FAQs on how to remove or clean off animal smells, urine, stains inside or outside of buildings:
Questions & answers about removing animal or human odor removal from building interiors, building exterior surfaces, from soils around buildings or from urine-odor smelly clothing, bedding, and other soft goods.
This article series explains how to stop, get rid of & prevent future pet or other animal odors from buildings due to pet urine, pet feces, wild animal urine, or even human urine on and around buildings or on clothing and other soft materials.
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(Aug 6, 2011) Marylyn said:
Hi and Help
I have a terrible smell of cat urine coming in under my new windows when it rains or when the wind blows.
I had all of the windows replaced last fall with high quality windows (older one were cheap builder windows), including installing a sill pan system, and we even opened under the windows during installation to check the wall cavities and they were dry and mold free. I also replaced all the insulation under the windows with new (I have even wet this new insulation to smell it and it is NOT the smell I smell). Now with the new windows, I have this terrible cat urine smell. It did not start till this spring and hasn't stopped. I had a mold expert come out and do wall moisture readings. They were fine.
I had air sampling done. It was negative. The window company is coming out to rip out the wallboard under the new windows to see what it is. Do you have any idea or experience with what we might find? I am bracing myself for bad news. Once many many years ago we had a cat urine smell in the basement and found some wet carpet. Once dried and cleaned, the smell was gone forever. This is much MUCH worse. I'm at my wits end over this. Thank you for such an informative site.
PS I wanted to add I am doing your spot odor testing (with the foil and tape and paper towel) to the inside wall as well as the outside window caulking--which has a similar cat pee smell but not as strong.
Marylyn there are some things that can produce a pee smell besides cats, including other animals (mice, rats, in walls for example) and even some fungal growths. I would not do any costly demolition before being pretty sure where the smell originates. And I agree that air testing to try to track down odors is rather iffy.
Even if the test confirms something that's present, unless it's unique, like "heating oil fumes" you won't be any closer to the source. Use the smell test and people who have a good sense of smell along with our other odor track down instructions.
If you find that the odor is coming from new materials (windows?) it may be related to plastics or glues that will outgas - and it may be possible to speed that process up.
(Aug 6, 2011) Marylyn said:
The smell is most definitely coming in from under the windows. In fact, there is an outlet between two windows and it does not smell even when the smell is the strongest (as in the smell is not coming from the wall between them but actually under them). In a strong wind, the smell is ghastly. GHASTLY. As soon as the wind stops, so does the smell. We are at the point where we have to do something.
Fortunately the space between the window and the floor in this room is quite small (they are tall windows and sit about 10 inches off the floor). The area to be opened is narrow (about 6 inches from the bottom of the casing to the top of the floor molding). Out-gassing from a window installation should not stink like this for 6 months. It's an all brick home with no evidence of any animal entry. Thanks!
if you had water leaks at the windows there could be a mold contamination problem in the wall cavity and sometimes even in the floor cavity below those openings. It is worth taking a look.
(Dec 13, 2011) Trudy Duffman said:
Just a comment. Ensure that you do not have Boxwood shrubs outside under the windows. Those bushes smell just like cat urine and especially if trimmed or when it rains or the wind blows.
(Sept 15, 2011) Ann said:
I manage a commercial office building of 15 floors and we have an issue with the "cat pee smell" on the west side of the building, which is the most exposed to the elements. It is only on 2 floors - the 5th on the north-west side and 8th on the south west side. We have tested for mold and none was detected.
This odor only occurs after a heavy rain that blows from the west. We have opened up at the corner columns but have limited space to investigate (about 4" wide) due to ventilation shaft. This building was built in 1967 and there has not been any major work done such as replacing windows etc..... for a number of years so we are at a loss. Any ideas on this ?
Ann, if you search our site for
Animal odors in buildings you'll see my detection and cleanup suggestions. In short you must have access to the pee area to do location and cleaning/ sealing.
