Cats relieve themselves outside of the litter box for a variety of reasons, from litter box training missteps to behavioral and health issues. Sometimes it's because of new environmental stresses, or because the litter box hasn't been maintained to their high standards. But while the diagnosis will differ from cat to cat, it’s important to address and eliminate stains and odors as they arise to communicate to your cat that the latest area it chose to soil should not be used again.
We’ve tested 27 odor and stain-removing products in our Des Moines Lab. Each was scored in multiple categories, including the ability to remove the scent of urine (our testers used wolf urine as a substitute for feline), in addition to set-in stains on upholstery and carpeting.
The overall winner was Rocco & Roxie Supply Co. Oxy Stain Remover, which provides effective stain and smell removal with an appealing scent described by our tester as “sweet mint.” We found several other cleaning products that may work better for your specific needs.
Based on data we gathered from hundreds of hours of combined testing, here are the very best cat pee, odor, and stain-removal products.
Best Overall: Rocco & Roxie Supply Co. Oxy Stain Remover
Appealing sweet mint scent
Effective on old stains
Can handle a wide variety of stains in addition to pet-specific messes
Darker stains need more than one treatment to remove
You might not notice that your cat has bypassed their litter box until you get a whiff of the unmistakable and unpleasant scent of urine. Rocco & Roxie Supply Co. Oxy Stain Remover is our top pick for tackling cat tinkle stains on carpets, rugs, and upholstery.
Our tester highlighted its ability to remove stains and odors effortlessly. But the catnip on top for our tester was the sweet mint scent of the product. “The value of this sprayer is equal to how well it works and how well it smells," they noted.
Our testing focused on rugs and upholstery, but Rocco & Roxie Supply Co. Oxy Stain Remover can also be used to clean pet kennels and carriers, litter boxes, clothing, and bedding. It’s chlorine-free and color-safe, so you don’t have to worry about altering the color of the surface you are cleaning. Heavier stains might require more than one application, but our tester was able to remove set-in urine, red wine, and mud stains.
“Overall, it does the job and smells good," our tester said. "I am going to make sure I have some in my cleaning supplies for future stains.”
Price at time of publishing: $20
Best for Stains: OxiClean Carpet & Area Rug Stain Remover
Eliminates the scent of urine
Stains visibly start to lift from fabric while you wait
Affordable and widely available
Longer duration for product to fully saturate stains (up to 20 minutes for set-in stains)
Contains hydrogen peroxide and may discolor white carpet
Worth the wait! Our tester was thoroughly impressed by the stain-eliminating results they experienced with OxiClean Carpet Stain Remover. “It requires a little waiting and scrubbing, but it's worth it.”
Our tester sprayed the product on set-in and fresh stains, and then waited 10 minutes, per the directions on the bottle. While waiting, they reported seeing the stains lift out of the upholstery and carpet, and that it seemed to work best on dry stains, which seemed counterintuitive, but it means that cat owners wouldn’t have to worry about getting to a stain within a certain window of time.
“This is a terrific value, as it performed well on a variety of stains," our tester said.
The scent of urine was also gone, and the product had a light scent that reminded our tester of laundry detergents.
Price at time of publishing: $5
Best For Carpets: Carbona Oxy Powered 2-in-1 Carpet Cleaner
Handy built-in brush
Easily removes fresh stains
Several applications needed for some stains
Brush up on your stain-removing skills with our top pick for carpet cleaning. The Carbona 2-in-1 Oxy Powered No Scent Carpet Cleaner features a convenient brush attached to the bottle to facilitate stain removal and was our tester’s “favorite part of this product.”
They were also pleased with how quickly and easily the product worked to remove fresh stains, but more than one application was required for set-in stains. Our tester also highly emphasized the value of blotting stains prior to applying the spray foam, with wet stains coming out after six minutes, and dried stains removed in 12 minutes. They noted that it did not leave behind a perceptible product scent, but it also didn’t fully remove the scent of urine, so an additional enzymatic cleaner might come in handy to prevent remarking from your cat.
