Asked on Dec 23, 2016

How do I get rid of a cat urine smell in a new house?

by Pamela
Looking for a new house, really like one, BUT, when we walked in the first thing is an OVERWHELMING smell of cat urine! The house has been on the market for less than a week, it's an estate being sold by the children. They installed new carpet the day they listed, but when you walk in you don't smell new carpet, only cat urine. The house has original hardwoods under the carpet. Plus the garage concrete floor has the same pungent odor, cat(s) had catdoor access.
We have 3 cats, but our house has never smelled even close. We know having had pets all our lives how to deal with odors as they happen, but this is well, overpowering! Not to mention our cats would go in and overmark, creating a bigger issue.
Any thoughts, hints, tips, products, ideas would be appreciated. Until we feel confident we can confidently remove the odor in the house, we won't make an offer.
The garage can get a thin coat of concrete, be releveled, cracks filled in, then sealed with an epoxy paint.
A black light seems almost useless, unless the walls are the only thing sprayed, doubtful. Can't really ask to pull up the brand new carpet to inspect the floors ahead of an offer.
See the dilemma?
Thanks in advance for any and all help.
  26 answers
  • Sue hallman Sue hallman on Dec 24, 2016

    spry everything that has the odor with white vinegar boil a pan full of vinegar it helps clear the air. if you want to keep the carpet fill a shampooer with vinegar and water. this is the cheapest way I know of

  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Dec 24, 2016

    My thought is that the floors were not cleaned properly prior to installation of the carpeting.I would place open boss of kitty liter,baking soda, activated charcoal and or coffee grounds through the house for odor absorption.

  • Lori Patterson Lori Patterson on Dec 24, 2016

    One would wonder if the urine didn't seep into the hardwood floors. Why carpet over them. I would pass on this home and keep looking. If it has seeped into the hardwood that would be a very expensive replace.

    • Otj15974677 Otj15974677 on Dec 27, 2016

      Yes, my husband is a wood floor expert ( for many years). No way to get out odor. U must have the wood floor replaced ( even sanding & putting finish on will remove damage)

  • Joan Joan on Dec 24, 2016

    I'm afraid you'd better pass on this one unless it's really really cheap. If the odor is that bad, you will never get it out well enough to be undetectable to your cats and they will mark. A friend of mine had a similar situation and they had to completely replace the hardwood floor and all the sheetrock.

  • Johnchip Johnchip on Dec 25, 2016

    Move on. Do not buy this one. You will never rid that house of the odor. Been there, tried that. It is permanent.

  • Susan Susan on Dec 25, 2016

    The urine penetrated the wood floors and stupid people covered it with carpet🙄. The carpet has to be removed, floors sanded and cleaned (or wood replaced in some cases); pass on this house.

  • Betty J Sipes Betty J Sipes on Dec 26, 2016

    I agree--pass on this house. I have had cats my entire life and never has anyone commented except to say they would never know that I had four cats in my house. It is in the wood and it will stay there. You were right in that it should have been handled when it happened. No way now.

    • See 1 previous
    • Betty J Sipes Betty J Sipes on Sep 04, 2018

      5 jumbo litter boxes that get scooped twice a day and complete litter box clean once a month. Thank the lord for light weight litter. Five of those 40 lb boxes was a load. I change one out each week.

  • Linda Linda on Dec 26, 2016

    Odoban. You can buy at Home Depot or Sam's Club. Really works, Comes in different fragrances. It's not a coverup, but completely eliminates the odor. Comes in gallon jugs, concentrated. Amazing stuff. Look it up on the internet. Has many uses. Eliminates odors and sanitizes, can even e used in the laundry. Our dog peed clear through to the padding. I mixed it up and saturated

    • Connie Connie on Jan 01, 2017

      I agree, Ive had a cleaning business for years & Odoban is what I use, the best product, totally removes smell & leaves a very pleasant one behind.

  • Linda Linda on Dec 26, 2016

    oops, saturated the carpeting. Used a commercial wet/dry vacuu to extract the solution and Viola ! All odor is gone.

    • Jim Griffin Jim Griffin on Dec 28, 2016

      Their problem sounds more serious. I agree with others: it's in the wood floor. We had this problem in our recently purchased house. It had been shampooed multiple times before moving in and we just didn't catch it. When my stepson pulled up the carpeting he almost passed out. We sanitized the area with a bleach solution. Then sealed it with Kilz. No problem since then. Sealing the floor is a bit of a drastic move but I've done this with wood and concrete floors and I think it's the only cure.

