How to Get Cat Urine Odor Out of Wood Floors

Kitten looking at camera

Johner Images / Getty Images

Overview
  • Working Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 45 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $10-$20

While you love your cat, as a homeowner with beautiful wood floors, you like your floors, too. But cats and wood do not mix. Cat urine has an unmistakable, ammonia-like pungent smell that permeates the room and can even extend to the rest of the house. Until the cat urine 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 allowed 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 by using the right type of cleaner or, if the problem is advanced, by sanding the floor.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Sponges
  • Clean bucket
  • Scrub brush with nylon bristles

Materials

  • Liquid pet odor remover (such as Simple Stain + Odor Remover or Clorox Pet Solutions)
  • Disposable cloth rags
  • Disposable latex or nitrile gloves

Instructions

Impermeable Wood Surfaces

Impermeable, well-sealed wood surfaces do not allow liquids to pass below the top coating. Check on this 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.

  1. Spot-Clean the Area

    Clean the problem area first with water and a sponge to remove the majority of the urine spot.

  2. 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.

  3. Apply Product

    Spray the odor-removing product directly on the problem area.

  4. Let Soak

    Depending on the specific product, you may need to leave it soaking on the urine area for a short period.

  5. Wipe Area

    Wipe up the urine with a new sponge or with a clean rag.

  6. Rinse Area

    Lightly rinse off the area with clean water.

  7. Let Dry

    Let the area completely dry out.

Tips

  • Factory- or pre-finished wood floors can be more affected by cat urine than site-finished wood floors. Pre-finished floors' 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.

Permeable Wood Surfaces

If your wood floor has gapped seams or a poor finish that allows liquids to soak in, you may have 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 and a disc 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.

Tip

When sanding, keep your cat well away from the project site, preferably out of the house entirely. If the cat urinates on bare, unfinished wood, the opened pores will allow the urine to permeate deeply.

  1. 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.

  2. Tape up Plastic Sheeting

    Contain dust with plastic sheeting taped to doors, windows, and other avenues where dust might escape.

  3. 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.

  4. Remove Quarter-Round and Baseboards

    Remove quarter-round with a flat pry bar before sanding. 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.

  5. Sand Floors

    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.

  6. 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.

  7. Apply Floor Finish

    Coat the floor with a water-based urethane finish.