Price at time of publish: $5
Best Budget: Shout Carpet Cleaning Spray with Oxy for Pet Stains and Odors
Shorter duration for product to fully saturate a stain (5 min. vs. 30 min.)
Removed visible stains from carpet
Required a lot of sprays to fully cover heavy stains
The spray mechanism was more difficult to maneuver than in other products
If you’re looking for an inexpensive cleaning spray to keep on-hand for the occasional faux-paw, then Shout Carpet Cleaning Spray with Oxy for Pet Stains and Odors is the best option for you.
“This product is a really cheap alternative to some of these really expensive ones,” remarked our tester, who found the familiar scent of Shout to be appealing.
To use, let the spray saturate a stain for three to five minutes, then blot, let dry, and vacuum. Shout Carpet Cleaning Spray with Oxy for Pet Stains and Odors was one of the fastest stain removers in our trial, with both fresh and set-in stains removed in under 10 minutes. For heavier stains (barbecue sauce for our testing), our tester did two applications, but for urine, the stain and smell were cleared up after the first use.
Price at time of publish: $4
Best for Urine: Rocco & Roxie Supply Co. Professional Strength Stain & Odor Eliminator
Removes urine smell
Clean scent is not overpowering
Works well on upholstery
Not as effective with heavier stain removal
While litter box training a kitten, accidents are bound to happen, and for a multitude of reasons, a cat, at any point in life, might decide to live outside the box when nature calls. If you and your cat have found yourself in a precarious pee situation, removing the scent of urine is a key component to making sure your cat doesn’t continue to go where it shouldn’t.
Our favorite overall spray cleaner is a different Rocco & Roxie Supply Co. product, which performed well with a wide variety of stains, but if your cat often pees outside the litter box, we recommend the enzymatic urine-busting powers provided by the Stain & Odor Eliminator formula.
Rocco & Roxie Supply Co. Stain & Odor Eliminator is our top pick for eviscerating the lingering scent of urine. This spray contains natural enzymes that are activated on contact with odors and stains, and continue to feed on ammonia crystals and organic matter until they are completely eliminated.
The spray takes at least 30 minutes to fully activate after applying, which is a bit longer than the other cleaners on our list. The product itself has an appealing scent, and it is safe to use on a variety of surfaces, including carpet, hardwood, tile, and litter boxes.
Price at time of publishing: $20
Best Scented: The Spruce Stain and Odor Remover in Fresh
Quickly removed urine
Scent is non-toxic and removed odors
Cruelty-free and certified by Leaping Bunny
Long wait time to let product set
Enzymatic formula means it's best reserved for pet-specific stains
Cleaning up an unexpected mess from your cat will bring about a pleasant aroma if you are using The Spruce Pet Stain and Odor Remover spray. It features an aromatic blend of neroli, apple, and orchid, and, most importantly, it’s formulated with enzymes that break down the organic proteins that cause odor, so your cat won’t be lured back by scent to remark.
Our tester found this non-toxic cleaner made from plant-derived ingredients to be beneficial for stain and odor removal. For urine and fresh stains, it delivered results with ease, but for darker and heavier stains (red wine, mud, and barbecue sauce), multiple applications, along with a longer period to let the product penetrate, were required.
This product is pH adjusted for use around pets and is free of caustics, dyes, synthetic fragrances, parabens, phthalates, chlorine, formaldehyde, triclosan, or phosphates. It's also certified cruelty-free by Leaping Bunny, a coalition of animal-protection groups founded to offer consumer information.
In addition to rugs and upholstery surfaces, it’s safe to use on kennels, tile, and wood.
