Author Topic: Cleaning pet odor?  (Read 3073 times)

JLee

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Cleaning pet odor?
« on: February 08, 2017, 09:02:06 AM »
I moved last week to a huge 2br apartment shared with one guy and a cat - unfortunately when I was looking at the place before I moved in, somehow I didn't notice the litter box odor permeating my half of the apartment (it's a somewhat split design, with the shared kitchen on the far end, adjacent to my living room/bedroom).  The litter box is in the kitchen, which is a bad plan.

I brought it up last night and found that he had never actually changed the litter...just added more when it ran low (it's the clumping type). He was receptive to fixing the problem, and I volunteered to take care of the immediate issue.  I emptied/cleaned the box and put fresh litter in it and it's dramatically better, but there is still the lingering odor of...possibly years of old/stale litter permeating everything.

The cat is quite lovely and seems quite dedicated to using the box, so I don't expect there is any urine to clean specifically.  Is there a way I can accelerate the eviction of the lingering odor? I don't want to wait a month to see if it dissipates, but I'm not sure wiping every surface of the kitchen down with vinegar will solve the problem either.

I am planning on getting a cat myself in a month or so and will switch to the miraculous compressed paper litter that doesn't smell, dust, or track -- so once I fix the existing problem, maintenance shouldn't be hard.

SimpleCycle

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Re: Cleaning pet odor?
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2017, 09:16:05 AM »
If he has not been regularly cleaning the litter/box, I would probably replace the plastic litter pan - they can absorb odors in a way that is almost impossible to remove.  I'd also open all the windows (if possible with the weather) and give it a day or two.

I've had a lot of luck with Zero Odor on fabrics and carpets, but that's not really relevant unless you think the odor has sunk into the carpet and furniture.

PJ

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Re: Cleaning pet odor?
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2017, 09:32:21 AM »
If he has really never cleaned the litter box, then I imagine the smell would be truly awful, and the litter piled quite high.  But congratulations!  You've just proven that you care more than he does about the cat's litter box, and became totally responsible for it! 

(Sorry, I've been there with a roommate in the past too!)

Your best bet is an enzymatic cleaner in and around the litter box, something like Nature's Miracle.  But the lingering smell in the house can also be from the odour having gotten into fabrics.  So wash as much as you're able of curtains, couch cushions or at least their covers, area rugs, etc.  And don't be so sure that the cat has never eliminated outside of the litter box, so check around for any other particularly stinky locations in the house and hit them with the enzyme cleaner too.

And by the way, if you truly find a litter that doesn't smell, dust or track (ha!  my cats kick their litter out of the box scratching around in there!) then please post back to let us know!

SimpleCycle

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Re: Cleaning pet odor?
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2017, 09:34:59 AM »
If he has really never cleaned the litter box, then I imagine the smell would be truly awful, and the litter piled quite high.  But congratulations!  You've just proven that you care more than he does about the cat's litter box, and became totally responsible for it! 

(Sorry, I've been there with a roommate in the past too!)

Your best bet is an enzymatic cleaner in and around the litter box, something like Nature's Miracle.  But the lingering smell in the house can also be from the odour having gotten into fabrics.  So wash as much as you're able of curtains, couch cushions or at least their covers, area rugs, etc.  And don't be so sure that the cat has never eliminated outside of the litter box, so check around for any other particularly stinky locations in the house and hit them with the enzyme cleaner too.

And by the way, if you truly find a litter that doesn't smell, dust or track (ha!  my cats kick their litter out of the box scratching around in there!) then please post back to let us know!

Oh, this is SUCH a good point.  Do you have access to a UV light?  It is very good for tracking down any areas outside the litter box that have been eliminated in.

sunnyca

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Re: Cleaning pet odor?
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2017, 09:37:59 AM »
+1 to replacing the litter box pan.

Another item that can also help are the activated charcoal pouches.  I have a 2 bedroom condo with two cats and a dog, and use those.  There aren't any pet smells in my house (I've asked numerous people for verification). 

Is there a back patio that the litterbox can be moved to?  I'm on a upper story, and I have a dog door that leads out to my back patio.  I placed the litterbox there, inside a dog house. 

JLee

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Re: Cleaning pet odor?
« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2017, 10:04:50 AM »
If he has not been regularly cleaning the litter/box, I would probably replace the plastic litter pan - they can absorb odors in a way that is almost impossible to remove.  I'd also open all the windows (if possible with the weather) and give it a day or two.

I've had a lot of luck with Zero Odor on fabrics and carpets, but that's not really relevant unless you think the odor has sunk into the carpet and furniture.

