Cat pee smell in small room
May 16, 2018 7:55 PM   Subscribe

So I moved into a new place and a month later I realize when my bedroom door is shut and the window is closed and I come back from a few days away... it reeks of cat pee. I do not own a cat. What do I do?

I've tried to get cat pee smells out of surfaces before with little success, I'm hoping you have new advice or new products to recommend.

Difficulty level; carpet, and no perfumes. So no Nature's Miracle (which I've read is very heavily perfumed) or Febreeze, which wouldn't address the problem anyway.

Previous attempts involved enzymes and baking soda and resulted in zero improvement, but that was on hardwood.
posted by Dynex to Pets & Animals (27 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Call the landlord? Ask them to try.

Like you, I have never had complete success removing the smell. Mostly mine only appears when it is humid outside (and inside).
posted by AugustWest at 8:52 PM on May 16, 2018 [7 favorites]

Have the landlord professionally clean the carpet. You'll have to move your stuff out temporarily, or maybe put everything up on risers?
posted by jbenben at 8:57 PM on May 16, 2018

My money's on the carpet. Landlord should have it professionally cleaned. Depending on where you live and how old the carpet is, you might be able to get them to replace it (look up your local landlord/tenant laws).
posted by radioamy at 9:14 PM on May 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

The landlord needs to fix this. No one should pay to live in a room that smells like cat pee.

He should remove the carpet and paint the floor with paint that has vanilla extract added to it. And then leave it like that or put in new carpet. But if the drywall has been peed on - that's another problem.
posted by cda at 9:31 PM on May 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

Are there answers that do not involve the landlord or replacing the carpet?
posted by Dynex at 9:34 PM on May 16, 2018

you can pay someone to professionally clean the carpet- make sure they know you're concerned about cat urine.
posted by noloveforned at 9:39 PM on May 16, 2018 [5 favorites]

I have gotten rid of cat pee in carpet using this product line. I swear by it.

It is lightly perfumed. I know you said “no perfume” and I haven’t used Nature’s Miracle in decades, so I don’t know whether this product would be acceptable to you. But it has been completely successful in eradicating cat pee—one of my cats had a UTI as a kitten and peed in several locations before I caught on. A couple years later, another of my cats was scared by a dog and sprayed the bathroom with his anal glands and it completely got rid of THAT smell.

Yes, their website looks like it was created on an Etch-a-sketch and you have to actually call them to place an order. But of all the enzymatic cleaners I ever tried, this one is the only one that I found to actually WORK and eradicate pee completely. The products have a 5-year shelf life and are concentrated, so if you need to treat a stain twice, you should have plenty.

I also recommend getting a little black light flashlight (can be found on Amazon for about $10) to see where the stains are.
posted by Autumnheart at 9:40 PM on May 16, 2018 [11 favorites]

I will note that the perfume scent is only present while the product is active. When it dries, there is no residual scent unless you put your nose against the spot that you treated. The scent is a light vanilla. To me it seems barely scented (considerably less powerful than Febreeze) but your nose may vary.
posted by Autumnheart at 9:49 PM on May 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

It might be helpful if you can pinpoint the exact spot where the smell is so treatment can be concentrated there. I have found urine flashlights work well when used in complete dark. That section of carpet can be spot tested professionally and if it's at an edge it can be lifted up to apply treatment to the floor below.
posted by joan_holloway at 9:53 PM on May 16, 2018

Autumnheart, they don't ship outside the US. I'm not American.

After careful sniffing, it's the corner of one room. Any ideas of what to put there?
posted by Dynex at 9:54 PM on May 16, 2018

Ah, nuts.

Honestly...I’d call anyway. It’s a mom-and-pop shop and even if they can’t ship the product, they might have some advice.
posted by Autumnheart at 10:01 PM on May 16, 2018

Flood the spot with cheap club soda .
posted by hortense at 10:08 PM on May 16, 2018

Is that something you've actually tried on cat pee in carpet with success Hortense?
posted by Dynex at 10:09 PM on May 16, 2018

Febreeze was originally unscented and is still available that way marketed to (at least) the hospitality industry. They use it by the 20l pail where I work. While it won't attack the pee residue the way an enzyme cleaner will it can make a big difference in the malodorousness of a carpeted room.
posted by Mitheral at 11:09 PM on May 16, 2018

I like the (1 liter) bottles of Urine-Erase from my local hardware store.