  • Eve Eve on Dec 27, 2016

    We bought a mobile home to flip and sell bcause it was cheap. We found out why after we started working on it. I called our local cleaning supply company and ask them what they used. They sold me this product with orange oil in it that worked like a charm. I can't remember the name but you might call yours and ask them for advise.

  • Jody Jody on Jan 01, 2017

    I found a product X-O I've been using for years. You'll see it in your vets office. I knew it was good but I had to really test it about 10 years ago. I had 2 good male chihuahua. I had a pee pad on rug hanging sideways from 2 cabinet handles in the ceramic tile bathroom. There was also a tiny doggy door to the outdoors. Since chi's melt in the rain, they used the indoor site sometimes but otherwise would go outside. No issue. Hired a woman who had a cat and a dog of her own to pet sit. She closed the bathroom door. Hallway carpeted and well padded over hardwood floors. She told me after 3 weeks- was proud of herself for that insane decision. When I walked in the back door it was awful. So bad I thought they had peed my entire house. Called X-O. I buy it concentrated and dilute as needed. She had me mix it 1/2 strength , closed the door and heavily spray it. so that extra would run down the door and drip where the pee was. Over the next 3 weeks I sprayed the door, wet down the carpet area right there, there is a seam where the carpeted area meets the ceramic tile- grout is porous too. Soaked it, let it dry. Kept doing that Over the 3 weeks. Got the odor out of everything

    My neighbor has 3 cats I watch when she travels. You can smell them before you open the door. I know they haven't peed the entire house. It takes me 3 days after she leaves to totally remove the cat odor except from the litter boxes which gives me hope that you too can get rid of the odor. If you otherwise like the house, there are obviously several things on the market that will get rid of the odor. Also, just because there is new carpet doesn't mean there is new padding. They wouldn't be the first to pull up dirty carpet, spray the padding and reuse to save money. All those enzyme cleaners require that the affected materials be saturated and allowed to dry to work. If pee did soak into the wood, like my house, I had to soak the wood and subflooring and allow to dry. Btw, the black light won't help you if you've ever used wallpaper. I hit the walls with black light and almost croaked as the ceiling glowed as well as the floor. When I said something- I did mention my guys are very short? Immediately I was asked if the room was now or had ever been wall papered. So if you use a black light to find the worst area and everything glows don't panic. There is a piece of equipment that "smells". Ask you RE agent to write in a contingency about the odor. There is also a machine used by hotels and motels to get odors out of a room. In about 4 hours it can remove cigarette odor out of everything in a room. It makes ozone. I think it had a name that included alpine. Good luck. You might be able to turn this into a great deal for you.

    Just a thought. Call your local coroner and ask for phone number for people who clean up after nasty smelly things. Think CSI. They should be able to tell you if it's feasible and what it would cost to hire them. That would tell you how much discount to ask for.

    • Bhughes54 Bhughes54 on Jan 01, 2017

      If you buy some car paste wax enough for 1can for every room and take the lid s off of if over night or longer depending on how strong the smell is it should take care of it. A friend of mine put some raw chicken. On the fender well of a friends car that was locked up for a weekend in the summer heat andwhen they opened the garage on Monday they couldn't, find where the smell was coming from for a while and when they did it was awful they put the wax in the garage and closed it up over nite and it worked

  • Pamela Pamela on Jan 02, 2017

    Thank you for your input. No the house doesn't have a basement, only a crawlspace.

    Tthe carpet is brand new, no they won't install new again. It is obvious part of the intent was to k the smell, that failed.

    • Kat Kat on Jan 11, 2017

      Pamela, hope these ideas work if you love the house! I sold my house 3 yrs ago, but ahead of doing so, I too, laid new carpet in the bedrooms and hallway. It kept smelling like cat pee but ya know what I found? IT WAS THE PADDING AND BRAND NEW CARPET!!! I have an extremely sensitive nose, and swore I kept smelling cat. But funny thing was you wouldnt know I had 4 cats in the house at all. and they werent allowed in the bedroom areas at all(blocked off). Soooo....when I went to the store where I got the carpet, lo and behold, the carpet/padding was the source!!! so it IS possible the smell is the new carpet/padding. If they had cats, chances are slim tho. but just wanted to put it out there.....good luck.

  • Caroline Caroline on Jan 05, 2017

    Nok-Out spray eliminates odors.

