Overall, hardwood floors are fairly durable and easy to maintain, but cat urine is a still a formidable opponent for any surface. Whether yours are the popular oak or maple floors or you have a pricier wood like teak or black walnut, you’ll need to use some care to get the stubborn cat pee smell and stain out without damaging the floor.
Assess the Damage
How much damage the cat pee has done to your lovely wood flooring depends largely on
the condition of the floor, how long the soiling was allowed to linger, and how many times kitty has returned to strike again.
If the item has a solid finish and good sealing with no big cracks, seams or gaps, you’ll probably be able to get the stain and smell out easily.
If, however, there are gaps between the floorboards or the finish is worn down, the urine may have seeped more deeply into the wood. In that case, it may be impossible to remove and the best option would be to sand down and refinish the floorboards or replace them entirely.
What’s more, urine on wood not only smells, but with time or repeated “application,” it can also stain and eventually rot the wood. In this situation, replacing the rotted floorboards is the only option.
Keep in mind that liquid that was absorbed into your hardwood floors can also be soaked up into the nearby wall. That means if your cat has been favoring a corner or spot by a wall for a long time, the wall could be permeated with urine you can’t even see.
You can detect urine on the exterior of the wall by turning out the room lights and shining a black light on the wall (cat urine, like many organic substances, glows under black light).
But it’s also possible that the urine was soaked up inside the wall. So if no amount of cleaning, sealing or even replacing the floorboards gets rid of the odor, I have some bad news for you…the odor might be in the wall.
Removing Cat Urine Odor from Hardwood Floors
Before you start cleaning, read your flooring manufacturer’s care instructions to check for any special precautions you’ll need to take. Recipe #2 from the Cat Urine Problems Eliminated ebook is enough by itself to remove light, fresh staining and odors and most moderate stains and odors, but not heavy staining that’s been there for weeks or longer.
It works especially well on light-colored wood, such as maple or white pine, but there’s a small risk of bleaching with dark woods such as walnut, cherry or teak. To be safe, patch test the solution on a less-visible part of the floor, such as inside a closet, before you apply it to the stain. Ultimately, though, using Recipe #2 is optional, so if you prefer you can skip it and go straight to a stronger cleaner.
Step 1. Blot up any remaining urine with white cloths or paper towels.
Step 2. Clean the soiled area with a wood flooring or furniture cleaner such as Formula 409 or Orange Oil. Mop the floor with pure, cool water and let it dry.
Step 3. Mix up a batch of Recipe #2 and apply it by dipping a white cloth into the solution, then blotting it on the stain. Apply just enough to wet the area, but not saturate it.
Step 4. Let it sit for about 10 minutes, then check to see if the stain has disappeared. If it hasn’t, continue to check every 10 minutes or so. Once the stain is gone or considerably lighter, blot the solution up immediately using a cloth dipped in water.
If you don’t feel comfortable applying the solution directly to the floor, soak a white cloth in the mixture and lay it on the stain. (Avoid using colored cloths, which could bleed dye onto the floor.) This method is gentler on the floor, but slower. To see results, you’ll probably need to reapply cloths every day for a week or longer.
Step 5. Damp-mop the floor with pure, cool water to remove lingering traces of cleaning solution. Apply an enzyme cleaner that’s safe for wood, such as Anti Icky Poo by MisterMax. Follow the directions on the packaging exactly. Correct application is critical. If you’ve never used an enzyme cleaner, here are some tips on using enzyme cleaners for cat urine.
Note that with some hardwood flooring manufacturers, the warranty can be voided if you apply a cleaning solution that contains alcohol, so check your warranty and your cleaning solution’s ingredients.
Step 6. Clean the floor again with a pleasant-smelling wood cleaner such as Pine Sol or Orange Glo. Both those products have scents that cats dislike, so they’ll discourage kitty from peeing in the same spot again.
If the stain is well and truly set, you might have to sand the finish off the affected area and refinish it. Alternatively, a professional flooring installer can switch the stained floorboards with ones in a less visible area.
If the cat urine has soaked through the floorboards into the subflooring, one solution is to seal the surface of the subflooring with an odor-blocking primer, such as Kilz or Zinsser. Replacing the affected subflooring is also an option, but a more expensive one.
Once you get the cat urine out of your hardwood floor, take steps to get to the root of why your cat wet outside the litter box and solve the problem. There are a lot of causes for inappropriate urination behavior, which I go over in detail in Cat Urine Problems Eliminated, but they all have solutions.
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