Cats relieve themselves outside of the litter box for reasons ranging 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 standards.
Regardless of the cause, it's essential to clean cat stains and remove odors from carpet, rugs, and other surfaces, so that your cat doesn't begin to treat the spot as a bathroom. The right cleaner can keep an incident from becoming a habit.
We tested dozens of odor and stain-removing products in our Des Moines Lab. Based on our findings, we sent 17 of our favorite stain removers to volunteer testers to try at home with their cats. They gave us feedback in multiple categories, taking notes about how well each cleaner managed odors, cleaned up urine, and erased set-in stains.
Our favorite after testing is Bubba's Rowdy Friends Pet Stain & Odor Terminator, which provides effective stain and smell removal—on both new and set-in stains—on household surfaces, leaving behind the faint scent of mint and eucalyptus.
Bubba's Rowdy Friends Pet Stain & Odor Terminator
Completely removes stains and odors from cat urine, both old and new
Lightly scented with mint and eucalyptus
Safe to use on rugs, upholstery, concrete, wood, leather, clothes, bedding, artificial turf, and faux fur
Approved by the Carpet and Rug Institute
Gallon jug refills available
No animal testing
Not widely available in stores
We used this cleaner to tackle a set-in stain from cat pee on a faux fur rug and weeks later the stench has not returned. Per the instructions, we allowed the undiluted cleaner to saturate the stain for one hour, then rinsed it with water, and hung it up to air dry. The stain and the smell were completely eliminated leaving behind a subtle scent of eucalyptus and mint.
Bubba's Rowdy Friends Pet Stain & Odor Terminator is an enzymatic cleaner, which means it uses proteins that accelerate chemical reactions, in this case by breaking down the components of a stain, such as the ammonia crystals in cat urine. These enzymes, produced by beneficial bacteria, are especially good for cat and other pet stains because they target organic compounds common to urine, vomit, and feces. Enzymatic cleaners are typically safer and more environmentally-friendly than cleaners that rely on more caustic primary ingredients.
We found Bubba's Rowdy Friends to be wholly effective. It's also usable almost anywhere—carpets, upholstery, wood floors, concrete, plastic surfaces, laundry, and even on artificial grass (useful if you use an indoor dog potty).
Bubba's Rowdy Friends is certified by the Carpet and Rug Institute, which means it's passed tests for cleaning efficacy and colorfastness. It's available in a 32-ounce spray bottle, which can be refilled with gallon jug refills.
Price at time of publish: $20
Cleaner Type: Enzymatic spray | Scent: Eucalyptus, mint | Sizes: 32, 64, and 128 ounces
Best for Urine
Nature's Miracle Cat Enzymatic Stain and Odor Remover Spray
Effective removal of fresh and old urine stains
Spray bottle makes application easy
Very light citrus scent
Safe for use on carpeting, rugs, hardwood floors, and more
No animal testing
Not safe for use on untreated hardwood, leather, suede, silk or wool
Nature's Miracle Just for Cats Stain and Odor Remover dissolves stains and smells, both old and new, left behind by feline inhabitants in a home. The enzymatic cleaner gets to work upon contact with unwanted organic matter—pee, poop, vomit—removing the mess and leaving behind a mild citrus scent.
The sturdy spray bottle makes it easy to saturate stains and spots with lingering odors. We applied the cleaner to a urine stain on beige carpeting. After letting it sit for 15 minutes. we blotted the treated area and watched as the yellowed tinge of urine was visibly lifted off of the carpet and onto the paper towel.
The reasonably priced cleaner can be used to clean water-safe surfaces, like hardwood floors and upholstery. During the application and saturation phase, it's best to keep all pets away from treated areas for their safety. Once the product is dry—and the stain and odor are gone—your pets can return to roaming freely.
Price at time of publish: $13 (32-ounce)
Cleaner Type: Enzymatic spray | Scent: Eucalyptus, mint | Safe Around Kids & Pets: Yes | Ingredients: Water, isopropyl alcohol, surfactants, citrus fragrance, enzymatic blend, and odor counteractant | Sizes: 32 ounces
Best Budget Enzymatic Cleaner
Biokleen Bac-Out Stain & Odor Remover
No phosphates, chlorine, ammonia and artificial fragrances or dyes
No animal testing
Effective stain and odor removal on water-safe surfaces: fabrics, laundry, carpets, and furniture
Squeeze bottle dispenser takes longer to cover larger stains
A cat's pee 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 organic matter emitted by your feline friend, like pee, poop, and vomit. Biokleen Bac-Out Stain & Odor Remover tested as well as our other favorite enzymatic cleaners.
This plant-based cleaner is free of phosphates, chlorine, and ammonia, and does not contain any artificial fragrances or dyes. It can be used on most water-safe surfaces including carpets, clothing, and upholstery, and leaves behind a scent that reminded us of lemonade.
Biokleen Bac-Out is a good budget option, because not only is it more affordable than our other recommendations, but it's also frequently available in two-packs for additional savings.
Price at time of publish: $11 (16-ounce)
Scent: Lemon | Safe Around Kids & Pets: Yes | Ingredients: Water, glycerin, viable bacteria culture, phenoxyethanol, C12-16 pareth-7, tetrasodium glutamate diacetate, disodium citrate, and citrus species leaf oil | Sizes: 16, 32 ounces
Best for Odors
Zero Odor Pet Stain Remover & Odor Eliminator
Non-toxic and biodegradable formula
Safe to use on upholstery, carpets, rugs, kennels, and pet carriers
No animal testing
Scent smells a little like pool chlorine but dissipates quickly
Zero Odor Pet Stain Remover gets rid of the ew that comes out of your meow. Spray it into the air or directly onto a stain to eradicate the unpleasant odors left behind by your cat.
