Well it happened. Your pooch or kitty (or someone else’s pet) went potty, and potent pet urine made it’s way deep inside one of your concrete floors.
It’s bad enough that your concrete patio, basement, garage floor or worse, concrete pad under your carpet was used as a bathroom. What’s worse is the lingering smell that just won’t go away.
In fact, you may have found that the more you work on removing this undesirable dog or cat urine smell, the stronger it seems to get (more on this later).
You’ve heard of using vinegar or baking soda, TSP, or perhaps an enzymatic cleaner to clean your concrete.
It can be confusing which solution is best; but either way, you need to remove dog or cat urine from concrete pronto.
This smell is well… bad.
As we’ve evolved to domesticate and even create the perfect breeds with our pets, we’ve also figured out how to clean up after them too.
Smelly concrete is no exception – and we promise, when you’re done with this article, you’ll know exactly how to both neutralize and completely remove this ammonia smell from concrete areas.
Below, we guide you through some all-important steps to complete your mission.
With a little scientific knowledge, good ol’ fashioned planning and the best tools and products in your hands, you’ll be sniffing as happily as your pup in a dog park (or cat who just discovered cat nip).
Don’t worry, the steps are easy. And best of all? They. Just. Work.
So, let’s go!
A Look Ahead at Products You Will Need
The best product for cleaning cat urine from concrete floor is enzyme-based.
There’s not necessarily a specific enzymatic cleaner for concrete – most of them are versatile and perfect for use on a variety of surfaces, from carpet to grass to brick surfaces.
While there are plenty of pet accident remover products on the market, I’ve narrowed down a few highly-rated options that can help you save your concrete – no matter if it’s in your workshop, your driveway, or garden.
- Smiling Paws Pets Odor and Stain Eliminator
- Rocco and Roxie Professional Strength Stain and Odor Eliminator
Why is Dog or Cat Urine on Concrete So Smelly?
Unsealed concrete floors won’t repel pet odors as much as you might think.
Concrete is porous, meaning it can soak up offending liquid – especially when it’s left without being cleaned.
You’ve probably noticed the floors of pet boarding facilities and daycares are often made up of smooth concrete.
So why use it if it doesn’t repel dog or cat pee?
Anyone with a business that involves dogs has more than likely done their research, and understand that a sealed concrete floor is actually a fantastic option.
Dogs and cats can’t chew this type of flooring, dig it up, or scratch it.
They don’t offer a refuge for pesky fleas or mites that pets often carry.
A sealed floor is also much easier to clean off any organic stains.
However, the lower surfaces in your home might not be sealed (are you lucky enough to have basement and garage floor coatings?), which is why urine accidents can become a problem.
Sealing it is the key to protecting it, and I’ll delve a little more into that option later.
For now, I’ll focus on cleaning up stains that have already happened.
Sealed or not, all accidents should be cleaned.
On unsealed concreate areas the cleaning process can be a little more intensive.
However, there are still ways to restore the floor and banish smell due to the ammonia and uric acid.
So whether your dog had an accident in the garage, missed the lawn and peed on the sidewalk, or the culprit is a cat marking their territory – the enzyme cleaner method is both the most effective and safest one.
Classic Cleaning Methods…Do They Really Work?
Let’s check out some cleaning methods you might have heard of or even tried on your stains. You want to know right now if they’ll work…or not!
Forget the bleach for this issue – it will disinfect, but it won’t do anything long-term for the smell.
It also is less safe to use – at best, you might ruin your favorite jeans.
At worst, you can suffer scary side effects from breathing it or getting it on your skin.
Don’t reach for the ammonia, either. It can make the urine smell worse, and also attract your dog or cat to return to the spot to pee on it again.
Soap and Water: Not quite
Soap and water alone won’t do much on concrete, even with the use of a scrub brush or mop.
Of course it will wash away some of the physical evidence, but the odor causing bacteria is too embedded within the structure of the concrete. It’s not simply washing away.
Vinegar and Baking Soda: Great first step!
The best option for cleaning when you don’t have an enzyme cleaner on hand is vinegar and/or baking soda.
Baking soda can be sprinkled on the spot to help absorb the “spill”, while the vinegar is a good choice, as the acid can help with neutralizing odors.
Just make sure you use vinegar made for cleaning, not cooking as the acidity levels for the food based variety is too low.
It’s a decent way to start your cleaning process, but works best when followed up with enzymes.
Trisodium Phosphate (TSP): Cleans but with a catch
One of the most well-known garage toolkit cleaners, TSP is one strong cleaner that works on really tough stains like grease and soil.
When diluted in water and scrubbed in well, a TSP solution can really get at old pet urine and its stubborn odors.
The problem is, TSP isn’t all that friendly to our bodies if touched or breathed in, nor is it good for the environment.
