Cat peed on my suit. What now?
October 25, 2012 6:18 PM   Subscribe

How to remove cat urine from a dry-clean only suit?

Long story short, we got a rescue kitty. For some unknown reason on its first day it pulled down two of my very best suits (I wear em for work 5 days a week) and urinated on them.

I tried taking them to the drycleaner, but the smell is still there, strong as ever.

Does anyone have any insight into how to get this smell out? I obviously can't just chuck them in the wash. They are made of wool - will any of those enzyme cleaners work, or harm the fabric?

Throwing them out isn't really an option either, this is like $1600 worth of clothes.
posted by neksys to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I cannot even deal with the fact that I googled and found a website w/ this name to verify this, but it seems like Anti Icky Poo (which, I hate that name too, but . .it works) can be used on wool. Clearly test on the back of a lapel or the inside of a hem first.
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:32 PM on October 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

Take them to the best dry cleaner in town. Try one that does ozone cleaning (that's what was recommended to me to get fire smoke out of nice clothes, and it worked).
posted by radioamy at 6:33 PM on October 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Anti-Icky Poo, as mentioned above, is really awesome for removing urine from fabric.  It's so great that I forgive it the stupid name.  You could buy a gallon of it and completely and totally drench the suits and then hang them to drip dry or dry flat.  However, I don't know what the interaction of dry cleaning solvents with the AIP is going to do.  I also don't know how the wool will react to being soaked with the solution and then left to dry.

Given the nature of cat urine, I don't think there's a dry cleaning process invented that will remove the odor from the suits.  I wonder if we have mefites who are drycleaners?

While there is a danger of ruining the wool by treating them, to my mind the suits are already a loss because of the urine smell so I don't know how much else you have to lose at this point.  I know you said that throwing them out is not an option but you should be prepared for the possibility that even after aggressive treatment you will still be able to smell the pee. Cat pee is really hard to get out even under the best of circumstances.
posted by crankylex at 7:37 PM on October 25, 2012

The reason you don't wash certain wool fabrics in water is that wool + water + mechanical agitation = felt. Simply dampening a wool fabric without mechanical agitation should do it no harm at all. I would be very surprised to find that any of the bacterial enzyme based pet stink removers (Bac To Nature, Nature's Miracle etc.) would damage your suit, and all of those do a good job of chemically destroying urine smells.

That said: standard advice applies. Do a patch test on an inconspicuous part before going the soak-and-dry on the main body of stink.
posted by flabdablet at 7:46 PM on October 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

In re. flabdablet's comment -- I have used an enzyme-based animal-pee-de-stinking product, name forgotten, which was oily and would've added a new problem. Do be picky about brands and look for one claiming to be safe for clothes.

Did you mention the pee to the cleaners, or just drop it off and hope for the best? Seconding "best cleaners in town" (and explaining the issue). I have managed to remove cat pee odour from clothing -- don't despair...
posted by kmennie at 11:20 PM on October 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Word of warning: in my experience enzyme based odor removers replace the urine smell with another scent. Even after treating you may still have stinky suits. I have no idea if that scent would be amenable to the dry cleaning process, though.
posted by rocketpup at 6:50 AM on October 26, 2012

rocketpup: Word of warning: in my experience enzyme based odor removers replace the urine smell with another scent. Even after treating you may still have stinky suits. I have no idea if that scent would be amenable to the dry cleaning process, though.
Very true for some; Nature's Miracle (available from pet stores) has no perfumes, however.

And, as flabdablet pointed out, wetting the wool won't cause any problems, but drying it takes care. You can let it drip-dry, then lay it on towels and set a fan blowing across it; turn it over (replacing wet towels) when the top seems dry. Don't use clothespins to hang-dry it as wet wool can deform under stress, but a wooden hanger would be safe.

And, in light of kmennie's comment: Nature's Miracle has no oils. It's a wonderful product.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:26 AM on October 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's been a while since I worked as a dry cleaner so I can't remember the exact chemicals, but I did have some tricks to deal with cat/dog pee. The spotter would have the equipment to properly treat and clean the clothing to avoid shrinkage or discoloration. I would take the clothes to "the best dry cleaner in town" as radioamy said (the "premium" dry cleaners are the ones most likely to have the best trained spotter), and explain the situation and exactly where the stains are.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 8:59 AM on October 26, 2012

Had a similar issue, my regular dry-cleaner, despite being informed of the source of the odor, did not improve the odor and may have even increased it.

Tried hanging the clothes up and dousing them with Nature's Miracle and Nose Offense (alternately in several rounds) and just letting them air-dry. This did not appear to affect the fabric and greatly helped the odor, but 99% of cat pee smell is still intolerable cat pee smell. We gave up. It's possible after several months the smell could improve, but I doubt it. A backpack I gave similar treatment to a few months ago is still unwearable. Sorry.
posted by wnissen at 9:55 AM on October 26, 2012

Response by poster: For the record, I did specifically mention the cat pee to the drycleaners. No luck with it. I live in a relatively small city, and I have a suspicion that all of the drycleaners (which are all merely drop-off/pickup locations) send their clothes to the same central cleaners.
posted by neksys at 10:46 AM on October 26, 2012

Repetition and time will help, I think. I had this happen to a nice comforter a few years ago. I doused the affected area in Nature's Miracle, let it dry, (maybe rinsed it again?) then put it in the dryer with one of those home dry-cleaning kits. Did both of these things at least twice. One of the products did leave a different scent on the item, but it wasn't horrible, and it faded with time. Now I still use the comforter all the time, and there's no trace of any scent.
posted by zadermatermorts at 11:02 AM on October 26, 2012

Best answer: I just wanted to pass along my solution in case anyone stumbles across this in the future.

I tried spray-on enzyme cleaners, but had poor results. I wondered if maybe the liquid wasn't reaching every part of the suit (especially the jacket, which has several layers at points), so I decided to buy enough enzyme cleaner to completely douse the suits.

I bought two products:
1) A 4 litre jug of Nature's Miracle Advanced Stain and Odor Remover
2) Urine-Erase Stain and Odor Remover (seems to be available in Canada only?)

I folded up one of the suits and placed it in a tupperware container. I completely doused the Nature's Miracle on the suit, making sure the suit was completely and totally saturated. I let it sit for an hour or so. I then hung it up and let it air dry.

The other suit I did a similar procedure, but the Urine-Erase stuff is unique - it has dry enzymes that are water activated so you mix a powder first. You let it soak for 8 hours, then add another liquid solution to the mixture. Let it dry, and then shake/vacuum off the enzyme powder.

The results of both were very good. The Nature's Miracle has a perfume, the Urine-Erase does not but smells sort of odd. I took both to the dry cleaners, which took out most of the remaining odour.

Best of all, there is NO CAT PEE SMELL.

It cost me $100, but given that this is like $1600 worth of suits, I thought it was (obviously) better than throwing them out. The enzyme cleaner did no visible harm to the wool either, which I was worried about.
posted by neksys at 3:33 PM on November 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

neksys: The Nature's Miracle has a perfume, the Urine-Erase does not but smells sort of odd. I took both to the dry cleaners, which took out most of the remaining odour.
Thanks for that info. I've never noticed a perfume in Nature's Miracle, for some reason, but my nose isn't the most sensitive.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:01 AM on November 5, 2012

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