Every cat owner has dealt with the problem, no matter how well-behaved your furry feline friend may be. They might accidentally “forget” where to go potty, or they may be driven by primal instincts to spray where they shouldn’t, unable to fight the urge to mark their territory
Everything from clothes to bedding, nothing is safe. Whether it’s something that you wear every day, like your favorite sweater, or that nice expensive pair of dress pants that you’d really rather not have to go out and replace, waking up or coming home to the smell of cat pee is never a good thing, no matter how much you adore your cat.
No matter how big or small the stain is, acting as quickly as possible is crucial to the survival of your clothes. Cat urine has a particular odor as anyone who has been housemates with a feline will surely know, and the longer it sets in and dies, the more difficult it is to completely eradicate the peskily pungent aroma.
Items you’ll need for the job:
- Baking Soda
- Paper towels
- Enzyme detergent
It’s best to use paper towels rather than cloth towels so you can easily throw away the mess when you’re done. This way, you don’t have to worry about soiling another piece of laundry in order to get your clothes cleaned. However, if you happen to have some junky towels that you’re just going to throw away, you might use them for added strength and durability.
While baking soda is an optional item, it is a major help in removing the most stubborn of smells. Also, make sure that you’re using plain white vinegar and oxygen bleach before getting started.
Never Underestimate the Power of a Good Pretreatment
If you simply toss the clothing items that your beloved four-legged companion has chosen to mark directly into the washing machine, you’re just begging for trouble. Because of the particular talent that cat urine has for permeating its odor into everything it comes into contact with, you certainly don’t want clothes soaked in cat pee going straight into your machine. Unless it’s your goal to have everything else that comes out of it for the rest of its life to have the same pungent aroma, don’t forego the pretreat.
And while this may go without saying, definitely don’t mix your contaminated articles of clothing in with the rest of your laundry. It may seem like an obvious point, but it’s worth mentioning if it saves someone from contaminating an entire load of laundry.
How to Pretreat Like a Pro
Start by rinsing the area with water that’s cool but not too cold, gently blot the urine-soaked spot using your paper towels. Be mindful not to scrub or blot too hard since this will only cause the urine to be pushed deeper into the fabric, making it even harder to remove.
You don’t have to worry about perfection at this point. All you have to do is try to get as much urine out of the fabric as possible before allowing it to come into contact with your expensive washing machine.
Next, fill up your sink with water; this can be your kitchen sink or bathroom sink – whichever you’re most comfortable cleaning urine-stained clothes in. Once the sink is full, add half of a cup of oxygen bleach.
Double-check to verify that you’re not using chlorine bleach, a common household cleaning product. This is a surefire way of ruining your clothes completely. OxiClean is a prime example of a well-known and trusted oxygen bleach brand that you can count on for this pretreatment process.
Once you’ve created a homogeneous liquid bleach mixture, you can begin soaking the peed-upon clothing items in the sink. This should be done for at least one hour but no longer than four.
How to Use the “Vinegar Wash” Method
After your clothes have soaked for long enough, carefully remove them from the sink and lay them out flat. You can ring them out if they’re so saturated with the bleach solution that it makes them heavy or hard to work with, but it’s not necessary to dry them out to continue with the process. The best way to approach this method is in two steps: the treatment and the laundering.
Combine your white vinegar and water in a 1:3 ratio. (For every cup of vinegar, add three cups of water. Continue combining vinegar and water until you have enough solution for the job.)
If you choose to employ the added cleaning boost of baking soda, make sure the entire stained area is fully covered at this time. The banking soda works by creating a chemical reaction with the vinegar, absorbing and neutralizing the urine smell.
Now it’s time to make use of your washing machine. Set the water to lukewarm or cold and put your pee-stained items in. For this first wash, you won’t be adding any detergent just yet. Make sure not to use hot or even warm water as this is a recipe for locking that urine stain into your clothes for good.
The same rule of avoiding heat applies to your dryer as well – so keep all urine-stained clothes out of there. Let the clothing articles air dry until they are completely free of moisture. This might take as long as a full day, especially if you can’t air-dry outside.
At this point, you’re free to go through your standard laundering routine. Again, use cool or cold water, and make sure to use an enzyme-based detergent. You’ll also still probably want to keep these marked pieces of clothing separated from your unmarked ones.
Continue using the air-dry method, and repeat this process until you’re satisfied that the smell of cat urine has been fully banished from your favorite hoodie or leggings. You can also repeat any steps in this process to maximize their effectiveness so long as you don’t expose the fabric to bleach for an excessive amount of time.
Once you’ve mastered this technique, it won’t seem like such a major catastrophe every time your whiskered buddy goes where they’re not supposed to. The more practice these cleaning methods, it’ll become an all the more efficient and effective process. It might be a stretch, but you may start seeing these “peed-on-clothes” incidents as just another opportunity to practice.