It's an old school enzyme cleaner that doesn't have an added odor.
posted by sebastienbailard at 12:23 AM on May 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you don't want to involve the landlord--but I would--you need to check the floor under the carpet and use an odor blocking paint. I had the same problem, so I doused with all the different enzyme cleaners out there and used the special light which showed there was no more cat pee on the carpet. But the smell remained because the flooring underneath the now-clean carpet was saturated.

You will need to peel it up and paint the subflooring with some kind of Kilz Odor Blocker. Paint a coat, let it dry, paint another coat, let that dry, then put the carpet back into place.

If the carpet is clean, the smell will be gone. But if the carpet's still not clean, it's not going to help.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 3:07 AM on May 17, 2018 [7 favorites]

I would hire a professional cleaner for the carpet and tell them, as noted above, that there is a question of cat pee. These companies generally have special industrial strength produce for getting rid of pet odors. Even if you rent a steam cleaner (which is another option) you won't be able to eliminate the carpet as the source of the smell unless you spring for a proper cleaning.
posted by frumiousb at 3:37 AM on May 17, 2018

We have dogs, not cats, but sometimes a full litter of puppies. We know from dog pee.

The enzyme/bacterial cleaners like Nature's Miracle or Anti Icky Poo really do work . Personally, I wouldn't call either of them heavily perfumed, though they do have a scent. You might try picking up the smallest bottle to see if it's something you can tolerate? It's something where you could spray down the corner right before you go to work and have any scent be light and residual when you got back. Also, note that you will need to use a lot of it. This stuff isn't for spritzing lightly, it's for spraying heavily enough to start soaking the carpet and then grinding it into the underlayment with your feeties.

Deep-cleaning the carpet also helps in our experience -- with dog pee, not cat. If you can rent a Bissell big green, try that; we have one of those and it pulls the most amazing filth from the carpets; we have multiple double-coated dogs. I dunno that I would bother fucking around with one of those rug doctor things; just paying for a professional cleaning would probably be more cost-effective.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 4:53 AM on May 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

(Perfume aside, Nature's Miracle was bought out by another company and its formula was changed/diluted years ago, and it really doesn't work anywhere near as well as it used to.)

I know I drop into every animal-odor question with this recommendation, but I swear I'm not a shill, just a proselytizing customer: A dog breeder friend turned me onto this stuff and I can't imagine living without it. It's well worth the price, and the hassle of having to order by mail. (I see that their checkout screen lets you specify non-US countries for shipping, although it might be worth contacting them to verify.)

It is scented (a mild, hard to describe, sort of minty fragrance) but the scent dissipates fairly quickly and the enzymes are the active ingredient; it doesn't try to cover up the original smell with its own, so it shouldn't leave you with a "Now the corner smells like cat pee and perfume" situation.
posted by Funeral march of an old jawbone at 5:44 AM on May 17, 2018 [3 favorites]

I have a perfume allergy (don't get me started on Axe and Lynx) and although the scent in Yours Droolly No More Urine Stains+Odours is pretty obnoxious when the stuff has just been poured on, it doesn't actually cause me physical distress and it does fade quickly on drying. As a bonus, the stuff also actually does what it claims to.

Seconding the suggestion for a UV torch. No point splashing more expensive enzymes about than you need to.
posted by flabdablet at 5:50 AM on May 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

This stuff isn't for spritzing lightly, it's for spraying heavily enough to start soaking the carpet and then grinding it into the underlayment with your feeties.