A black light can help pinpoint the pee spots for cleaning and perhaps coating with a post-fire type odor sealant, and of course you need measures to encourage kitties to pee elsewhere. I use mothballs, bleach,or Fabuloso cleaner-soap as a deterrent, along with access restrictions.
See these urine odor detection & removal articles
My problem is that there was a cat in my attic (very large attic, approximately 4000 sq ft), for a long period of time. The cat was removed about 1 1/2 year ago, but the smell is just as strong. We have an attic ladder in one of the bedrooms and you can smell the cat urine/poop odor through that door, even when closed. Of course I can not see where the pee and poop is to remove just those areas, so is there anything I can do? - Cathy
Cathy I've dealt with this problem in a number of homes. Unfortunately the solutions that work are to remove all soft goods (insulation, for example) that are smelly or contaminated, and then to clean and seal the remaining surfaces. There are odor sealant paints used, for example, as a smoke odor remedy after a fire and that should work well in your case.
The tough decision is about the extent of drywall to be removed. If you remove all of the insulation in the smelly attic and inspect all surfaces you will probably see on the attic side of ceiling drywall areas that look perfectly clean (just seal those) and others that look stained - consider replacing those.
You can also use a UV light to see pee on surfaces.
I purchased a house, rather cheap, with the intent of fixing it up and renting it. The house had severe cat urine problems that I figured would be relatively easy to clean up – I was wrong.
This is an old 2 story house and for months now I have been tearing out any possible source of the problem and staining over those possible sources I could not remove. To date;
I recently had three noses in to evaluate. There is a smell but only in the living / dining area on the first level. One said she smelled construction material only. The second smelled only paint. The third said some paint, some kitty, but not bad. I myself think I can smell it but I believe I am a bit biased.
I have concluded that some odor remains and I want to further eliminate before I begin to finish off the house but don’t know where the source could possibly be.
Questions I have are:
Any comments would be greatly appreciated. - John
I do not recommend using an ozone generator for this cat smell problem - if you over-do ozone treatments you can create worse and more expensive troubles than ever in the building, and regardless it's not likely to "cure" an odor coming from urine soaked wood, plaster, or other materials in the home.
Ozone treatment can work successfully on particles and smoke molecules such as during deodorizing after a fire , but in other applications such as mold odor remediation we frequently receive complaints of over-treatment, and oxidized materials that emitted worse odors than ever.
Ozone warnings are at OZONE HAZARDS.
I would also not laminate drywall over problem surfaces without some prior treatment and sealing of those spots. The risk is that such a solution is later found to be ineffective and there is a greater cost to tear out the work and do it over again.
Having had tenants in a room for 10 months with snakes,rats,a hedge hog,crocodile, monitor lizard, and a ferret. The smell left behind is grim. We have had the carpet professionally cleaned but it is still not good. We could buy one but having spent money on cleaning which hasn't worked we obviously don't want to spend money on something that is then not going to be the answer. any advice? - Kyla 11/18/11
Kyla in my experience strong animal odors in carpets are very difficult to remove, in part because odors and urine or other materials penetrate both carpet and padding; most carpet cleaning, even steam cleaning, is just too superficial to be effective for deep odor contamination. I'd remove the carpeting, clean the floors, walls, ceilings, and then see how things smell. If odors persist you may need to
(Dec 13, 2014) Trish said:
I have multiple pets and a very smelly house. We've already pulled up the carpeting and pad.
Pet urine has soaked into the wood subflooring. Before putting in new flooring, I need to deal with the smelly subflooring.
I heard about companies that can treat the subfloor with a bleach solution and then apply a sealant to protect the wood subfloor for the future. I want a fresh start before I invest in new flooring. What do you recommend?
Probably your best bet is to clean, sanitize, let dry, then seal the subflooring with the type of sealant paint used by fire restoration companies or mold remediation contractors (search InspectApedia for Fungicidal Sealants to see examples).
