How to Remove Cat Urine Odor from Laundry

Cat urine on laundry
David Troncoso / Getty Images

Has your peed all over your clothes, bedding, or laundry? It's frustrating when your cat has inappropriate urination. It can be difficult to clean it up well enough to get rid of the smell. Here's how to remove cat urine odor from your laundry.

Consider Your Cat's Health

Besides taking on the job of cleaning the soiled laundry, it's important that you address the problem with your cat. When cats urinate in places other than the litter box, it indicates a health or behavioral issue.


Begin by taking your cat to the vet. Aside from a dirty litter box, a urinary tract problem is the most common reason for litter box avoidance. It's essential that you rule out a health problem first.

If this is not the first time your cat has urinated outside the box, you may have to do a bit of detective work around the house after you've tackled the current cat urine problem.  

If your vet rules out a medical cause, then you will need to address the behavioral reasons for your cat's inappropriate urination.

Removing Cat Urine from Laundry

If the urine stains are still damp, you may be able to remove the cat urine odor with common household products. Here's a simple solution, using your household products:

Combine one part distilled white vinegar with two parts warm water in a spray bottle. Liberally spray all areas of urine stain. Make sure you don't miss any spots. Launder as usual with a mild detergent.

If the cat urine stains have dried, or the vinegar solution did not completely remove the odor, you'll need to invest in a commercial urine odor remover product. Urine odor removers typically contain enzymes and/or bacteria that "eat" the urine and eliminate the odors. Some contain chemicals to destroy the remaining odors.

Some products are more effective than others. In general, a product's effectiveness depends on factors such as how fresh of the accident is and whether other cleaning products have or will be used.

Always use a urine odor remover product before laundering. Use the odor remover before any other cleaning products. The following odor products are often very effective in minimizing or eliminating cat urine odor:

Caution: Never use a product containing ammonia to clean urine stains. Cats are likely to mistake the ammonia scent for urine and repeatedly urinate in the same place.

Use the odor remover on the soiled laundry as directed on the product label, then launder as usual.

If You Still Smell Cat Urine

If your laundry has come out smelling fresh, but you still detect the lingering odor of cat urine in your home, you'll need to perform some detective work.

Arm yourself with a blacklight. Most blacklights work better in complete darkness, so be clear about the area you want to check before turning out the lights. Use the light to scan walls, floors, baseboards, furniture, and any other surfaces. Hold the light close to the surface for best results. Urine stains will glow fluorescent white.

Use chalk or sticky note paper to mark the areas where the blacklight reveals stains.

Once you've identified the soiled areas, use your odor remover product to clean the kitty accidents. After thoroughly cleaning, you can enjoy a freshly-scented home once more.

Edited by Jenna Stregowski, RVT