably well and the vinegar smell goes within a few hours.
posted by rhymer at 3:09 AM on November 10, 2010

If you can find Anti Icky Poo, do so. It works better than anything else on urine.
posted by biscotti at 5:24 AM on November 10, 2010

My friend's cat uses two litter boxes. #1 goes in box #1. #2 goes in box #2. The cat doesn't pee in the corner anymore. So, maybe your cat friend just needs two boxes?
posted by smirkyfodder at 6:49 AM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Sorry to say.... not much will actually work for leather in my experience except time. Loads of it.
The Motorcycle jacket I have on today in fact was minimally violated (just a little bit goes a long way) by an ex-lovers cat. I tried EVERYTHING made, sold, suggested, concocted under the sun and the smell would NOT budge.
This was 9 years ago. Two years ago was the first time I pulled the jacket out and it was devoid of cat pee odor. It was time that finally did the trick.
Good luck.
posted by StUdIoGeEk at 7:17 AM on November 10, 2010

I know this isn't an answer to your REAL question, but bear with me!

Have you tried Feliway? It got my cat to stop peeing everywhere after we brought our new baby home. Maybe there hasn't been a specific 'trauma' as with ours, but it did wonders to calm her stress.

Sorry to hear about your couch... I came here to suggest nature's miracle, but alas, it has already failed you. Let us know if anything works!
posted by sunshinesky at 10:26 AM on November 10, 2010

Veterans Day furniture sale seems like the best plan. That and one of those static mats to drape on the new one.

I had great luck with a 'clean box' oriented cat by getting one of those electric ones and using the proper litter for it. Cost more but it worked wonders at help prevent accidents elsewhere.
posted by wkearney99 at 11:20 AM on November 10, 2010

I have a friend with this problem and the only way she could get her cat to stop peeing on her couch was to place the cat's food bowls on the poor, piss-soaked sofa. It worked to slowly wean the cat off of couch-peeing, though it won't help getting the smell out of your couch (and it's probably not the decorative statement you wanted to make).
posted by oohisay at 3:04 PM on November 10, 2010

fshgrl: Any idea how much that would cost?

wkearney99: Did the cat freak out at all about an electric box? These cats hate the vacuum cleaner.... um but they love the printer -.-

oohisay: We've been developing a plan for a spot in the bedroom that involves putting the litterbox over the spot, then slowly moving it to where we want it to be, and putting the food bowl in its place. How slowly did it work for your friend?

Thanks so much everyone for the support. I know I'll never have too much information on cat pee and cat pee behavior. Maybe one day I'll publish a thesaurus on the subject.
posted by and1 at 7:32 PM on November 10, 2010

Here's my update:
I've soaked some paper towels in vinegar and stuffed them in between the cushions where the smell is. I'm letting that sit for a while, then I'm planning to change out those paper towels with ones soaked in vinegar + water + a drop of soap (mostly for the smell... it's pretty strong). My thought is if I keep diluting the vinegar more and more, eventually I'll be able to tell if the pee smell is coming out, and if it isn't, back to a stronger vinegar solution. Wow that sounds a lot crazier in writing. Thoughts, anyone?
posted by and1 at 7:34 PM on November 10, 2010

Couch smells like vinegar... also faint smell of pee. Fail
posted by and1 at 2:23 PM on November 16, 2010

The cat was leery of the electric box when it ran. I set it up as a regular box for a couple of weeks. The cat used it like normal. Then I let the box run it's cleaning cycle once or twice a day. It had a built-in delay so it wouldn't run until well after the cat was done with the box. The cat would come a'running when the motor started clearing the pan! Fiercely eyeballing it while it cranked along. But continued to use it without any trouble.
posted by wkearney99 at 6:31 AM on November 25, 2010

My brother had a human pee on his leather couch and the smell went away after three months.
posted by craniac at 9:37 AM on April 23, 2011

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