(May 4, 2015) Steve Kisacky said:
We had rats living in fiberglass A/C ducting. We got rid of the rats but their odor keeps blowing out into the rooms. Ducting will be replaced next year. I heard that as a temp handling,to spray latex paint inside the ducting to seal off the odor for now? Any experience to verify or other possible handlings short of duct replacement?
There are companies offering sanitizing and sealing spray treatments for ductwork. I would replace it. In my opinion there can be more subtle hazards than odor such as bacteria and viral worries that may escape treatment.
(Aug 1, 2015) Sandra said:
remove rat smell (urine?) from concrete flooring in empty corner space of kitchen cabinets. Got rid of the rats but am left with this unpleasant odor in the corner of the kitchen
After thorough cleaning whgen the surfaces are completely dry you'll probably need to apply an odor-controlling sealant.
Nov 25, 2015) Melinda Davidson said:
I hope this is okay, but I am a Vet Tech and we have access to all kinds of professional and industrial strength sprays. Most of them don;t really work that well.
I would like to recommend what we use at the clinic http://catasticproducts.com/
We're taking a look, Melinda, thanks for the suggestion.
Really? You are recommending "catastic" a patented pet deodorant. While we respect the company's right to protect its product by not disclosing product details, the absence of even an MSDS link and reliance only on customer testimonials is not authoritative. I'm looking into it further.
(May 1, 2016) Jessica L. said:
I moved into an apartment where the previous owner let her dog urinate in the extra bedroom. It was cleaned and treated with an enzyme spray twice!
After 2 months still in 2 spots a very strong smell. To me it's like animal urine and chemicals and my sister in law said it smelled moldy!! I pulled up the carpet where the one spot was and the back of the carpet is brown and padding is darker but the smell could nock you over. I did not see any mold. I really think at this point the carpet should be replaced. I'm afraid of what we are breathing in our lungs!
(Aug 17, 2016) Ben said:
My large dog has spent quite some time on my unsealed concrete in the garage. The odor is tremendous and unforgiving when you open the door to the house. I am not sure if it's necessarily from the accidents she may have had or if it's just from the oils in her skin that have seeped into the pours of the concrete. Either way, I need help.
I have brought her in the house, but I cannot keep walking back and forth into the garage with this putrid smell coming into the house. It is beyond embarrassing. Please help me!
I don't think you'll completely eliminate the odors before sealing; but before doing anything you might want to use the procedure described at SMELL PATCH TEST to FIND ODOR SOURCE to determine if the odor is only coming from the floor or also from drywall walls and ceilings.
In long-dog-inhabited buildings I've found heavy dog dander and dust that penetrated into attics, ceilings, wall cavities as well as into wall or ceiling insulation. Removing all stored items and insulation, cleaning with HEPA vacuuming, wiping, then sealing surfaces is typically required. Odor-blocking sealants, pigmented or clear, are applied to all surfaces including the concrete before final re-painting.
Search InspectApedia.com for DISINFECTANTS & SANITIZERS, SOURCES for examples of sealants.
(Nov 18, 2016) Sam said:
How would you suggest treating laminate flooring after an animal or human (can't tell) has pooped on it? It is in a corner of a closet and I'm sure it's gotten underneath the baseboards... I'm at a loss right now and the smell is Awful.. any advice would be great!!!!
After cleaning, see DISINFECTANTS & SANITIZERS, SOURCES for examples of sealants.
Continue reading at ANIMAL or URINE ODOR REMOVAL or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.
URINE ODOR REMOVAL in CLOTHING that describes bacterial/enzyme based cleaners that may be extra effective in removing human or animal urine odors from clothing, diapers, bedding, towels, etc.
ANIMAL or URINE ODOR SOURCE DETECTION for advice on finding the source of urine or animal smells at or in buildings, we give advice concerning the detection and removal of animal smells & odors from dogs, cats, or other pets.
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