I found a second brand new pan nested underneath the existing one and I used that (and cleaned the top pan).  I'll throw the top one out - didn't consider that it may have retained some odor, and it's still in the same room.

+1 to replacing the litter box pan.

Another item that can also help are the activated charcoal pouches.  I have a 2 bedroom condo with two cats and a dog, and use those.  There aren't any pet smells in my house (I've asked numerous people for verification). 

Is there a back patio that the litterbox can be moved to?  I'm on a upper story, and I have a dog door that leads out to my back patio.  I placed the litterbox there, inside a dog house.

Unfortunately there's no place outside for the litter box, though I do think putting it in his living room (on the complete opposite end of the building from the kitchen) would be wise. The litter box does have the opening on top for the activated charcoal package but it's empty. I may get some of those as well.

If he has really never cleaned the litter box, then I imagine the smell would be truly awful, and the litter piled quite high.  But congratulations!  You've just proven that you care more than he does about the cat's litter box, and became totally responsible for it! 

(Sorry, I've been there with a roommate in the past too!)

Your best bet is an enzymatic cleaner in and around the litter box, something like Nature's Miracle.  But the lingering smell in the house can also be from the odour having gotten into fabrics.  So wash as much as you're able of curtains, couch cushions or at least their covers, area rugs, etc.  And don't be so sure that the cat has never eliminated outside of the litter box, so check around for any other particularly stinky locations in the house and hit them with the enzyme cleaner too.

And by the way, if you truly find a litter that doesn't smell, dust or track (ha!  my cats kick their litter out of the box scratching around in there!) then please post back to let us know!

He did clean it, but never replaced the litter. It's clumping litter so he just scooped out clumps/etc and when the litter ran low, filled it back up - leaving the old worn-out nasty litter on the bottom.

Oh, this is SUCH a good point.  Do you have access to a UV light?  It is very good for tracking down any areas outside the litter box that have been eliminated in.

I do not have a UV light...yet. Apparently they're $9 so I will have one soon. :P

PJ

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Re: Cleaning pet odor?
« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2017, 10:35:17 AM »
If he has really never cleaned the litter box, then I imagine the smell would be truly awful, and the litter piled quite high.  But congratulations!  You've just proven that you care more than he does about the cat's litter box, and became totally responsible for it! 

(Sorry, I've been there with a roommate in the past too!)

Your best bet is an enzymatic cleaner in and around the litter box, something like Nature's Miracle.  But the lingering smell in the house can also be from the odour having gotten into fabrics.  So wash as much as you're able of curtains, couch cushions or at least their covers, area rugs, etc.  And don't be so sure that the cat has never eliminated outside of the litter box, so check around for any other particularly stinky locations in the house and hit them with the enzyme cleaner too.

And by the way, if you truly find a litter that doesn't smell, dust or track (ha!  my cats kick their litter out of the box scratching around in there!) then please post back to let us know!

He did clean it, but never replaced the litter. It's clumping litter so he just scooped out clumps/etc and when the litter ran low, filled it back up - leaving the old worn-out nasty litter on the bottom.

Ahh, I get it now.  Yeah, for maximum thriftiness you can top up with fresh litter once or twice, but you do have to dump the whole lot and start fresh periodically, especially if the litter is in the kitchen!

CptCool

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Re: Cleaning pet odor?
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2017, 12:11:10 PM »
Replacing the litter box pan will definitely be needed first.

If you can get the cat out of the place for the day, I'd recommend using an ozone maker. It kills pretty much any smell caused by a biological product (i.e. cat urine), but it's harmful to living things breathing it in too. I use it at my rentals and it works amazingly well when there are pet accidents, rotten food, smoke residue, etc. left behind.

You can make one yourself or buy one for ~$40-50 online. I'd leave it on in the apartment for 3-4 hours and then let it air out (windows closed) for double the amount of time it was running. Make sure all living things are out of the house while it is running and airing out though!

Iplawyer

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Re: Cleaning pet odor?
« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2017, 12:11:37 PM »
We had two cats from kittens through hospice.  If they pee outside the box the only way we found in that 20 years is Anti icky poo:
http://www.homedepot.com/p/Anti-Icky-Poo-32-oz-Original-Odor-Remover-AIP-OR-Q/205959512?cm_mmc=Shopping%7cTHD%7cG%7c0%7cG-BASE-PLA-D28I-Cleaning%7c&gclid=CjwKEAiAoOvEBRDD25uyu9Lg9ycSJAD0cnBy9yws23aS3TVUJISms86jGKCVAZETifXOmWZGuulbIxoCtF3w_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

Use it liberally all around the box, clean the box with it when you change the litter, and use it anywhere the black light might show other spots.  The smell will dissipate after a while. 