We were impressed with how quickly this cleaning solution was able to erase the stain and the smell of cat pee on carpeting without the need for a second application. The formula does not contain a lasting fragrance, but you might notice a faint scent similar to a chlorinated pool for a few minutes after application. That is a tracer fragrance to help you determine which areas are currently being cleaned and deodorized. The cleaning product is safe to use around humans and animals, but it's always best to keep kids and pets away from any freshly treated spaces.
The manufacturer claims the spray is powerful enough to handle skunk spray odors, but that is not a scenario we encountered during testing.
Price at time of publish: $17 (16-ounce)
Scent: Chlorine tracer fragrance | Safe Around Kids & Pets: Yes | Ingredients: Water, stabilized hydrated active complex, alcohol, pH balancer, tracer fragrance, and surface tension agent | Sizes: 16 ounces
Skout's Honor Pet Stain & Odor Remover
Adjustable spray nozzle for targeted use
Neutralized odors from a three-cat litter box in our real-world testing
A portion of profits support animal rescues
Manufacturer guarantee offered with contact information clearly displayed
No animal testing
Several applications required for stain removal
Cannot be used on natural surfaces such as wool and leather
Skout's Honor Professional Strength Pet Odor and Stain Remover is made with a plant-based surfactant to dissolve stains and a mineral-based deodorizer to neutralize organic smells left behind by pets. The spray bottle is equipped with an adjustable nozzle to target areas around the house including carpet, furniture, bedding, and any other water-safe surfaces.
We found this cleaning solution to be very helpful while sprucing up a litter box area used by three cats. It got rid of the pungent pee and poop scent leaving behind a floral fragrance that quickly dissipated. It's safe to use around pets, so a good one to keep on hand for regular cleaning. We were more impressed with this spray for its ability to nullify scent than for its stain-removal capability. Several applications on a rug and sofa were required for a noticeable improvement with older stains. For fresh stains, the product is more efficient, and can also be used to clean up mud, grease, and wine. But it is not recommended for cleaning up stains and odor from natural surfaces like wool, unsealed wood, and leather.
In addition to cleaning products that are safe to use around pets, Skout's Honor creates pet wellness and grooming products, and a portion of proceeds from each item sold is donated to animal rescues. Plus, the company offers a guarantee if you are not fully satisfied and their contact information is clearly displayed.
Price at time of publish: $16 (35-ounce)
Safe Around Kids & Pets: Yes | Cleaner Type: Enzymatic spray | Ingredients: Deionized water, biokore, biodegradeable molecular complex, plant-based fragrance | Sizes: 35, 128 ounces
Angry Orange Pet Odor Eliminator Spray
Light citrus scent
Paraben-Free, Sulfate-Free, Phthalate-Free
Fully removes detectable odors overnight
Safe to use on carpets, furniture, tile, basements, garbage cans, car interiors, and artificial turf
Available as ready-to-use spray and concentrated formula
The spray nozzle got stuck and jammed up after several uses
May require more than one application to fully remove set in stains
Natural oranges are the power source foundation for the Angry Orange Pet Odor Eliminator Spray. We treated the stubborn stench of cat pee on a couch and woke up to a lingering aroma that reminded us of being in the same room as a freshly peeled orange. The accompanying stain that brought about the stench was almost completely gone too, but we were still able to see the faint outline of where the cat pee had dried.
Originally developed for use in feedlots and kennels and made in the United States, this cleaning solution can be used in a home with pets and kids. We tested the ready-to-use spray version but the cleaner can also be purchased as a concentrated formula to mix with water. This cleaner can also be used to eliminate stains and odors from hardwood floors, tile, upholstery, car interiors, and more.
Price at time of publish: $20 (24-ounce bottle)
Scent: Angry oranges | Safe Around Kids & Pets: Yes | Ingredients: Water, orange fragrance, proprietary encapsulated 5-strain bacillus blend, nonionic surfactant, sodium citrate, benzylisothiazolinone, d-limonene & linalool | Sizes: 2, 24, and 128 ounces
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
The Carbona 2-in-1 Oxy Powered No Scent Carpet Cleaner features a convenient brush attached to the bottle to facilitate stain removal. It was a hit with our testers.
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. While Carbona 2-in-1 was effective at lifting away stains—particularly after blotting—
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: $39
Safe Around Kids & Pets: Yes | Cleaner Type: Foam | Surfaces: Carpets & upholstery
We Also Like
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
No animal testing
Darker stains need more than one treatment to remove
Our tester highlighted Rocco & Roxie Supply Co. Oxy Stain Remover's ability to remove stains and odors effortlessly. “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.”
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.
Price at time of publishing: $20
Scent: Mint | Safe Around Kids & Pets: Yes | Cleaner Type: Spray | Surfaces: Carpets & upholstery
Bubba's Rowdy Friends Pet Stain & Odor Terminator is our top choice for cat pee, stain, and odor elimination. It's safe to use on a variety of household surfaces, effective, and moderately priced. If you are looking for an effective solution that leaves behind a pleasant aroma, Angry Orange Pet Odor Eliminator Spray removes spots and replaces the stench of cat pee with freshly peeled oranges.
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.
We then selected 17 of the top-performing products and sent each one to a home with at least one cat for real-world testing. For two weeks, we gathered insights documenting the efficacy of each product on fresh and old stains. Scoring each cleaner on its ease of use, the effectiveness of stain and odor removal, and the scent of the product.
At the end of our trial period, we analyzed and categorized our findings. Using our first-hand information, we ranked and categorized our top picks to help consumers find the cleaner best suited for their cat pee and odor removal needs.
What to Look for in a Cat Pee, Odor, and Stain Removal Product
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.
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 updated 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 Mejorada is very familiar with cleaning up the occasional accident. Before researching and writing about pet products for a living, she 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.