Price at time of publish: $11
Best for Furniture: Scotchgard OXY Pet Spot & Stain Remover Carpet & Fabric
Great for stain removal
Does not have any overpowering scent
Not ideal for scent removal
If muddy paw prints and slightly missed-the-litter-box urine stains are the main sources of tension between you and your cat, then the Scotchgard OXY Pet Carpet & Fabric Spot & Stain Remover is the cleaner for you. Scotchgard is perhaps most widely known for products that can shield fabrics from elements such as water and dirt. In line with its reputation, this stain remover also creates a protective layer to help block future stains from developing in the same location.
While it didn’t receive high marks for scent removal, our tester found that it did work well for eliminating stains caused by urine, red wine, barbecue sauce, and mud. “Stain removal in all types was great,” they remarked before adding that they would highly recommend it to friends and family. It’s also safe to use on most fabrics, including wool, polyester, polypropylene, nylon, cotton, cotton blends, and acrylic.
Price at time of publish: $12
Best Non-Toxic: Kids 'N' Pets Instant All-Purpose Stain & Odor Remover
Enzymatic formula to break down cat urine
Won't alter carpet color
Several applications were required to remove some stains and odors
Cats use their senses, including their tongues, to explore the unknown, and kids tend to put things in their mouths. If you share your home with children and cats, the Kids ‘N’ Pets Instant Stain and Odor Remover is a great option for you. Its formula is safe for use around small children and pets, and our tester found it to be effective, making it our top choice for a non-toxic stain and odor remover to tackle cat pee.
For more difficult stains, our tester noted the need for more than one application, along with a very long wait time to let the product saturate—up to two hours for set-in stains on the carpet. For fresh stains and upholstery, the duration was under 25 minutes. Overall, our tester found the cleaner to be a great value for the results and the price point. It’s also cruelty-free and biodegradable.
Price at the time of publishing: $11
Best Enzymatic: Biokleen Bac-Out Stain + Odor Remover
Your cat’s urine stains and smells are most easily eliminated using an enzymatic cleaner, which uses biological catalysts to break down fats, proteins, and other chemicals found in animal stains. While several of the spray cleaners on our list use enzymatic cleaning ingredients, we found Biokleen Bac-Out Stain + Odor Remover to be among the most effective that's specifically designed for cat stains, whether it's urine, drool, or vomit.
The foam spray cleaner, which is plant-based with no artificial fragrances or dyes, was applied to carpet and upholstery and left to saturate for 10 minutes. For our tester, one application was sufficient for the removal of urine and did not leave a scent behind. They also found the design and spray of the bottle to be enjoyable, reporting, “My favorite part is probably the spray bottle component. It felt satisfying spraying this cleaner.”
"Whether the stain was old or fresh, this product seems to be equally effective," our tester also noted.
Composed of enzymes that break down proteins and bacteria causing stains and smells, this cleaner is meant to be used on any water-safe fabric.
Price at time of publish: $11
The Rocco and Roxie Oxy Stain Remover is our top recommendation for tackling cat pee, odor, and stains on upholstery and carpets. In our testing, this product successfully removed stains and odors while leaving behind an appealing aroma described as "sweet mint" by our tester. If you are looking for a more affordable option, Shout Carpet Cleaning Spray with Oxy for Pet Stains and Odors comes in at a lower price point and will also remove spots and the stench of cat pee.
What to Look for in a Cat Pee, Odor, and Stain Removal Product
Look for a formula that's made for the type of surface you need to clean. Our testing focused on upholstery fabric and carpeting, but some of the items on our list can work on other surfaces, from clothing and mattresses to hardwood floors and plastic.
The products featured on our list use a variety of active ingredients to power their stain and odor-fighting abilities. While some rely upon relatively safe chemicals to accomplish the task, others are non-toxic. Always be sure to check the label before using a product around children and pets, but most are generally safe once they've dried. If you’re worried about remarking, opt for an enzymatic cleaner to deter your cat from tinkling where it shouldn't.