I cannot for the life of me understand why anyone would put a litter box in the kitchen.  Would you put your toilet in the kitchen?

JLee

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Re: Cleaning pet odor?
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2017, 12:28:48 PM »
Replacing the litter box pan will definitely be needed first.

If you can get the cat out of the place for the day, I'd recommend using an ozone maker. It kills pretty much any smell caused by a biological product (i.e. cat urine), but it's harmful to living things breathing it in too. I use it at my rentals and it works amazingly well when there are pet accidents, rotten food, smoke residue, etc. left behind.

You can make one yourself or buy one for ~$40-50 online. I'd leave it on in the apartment for 3-4 hours and then let it air out (windows closed) for double the amount of time it was running. Make sure all living things are out of the house while it is running and airing out though!

Yep, pan replacement has been done.  Ozone would be awesome but I hear/read that they are damaging to rubber, which is a problem (door/window seals, speakers, etc).

We had two cats from kittens through hospice.  If they pee outside the box the only way we found in that 20 years is Anti icky poo:
http://www.homedepot.com/p/Anti-Icky-Poo-32-oz-Original-Odor-Remover-AIP-OR-Q/205959512?cm_mmc=Shopping%7cTHD%7cG%7c0%7cG-BASE-PLA-D28I-Cleaning%7c&gclid=CjwKEAiAoOvEBRDD25uyu9Lg9ycSJAD0cnBy9yws23aS3TVUJISms86jGKCVAZETifXOmWZGuulbIxoCtF3w_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

Use it liberally all around the box, clean the box with it when you change the litter, and use it anywhere the black light might show other spots.  The smell will dissipate after a while. 

I cannot for the life of me understand why anyone would put a litter box in the kitchen.  Would you put your toilet in the kitchen?

Not only is it in the kitchen, it's against the wall that's directly between the refrigerator and the stove.  /facepalm

tweezers

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Re: Cleaning pet odor?
« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2017, 12:31:16 PM »
If he has really never cleaned the litter box, then I imagine the smell would be truly awful, and the litter piled quite high.  But congratulations!  You've just proven that you care more than he does about the cat's litter box, and became totally responsible for it! 

(Sorry, I've been there with a roommate in the past too!)

Your best bet is an enzymatic cleaner in and around the litter box, something like Nature's Miracle.  But the lingering smell in the house can also be from the odour having gotten into fabrics.  So wash as much as you're able of curtains, couch cushions or at least their covers, area rugs, etc.  And don't be so sure that the cat has never eliminated outside of the litter box, so check around for any other particularly stinky locations in the house and hit them with the enzyme cleaner too.

And by the way, if you truly find a litter that doesn't smell, dust or track (ha!  my cats kick their litter out of the box scratching around in there!) then please post back to let us know!

He did clean it, but never replaced the litter. It's clumping litter so he just scooped out clumps/etc and when the litter ran low, filled it back up - leaving the old worn-out nasty litter on the bottom.

Ahh, I get it now.  Yeah, for maximum thriftiness you can top up with fresh litter once or twice, but you do have to dump the whole lot and start fresh periodically, especially if the litter is in the kitchen!

Really?  This is exactly what we do (and have always done) for our 14 year old cat.  That's the awesome thing about clumping litter...unlike the olden day non-clumping litter you don't need to toss unclumped litter because that litter isn't sullied so-to-speak.  Scoop the clumps, add more. 

If you're smelling the litter (i.e. the cloying scent smell they add to cover up odor) then changing to an unscented little might help, but if you're smelling urine then its the box itself or somewhere outside the box.  We have the unscented litter and never smell the litter unless we're lax on scooping it, and we keep it behind our couch (only place where the cat could get to it, but the dogs and babies/toddlers couldn't).  Either way, I'd definitely get it out of the kitchen.

JLee

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Re: Cleaning pet odor?
« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2017, 02:40:10 PM »
And by the way, if you truly find a litter that doesn't smell, dust or track (ha!  my cats kick their litter out of the box scratching around in there!) then please post back to let us know!

http://www.petco.com/shop/en/petcostore/so-phresh-odor-control-paper-pellet-cat-litter

My last roommates used that for their three litter boxes (two cats). The boxes were the type with high walls and a hole in the roof, so the cats had to jump in/out of it - couldn't step out directly.  It didn't track out and didn't smell at all.  They did not scoop anything from the boxes - just replaced the litter entirely weekly.  Not the cheapest way but it was impressively odorless and dust-free.

