Whenever a cat pees outside the litter box - the owner is facing a problem. Added to the frustration of having to deal with a potentially complex medical or behavioral problem, there is the issue of smell. Removing the smell can alleviate your own suffering and be a step in the way to solving the problem. This article focuses on the in's and out's of getting cat pee smell out of your clothes and linens.
This article was written by OdorKlenz where you can find solutions for all your cat urine cleaning needs. From litter additives to urine removal products, OdorKlenz can help you keep your home free of cat urine stench.
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Why is Kitty not using the litter box?
It is incredibly stressful to deal with medical problems that disguise themselves as behavioral issues. Cat lovers who have been around the block understand that when their cats start to urinate in unusual places - for seemingly no reason - their little friend may be suffering from an important medical issue. And the heartache and confusion that comes with trying to determine what that issue is can bring even the most experienced cat owner to a place of feeling very helpless.
Now, compound that feeling and concern with the persistent unpleasantness of your bed, or your clothes, or your bags, or shoes smelling like cat pee. This combo can send anyone into a deep spiral of frantic frustration. Your life becomes consumed by the demands of solving multiple mysteries at once! Why is this happening? Is it a bladder infection? Is it dry food? Is it litter box placement? Is it territory marking? Is it UT crystals causing pain? Is it dementia?
These are among the many questions that a cat owner will need to investigate and get to the bottom of, and which usually require a lot of trial and error (not to mention trips to the vet).
Dealing with cat pee smell
Simultaneously, the trial and error of finding the best way to get cat pee smell out of clothes and the pungent urine smell out of bedding begins. The hunt for the most effective odor removal method is more urgent than the desire to be surrounded by pleasant smells alone. If your cat starts to smell the residue of their urine in certain fabrics and surfaces, they will begin to associate those spots with “places they should pee” and the cycle becomes a very difficult habit to break. As an experienced cat owner who has gone through this firsthand, here are few ways you may want to try to remove the smell of cat pee from your clothes or linens, listed in order from being the least to most effective nearly 100% of the time:
Baking soda is a safe and familiar favorite. One of its advantages is that it is extremely affordable, and more often than not, you most likely already have some sitting around somewhere in your fridge or cupboard. It is also an amphoteric substance, which means it can act as either an acid or as a base. This trait enables it to transform odor causing compounds into less volatile salts, which greatly reduces the level in which you perceive a “smell” or “odor”.
Unfortunately, the compound that causes the most offensive odor in cat urine is uric acid, which after forming into uric salt crystals (due to baking soda) can easily become reactivated when there is an increase in humidity. This is what causes the “phantom” pee smell that seems to linger and reappear no matter how many times you clean the offending item. This also means that those uric salt crystals could become reactivated in the wash or from the warmth of your body down the road. No bueno.
Also a major win in the money saving department, you can buy a giant jug at Costco for a song. Vinegar has an acidic ph, which neutralizes the alkaline ph of cat urine. However, it is important that a 1:3 vinegar mixture is allowed to soak into the pee area of the clothes within 10-15 minutes after the mess occurs and then allowed to sit for at least 20 minutes. Wash with cold water without any detergent and then let air dry (heat from a dryer could set in the smell). The downside to this is that vinegar, though not nearly as offending as cat pee, can still leave a bit of its own scent aka. pickle, which some people may not enjoy.
Some may be tempted to add bleach to the washer in order to get cat pee smell out of clothes or lines. While bleach is effective at removing stains, killing bacteria, and transforming the smell of cut pee, it reacts negatively with the ammonia in cat urine to create chloramine vapor which is a dangerous lung irritant.
If your hopes are to remove the cat pee smell from your clothes, you’re going to be severely disappointed. Have you ever been to an indoor pool and almost pushed over by the pungent eye burning smell? Well that isn’t the chlorine itself. That’s the vapours from the combination of chlorine and ammonia from people peeing in the pool. Yeah, gross. So adding bleach to your wash when trying to clean items doused in cat pee will create a perfect storm of nauseating stench.
Enzymatic cleaners utilize enzymes that target items with a specific chemical makeup, like proteins, fats, or starches. Each enzyme is uniquely tailored to speed up a specific chemical reaction which breaks down it’s corresponding chemical component. This process results in a deconstructed version of the cat urine odor causing chemicals that the product has been formulated to address, which are then no longer detectable to the human nose as the offending smell that it once was.
