How Can I Get Old Cat Urine Smell Out Of A Mattress?

Has your cat been peeing out of its litter box lately? Is it using your mattress as it new litter box? Does your mattress keep smelling even though you cleaned it thoroughly? 

Well, in that case, you have reached the right place, because we have the answers you have been looking for.

Here is what you need to do:

If your cat’s urine smell is not getting out of your mattress, you need to use an enzyme-based cleaner or vinegar mixed with equal parts of water or even hydrogen peroxide mixed with equal parts or water to get rid of urine smell.

How to get an old cat urine smell out of a mattress?

Since your cat has decided to pee on your mattress, you need to take quick actions to clean it and get rid of that smell. Otherwise, if you do not clean it thoroughly, your cat will keep returning to the spot and keep peeing there.

There are multiple methods for you to follow to get rid of that god-awful smell. Before I introduce those steps, I would like to give you the basic steps that need to follow. this way, using these steps you will be able to get rid of the smell using any method you like.

Step 1: Since it is not a fresh stain you cannot absorb it up anymore because it has been there for quite some time now and, this should be done when the stain is new. For an old stain, you need to soak up the mattress area in as much water and leave it soaked in it for some time.  

Step 2: The next step is to put on your preferred cleaning agent from the following mentioned methods and let your stained area soak in it again for some time.

Step 3: Once done soaking, you can scrub it up with baking soda or any other liquid to ensure the area is disinfected and cleaned thoroughly. This step will help you remove that smell as well.

Step 4: Once the baking soda has been left to absorb the moisture and you have rubbed it vigorously, you can dust it off and vacuum it properly.

Step 5: Let your mattress dry up for a good 2-3 days by keeping it in the sun or turning on fans or any other method you select from the following mentioned methods. 

Now you know what are the basic steps required to cleanse your mattress from old cat urine smell. 


Since you are now aware of the basic steps need to be done, I would like to tell you the variety of methods you can follow along with the above-mentioned steps. These methods will consist of things that can be found in our house usually or they can be easily purchased from stores.

Here we go:

Method 1

The first method is to soak your mattress’s affected corner or the area with almost 4 cups of water. Make sure that you have soaked the area well enough and leave it for a good 15 to 20 minutes. 

Then, soak the area with equal parts of water and vinegar. You can pour the vinegar directly onto the mattress if you think the smell is too strong. Once it is soaked leave the mattress again for 15-20 minutes.

Extract as much of it as you can, and then sprinkle some dishwashing liquid over the area to overcome the vinegar smell. Make sure you scrub the area with a soft brush and rub the area vigorously to ensure that every inch of the area is thoroughly cleansed.

Wipe clean the liquid soap and all the foam with clean water. Sprinkle a liberal amount of baking soda over the wet area and keep rubbing it with a light hand. The soda will act as an absorbent and will soak up the maximum amount of water and moisture from the mattress.  

Once the soda dries up, use a vacuum cleaner to suck off all the baking soda and the water from the mattress. Your mattress will be clean and tidy again. 

Since the vinegar is very strong, chances are that the area may smell a little like vinegar. So use it only if the vinegar smell does not bother you.

Method 2

Once you have soaked the mattress with water, the next step would be to sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda at the spot and soak the area with hydrogen peroxide and rub the mixture with a brush nicely and softly.

Once it has dried up nicely and moisture has been absorbed, vacuum the area repeatedly to clear out all the baking soda.

This is a light cleaning agent therefore if the smell remains, repeat the process to get rid off old cat urine smell.

Method 3

Once you have soaked the area with water and absorbed the excess with a paper towel, use an enzyme-based cleaner to soak the affected area. Enzyme cleaners are very useful in such cases because the enzymes are specifically made to break down organic matters like blood and urine. Make sure the cleaner cover up the entire stain nicely.

Once soaked for 15-20 minutes, absorb the excess with a dry paper towel. You will know the excess has been absorbed when the paper towel starts to come off dry when pressed in the mattress.

Sprinkle a good amount of baking soda on the top of the wet area, almost ½ a cup or depending on the stain size.

The soda will absorb the excess moisture and the cleanser’s smell. You can allow the mattress to dry out in the sun, or you can use a hairdryer or even a stand fan to dry out the area.

If you want to use the mattress at night just place a plastic sheet over the area and put on the bead spread as per usual. When you wake up in the morning allow the fan to air dry your mattress again.

Method 4

After soaking the mattress in water and absorbing the excess using dry paper towels, pour a good amount of shampoo, dishwashing liquid and rubbing alcohol.

Applying baking soda as per usual and then letting your mattress to air dry will also help you out in getting rid of the smell.


Since your cat has peed on the mattress a long time ago and it has dried up and seeped into the mattress deeper, it will be a little difficult to get rid of the smell completely. But these methods if repeated more then once may help you to get rid of the smell eventually.

Why is your cat peeing on the mattress?

