This story is part of Home Tips, CNET’s collection of practical advice for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.
Cat pee can quickly turn a beloved sofa that’s a hub for the whole family into a stinky spot that needs to be avoided. Not only can cat pee make the entire room smell terrible, it can be difficult to remove from fabric. Luckily, there are solutions to save your favorite piece of furniture.
Before you get too upset with your feline companion for this pesky problem, keep in mind that it’s probably not their fault. If a cat is peeing on your sofa, there is likely an underlying cause for the behavior, and you should consult your veterinarian if it’s an ongoing problem, according to the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Meanwhile, it’s important to remove your cat’s pee stains from your couch as soon as possible. Here’s a few quick — and easy — tips to remove cat urine and odors from your couch. (We’ve also got tips for how to get pet stains out of carpets, how to remove makeup stains from your bedding, and how to clean your mattress.)
Read more: 14 Cleaning Tools That’ll Make You Excited to Clean
Easy steps for cleaning up cat urine
Strip your sofa covers and remove pillows
Time is of the essence when it comes to cleaning cat pee from fabric. Start by removing all blankets, sofa covers, and pillows from your couch. Throw them in the washing machine immediately. For the sofa itself, urine stains will rapidly set in, so it’s important to be proactive about cleaning it up quickly.
Use a black light to identify all of the stains
Sometimes cats just pee a little bit on different parts of the sofa, so you need to be sure to find all the areas where your cat has relieved itself. Otherwise, leaving pee stains inadvertently encourages them to pee in that spot again.
According to the SPCA, using a black light will help you identify all the spots that have urine stains on your sofa. Urine stains will appear to be a yellow-green color in the dark.
Use an enzymatic cleaner instead of an ammonia-based cleaner
When it comes to cleaning up cat pee from your sofa, always use an enzymatic cleanser. According to the ASPCA, you should never clean up cat pee from your sofa with any ammonia-based cleanser because urine naturally contains ammonia, and the smell of it can attract a cat to urinate in the same exact spot again in the future. Follow the instructions on both the enzymatic cleanser packaging and your sofa manufacturer’s recommendations for cleaning your upholstery.
Clean the stains with a DIY-solution
If you want to try cleaning your cat’s urine from your sofa with a solution you make yourself, it’s doable and effective. Debra Johnson, a cleaning expert for Merry Maids, told Today that for fresh urine stains, you can use a mixture of dishwashing detergent, vinegar and water. Just mix one tablespoon of dishwashing liquid detergent with two cups of cold water in a small bowl. Then add one tablespoon of vinegar to the solution and gently stir it all together.
Start by gently blotting the cat urine stain with a microfiber cloth. Do this multiple times to remove the excess urine that is still on your couch. The key here is to blot the stain gently so that you don’t accidentally make the stain bigger.
Next, grab a new microfiber cloth and dip into your solution. Start gently cleaning the stain, working your way from the outside to the inside. Repeat as much as you need to until you’re certain the stain has been removed. Then get a wet cloth to help rinse out the residue of the cleaning solution. Finally, get a fresh microfiber cloth to blot the area dry.
Prevent your cat from peeing on the couch again
Unless your cat is a new kitten still adjusting to their new home, it’s unlikely that your feline companion peed on your sofa for no reason. Cats are intelligent creatures and it may be a sign that something is wrong. If you have multiple cats, double-check to make sure that you have plenty of litter boxes so that they don’t feel crowded when they go (and make sure you keep them clean by poop scooping daily). The more cats you have, the more litter boxes you should have for them.
If your cat keeps peeing on the sofa, they may think they need to mark their territory. If you haven’t already spayed or neutered your cat, do so as soon as possible. Not only does that help control the pet population, but it also can eliminate your cat’s need to mark their territory.
If it continues to be an issue, discuss the issue with your veterinarian. According to the ASPCA, it’s possible that your cat is doing that because they have anxiety, and medication might be able to help solve the problem (and help your beloved pet feel better).
If you’re interested in more cleaning solutions, read our guide on how to clean your toilet without a plunger and how to clean your Keurig coffee machine. Also, consult our pet safety guide.