It will clean well and help significantly with smells, but it’s a harsh chemical that isn’t necessary when you have enzymatic cleaners.
Hydrogen Peroxide: Lovely but doesn’t cut it
A much safer product to use as a household cleaner. It disinfects and sterilizes quite well. You probably know this if you’re a dog owner!
While not as potent, it isn’t going to be your end-all solution to combating smelly stains.
Save it for your toilets and other general, maintenance cleaning. Tough pet stains you smell when you walk in the room are no match for hydrogen peroxide.
Enzymatic Cleaner for Concrete: THE BEST solution available
Using enzymes for cleaning is the “new” way to effectively and safely clean odors and visible stains. It’s a 100% natural method that works especially well on materials like porous concrete.
It really is better all-around to use an enzyme cleaner for this situation, if you have the option.
How-to Steps for Cleaning Cat Urine from Concrete Floor (and dogs too!)
Step 1: Preparation
Using enzymatic cleaner for dog urine on concrete works in just about any situation.
The same goes for cat urine on concrete.
There are three scenarios here: you’re ready to clean after finding a fresh stain, you found a stain after it sat a while, or you’re smelling pee but can’t pinpoint the source.
In scenario number one, you caught your dog or cat in the act of peeing on the concrete.
I recommend getting rid of the excess before you do anything else.
If the urine is in a place you can use a hose, like the sidewalk or brick walkway, it’s better to flush it off of the concrete.
Don’t worry too much about washing it into your grass for now – smells don’t tend to hang around lawns as much as they do on hard surfaces, thanks to rain and soil.
If it becomes a problem, you can use your enzyme cleaner on the lawn, too.
A liberal spraying of hot water will also dilute what you want to get rid of, and give your enzyme cleaner a head start on fighting odors on the concrete.
Spraying with a hose will also help wash away any extra debris that might be on your sidewalk.
If you can’t spray the spot with a hose, soak it up with old towels or newspaper.
The goal is to get as much excess out of the equation as possible.
There’s no need to let it dry before applying the enzyme cleaner.
In scenario number two, you found a urine spot that is hours old or more – and it’s had a chance to soak in.
There’s nothing to soak up, and not much to flush away if it has dried or mostly dried.
In this case, I recommend using a leaf blower or an old broom to clear the area of things like dirt, dust, leaves, etc.
In scenario number three, you can’t shake the feeling you smell the “yuck” somewhere on your concrete floor, but can’t quite pinpoint it.
This is where a UV light can come in handy. A UV light will help you detect the source of the dog or cat urine odor so you can treat it.
It’s not a heavy-duty, expensive piece of equipment, either. Many pet stores sell small, handheld UV lights for this very purpose.
Once you find the spot, clear it of any debris before treating.
Step 2: Treat
Now it’s time to let the enzymes do their work. One of the most tried and true products you can buy is Rocco and Roxie – You can get it here.
Spray liberally over the spot.
Rocco and Roxie suggests letting enzymes set on concrete for at least several hours.
They also advise covering the spot in a damp cloth or plastic – even a plastic trash or yard waste bag would do the trick – to keep the product from drying out and lengthen penetration time.
Why not let it dry sooner?
Enzymes are more active when they’re in a wet environment.
In a dry environment, their odor-eliminating actions will slow to a stop.
Enzyme cleaner on concrete can dry quicker than it would in carpet, for example.
If it’s outdoors, being exposed to sunlight, higher temperatures, or windy conditions will evaporate the solution faster.
Once you’ve sprayed your enzyme cleaner, the hard work is already over.
Step 3: Check and Dry the Spot
After you have let the enzyme cleaner sit for the recommended time, you can do a sniff test – or give the area a look under the UV light, if you have one.
If everything is back to normal, it’s safe to let the area dry out completely.
Remove any plastic or cloths, and allow the spot to air dry naturally.
Now you know how to remove dog and cat urine stains from porous concrete!
Now, onto things you can do to keep this issue from becoming a recurring one.
I’ve already touched a little on the sealing method as a way of protecting them against unwanted odors.
That fancy concrete you see at your dog’s boarding kennel or daycare have more than likely been sealed to make them more animal-friendly.
Sealants such as acrylics, silicates, and polyurethanes are all good options for long-term protection of concrete.
It is worth noting that it can be dangerous to breathe the fumes of many sealants.
You should make sure your pets can be well clear of the area while the sealant is being applied and is drying.
If it’s a DIY project, also take protective measures on yourself and anyone enlisted in helping you, such as wearing respirator masks and properly ventilating the area.
Aside from protecting your floor from bad pet stains, sealing will make them easier to clean in general.
What about concrete outdoors?
Many of us have cement sidewalks, foundations, landscaping walls, and concrete driveways to maintain.
These aren’t things we necessarily want to seal or are even practical to seal.
The good news is, dogs don’t usually pee on these things – it’s a lot easier for them to pee in the grass than go out of the way to pee on the sidewalk.
