Learning how to get pee stains off of couches is just part of living with cats. This article is the ultimate resource for removing cat urine from couches and furniture using various methods.
First an important point: if your family cat has begun peeing on your couch, carpet, or other furniture, it’s not the cat’s fault. It’s not trying to upset you or get even with you in some devious way. Cats don’t respond like dogs, and if you get angry with your cat, you might make the problem worse by adding more stress.
Inappropriate urination can be caused by many things, and it can take time to figure I hope the cause in your specific case. This article just focuses on how to clean, remove and deodorize cat pee stains from your couch.
How to clean old cat pee stains off of your couch
Most of the time the smell of cat pee comes from old stains on the couch. It takes a few days for the urine to begin to smell due to bacterial decomposition and other factors. Unfortunately the smell can be very strong for months and can resurface again as the weather turns warm and humid. It’s especially embarrassing to invite your guests over to sit on couches that smell like a litter box.
We’ve tested many different methods for cleaning cat pee off of couch material. We can say with confidence that most of them don’t work. Some methods actually make the smell worse.
Among household remedies, some of the best cures for cat pee on the couch is a two-step treatment.
Step 1: First use hot water with some dish detergent and allowed it to soak into the layers. A challenge with couches is that the fabric can be thick and have layers of foam beneath it which the urine has soaked into. So after applying the soapy water you should let it sit for a few minutes and then soak up any excess with dry towels. You might want to repeat the process as long as you have time and patience for it.
Step 2: The second step is adding a mixture of hot water and baking soda. Again, blot it up after applying as much as you can. Baking soda may leave a white powder after it’s dried so you’ll need to use more water to clean that off. It’s not a perfect remedy, but it’s cheap and will take the edge off. This is not suitable for leather couches.
How to clean fresh wet cat pee off of your couch
If the cat pee on your couch is still wet as you’re Googling for this, consider yourself lucky. Fresh urine doesn’t smell very bad (if your cat is healthy), so you have a good chance to remove it before the stain sets. Use a bit of dish detergent in hot water to soak the area through all the layers. Then after letting it sit a few minutes, blot the area dry. Repeat as many times as you can stand. For extra measure it’s not a bad idea to use a little baking soda solution with hot water as well, and also soaked that up completely.
How to prevent cats from peeing on your couch
There can be many reasons for your cat to urinate on your couch. We cover some of these in other blog posts.
The main question is whether your cat is healthy or not. If it’s a medical issue we recommend you speak to your vet. If it’s a behavioral issue such as territory marking, your cat can be trained to avoid the area such as by using a squirt bottle with water and gently squirting the cat anytime it sits on the couch. While this can avoid pee on the couch, there’s a chance your cat will just urinate somewhere else instead if there’s an underlying issue.
Especially if you have several cats who all compete to outdo one another’s marking on the couch, you might consider covering the entire couch in a plastic cover. Not only would this keep it safe from pee, but there’s a good chance your cats will never want to sit on it again. Unfortunately, you might not either.
You can lay a crinkly plastic covers on your couch and cover that with a blanket. That setup will make unusual noises when your cat walks on it (hopefully discouraging them from getting comfortable), and will make clean-up much easier if accidents still occur since the urine won’t soak into the couch. A faster alternative is to lay sheets of aluminum foil on the couch, which will also surprise and discourage your cat until they lose the habit of sitting on your couch.
Did any part of your couch come from another home that had cats? Your couch, cushions, pillows, or coverings, may still smell like other cats. Your cats could still be reacting to that and marking their territory.
Is the litter box too far from the couch? A tired (or very lazy) cat may lack the motivation to visit the litter box in time. Alternatively, a litter box too close to your couch may bring the odor of urine to the couch area, creating a strong urge for some cats to urinate.
Best cat pee cleaners for couches and furniture
Cat urine is so difficult to deodorize and remove because it’s a very complex “chemical soup”, and one designed by nature to be very pungent. Cat urine contains a chemical called urea which bacteria begin breaking down after a few days, releasing smelly ammonia gas. On top of that, various other chemicals result in the characteristic of cat pee smell.
For that reason normal cleaners like detergent aren’t very effective on cat pee. And specially designed enzyme cleaner is much more effective at targeting the urea molecules and breaking them down before the bacteria can manifest, and will also be effective on old cat pee stains.
There are many enzyme cleaners on the market, however a common mistake is believing that all enzymes are the same. There are hundreds of different types of enzymes which are effective on different stains. You need one designed specifically for cat urine.
Urease-based enzymatic cat pee removers
“Urease” is the name of an enzyme that specifically breaks-down urea, one of the main causes of smell in old cat pee.
Unfortunately you won’t find many urease-based pee cleaners, because the urease molecule has a short shelf-life after it’s been processed.
That’s why Pee-Off uses a tea bag format. This allows the final processing step to be done in your home (steeping it, just like tea), which activates the urease molecules. Since it’s prepared fresh, it has high potency. As an added benefit, the urease enzyme works best at elevated temperature, rather than cold.
Using bleach to remove cat urine from couches
We’ve done testing on the use of bleach for cat urine removal, and we have bad news. First, it’s not very effective and neutralizing cat urine odor. Secondly, bleach can (not surprisingly) bleach the color from your couch, even in very low concentration. Some fabrics and dyes are more vulnerable to color bleaching so if you really feel the need, test a small patch someone inconspicuous like under the cushion.
Using vinegar and baking soda to remove cat urine from couches
From our testing, this is also a bad idea.
While using vinegar and baking soda can help deodorize cat urine, they will also leave your couch smelling like a french fry truck. The problem is that urine is typically soaked deep within the couch cushions, so you would have to soak them in vinegar to penetrate deeply enough. At that point, you can’t effectively remove the vinegar that you added, and you’re not really removing the urine either.