Differences in Removing Dog and Cat Urine from Carpet

Pets can bring joy to any home, but they can also cause problems if you have carpet. Dealing with dirty feet is common with dogs while cats love to leave their litter lying about. When you have to deal with urine, a quick spot clean isn’t going to cut it, however. In this guide, we’re going to tell you how to remove dog and cat urine from carpet and discuss why these substances are so hard to clean.

The Differences between Cat and Dog Urine

There are a million ways to remove simple stains from carpet, and you can even clean substances like acrylic paint with the right knowledge. There’s an entire industry dedicated to carpet stain removal, which means it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the number of products available. You have to be careful which types of chemicals you use on carpet, and you also should understand the differences between cat and dog urine.

Both cats and dogs can unleash their bladder anywhere in your home. Once they pee in a spot, they are likely to mark their territory again unless you remove the odor completely. Well, cleaning the stain is actually the simple part, especially if you have cats in your home.

cat pee on carpet

Cat urine has an unmistakable odor that’s best described as funky with male cats and ammonia-like with females. It’s difficult to mistake it with dog urine by smell alone, although some urine can be very light and nearly odorless initially. Urine with an intense smell or color can also be a sign of dehydration in your pets.

The low surface tension of cat and dog urine allows it to soak into fibers and through to the padding in many cases. Cats also tend to pee towards walls, which can lead to problems with your baseboards as well as the carpet padding. Simply put, cat urine is more challenging because of the concentrated nature of their urine and an odor that is harder to eliminate.

Removing Urine Stains from Carpet

As we’ve said, urine can be a tough stain to get out of carpet depending on things like medication, water intake, and diet. All of the factors can affect the color of urine along with the smell. The best approach is to listen to professionals that have experience cleaning these types of stains or companies that manufacture carpet.

While all of the companies below use similar methods to deal with cat or dog urine, there are some minor differences. With that in mind, every company recommends using clean white towels during the process and taking your time with the stain.

Whenever you want to use weight to speed up the drying process, it’s important to use flat, smooth objects that are colorfast so they won’t damage the fiber. As tempting, as it may be, don’t soak your carpet with cleaner, and never rub the stain… only blot it.

Shaw is a leader in the carpet industry, and they also provide more information than their competitors when it comes to urine removal. The company recommends using a mixture containing ¼ teaspoon of clear dishwashing detergent with 1 cup of warm water. Use those clean white towels to apply the solution and gently blot the stain by working from the outside in.

You can remove residue using a new towel that’s been dampened with water, and can soak up any access water with weighted objects on a stack of paper towels. Shaw recommends using a flat-bottom baking dish with something heavy inside. If unsuccessful, you can rinse and repeat this process or proceed to their next step.

For tough urine stains, you can try using ½ cup of hydrogen peroxide mixed with 1 teaspoon of household ammonia. Use the same cleaning process, but this time let the mixture stand beneath a sheet of plastic wrap for 2-3 hours that’s been weighed down.

If the stain is gone, you need to need to use undiluted white vinegar with a clean cloth to neutralize the ammonia. Then, you can use a bit of water on a clean cloth to clear up the vinegar residue before drying the carpet.

The cleaning process from Stainmaster carpet is identical as they recommend using the same amount of detergent, but say to leave it on for at least 5 minutes before rinsing the spot with cool water. Where things differ is through their second method, which utilizes 2 tablespoons of white vinegar with 4 cups of warm water in place of peroxide and ammonia.

Fabrica also tells their customers to use dishwashing detergent for removing urine, although they recommend a mix of ½ teaspoon to 1 cup of water. If that doesn’t take care of the stain, you can try 1 tablespoon of ammonia mixed with ½ cup of water or 1/3 cup of white vinegar combined with 2/3 cup of water. As a last resort, they mention using rust remover but provide no further details on a brand or process.

Last, but certainly not least, is advice from Karastan. You won’t find any changes from their methods, as it’s nearly identical to Shaw’s from start to finish in regards to the detergent method. If you prefer vinegar, you can try ½ cup of white vinegar with 1 cup of warm water.  When those methods won’t work, they recommend using an enzymatic cleaner, which leads us to our next section.

Specialized Carpet Cleaning Products

Whether you have oil, paint, red wine, or hair dye on your carpet, rest assured there is a company out there with a product that promises to remove that pesky stain. While there are dozens of cleaners that live up to that billing, just as many don’t, and using the wrong type of cleaner can damage your carpet.

Every company we researched recommends using household cleaners before turning to chemical-based agents. They did not go in-depth or recommend any urine removers, so we’ve compiled a list featuring some of the best products on the market. Many of these cleaners are enzymatic as well, which means they are designed to fight odors by breaking down stains.

Without getting too technical, enzymatic cleaners use enzymes to remove stains and odors from surfaces. They are ideal for organic stains, which include urine, vomit, and feces. Lemons, Grapefruit, and other types of citrus contain cleaning enzymes as well, but not on the level of the products below.

Wool carpet is naturally resilient, but when it comes to dog or cat urine, its unique properties go out the window. While you want to be cautious with cleaners on any type of carpet, the best option for pet owners with wool carpet is Crystal Odor & Protein cleaner.

This cleaner from Whittaker is enzymatic, which means it excels against odors. It’s also pH neutral and fully certified by The Carpet & Rug Institute and Cleanseal. While it can be tricky to track down, Rug Doctor’s Urine Eliminator is available in a spray bottle and is a multi-use formula that will remove stains and odor from a variety of surfaces.

If you can get rid of the stain, but not the lingering odors that come along with it, you may want to use a disinfectant deodorizer. One of the best comes from Vital Oxide, and it’s a cleaner used by professionals in hospitals and other areas where sanitization is critical. There are hundreds of other options, but if you care about your carpet, you should consult CRI’s listings beforehand.


Getting stains and odors out of carpet quickly is important for homeowners with pets, but the products and methods on our list will work on older stains to a degree as well. You can always try a cleaning method more than once, although you may save yourself some time and money by hiring a professional service for tough to remove stains. 

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