The Household Staple That Can Help Banish Cat Smells From Your Home

A cat can make a pleasant, entertaining pet and companion when you consider their soothing purrs, lap-warming abilities, and love for plastic bags and cardboard boxes. Unfortunately though, having a feline friend also means having to deal with that pungent urine odor, in addition to smells from cat vomit and hairballs. Even while covered in a litter box that's cleaned every other day, it can still make its way through the air. You can choose from a wide variety of products on store shelves to neutralize cat smells in the air and on various surfaces. Or, you can use something you probably already have under your kitchen or bathroom sink: hydrogen peroxide.

Many people describe the odor created by cat urine as a "chemical" smell. This is an accurate description because it actually does contain chemicals. More specifically, it contains ammonia and a pheromone called MMB that develops when the amino acid in the urine breaks down (via American Scientist). Hydrogen peroxide, on the other hand, is a substance strong enough to bat against the strong ammonia smell in cat urine, thanks to its chemical formula.

How to use hydrogen peroxide against cat urine smells

You can find several different recipes for a hydrogen peroxide solution to neutralize cat smells from your home, depending on where you want to use it. For urine on carpet, CJ's Chem-Dry recommends mixing 4 tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide with a few drops of dish soap and 2 tablespoons of warm water. Spray the affected area, blot with a wet towel, and then with a dry towel before vacuuming. Repeat if necessary. This formula can be used for urine spots on other soft surfaces as well, such as sofas and curtains. Just be sure to read the wash label first, if there is one, or apply the solution on a small, discreet area to test for discoloration. You can also use pure hydrogen peroxide without mixing it with anything else. Apply it to the stain and allow it to soak in for five minutes before blotting.

If you want to add fragrance to the soiled area, you may want to consider a recipe shared on TikTok. TikToker @renoswithinreach, known for her helpful tips for homeowners, uses Tide powder detergent, vinegar, water, and baking soda with hydrogen peroxide. Mix an equal amount of water and vinegar and pour it on the problem area before sprinkling a generous amount of baking soda. Then mix ┬╝ cup of hydrogen peroxide with 1 teaspoon of Tide powder and pour the solution on the area. While wearing a rubber glove, massage the ingredients onto the area and dab with a towel after 15 minutes. When dry, run a vacuum over the area.

How hydrogen peroxide neutralizes odors

Hydrogen peroxide offers a number of benefits in a home, but how exactly does it control odors? It all involves a little bit of chemistry. This multi-purpose substance is a chemical compound that contains one more oxygen molecule than water (H2O) does, which gives it its oxidizing ability (via MedicalNewsToday). Oxidation is a chemical reaction in which one substance changes when it's combined with oxygen, according to Collins Dictionary, like the molecule in hydrogen peroxide. When the oxygen molecule comes in contact with the odor-causing molecule in cat urine, it alters the odorous molecule into a non-odorous molecule.

If you want to ensure the foul urine smell stays gone for good, consider following up with an enzyme cleaner. Enzymes convert the liquid uric acid in the cat urine into a gaseous state, as Hill's Pet Nutrition explains. This new gas element eventually evaporates, so you won't have to worry about the stench returning.