How to Get Dog and Cat Urine Smell Out of Concrete

remove dog urine smell from concrete

Sometimes accidents happen even with the best of pets. A little vinegar is often enough to clean the carpet, but your garage can be a lot tougher. The following tips can help you remove pet urine out of concrete so your basement or garage won’t suffer from that little “oops” moment.

Getting Started

Unlike carpets and other thin surfaces, cleaning urine out of concrete is a multi-step process. The good news is that following all of the steps will not only eliminate that existing dog or cat pee odor, it can help prevent future issues.

The Trouble with Concrete

Despite its sturdy appearance, concrete is quite porous. This means any liquid can get trapped within its surface easily. Unfortunately, that bit of dog pee can seep in too far to simply scrub out.

What make matters even worse is that the ammonia smell can lie dormant after the pee dries, only to be reactivated the next time your floor gets wet. You’ll have to perform a deep clean to get it all out, then seal the surface to prevent future seepage.

concrete is porous

Initial Preparation

Due to the porous nature of concrete, you can’t simply clean one small area. Instead, the entire floor will need to be tended to. Begin by clearing off the floor and using a push broom, sweep up any loose debris.

Locating The Urine

The first and arguably most important step is to locate all of the spots where urine may have ended up. This is a simple procedure, and skipping it could lead to problems down the road.

Get a blacklight (a blacklight bulb placed in your flashlight or work lamp is a cheap option) and scan the floor in total dark for signs of pee. You might also find that place where you cut your finger last month. Mark those areas with a piece of chalk for easy reference.

Step 1 – The Initial Clean

Scrubbing out the worst of the urine with household cleaning supplies will make the third step more effective and help reduce the risk of staining. There are three different types of concrete cleaners to choose from, both chemical and non-chemical.

Trisodium Phosphate (TSP)

TSP to clean pet urineTSP is a heavy-duty cleaner that can get rid of urine traces down to the bacterial content. As TSP can cause skin damage, you should wear protective clothing and goggles, making sure no children or pets have access to the area.

Add 1/2 cup of TSP per gallon of really hot water. Apply the mixture to the affected area, making sure to work only a small area (no more than three square feet) at a time, as it evaporates quickly.

Gently scrub the spot, then allow the TSP mixture to sit for at least five minutes. If it dries sooner, you will want to apply more to the area. The uric acid will react to the TSP,  so you may get some very strong odor while it does its job.

Pour some very hot water onto the area to rinse and remove it using a shop or wet vac. Rinse twice more and allow the area to dry naturally overnight.

Hydrogen Peroxide

This mixture gets good results but takes a few days to complete treatment. Take two drops of Dawn, and two teaspoons of baking soda. Add these to two cups of hydrogen peroxide in a glass bowl. Stir gently until the baking soda has completely dissolved, being careful not to agitate the liquid more than necessary.

Either pour or spray this mixture onto the places where you found urine, making sure to completely cover the area, allowing it to evaporate naturally. The sitting peroxide mixture will soak into the concrete, eliminating traces of urine as it goes. Repeat this treatment every 24 hours for between 3 and 5 days to ensure the urine is completely dissolved.

Vinegar

One of the most essential cleaning products, a mix of two parts vinegar to one part hot water is a tried-and-true method of fighting urine odors. It can be used in the same way as TSP, but as a much safer alternative. Use this if you’re worried about pets getting into the area or if you wish to stay away from harmful chemicals.

Be careful when using vinegar on concrete as it can react with the alkaline in the concrete and create unwanted marks or patterns. It’s a good idea to test in a small area first.

Step 2 – Treatment of the Stain

Once the worst of the urine has been removed, you’ll need to treat the area with an enzymatic cleaner and seal the entire floor. This is due to the fact that you can remove the urine smell without removing the urine itself.

Using an Enzymatic Cleaner

enzymatic cleaner for dog or cat peeEnzymatic cleansers often come in a concentrated form. While the previous step removes the odor, a good enzymatic cleaner use enzymes to break down the uric acid, which binds itself to the concrete. Be sure to follow the mixing instructions carefully, as some formulas require carpet cleaner to be added in addition to water.

Pour a portion of the cleaner onto the stain, working once again in a small area (no more than three square feet). The solution needs to remain for at least 10 minutes before drying to ensure it soaks completely in. Use a scrub brush on tough areas. Heavy concentrations will bubble and may require a second treatment.

Allow the floor to dry overnight, laying a tarp over the area if it’s drying too fast. Once all areas have been fully treated and dried, you’ll be ready for the final step.