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Re: Cleaning pet odor?
« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2017, 04:28:56 PM »
I second Anti Icky Poo.  It really does work.

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Re: Cleaning pet odor?
« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2017, 04:45:52 PM »
We've got six (YIKES!) cats and we volunteer with a rescue group that has anywhere from 10-20 cats in a pretty small area.

You definitely DO need to change out the litter every month or so.  Even good clumping litter has tiny little urine saturated pellets that break off and fall through a littler scoop. 
You might want to wipe down the walls/area around the box
You definitely need to change out the box every 6 months or so
Scoop often.  We scoop twice a day.

At home, we have dedicated spaces for cat bathrooms... i.e. closets that have been converted to disallow dog entry and have motion sensor triggers to start up exhaust fans.  (I'm not kidding.)  If you're in an apartment, this might not be feasible.

At the cat barn, we buy cans of crappy coffee (Folgers, or whatever is on sale).  We have containers set out with a cup or so of coffee in them.  They do absorb some amount of odor and do put out a "coffee smell" as well.  Baking soda might be another option.

JLee

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Re: Cleaning pet odor?
« Reply #14 on: February 09, 2017, 08:44:44 AM »
I second Anti Icky Poo.  It really does work.

The problem I'm finding is that I don't know where the odor is coming from, other than it just gets progressively stronger the closer you get to the box.  Maybe the top half of the box has to be replaced as well as the pan?  I did wipe down surrounding areas (and mopped the floor), but not with a pet-specific cleaner.

I'm starting to think that ozone may be the only viable solution for me, though.

We've got six (YIKES!) cats and we volunteer with a rescue group that has anywhere from 10-20 cats in a pretty small area.

You definitely DO need to change out the litter every month or so.  Even good clumping litter has tiny little urine saturated pellets that break off and fall through a littler scoop. 
You might want to wipe down the walls/area around the box
You definitely need to change out the box every 6 months or so
Scoop often.  We scoop twice a day.

At home, we have dedicated spaces for cat bathrooms... i.e. closets that have been converted to disallow dog entry and have motion sensor triggers to start up exhaust fans.  (I'm not kidding.)  If you're in an apartment, this might not be feasible.

At the cat barn, we buy cans of crappy coffee (Folgers, or whatever is on sale).  We have containers set out with a cup or so of coffee in them.  They do absorb some amount of odor and do put out a "coffee smell" as well.  Baking soda might be another option.

Yep.  I've had cats for most of my life and haven't had a smell like this, so I need to re-train this guy on cat care.

Your cat bathroom setup sounds amazing - not quite feasible for my situation, but awesome nonetheless!

Spork

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Re: Cleaning pet odor?
« Reply #15 on: February 09, 2017, 08:49:42 AM »

We've got six (YIKES!) cats and we volunteer with a rescue group that has anywhere from 10-20 cats in a pretty small area.

You definitely DO need to change out the litter every month or so.  Even good clumping litter has tiny little urine saturated pellets that break off and fall through a littler scoop. 
You might want to wipe down the walls/area around the box
You definitely need to change out the box every 6 months or so
Scoop often.  We scoop twice a day.

At home, we have dedicated spaces for cat bathrooms... i.e. closets that have been converted to disallow dog entry and have motion sensor triggers to start up exhaust fans.  (I'm not kidding.)  If you're in an apartment, this might not be feasible.

At the cat barn, we buy cans of crappy coffee (Folgers, or whatever is on sale).  We have containers set out with a cup or so of coffee in them.  They do absorb some amount of odor and do put out a "coffee smell" as well.  Baking soda might be another option.

Yep.  I've had cats for most of my life and haven't had a smell like this, so I need to re-train this guy on cat care.

Your cat bathroom setup sounds amazing - not quite feasible for my situation, but awesome nonetheless!

I've posted pics before... but ... here goes again.

I have plans on another upstairs version and some attic tunnels to give alternate paths for them.  I will be living in a Habitrail at some point.





JLee

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Re: Cleaning pet odor?
« Reply #16 on: February 09, 2017, 12:13:59 PM »
That's brilliant!

I caved in and ordered an ozone generator, plastic sheeting, and painter's tape.  I'll block off the kitchen and run the ozone generator in there for an hour or two and then air it out. I'll run it in the other rooms I use as well, and then probably ask my roommate if he wants to use it at all (I don't really care about areas in the house that I don't go - as long as I can't smell anything, I'm fine).  The odor does seem to be localized in the kitchen, and basically bleeding out from there. Just treating that end of the apartment may fix the problem.