You’re more likely to run into this issue with male dogs and cats who want to mark their territory – or stray cats in general who have bad habits of spraying wherever they please.
To help reduce your male dog from marking on your concrete – or anywhere else, for that matter – it’s best to have them fixed as soon as they’re old enough.
Otherwise, old-fashioned vigilance is about all you can do to keep a male dog from marking in unacceptable areas of your yard or house.
Indoors, belly bands can protect your belongings from any urination sprays.
I don’t recommend putting one on your male dog outdoors, though.
It can stop them from actually relieving their bladder, confuse them, and discourage them from peeing in places that are appropriate.
What about cats spraying concrete?
When dealing with stray cats or neighborhood pets who don’t respect boundaries, there are some humane solutions to deter them from concrete sidewalks, concrete patio areas as well as the rest of your yard.
Citrus smells can send a powerful message to cats: this is not your lavatory.
Try scattering the peels from a citrus fruit – oranges, grapefruits, lemons, mandarins – you get the idea.
The grounds from your morning coffee can also be scattered around areas cats seem to be invading.
If you want to multitask, you can landscape and shoo away cats at the same time.
Integrate some anti-cat plants into your yard like lemongrass or lavender – both are offensive smells to cats and will discourage them from spraying.
The best part about these solutions is that they’re not harmful to the cats or any other pets.
Do Enzyme Cleaners Deter Pets from Peeing in the Same Spot?
Yes, enzyme cleaners can help solve the problem of a pet being attracted to the same spot where they peed before.
This is especially helpful in training puppies and dogs who don’t quite have the hang of using the potty outdoors.
They can be tempted to pee inside if they can still smell leftovers from a recent accident.
It can also eliminate smells from cats and dogs marking their scent, which will make other pets less attracted to mark in order to “claim” that territory.
Enzyme cleaners shouldn’t be relied upon as a repellent for a feral animal, though.
While it will help remove smells from feral animal pee, there are more effective ways to repel them, as listed earlier in this article.
How Much Enzyme Cleaner Should I Use to Treat Concrete?
This depends on the size and number of spots you need to treat.
On any one spot, you should spray enough to completely coat the area in an even layer of enzyme cleaner.
The spray bottles that many enzyme cleaners are sold in make it easy to cover the spot.
Enzyme cleaners that come in gallon-sized bottles should be decanted into spray bottles for ease of use.
Can I Mix Enzyme Cleaners With Other Cleaners?
I don’t recommend mixing enzyme cleaners with other cleaning substances for several reasons.
Harsh cleaners like bleach can render the enzymes ineffective.
Adding other cleaners doesn’t do anything for increasing the potency of the enzymes.
In some cases, natural, DIY methods can be used in conjunction with enzyme cleaners.
Allow it to sit and absorb excess liquid, and vacuum it up entirely before spraying your enzyme cleaner.
Dumping baking soda right into your bottle of enzyme cleaner, however, won’t help at all.
I’ve Tried Other Methods for Removing a Urine Spot, and They Didn’t Work. Will Enzyme Cleaner Work on Stains Which Have Already Been Treated?
In most cases, yes!
You might have had some well-meaning advice from others about how to remove the pungent smells – only for the method to be a bust.
Enzyme cleaner can rescue flooring from carpeting to urine stained tile, furniture, and clothing from very old stains – stains which someone has tried to remove through other means already.
The only thing you want to be careful of is mixing enzyme cleaners with other substances.
This means if you used a general cleaning spray or detergent, you should let it dry before giving the enzyme cleaners a try.
Can I Use Enzyme Cleaner in a Power Washer?
It’s not recommended or necessary to deliver enzyme cleaner via a power washer or other similar cleaning devices.
Enzymes work by sitting on the spot and being left alone for several minutes to overnight, depending on the size, age, and location of the stain.
Using a power washer will not allow you to coat the affected spot very accurately, and it might waste much more product than you would need to use otherwise.
If you’re set on power-washing concrete to rid odors treat it with enzyme cleaners first.
Keeping the Concrete Clean
Any severe urine odor on concrete can seem tough to remove.
A good rinse with hot water always helps, as well as soaking up excess urine before it has a chance to seep into your concrete flooring or walkway.
The true hero in this story is enzymes.
It’s really as easy as letting enzyme cleaners work their charm on the affected surface.
Whether the stain occurred in your garage or on your patio, enzyme cleaner is a universal powerhouse for removing urine and other organic stains and odors.
As for prevention, applying sealants like the pros do can save a lot of time and stress – especially if this is an issue you deal with often.
Keeping unwanted visitors out of your yard is also a good idea, and not only to prevent your property from becoming a public restroom for neighborhood critters.
Concrete can be an ideal surface when you have pets. Enzyme cleaners help keep it that way.