How to Get Cat Pee Out of Wood Floors
While you do love your cat, as a homeowner with beautiful wood floors, you like your floors, too. But cats and wood do not mix. Cat pee has an unmistakable, ammonia-like, pungent smell that permeates the room and can even extend to the rest of the house.
Until the cat pee odor is addressed, it will announce itself every time you enter the house. Older, heavily used wood floors' porosity makes the problem even worse since the urine is able to soak into the wood. While it is no simple task to get the smell of cat urine out of wood flooring, it can be done with the right type of cleaner or, if the problem is advanced, by sanding the floor.
What to Use to Get Cat Pee Out of Wood
Not just any cleaning product will remove cat pee odor from wood flooring. Ammonia-based cleaners only add to the problem. Other products may just cover up the smell—for it to return soon after. The best product for cat pee is one that actually breaks up the substances that cause the odor: an enzyme cleaner.
Most enzyme cleaners contain a bundle of different enzymes—protease, lipase, amylase, cellulase, and urate oxidase—that work in concert to naturally and safely break down the bacteria in cat pee. After the enzymes have broken apart the bacteria, the pee is turned into odorless carbon dioxide and water.
- The Spruce Pet Stain & Odor Remover: All-natural pet odor remover in a fresh scent that's a mixture of neroli (blossom of the bitter orange tree), apple, and orchid
- Rocco & Roxie Oxy Stain Remover: Highly rated oxygen-based enzyme cleaner that smells like chocolate
- Biokleen Bac-Out Pet Urine Odor Eliminator: Powerful enzyme-based natural cat pee eliminator in a unique lavender/lime scent
What You'll Need
Equipment / Tools
- 5 sponges
- 1 clean bucket
- 1 scrub brush with nylon bristles
- 1 bottle liquid enzyme-based pet odor remover
- 10 disposable cloth rags
- 2 pairs disposable latex or nitrile gloves
How to Get Cat Pee Out of Sealed Wood Floors
Sealed, impermeable wood surfaces in good condition do not allow liquids to pass below the top coating. Check the wood's seal by depositing a few drops of water on the top of the flooring. Wait for about two hours. If the water is still beaded up and standing, you can consider the surface to be impermeable.
Spot-Clean the Area
Clean the problem area first with water and a sponge to remove the majority of the urine spot. Paper towels or even old newspapers also work—and are more environmentally friendly for this purpose.
Dispose of Cleaning Supplies
Dispose of the sponge used previously and thoroughly clean out the bucket. Doing this will ensure the area does not get recontaminated during the rest of the cleaning process.
Spray the odor-removing product directly on the problem area.
Depending on the specific product, you may need to leave it soaking on the urine area for a short period.
Wipe the Area
Wipe up the urine with a new sponge or with a clean rag.
Lightly rinse off the area with clean water. Use a sprayer to spritz the wood. Avoid pooling water on the wood.
Wipe off the area with another clean cloth and then let the area completely dry out.
How to Get Cat Pee Out of Unsealed Wood Floors
If your wood floor has gapped seams or a poor finish that allows liquids to soak in, you may need to sand away the cat urine. The urine and its odor will have already sunk into the seams or the porous surface. As long as you have solid hardwood floors, you can deeply sand them with a drum sander. For engineered wood floors, only light sanding with a disk sander is possible, since the top wood veneer is too thin to allow for deep sanding.
Check for Floor Thickness
Determine if your floorboards have enough thickness left for another sanding. Pulling up a threshold is a good way to determine the thickness of your flooring. If the flooring has been sanded at or just above the tongue-and-groove, it is too thin to sand.
Tape up Plastic Sheeting
Contain dust with plastic sheeting taped to doors, windows, and other avenues where dust might escape.
Rent the Correct Sander
Rent a floor sander. For minimal sanding, rent a vibrating floor sander or floor disk sander. If you need deeper sanding, rent a drum sander. For sanding close to baseboards and trim, rent an edge sander or you may choose to buy a random-orbiting sander for your home and use it instead.
Remove Quarter-Round and Baseboards
Remove quarter-round with a flat pry bar before sanding. Before using the pry bar, run a box cutter along the joint or seam to cut through any caulk or paint, and cover the prybar with a cloth to avoid damaging your baseboard or walls. You'll do a better job, too, if you can remove the baseboards.
As with the quarter-round, gently pry back the baseboards with a flat pry bar. Make sure that the back of the pry bar is resting over a stud for better support. If the baseboards are heavily painted-over, removing them may cause more damage. In this case, leave them on and sand as close as possible to them.
Run the drum sander over the flooring. It is easy to cause irreparable damage to your floor with a drum sander, so be patient and never press down on the sander. Never let any sander rest in place while running; always keep it moving. Always start with coarser sandpaper, then work down to finer grits.
Clean up Debris and Sawdust
Thoroughly clean the floor with a broom, followed up by two damp mops, with the mop thoroughly pressed out so that it feels almost dry to the touch.
Apply Floor Finish
Coat the floor with a water-based urethane finish.
Tips for Removing Cat Pee From Wood
- Factory- or pre-finished wood floors can be more affected by cat urine than site-finished wood floors. Pre-finished floor planks are individually stained and sealed in a factory. After the installation in your home, seams remain, which may allow for the urine to permeate. Site-finished floors are raw, unfinished wood floors that are first installed in your home and then stained and sealed. The benefit is that sealant has permeated and filled in the seams, preventing the urine from entering.
- Before you take any drastic measures such as sanding the floor, first try cleaning the hardwood floor with a cat urine odor removal product. If the wood floor has a solid finish, with no seams between the boards, there is no reason why these products will not work.
- Determine if your floor is actually made of wood, since many floors that appear to be wood are, instead, luxury vinyl plank, wood-look ceramic tile, or laminate flooring. All of these are liquid-impermeable surfaces and can be cleaned with a urine odor removal product. These products are specially formulated to eliminate odors and sometimes even remove the urine itself. Typically, they contain water, hydrogen peroxide, and a host of other agents such as sodium hydroxide and alcohol ethoxylates.