A lot of cleaning products are labeled as "color safe," meaning they shouldn't alter the appearance of the fabric you are cleaning. However, we've found that it's best to do a patch test on a discreet section of the item you are cleaning before a full application. That way, you can observe whether the product will have an impact on the dye and/or fabric fiber on the piece.
How We Tested Cat Pee, Stain, and Odor-Removal Products
We purchased and tested 27 odor- and stain-removing cleaning products on the market in our Des Moines Lab, applying each one to both fresh and set-in stains on carpeted rugs and pillow covers made with upholstery fabric, to observe and compare their effectiveness. Our methodology guided testers through multiple scores while also gathering subjective impressions along the way.
To start, our testers applied one tablespoon of red wine, barbecue sauce, mud, and wolf urine next to a set-in stain from the same substance on each of their test surfaces. They tackled the fresh stains first and the set-in stains the following day.
For the fresh stains on each surface, our testers waited at least one minute (but did not exceed 30 minutes) before blotting the stain with a clean, dry towel to remove any solids (e.g., clumps of dirt within the mud) or wiping away any excess. They then followed the directions on the cleaning product, or if instructions were not provided by the manufacturer, they applied the cleaning solution, waited five minutes, and gently agitated the carpet fibers with their gloved fingers, a soft nylon brush, or a clean, dry towel. Then, the area was blotted with damp, cool water to rinse the fibers and remove any remaining solution, and the surface was allowed to dry for at least 15 minutes.
After one treatment, the effectiveness of the cleaner on the stain was noted by our testers, who recorded whether the stain was lighter or completely removed, or whether the product had no effect. For enzymatic cleaners, our testers also noted whether the scent of wolf urine had been removed. For stains that remained, our testers did a second application and then noted the results.
The following day, our testers followed the same steps as before on set-in stains and once again noted their observations on the stain- and odor-removal effectiveness.
With each product, testers recorded whether the product caused any loss or change to the color of the carpet fibers or fabric, the duration required for the product treatment to start working, the scent of the product (whether it was undetectable, unpleasant, appealing, or overpowering), toxicity warnings on the product, and whether an applicator was included.
Finally, our testers looked up the price of each product they were testing (prices for tested products range from $3.58 to $29.99 with a median price of $9.97) and gave us their impression of the product's overall value, along with their likelihood of recommending it to friends and family.
What is an enzymatic cleaner?
Enzyme cleaners contain beneficial bacteria that emit enzymes to break down molecules found in organic material like pet urine. Once the enzymes break the molecules down into smaller pieces, the bacteria get to work consuming the smaller molecules.
How do I get old or set-in pet stains out of carpet?
Select the carpet cleaner that works best for your needs, and follow the instructions carefully. Old and set-in pet stains, such as those caused by urine, feces, and vomit, may require more than one application. Manually agitating the carpet fibers (with gloved fingers, a brush, or a cloth) after the product has saturated will also aid with the removal of the stain.
Can dry cleaning remove cat urine odors?
No, dry cleaning alone will not get rid of the odor. It can remove the stain and may temporarily mask the odor. Cat urine contains uric acid, which can last in carpets, fabrics, and wood for years. Some products may neutralize the odor temporarily, but given the right conditions, like a humid day, the uric acid will recrystallize, and the odor will return. The only way to destroy uric acid is to use an enzyme cleaner.
Why Trust The Spruce Pets?
This roundup was written by Anna Mejorada, a writer for The Spruce Pets, who shares her home with a very cat-like pomeranian, Gidget, which she lovingly refers to as a meoweranian. And while Gidget does not use a litter box, she does opt to "freshen up" on a pee pad, so Anna is very familiar with cleaning up the occasional accident. Before researching and writing about pet products for a living, Anna embarked on a self-mandated, ongoing quest to find the optimal items for her dog. She is now delightfully devoted to helping humans discover and select the most favorable products for their pets.
A previous version of this article was written by Anne Fritz, a freelance writer who specializes in home content. A former editor, her work has appeared in several leading publications.