Seconded. The way to use these enzyme cleaners is to find the stained area, saturate it with a volume of enzyme cleaner comparable to the amount of urine that probably made the stain, then just leave it to dry on its own. The Yours Droolly stuff doesn't even come in a spritz bottle, but something more akin to a shampoo bottle even though it's no more viscous than water.
posted by flabdablet at 5:53 AM on May 17, 2018

This protocol has a small risk of staining fabrics, including carpet, but it has the advantage of being cheap, and it is comprised of non-proprietary products, so if you can't find the formulas being suggested upthread, give it a try! I have used it with success on carpet and couches and mattresses. It works much better than baking soda alone. You will need to thoroughly saturate the area -- down to the padding. It may not help if urine has gotten into the floorboards/below the padding, but it should help in all other cases. Do test it out on a small corner first to make sure it doesn't bleach the carpet!

You will need: baking soda, liquid dish soap (Dawn or similar), hydrogen peroxide (standard 3% available in stores).

Completely cover affected area with a thick layer of baking soda -- like, a lot, 2mm thick. Next, get a pint-size water glass and pour 1.5cm of dish soap into the bottom. Top with .5cm of hydrogen peroxide, add HOT water slowly to top of glass, and stir. Pour this mixture over the area slowly to completely saturate area, then rub the resultant paste deep into the carpet.

Let this stand until completely dry -- at least overnight. If you can, let sunlight hit the area while it's drying. Brush the dried paste out of the carpet with a scrubbrush, then vacuum up the rest. If scent is reduced, but still lingering, repeat protocol. You may need to take up the carpet and deal with floorboards, as mentioned upthread.
posted by halation at 6:13 AM on May 17, 2018

If it soaked down into the floor boards under the carpet, the smell will still rise up, even through new or cleaned carpet. And anyway, a lot of carpet cleaning machines only get to the carpet fibers, not the backing or the padding underneath. I'd recommend painting the subfloor with Killz primer and replacing the carpet and padding.
posted by Neeuq Nus at 6:32 AM on May 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

If it soaked down into the floor boards under the carpet, the smell will still rise up, even through new or cleaned carpet.

If you pour on at least as much enzyme based stink remover as the animal poured urine, it tends to end up soaking into all the same places that the urine reached and working helpful chemical magicks there before drying out like the urine did. But having a good idea where the animal did the deed is key to making this work, which is why the UV lamps are a good idea.
posted by flabdablet at 10:25 AM on May 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Is that something you've actually tried on cat pee in carpet with success Hortense yes ... it did work after several treatments, I used a rain-bow vacuum to suck up the spot after it had stopped fizzing , then soaked it again rinse and repeat , the action is due to the weak carbolic acid , a reduction reaction with the stubborn cat pheromone involved , I am not a chemist . just plain sparkle water not flavored or sugared leaves zero residue not expensive.
posted by hortense at 12:00 PM on May 17, 2018

Lemme also add for the benefit of people who eventually end up here on related searches about pet cleanup:

If you are in the market for a carpet shampooer/cleaner because pets, DO NOT BOTHER with the cheap little Hoovers or whatever. It's the $350-400 Bissell Big Green or GET OUT OF FUCKTOWN. We've had both and the difference is remarkable.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 12:28 PM on May 17, 2018 [5 favorites]

I don't bother with Nature's Miracle, it always did a whole lot of expensive nothing for me. Back in the States, I got turned on to a product called Stink Free after an Incident where my landlord entered my apartment when I was away for a three-day weekend and closed the closet door, locking my two cats out of their litterbox in my carpeted apartment. It is perfumed, fairly strongly, but it fades soon after it's dry. The key is that you have to really saturate the area where the urine is. You may need a UV light (available at pet shops) to find the urine. And to soak the carpet, you may only see under UV light a small area (say, 15cm radius) but the carpet pad below will have soaked it up to a much larger radius, so honestly I bought the Stink Free by the gallon and just soaked the everliving hell out of the carpet. (Not to the point of, like, carpet squishing like walking through a marsh, but I was generous and it took days to dry.)

In Europe now so I switched to UF 2000 (after someone else locked my kitties out of their litterbox while I was away, and my mattress took the fallout in lieu of carpeting - sigh), and I think it's about as good as the Stink Free, but without carpet I haven't really done a head to head comparison.
posted by sldownard at 11:52 PM on May 17, 2018

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