Cleaning up the physical mess from your cat’s urine, throw up, and hairballs is challenging enough, but more often than not, they also leave embarrassing, pungent odors that sink deep into the fibers of carpet and can be intimidating to remove.

The good news is I have a tried and true process for a deep carpet clean that works! I have provided a step-by-step guide below to help alleviate the intimidation factor, and hopefully save you some time, too, by never having to do it again! As the daughter of cat-lovers that at one point, had 4 cats living in their home, (one who in his old age had “bladder control” issues) for better or worse, I have first hand experience with deep cleaning cat stains and odor removal from carpets. Not too long after the sweet old guy had to be taken to the vet to be put down, I  was determined that I would eliminate the remaining funk the elderly cat had bestowed upon my parents home in his last days.

If you are experiencing a similar problem with any of your pets, follow the steps below carefully and thoroughly and you will revert back to a freshly scented and clean home.

1.) Take care of the mess right away. The sooner you attend to the issue the easier it will be to clean up and the less impact it will have in terms of stain or smell on your carpet.

2.) Blot or pick up the urine, throw up, or hairball with paper towels or a rag towel as soon as possible.

3.) Mix a vinegar solution: 1 part vinegars, 3 parts (lukewarm) water. Pour the mixture over the cat stains and let it soak in for about 5 minutes. I like to use a natural cleaner first to penetrate the stain on a different level than a chemical cleaner does. Use this on carpet or fabric oriented stains only. Vinegar has potential to damage stone, marble, and tile. Let this dry or you can speed the process up by blowdrying or setting a fan up next to the damp area.

4.) Vacuum the area — OR if you are going for a complete deep clean of the entire room’s carpet, vacuum all of the carpeting in the room.

5.) Spot clean — Next, go back in with a special enzyme cleaner made especially for dog and cat urine, feces, vomit, and drool, such as the Pet Stain & Odor Miracle. Spot clean any remainding areas on the carpet, new and old, that have any remanence of a pet mess. Enzyme cleaners are essential in the clean up process because they speed up chemical reactions by attaching themselves to a particular substrate and breaking the substrate down more efficiently than your regular soap or non-enzyme cleaners. Let the cleaner soak in for about 15 minutes, blot up with disposable paper towels or rags, lifting the remaining stain as much as possible. Let dry – again, you can speed the process up by blowdrying or setting a fan up next to the damp area.

Voilà! If you are satisfied with the results from the two rounds of spot cleaning (vinegar mixture and enzyme cleaner) and all stains have been physically removed, as well as lifted any unpleasant smells, you are finished (or repeat on additional carpets, rugs, sofas, etc).

If you are going all in and want to double-down on your efforts to deep clean your carpets for an extra invigorating level of freshness that will last all year, read on:

6.) Deep carpet clean (do NOT steam clean) using a special vacuum. After you have spot-cleaned all areas on the carpet possible, it’s time to bring in the reinforcement: A deep carpet cleaner vacuum. I chose to rent a Rug Doctor Deep Carpet Cleaner for about $22/day at our neighborhood hardware store. They’re also available for purchase here: Rug Doctor Deep Carpet Cleaner. 

Whether you rent or buy one of these magical machines, you will also need a special carpet vacuum shampoo that is safe to use in the deep carpet vacuum cleaner you end up using. Nature’s Miracle Stain and Odor Remover Carpet Shampoo contains 64 ounces of low-foaming formula designed to be used with any water-based carpet cleaning machine or steam cleaner. This is specially designed shampoo for pet-stained carpets and penetrates deep into carpet fibers to allow break down and extraction of new and old stains, odors, and allergens using a bio-enzymatic odor locking technology for permanent and odor removal. Check your vacuum’s instructions for directions on how much of the shampoo you should add to the (presumably warm) water. Following the deep carpet cleaner’s directions, vacuum all desired carpeting.

7.) Dry carpeting. Open windows on seasonal days and/or set up fans for faster drying.

8.) Liberally sprinkle baking soda over the dry carpeting and let sit for about 25-30 minutes to soak up any remaining odors.

9.) Vacuum (regular) up baking soda from carpeted areas.

Mission complete! At this point, you should be in better shape than ever and back to enjoying (not avoiding) every area in your home, like you deserve!

Frequently asked questions:

What are enzymes and what do they do?

Enzyme cleaners use an oxidation method to remove stains and odors. Enzymes help to catalyze a chemical reaction to remove cat and dog urine and throw up particles. The enzyme attaches to the substrate and helps to break down the molecules in the offending stain.

While enzyme cleaners are able to chemically break down both stains and odors, they do not provide sterilization or any anti-bacterial properties. Check to make sure your cleaner also contains anti-bacterial components, as well.

Other “Dos and Don’ts” to help keep your home pet-odor free:


  • Do not use cleaning chemicals that contain ammonia. Ammonia smells similar to cat urine and may encourage your cat to re-mark the area.
  • Do not use a steam vacuum on stains. The steam will only bond the stain to the material more.


  • Try and retrain your cat to use their litter box if this is the issue. They may have had an unpleasant experience in the current location due to another pet’s aggression, or an incident that frightened them occurring near the litter box. Try moving the box to a quiet, low-traffic area.
  • Clean their litter box regularly removing urine clumps and poop.
  • Make sure your cat is well-groomed and their hair is not getting matted or uncomfortable for them in any area that could be hazardous or irritating to them when using the bathroom.
  • Make a trip to the vet to make sure they don’t have some kind of an infection that is causing them to pee outside of the box.
  • Maintenance: Deep vacuum carpet cleaning is hard work that you won’t want to do often, let alone have time for. Hopefully you will be able to target your cat and/or dog’s issue and not have to do this more than once. What you will have to continue doing no matter what, is regularly vacuum up your pet’s hair. Check out the research and article I wrote on the Best Vacuum Cleaners for Dog or Cat’s Pet Hair for pro-tips on vacuuming up your pet’s fur!
Pet Clean Up: How to Clean Cat Urine, Throw up, and Hairballs Out of Carpet