How to Get Cat Pee Smell Out of Clothes: A Complete Guide

How to Get Cat Pee Smell Out of Clothes: A Complete Guide

As a cat owner, you understand the joy and comfort that our feline friends bring into our lives. Those adorable companions can sometimes leave behind unpleasant surprises, and the cat pee odor on clothes is a common woe for pet owners. However, the occasional accident is among the less pleasurable parts of the owner-cat relationship. It is a serious concern of all pet owners to know how to get cat pee smell out of clothes. I'm here to guide you through the myriad ways to restore your clothes to their pre-accident odorless state.


Many pet owners are concerned about cat urine odor on clothes, but you can manage the situation with the right knowledge. From understanding what makes the smell so pungent to step-by-step guides on using various methods, I'll cover everything you need to know to remove the pungent pee smell from clothes. Whether it's a one-time incident or a recurring problem, these solutions are designed to be your go-to arsenal for the ultimate odor-busting showdown.

What Makes Urine Smell So Bad?

Understanding the root cause is critical to solving any problem. Urine contains uric acid and urea, which alone are relatively odorless. However, they release volatile sulfur compounds that account for the frightful smell when they break down. The longer urine remains, the stronger the odor—thanks to the bacteria that continue to break it down. When urine ends up on clothing, it's essential to act quickly. Otherwise, the bacteria will have more time to grow, making the smell harder to eliminate.

Cat urine, in particular, contains a high ammonia level, giving it its own odorous kick. Interestingly, ammonia can also cause some cleaning solutions, such as bleach, to react and release dangerous gases, making its removal a delicate endeavor. Therefore, it's essential to follow proper safety precautions and use effective techniques to eliminate the scent safely. Let's dive into some of the most effective methods for removing cat urine smell from clothes. 

11 Methods to Get Pee Smell Out of Clothes

Here's a comprehensive rundown of 11 effective strategies for eliminating the cat pee smell from your clothes. You will find a method that fits your budget, from home remedies to professional services. 

1.Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergent

Eco-friendly laundry detergents are your everyday warriors in the struggle against pee odor. Look out for detergents or detergent sheets specifically designed to tackle strong odors while being gentle on the environment. These detergents are free of harsh chemicals and synthetic fragrances that may irritate your skin while still being tough on the bacteria causing the smell.

To use eco-friendly laundry detergent effectively, follow these steps:

  1. Pre-soak: Fill a basin with water and the detergent, then soak the clothes for at least 30 minutes before regular laundering. 
  2. Wash: After soaking, wash the clothes in the machine on the appropriate fabric cycle. 
  3. Check and Repeat: Check if the odor is gone after washing. If not, repeat the cycle. Remember, perseverance pays off, especially with tough odors.

2. Vinegar Solution

Vinegar is a powerful smell eliminator for several reasons. It can create an environment inhospitable to bacteria thanks to its high acidity. This cheap and readily available solution makes it a top choice for many. Here's how to use it:
  1. Mix: Prepare a solution of equal water and white vinegar.
  2. Soak: Soak the clothes in the solution for at least an hour.
  3. Wash: After soaking, wash as usual with your regular detergent.
  4. Air-dry: Air-dry the clothes to allow any remaining
Here's how to use vinegar to get rid of cat pee smell:
  1. Undiluted Vinegar: For minor odors, place the affected clothes in the washer and add undiluted vinegar to the water along with your usual detergent.
  2. Pre-treatment: Before washing, pre-treat the clothes for more pungent odors by soaking them in a basin of water mixed with a cup of vinegar.
  3. Freshening Rinse: Follow up with a rinse cycle using water and a cup of vinegar to remove the stench entirely.

3. Baking Soda Method

Baking soda is another kitchen staple that can work wonders against the cat pee smell. It's an effective odor neutralizer and can help lift the smell from your clothes. Here's how to use it:

  1. Pre-treatment: Wet the affected area with warm water and sprinkle baking soda over the spot. Let it sit for 15-20 minutes.
  2. Wash: Wash as usual after pre-treating with regular detergent.
  3. Air-dry: Air-dry the clothes to allow any remaining odor

Use the baking soda method as follows

  1. Add to Detergent: To enhance the odor-fighting abilities of regular detergent, add a cup of baking soda.
  2. Pre-Soak: For more pungent odors, pre-soak the clothes in a basin of water and baking soda overnight before washing as usual.
  3. Second Round: Repeat with another baking soda round if the smell persists after the first wash.

4. Enzymatic Cleaners

Enzymatic cleaners are famous for pet stains and smells because they're specifically formulated to break down organic compounds, such as those found in cat urine.The process of using enzymatic cleaners is straightforward:

  1. Apply Liberally: Saturate the affected area with the enzymatic cleaner and allow it to sit for several hours or overnight.
  2. Wash Normally: After the wait, wash the garments as usual, but do not combine them with other cleaning products that could neutralize the enzymes' effects.
  3. Smell Test: Repeat the steps if the odor remains.

5. Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is a disinfectant and bleach alternative used alone or combined with other odor-removal methods.

