Or at least, they have the potential to be effective when you use them right. The problem is using these cleaners is a little bit tricky.
Why Your Enzyme Cleaner Might not Work
Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as pouring the cleaner onto the cat urine stain and waiting for it to do its thing. That’s because enzyme cleaners rely on natural, biological processes that are sensitive to a lot of different factors. If anything interferes with the biological process, the cleaner won’t work and you’ll be left with that lovely kitty piddle stain and smell.
Enzymes are biological molecules (most often proteins) that speed up a biological reaction. Usually, they break things down. The enzyme rennin, also called “rennet,” is what turns milk into cheese. The enzymes alpha-amylase and beta-amylase, among others, are used to brew beer. Human stomachs also produce many enzymes that allow us to digest food.
In cat urine cleaning products, you’ll find enzymes that break down uric acid (the stuff that makes the stain and odor stick around) into carbon dioxide and ammonia. These byproducts evaporate and –voila! — a clean carpet, sofa or other surface.
But when you’re using enzymes to clean cat urine, there are two things you need to know:
- Each enzyme has a very specific function. Just like you can’t use rennet to make beer, you can’t use just any old enzyme to break down cat urine stains.
- Enzymes are highly sensitive to their environment. The wrong temperature, moisture level or pH level, or the presence of certain chemicals can prevent them from working.
How Get the Most Out of Your Enzyme Cleaner
Look for a product with a label that specifically states it works on cat urine. Products formulated for grass stains on clothes or even for dog urine might not work. They might, but your chances are better if you choose one that mentions cat urine. A few good ones are:
- Anti Icky Poo by MisterMax
- Nature’s Miracle Just for Cats by Nature’s Miracle
- Out! Stain and Odor Remover by Out! International
Some cleaners shouldn’t be used on wood floors or certain other surfaces, so read the label carefully before you buy.
Once you have your product, follow the directions to the letter. Each product has its own requirements in terms of moisture, temperature, and other factors. Think of the precision involved in the process of making cheese or brewing beer. That’s basically what you’re doing here.
In general, covering the area with a sheet of plastic to keep it warm and humid will help the enzymes work. After the period of time suggested in the product instructions, however, you’ll want to let the area air dry so the byproducts can be released.
But there’s one more thing you need to look out for. There are certain molecules act as inhibitors. These bind to an enzyme and prevent it from working effectively. When you’re using enzymes to clean, inhibitors are generally going to come from other cleaners.
For this reason, make sure the stained area is free from any other chemicals. Don’t use any soap, detergent, or even vinegar to clean the stain before you apply the enzyme cleaner. If you’ve already used some cleaning product on the stain, thoroughly rinse the area with pure water.
Another potential problem is the chemical composition of your cat’s urine itself. If your cat is on any medication, including simple flea or worm meds, or she’s eating a specially formulated diet, this alters the chemical composition of her urine. The chemists who formulated the enzyme cleaners didn’t account for these variations. In this case, you may need either a different enzyme cleaner or a different type of cleaner entirely.
Getting rid of the cat pee smell and stains is just half the battle, of course. You’ll also need to know how to get your cat back to using the litter box and not the carpet. To learn how to do that, check out Cat Urine Problems Eliminated.