I am strongly considering painting the bedroom (and possibly living room) walls in my apartment, so tape and plastic sheeting will be useful for that later as well.

acroy

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Re: Cleaning pet odor?
« Reply #17 on: February 09, 2017, 12:23:59 PM »
I'm interested how the ozone generator will work out for you. I've heard wonderful things about their ability to remove pet, smoke, etc odors.

JLee

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Re: Cleaning pet odor?
« Reply #18 on: February 09, 2017, 12:30:10 PM »
I'm interested how the ozone generator will work out for you. I've heard wonderful things about their ability to remove pet, smoke, etc odors.

I could hardly believe how cheap they were, too -- the one I bought was only $70 and is rated for 6000 hours of use before the plate(s) have to be replaced!  One of the reviews said under the "con" list that it begins to make loud noises after 40,000 hours of use.

Forty. Thousand. Hours.

I think it'll be OK for me. :P

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Re: Cleaning pet odor?
« Reply #19 on: February 09, 2017, 12:45:38 PM »
Just make sure the cat, the people, and any plants are out of the house. Use over an hour likely won't cause any adverse effect, but it's better to be careful just in case.

And rubber does degrade and become rigid from ozone, but it would take hundreds of hours of exposure before that happened. I've left an ozone generator on for approx 24 hours for the same fridge 3 times now and you can't tell at all and the fridge still seals great.

JLee

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Re: Cleaning pet odor?
« Reply #20 on: February 09, 2017, 01:01:13 PM »
Just make sure the cat, the people, and any plants are out of the house. Use over an hour likely won't cause any adverse effect, but it's better to be careful just in case.

And rubber does degrade and become rigid from ozone, but it would take hundreds of hours of exposure before that happened. I've left an ozone generator on for approx 24 hours for the same fridge 3 times now and you can't tell at all and the fridge still seals great.

I'm going to use plastic sheeting and tape off the doorways to isolate the rooms that I'm going to treat, then air the rooms out afterwards before removing the sheeting - hopefully that will be adequate.

Iplawyer

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Re: Cleaning pet odor?
« Reply #21 on: February 09, 2017, 05:34:15 PM »
Just make sure the cat, the people, and any plants are out of the house. Use over an hour likely won't cause any adverse effect, but it's better to be careful just in case.

And rubber does degrade and become rigid from ozone, but it would take hundreds of hours of exposure before that happened. I've left an ozone generator on for approx 24 hours for the same fridge 3 times now and you can't tell at all and the fridge still seals great.

I'm going to use plastic sheeting and tape off the doorways to isolate the rooms that I'm going to treat, then air the rooms out afterwards before removing the sheeting - hopefully that will be adequate.

If you get heat or AC through vents - make sure it shut off for an hour before - that will just pull it through the house.  I would advise you to also get Anti Icky Poo for any small incidents from now on.

DTaggart

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Re: Cleaning pet odor?
« Reply #22 on: February 09, 2017, 07:02:32 PM »
The best way I've ever found to get rid of lingering odors is to take a crockpot, add a bunch of baking soda (1/4 - 1/2 cup), fill about 3/4 full with water, then turn it on high with the lid off for several hours.

This won't solve your problem if the cat has peed outside the box (you'll have to find the affected spot(s) and clean them), but if its just lingering odor in the air this will work wonders.

JLee

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Re: Cleaning pet odor?
« Reply #23 on: February 09, 2017, 10:48:13 PM »
The best way I've ever found to get rid of lingering odors is to take a crockpot, add a bunch of baking soda (1/4 - 1/2 cup), fill about 3/4 full with water, then turn it on high with the lid off for several hours.

This won't solve your problem if the cat has peed outside the box (you'll have to find the affected spot(s) and clean them), but if its just lingering odor in the air this will work wonders.

Great tip - thanks!

Just make sure the cat, the people, and any plants are out of the house. Use over an hour likely won't cause any adverse effect, but it's better to be careful just in case.

And rubber does degrade and become rigid from ozone, but it would take hundreds of hours of exposure before that happened. I've left an ozone generator on for approx 24 hours for the same fridge 3 times now and you can't tell at all and the fridge still seals great.

I'm going to use plastic sheeting and tape off the doorways to isolate the rooms that I'm going to treat, then air the rooms out afterwards before removing the sheeting - hopefully that will be adequate.

If you get heat or AC through vents - make sure it shut off for an hour before - that will just pull it through the house.  I would advise you to also get Anti Icky Poo for any small incidents from now on.

Oh that's a good call - fortunately in this case we have baseboard heat, so no vents to worry about.