You love your cat, don’t you?

When he curls up in your lap and purrs, you feel calm and happy. You love scratching his chin. He’s thrilled to greet you when you come home. And he takes care of all the creepy crawly things.

But what about the odor? What aroma do people inhale when they first enter your home?

Cat hair dander? Stinky urine? Unidentified vomit on the welcome mat?

Let’s not pussyfoot around. Cats, like kids, can create a bit of a mess.  So, how can you live with one or more cats and keep your home fresh and clean?

It’s a lot easier than you think. And, don’t worry, I’ll keep it brief and share my simple secret tips to keep your house sparkling.

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Keep upholstered furniture fur-free

Feeling overwhelmed by the amount of fur your cat sheds? You’re not alone. Cat hair can be frustrating. It sticks to your couch, clings to your clothes, and screams ‘Cat Lady’ to everyone in your pilates class.

A lint roller brush combo is an effortless way to get cat hair off your couch and your clothes. But, my favorite pet hair remover is Mamison Dishwashing Gloves. The textured design grips the cat hair and extracts it into a ball when you sweep your hand over the fabric. The best part is the gloves can be used for other cleaning and dishwashing too, so you don’t need a specialty tool just to clean cat hair.

Another way to remove cat hair from your upholstery is to wipe it down with a wet sponge or a cloth.

Next, neutralize deep-seated odors with a sprinkle of baking soda and vacuum with the upholstery tool. This same technique also works on rugs.

Cats are enthusiastic about self-care but that doesn’t mean you should skip the grooming sessions. Brushing your cat with a grooming brush removes dirt, reduces shedding, and is a relaxing way to spend quality time together. Long-haired cats may need brushing as often as every two days. But, most short-haired cats only need grooming every couple of weeks.

rubber gloves with cat hair

Commit to a regular cleaning routine

The scent in your home is the first thing guests will notice—even before they remove their jacket. Curb odors on your cat’s belongings to set a positive, inviting mood.

Wash cat beds weekly in the washing machine with an unscented laundry detergent. If it’s covered with a lot of hair, try running it through the dryer for 20 minutes on cool. Doing so first will loosen the fur into the lint screen instead of clogging up your washing machine.

To wipe out litter box stink make sure you have enough boxes and scoop them twice each day.

Once a month dump the litter and soak the boxes in hot water with a splash of vinegar or an unscented soap. Let the boxes air dry outside, if possible. Then replenish the litter.

soaking litter box in unscented detergent

See related:

Cat Shedding Season: 7 Ways to Wrangle the Fur

I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand the smell of wet cat food. However, after a urinary tract emergency with one of my boys, I hold my nose and push through for their health. To get the fishy smell out of the air, pick up the empty cat bowls and wash them after every meal. And use a dustpan to sweep crumbs off the floor. If you have a feeding mat, give that a good bi-monthly scrub. Your cats will appreciate the cleanliness of their eating area too.

Assemble an emergency cleaning kit

The best way to keep your house fresh is to keep urine where it belongs. But prepare for accidents.  Getting rid of cat urine odor may seem impossible, but it only requires a few simple tools…and persistence.

I keep a spray bottle filled with vinegar and water—ready to neutralize cat urine odor immediately after I’ve absorbed it with towels. Then, I wipe down the soiled area with isopropyl alcohol or hydrogen peroxide to expunge the smell.

For cat messes that have sat for a while, or find themselves on couches and rugs, use an enzyme-based solution. First, soak up the urine with towels. Then, apply the enzyme cleaner to the soiled area and brush it around. Use an upholstery cleaner to soak it up, then air dry. You may have to repeat it several times.

Sometimes a rancid cat urine odor lingers in the air, but you have no clue where it’s coming from. In that case, pull out the black light in your arsenal. It will highlight any area where marking or inappropriate elimination has occurred.

get rid of the cat odor in your house

Learn more:

How to Stop Your Cat Peeing Outside the Litter Box

The cat parent’s guide to a tidy home

It is possible to have a fresh home and a cat, or two, or six. Make sure your cleaning products are pet safe. And avoid chemical-laden fragrances. Cats are hypersensitive to smell. An unpleasant scent, near their litter box or eating area, could lead to unwanted behavior.

When you’re doing your annual or quarterly deep cleaning, don’t forget to wipe down cat trees and shelves, replace worn-out litter boxes, and swap out stinky old toys covered in fur and drool for new. It’s life-changing magic for you and your cat.

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get rid of cat smell
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  1. avatar
    Elly Mossman says:

    Very informative info here. My cat refuses to poop in her litterbox at times, but does pee in it. I can’t find any reason for it, since she only does it sometimes. Could there be a health reason for this? I keep the box as clean as I possibly can and have even given her a much bigger box to find fresh spaces to use.

    1. avatar
      traci says:

      Hi, If you haven’t already check out “Stop Litter Box Stress” and “7 Reasons You Should Have More Than One Litter Box

      Even if you only have one cat, experts suggest you have one more litter box than the number of cats. Some cats do not like to do #1 and #2 in the same box. Let me know how it works out.

  2. avatar
    Sarah says:

    This is just what I needed! I adopted two cats and already have a dog at home. Needless to stay, my home has begun to smell like pets. I just got a professional carpet cleaning and that helped significantly with smell and hair. I’m for sure going to have to create an emergency cleaning kit and I’ll have to keep baking soda on hand!

    1. avatar
      traci says:

      Thanks for your comment. I had a professional upholstery cleaner help me with an accident on a new couch several years ago. He was gracious and explained to me how I could clean it in the future myself using my portable Bissell cleaner. To avoid stains when using a carpet cleaner, he said, the key is to keep the couch dust-free.

  3. avatar
    Kathy says:

    My male cat sheds horribly. I do try to brush him but he won’t stand still just flops around so it’s tough to get him brushed. I vacuum every day and the vacuum is filled with hair. I am beginning to think whatever breed he is crossed with is part of the problem. He has a very thick undercoat.

    1. avatar
      traci says:

      I know there are cat grooming brushes you can mount on your wall so the cat can brush themselves. I haven’t tried it myself so I can’t speak to how it works. But, it might be worth a try.

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