  • Jody Jody on Jan 06, 2017

    Wondering what you decided. If the house is part of an estate I can understand their refusing to recarpet. They might live out of town and not be aware of the problem. If there are several family members I can guarantee they won't agree "just because".

    if you like the house, the neighborhood, etc. and the only issue is the odor, you can get odor out. I would contact servicemaster and another company for estimates. Then talk to your RE agent to act on your behalf. You can use that problem to get a better price. If the odor is as bad as you say, and I believe you, the house isn't selling. But it's not actually that hard to make it smell nice. It just will take some time- maybe a couple weeks if nothing else is in the house. But it doesn't require pulling up the carpet and sealing the floors underneath. And I'm fascinated with the car paste wax suggestion.

  • Pamela Pamela on Jan 06, 2017


    We are still looking at other houses. The holidays put a crimp on the house search, as several houses we wanted to look at were removed from the market, a couple have been relisted, others not yet.

    We are not in a rush to buy, so we are taking our time. We are not firstime home buyers, and know not to dive in without knowing the full market. This house in not in the community/town we currently live in, but in a neighboring town.

    We went back to the house, it has been 3 weeks since first viewing, the smell was just as bad.

    The carpet in the house is all new, but one would never know it, now there is no new carpet smell remaining. The cat smell is not the only issue with the house, it was built about 45 years ago, and there have been very few updates. It will need deodorizing, windows, cleaning, and updating all around.

    We are very aware of the negotiation process and will do just that should we decide to make an offer.

    We have concluded that should we decide on the house we will need to remove and deodorize the new carpet to reinstall it should we decide to keep some of it. We are also aware that chances are we will have to at the very least strip, sand, seal, stain, and finish the original hardwood floor depending on what we would find under the carpet, should we decide to keep it depending on condition and location of "odor origin". We also know we just might have to replace some or all of the subfloor. We believe this issue in the house has been going on for some time and could be quite a challenge to deal with based on the intensity of the odor. The rooms are larger, so the cost could climb quickly if this would be the case. We don't want the smell to have the ability to creep up later. Other options would be to install new wood flooring rather than repair the old hardwood flooring with either new hardwoods or laminate, rather than replace with the carpet. We believe deodorizing the "new" carpet is the easy task, the real issue is finding the source/sources, and dealing with the issue correctly. We don't do quick fixes, we do things right the first time. We have even considered painting the subfloor, after sealing it with primer, then stenciling it with an all around pattern and a border, a mere temporary fix till we save for good hardwood replacement flooring, not laminate.

    I have viewed all the products recommended, and appreciate all the input. Some products seem more effective for our issue, others we question based on much of the feedback they have received from previous customers. This is a big problem that is going to require an excellent product and a whole lot of work.

    While we really like the house, the area, the neighborhood, aspects about the house are very desirable to our lifestyle, we know there are other houses just as good without all the work. There are questions we must answer first, like how much work do we want to do, will it be worth it, should something happen in the near future that would cause us to sell sooner than expected, so much to think through. Then there is the issue of whether or not the family would accept our offer. So many variables. We are going to be looking at more than a dozen houses in the next couple of weeks, so we will know more after that point.

    Thank you everyone for all your input. We are reading every reply.

    • See 1 previous
    • Brian Brian on Jun 22, 2018

      I no if you pull up the carpet and put three or for coats of Liz it will fix it I have had to put down that many coats befor to get out the smell but it worked .I build houses for a living so I no what it takes I would just get some of the price knocked off the house that's all

  • Shirley Harlan Shirley Harlan on Jan 07, 2017

    Here is a home made recipe that has worked for a lady with 16 cats I hope it helps you.

    16 oz Hydrogen Peroxide

    1 tsp dishwashing liquid or 1/2 tsp of castile soap(plain or any fragrance)

    1 TBSP Baking soda

    Mix together and soak the area allowing it to completely dry. If a white residue appears all you need to do is to vacuum it up or brush it away. ( residue will be because of the baking soda.) I truly hope this helps I know it does with dog smells

    • Hill Didi Hill Didi on Oct 20, 2018

      it helped in the previous years for me, not this time. I just moved into a nightmare of a cat urine smell! NOTHING is working.

  • Pamela Pamela on Jan 11, 2017

    Thanks for the sentiment, I would say with 99.9% certainty that it is urine in the wood floor, perhaps wall board, and baseboard. There was snow covering the ground when we first looked at the house. We went back after the melt and it seems someone decided the trash was full and threw alot of used cat litter around what was at one time, a very lovely garden. Proof positive there were cats in the house.