Step 3 – Prevention

The very last step you should take is a preventative one. Sealing your concrete floor can place a protective coating over the top so that future leaks won’t be able to penetrate the surface. It can also prolong the life of your floor.

Applying a Concrete Sealer

A good concrete sealer can protect your floor for several years. You should begin by using a concrete cleaner, following the instructions on the label and washing the entire floor. Rinse the floor thoroughly and allow it to air dry for 24 hours. Next, seal any cracks using concrete caulk and allow it to cure.

Depending upon the type of sealer you get, the instructions and final effect could be vastly different. Some sealers dry clear, while others give a glossy sheen to the floor. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully and apply to one fourth of the floor at a time while keeping the area well-ventilated. It takes 3-4 days to completely cure, and at least one day before you can walk on it.

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Comments

  1. we did the wrong thing to begin with by putting bleach on the urine spots..now the smell is unbearable…any suggestions on what to do next?

    • True, the chemistry with bleach and urine is not good. I’d try soaking the area with vinegar and just letting it dry naturally. Alternatively, you can sprinkle a layer of baking soda on top to absorb the odor.

  2. We painted over the stains of the car urine and the floor just got wet smells so bad thought the cat peed down there again ! Help!

    • A lot of times, covering up the cat urine is all you can do. Paint alone won’t do the trick. You’ll want to use a couple coats of good primer and then repaint. Zinsser BIN is a good option.

  3. We have a rental house we were remodeling that has tile floors throughout. One night a feral cat got in the house. The smell is not over powering but you can smell it. Could I take a sprayer and mix vinegar and water and spray the entire house walls and floors. Would that nutrelize the mell

    • I think spraying the entire house is going a bit overboard. I’d recommend using a black light to try to pinpoint the areas affected and treat them only. In my experience, vinegar does work very well for this sort of thing.

  4. My husband and I swept area and then moved on to Step 1 with hydrogen peroxide which I sprayed thoroughly on the floor. Question: Do I scrub at all or just let the spray do its work? Is there a anything I should do before second application once it’s all dry?

    Thanks! We’re hopeful to get our garage back to normal. 🙂

    • Since concrete is porous, just let the solution soak in naturally. Any excess will stay on the surface and simply evaporate. Simply repeat for the second application.

  5. Hello Chris – How are you? Thanks for the very useful information. Our concrete patio is soaked with urine from multiple dogs and I believe we have been cleaning the wrong way just like most folks.
    For Step 1: Would using straight vinegar on the affected area and let it dry naturally work well in your opinion? We just happen to have access to very inexpensive commercial cooking vinegar.
    Again thanks!

    • Straight vinegar might be a bit too strong for concrete. I would first try a 2:1 vinegar to hot water ratio on a small area to make sure it won’t cause any aesthetic issues.

      • Hello Chris – Thanks for the reply. Will try your method. Would you recommend tarping the treated area so to prevent vinegar from evaporating quickly and is would treating overnight help?
        We all appreciate your help!!!!

  6. My cat has been peeing in my carpet. We pulled up the carpet and pad. I plan to clean the concrete with the vinegar solution above and then the enzymatic cleaner. Should I use the same sealer if I plan to put carpet back down?
    I’m trying to avoid the cat peeing on the new carpet.
    Thank you

    • Yes, I would seal the concrete even if it’s under the carpet. The goal is to stop the urine from seeping into the porous concrete. Sure, it will still get in the carpet but that’s easier to clean.

  7. I also did what Donna VanGorp did and washed the concrete floor with bleach water. The floor was later covered with indoor/outdoor carpeting (glued down). Years later there is still a smell of cat urine. I want to pull up the carpeting and treat the concrete floor correctly. Am I able to soak the areas with straight vinegar or should I dilute it first? Also, when it comes to sprinkling baking soda on top do I wait until the vinegar completely dries on the floor or do I sprinkle the baking soda while it’s still wet. Should I repeat this step with the vinegar and baking soda? How long do I wait before going to step 2 ? Thank you for any additional help with this issue.

  8. I am having ceramic tile installed over my concrete basement floor next week. Do I need to go thru all 3 steps above first?

  9. I have a rental and the renters left their German Shepard in the basement to use as a bathroom. We have used numerous products to clean and the smell is still there. What would you suggest? I really need some help.

  10. My renters had cats they peed in every room ,we pulled up the carpet and are going too put tile, what should we do so the smell leaves. We also are replacing all the floor boards that they peed on.

  11. I never thought about how vinegar and citrus-based cleaning systems will harm the floors with the acids they contain. My wife and I are refurbishing our barn and want to use polished concrete for the flooring so that it will last for a long time. We will keep this article in mind as we make a plan to put the best flooring in our barn.

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