Here's how to use hydrogen peroxide to get out cat pee smells:

  1. Topical Application: Dab a cloth soaked in hydrogen peroxide directly onto the pee spot and allow it to air dry, or use a hairdryer in a cool setting.
  2. Wash with Detergent: Wash the clothes with detergent as usual, including a cup of hydrogen peroxide in the wash cycle.
  3. Repeat: For deep-set odors, you may need to repeat the process multiple times until the odor is completely gone, especially since hydrogen peroxide's bleaching can struggle with older, more set-in smells.

6. Lemon Juice Treatment

Lemon juice's natural acidity can help to cut through the ammonia in cat urine, offering a nice-smelling alternative to other, less fragrant odor eliminators.

Employ lemon juice in the following way:

  1. Pre-Rinse: Rinse the affected area with water and then soak it with fresh lemon juice.
  2. Sunlight Activation: Dry the clothes in direct sunlight, which can enhance lemon juice's natural cleaning power.
  3. Wash Normally: After drying the clothes, throw them in the wash with your usual detergent and an extra boost of lemon juice.

7. Odor Neutralizers

Commercial odor neutralizers are formulated to break down and eliminate the chemical compounds that create the pee smell. They are often gentle and safe for use on most fabrics.

Here's how to use an odor neutralizer:

  1. Pre-Treatment: Spray or soak the affected area with the odor neutralizer and allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Wash with Detergent: Launder the clothes with the odor neutralizer still on, in addition to your regular detergent.
  3. Check and Repeat: Smell-check the clothes after laundering and repeat the process if necessary.

8. Sunlight Exposure

Sunlight is nature's disinfectant and can be surprisingly effective at banishing odors. Ultraviolet rays can kill bacteria and dry out moisture—two essential components for odor.

Here's how to use sunlight as a urine smell combating tool:

  1. Wet Clothes: After washing your affected clothing, hang it outside to dry in direct sunlight.
  2. Hours of Sun: Leave them out for several hours, rotating and ensuring all parts are exposed to the sun.
  3. Smell Test: If the smell is still present by the end of the day, consider repeating this process for a few days.

9. Steam Cleaning

For more substantial cat urine incidents, steam cleaning might be the heavy-duty answer you need. It's a great way of deep cleaning without needing to wash.

To steam clean clothes:

  1. Prepare the Cleaner: Fill your steam cleaner with water and any recommended cleaning solution.
  2. The Steam Process: Steam the affected areas thoroughly, paying attention to the seams and hems.
  3. Dry Naturally: Once steamed, hang the clothes to dry in a well-ventilated area.

10. Washing with Detergent

Your trusty detergent is still your first line of defense. It's designed to lift grime and particles from fabrics, and with a boost, it can cleanse your clothes of cat pee smell.

Include these steps in your routine wash:

  1. Normal Washing: Place the clothes in the machine with your usual detergent.
  2. Fragrance Additions: Add fragrance boosters or essential oils to the wash for pleasant smells.
  3. Thorough Dry: Ensure the clothes are dried completely, as any lingering moisture can lead to mold and mustiness.

11. Professional Dry Cleaning

Professional dry-cleaning is often the most reliable solution for clothes with sensitive fabrics or stubborn stains and odors. Dry cleaners can access powerful solvents that can break down the toughest odors.

To explore professional dry cleaning:

  1. Locate a Reputable Cleaner: Find a dry cleaner in your area known for handling pet odors.
  2. Communicate the Situation: When you drop off your clothes, communicate that a cat pee odor requires special attention.
  3. Inspect and Repeat: Upon pickup, inspect your items. If the smell persists, you might need to ask for another cleaning round.


Is It Possible to Remove the Pee Smell From Clothes Completely?

Yes, the right techniques and products can remove the pee smell from clothes.

Can I Use Bleach to Remove Cat Pee Smell From Clothes?

It's not recommended to use bleach as it can react with the ammonia in cat urine, creating harmful fumes. Instead, opt for safer alternatives like vinegar or enzymatic cleaners.

How Do I Prevent My Cat From Peeing on My Clothes in The Future?

Prevention is always better than a cure. Ensure your cat's litter box is kept clean and accessible, and consider any environmental changes that may be causing the behavior, such as stress or new pets in the household.

Will Airing Out the Clothes Remove the Cat Pee Smell?

Airing out can help to some extent, but in most cases, it won't altogether remove the smell. You want to tackle the source of the odor with cleaning, not mask it.

How Long Does It Take to Remove Cat Pee Smell From Clothes?

The time it takes depends on the severity of the smell, the type of fabric, the cleaning method, and whether you do it yourself or have the items professionally cleaned. Be patient, and don't be afraid to repeat these steps.

How is Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergent Effective in Getting Cat Pee Smell Out of Clothes?

Eco-friendly detergents work well because they don't contain harsh chemicals that can harm the environment or you, yet are powerful enough to break down and remove organic compounds like urine.


Dealing with the cat pee smell on clothes tests patience and perseverance. You can remove the smell and enjoy fresh, clean clothes using the above strategies. Out of all, our best advice is to opt for an environmentally friendly solution. Remember, each method may require a bit of trial and error, so don't lose hope if the smell doesn't vanish with the first attempt. With time, practice, and consistency, you'll refine your odor-eliminating skills to perfection. Your clothes—and your nose—will thank you!