This means that enzymatic cleaners are very effective when the match is made right, but not as effective if there are chemical components that the detergent enzymes are not suited to break down. Enzymes also have very specific environmental needs in order to work effectively, such as the moisture levels, ph levels, temperature range, and preventing exposure to other chemicals.
Some cat owners have also noticed that enzymatic cleaners may not always be effective in removing the pheromones present in their pet’s urine, which causes them to continue to re-soil the same location even though the owner may no longer be able to smell the former stain. If your cat’s urine has been altered by medication, this could also inhibit the effectiveness of the enzymes.
But for the most part, if you make sure that it is designed to get cat pee smell out of clothes or lines, an enzymatic cleaner is a decent option (particularly to remove stains), as most enzyme based laundry detergents have been formulated to breakdown the proteins that cause stains to bind to fabric fibers.
Carbon, aka Activated Charcoal
Activated Charcoal is incredibly effective at absorbing odors and other noxious chemicals. This is why carbon filters are effectively used in many high-end kitty litter boxes to help address odor issues that may arise. There are also activated charcoal sashays that can be hung on door handles or hooks that can also help absorb ambient smells that may be accumulating in a particular room. Activated Carbon works like velcro, with chemical compounds latching onto tiny pores on the surface of the carbon. These pores increase the surface area, which in turn, allow a substantial amount of compounds to attach to individual particles of charcoal.
In order to get cat urine smell out of, let’s say a mattress, with activated charcoal in an effective way, it is recommended to blot away any liquid you can and then cover the stain with a thin cotton cloth that you do not mind staining or that is black in color. Then, place a relatively thick layer of activated charcoal on top and letting sit for at least several hours, or ideally, a few days.
Despite effectively absorbing cat pee urine, activated carbon is not without it own potential to stain or cause messes (can we just take a moment to imagine our little friend sneaking back into the off-limits area and then covering the house in little black paw prints?). Due to staining, using carbon would not be an effective option for washing soft goods in order to remove cat pee smell from clothes or sheets.
And given that things just “stick” to carbon as opposed to being fully absorbed by it, and/or the carbon altering their chemical composition into a neutral form, it is possible for the carbon to release the offending gasses back into the environment if the carbon is put under stress from heat or humidity changes. Activated carbon, however, would be great for addressing ambient odors in certain rooms, refrigerators, or storage containers in the form of sashays.
Nanoactive Metal Oxides
These are a collection of minerals found naturally in earthen material, Magnesium Oxide (MgO), Zinc Oxide (ZnO), Titanium Dioxide (TiO2), that have undergone a patented process in which to increase the usable surface area and pore volume of each mineral particle and getting both physical and the full chemisorption activity of nanomaterials, without being a hard to manage nanoparticle. Utilizing Nanoactive Metal Oxides was developed by the Nanochemistry Technology firm, Timilon, this nanotech has been used in applications for the Department of Defense, Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Institute of Health. Now Timilon has launched a line of consumer products that utilize their nanotech branded as OdorKlenz, which covers a variety of household needs like air filtration, cleaning, and laundry.
When it comes to eliminating the smell of cat pee from clothes and bedding, you best bet will be to use a tried and true laundry additive like that of OdorKlenz. The nice thing about OdorKlenz’s nanoactive metal oxides is that they effectively combine the adsorption power of activated carbon with the chemical neutralizing power of enzymes. White paper tests reveal that OdorKlenz had a 31% increase in absorption capacity over carbon, plus it has the capability to neutralize once offensive or dangerous chemicals altering them into a benign form.
Thankfully, Odorklenz has benefited from testing that ensures their products are safe, even for people with acute chemical sensitivities, thus making their products an excellent option for pet owners who want a safe an effective solution to their cat pee smell problem. They even have a whole line tailored to address pet odors under subflooring and deep within carpet padding.
The combination of adsorption and chemisorption is what makes Odorklenz ideal for combating repeat urination spots because it removes any trace of smell, not only from our human nose, but also from the highly sensitive nose of your cat which helps prevent them from forming a pattern of going in a certain spot time and again. If you are having trouble getting cat pee smell out of clothes and linens, a nanoactive metal oxide will be your best bet.