With your cat peeing on your mattress, it’s possible for you to think that your cat is taking some sort of revenge from you or is acting like this because it wants to irritate you. Well, this is surely not the case. Cats do not have such cognitive abilities and cannot plot against you or to irritate you.

If your cat has been peeing outside the litter box frequently, it means that there is some problem and you need to stay alert and start acting before the situation gets out of your hands. 

Multiple reasons that your act is not using the litter box include:

Health issues

Your cat may be facing some serious health issue which needs your attention as soon as possible. Your cat may be suffering from kidney stones, bladder infections, arthritis, urinary tract infection, diabetes or even hyperthyroidism. 

Arthritis makes your cat unable to do a lot of physical activity or even sit inside the litter box, because either the box has high walls that require it to jump, or is placed somewhere your cat has to walk or climb the stairs. These activities cause your cat to feel the pain and hence start urinating wherever it can. This case has more chances to be seen in older cats.

Dietary changes

If your cat has never done such an act before and has recently started peeing outside the litter box, it may be because of some dietary changes. You may have introduced something in their diet that is making them behave this way. So, check if there are some more changes in your cat’s behaviour.

Social or environmental changes

Cats tend to urinate more often if they feel stressed out. If you have introduced some major changes in their environment, chances are that your cat is feeling ignored, stressed or even anxious and therefore behaving in such manner.

The environmental changes that can cause your cat to behave like this can be an addition of a baby, your partner, a new pet etc. Make sure to give your cat enough time if you have recently introduced something new in their surroundings so that they don’t feel left out.

Dirty litter box

Cats are very clean pets by nature; therefore they require you to keep their surrounding and the cat itself neat and clean. If the litter box is not being cleaned frequently, it may become a reason for your cat to move around the house and do its business there. Make sure that you clean their litter box frequently to ensure no such behaviours. 

Location of the litter box

Yes. Believe it or not, cats can be very picky about their litter box location. They prefer to do their business in a private and quiet place. Hence, you need to check if you have placed the litter box near a window or a washing machine etc because they got to have their private spaces.

Extra litter boxes 

We all know how cats are. They behave in a very royal manner and do not like to work a lot. They prefer to have their food fresh and things closer by so that they do not have to move around a lot.

When you buy yourself a cat, make sure to get extra litter boxes as well. They need to have multiple boxes placed in the house so that they can use it when they lose bladder control. 

If your cat is old, they will need litter boxes that are low in height and are placed near them to help them when they do not have a lot of bladder control. In case of a kitten, they also tend to urinate here and there very often hence placing a few extra litter boxes will only ensure that your cat does not pee elsewhere. 

How to stop future accidents?

One plus one: a rule of thumb

To ensure that your cat does not pee in on your bed, cushions, sofas or the carpet, the first thing you need to do is keep extra litter boxes. A basic thumb of rule is to have one litter box per cat plus one. These can be placed in areas where your cat likes to stay most of the time. 

Nice, clean and attractive

Cats being very clean animals want to have litter boxes cleaned frequently. Some cats even want to get a fresh new litter box every time they do their business or else they will find other places to release their stress. 

If you have cleaned the box nicely, maybe your cat is not comfortable with the litter box height or shape. You need to ensure that it is not too tall for it and is attractive enough for your cat to visit the litter box whenever they want to pee.

Plastic sheets

You can try to keep your bedroom doors closed at all time and stop your cat from entering the bedroom at all. If you still want your cat to be in your room, you can put plastic sheets on the bed or sofas to ensure that no such liquid gets soaked into the surface because let’s face it, cleaning and disinfecting is not an easy task.

Essential oils 

Cats do not like a place that smells like citrus fruit, lavender or even mustard seeds etc. You can spray the areas or the rooms you do not want your cat to roam around. This way you will not only be stopping your cat from entering the areas and will not have to look bad in the eyes of your cat. So, it’s a win-win situation.

Psychological tricks

Cats and other pets usually have different places where they eat and where they poo. So it will be a good idea if you can play with them psychologically and give them food in the areas you do not want them to get destressed again. 

Or, if you don’t want to put food because they make a mess, try to play with your cats in those areas and place their toys around more often. This will help them associate these places with playing or eating area and will not have such accidents.

Destress them

Cats, when stressed, tend to lose bladder control and pee wherever they can. To prevent such future behaviours, you may try and give them more attention. You can try to take them out for more walks and get them more toys so that they can release any stress or anxiety that they may be facing.

Related questions

Can breathing in cat pee be harmful?

Pee of any pet is hazardous and will act as an irritant. Even with a little exposure, a person may start to feel respiratory problems and even skin and eye irritations. Long exposure will result in permanent eye damage and skin burn.

Is it normal for cat pee to smell like ammonia?

Cats like marking their territories. If they pee on your mattress or carpets, after a while the bacterium in a cat’s urine can start to smell like ammonia.

Why does cat pee smell so bad?

Cats have very concentrated urine. They are desert animals and they absorb large amounts of water from their urine to stay hydrated.


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