    Plus, the smell is very apparent upon approaching the front door, door was never opened.

    Then there is the garage floor issue. The smell in the large garage was so overpowering when we were inside, I had to leave or get sick. We know they had access through a cat door from a side hall. Whether or not litter boxes were in the garage is uncertain. What anyone can be positive of is cats were in residence, and for whatever reason will probably always remain unclear, had urgent need to evacuate in the house and garage. The odor eminating from the garage door is clearly of equal strength to that of the area near the front door.

    The agent was not with us on the second visit, since the house is empty, and we had a few minutes between appointments nearby and drove by, no one home so we did a quick walk around. We were better able to asess the yard, roof, and concrete areas. We did tell the agent about the visit as we had left with more questions for the seller.

    We obviously like the house, it has great potential, in a nice area, one owner homes are rare, the size is good, has many of the amenities we look for in a home. The smell is really the only major issue, there are others, but they are price leverage. It is hard to guage the leverage of an unseen problem. Ideally, the problem would not be a major investent, but in researching how to deal effectively with a worst case senario, it could literally cost thousands of dollars to rectify and make the house liveable.

    Which is why we are still looking at other houses.

    We will let everyone know what we ultimately decide.

  • Kathy Kathy on Jan 14, 2017

    If you want to buy that house, get the urine odor issue taken care of BEFORE the close of escrow. Your agent should step in and have the seller set aside money in escrow for you to use to alleviate the problem, if they refuse to do something about it while it is on the market. In the state I live in, they generally collect 1-1/2 X the amount of money it typically would take to fix a problem, and the money remains in an escrow account for you to use. Any money remaining after you've fixed the problem to your satisfaction is returned to the seller. If the seller will not agree to this, then I would walk away. Pet urine smell is hard to treat and if you do not remove every single last molecule of it, your own cats will find it and the problem will probably start up all over again. Ask me how I know this!! There may be some minor issues with your lender if there is money held over in escrow, but you'll have to decide whether it is worth it. Also, having the money held for YOU to use would be better. That way, YOU have control of what gets done to solve the problem, not the sellers, who seem to have made a big expensive mistake and are unwilling to correct it. Good luck!

  • Pamela Pamela on Jan 14, 2017

    Thank you for a different perspective. Definitely something to consider.

  • Jody Slaughter Jody Slaughter on Jan 23, 2018

    The smartest thing to do is to get a Pet Odor Inspection by an Odor Remediation Service Similar to so you will have an Idea as to how much it will cost to get rid of the odor from a professional standpoint. Kathy is right on the money re: not closing escrow until the odor problem is fixed. But if you find a competent company to do the work then and only then would I recommend closing escrow before the removing the odor.

  • Marsha Marsha on Jun 04, 2019

    I am having that same problem myself when I moved into this one bedroom at first I could not smell it. Then one day my sister came by and ask me when did I get a cat i asked her what was she talking about she said it smelled like cat. Come to find my neighbor downstairs had 4 cats. And for some reason the smell only came in my apartment. I couldn't even sleep in my bedroom the smell was awful and every time i would turn my heat on i would start iching my eyes would run i would be feeling terrible. I went to the hospital and found that i was allergic. Even though she got rid of all but one i still smell them. I got my windows open and i live next to a alley and it seems like i can still smell them. The smell got into my clothes and my bed. So i have to wash all my clothes and throw my furniture away because i still smell them. I don't want to eat or cook because it smells that bad . i need help bad please

  • LeAnne Estes Bonner LeAnne Estes Bonner on Sep 08, 2019

    We have found a house we love but it has the same stinky problem. Did you buy the house and we you able to get rid of the smell?

  • Marica Edwards Marica Edwards on Jun 11, 2020

    Clean indoor air is critical – especially for those who are susceptible to respiratory ailments, colds, viruses, and bacteria. Thanks to ground-breaking ionization technology, it is now easier to optimize indoor air quality and remove smoking odors, pet urine odors, harmful viruses, and airborne bacteria.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Jun 06, 2021


    Speak to the Agent and say you would like to make an offer for the home, but it is going to be very low due to the fact you would need to have the carpets taken up and flooring beneath replaced in all rooms, due to the smell of urine! YOU WOULD UP YOUR OFFER if they were to fix the problem beforehand! Best of luck!!