How to Get Cat Urine Out of Wood Subfloor

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Pet urine odor and stains in the wood subfloor can be unsightly. It’s sometimes bundled with a pungent-nauseating smell that’s cumbersome and costly to fix. Training your pet (cats to pee) may not be enough since accidents do happen. But how do I get rid of cat urine out of the wood subfloor?

Ventilate the room to get rid of the urine pungent smell. Apply an enzymatic cleaner or natural cleaners made of white vinegar, baking soda, and mild dishwashing soap to get rid of urine-ammonia off your sub-floor surface. Sand the surface before applying floor sealant.

Can pet urine soak deep into wood subflooring?

Hardwood floors, whether sealed or unsealed, can get damaged due to pet urine over time. Pet urine can easily get soaked deep into the subfloor especially due to continuous urination at a certain flooring space. Pet urine contains ammonia that has a pungent smell, but its uric acidic element can affect the structural strength of the subfloor.

When left uncleaned, pet urine can form dark spots on the delves of your floor. No amount of wood bleachers or detergents can eliminate the bad odor, let alone the stains. Sometimes, your pet could be undergoing emotional distress or could be poorly toilet-trained, leaving chances for accidents such as peeing on the floors instead of going outside or using their litter boxes.

The thought of walking through your door only to get welcomed by a nauseating smell can be draining. Dried urine forms crystals that produce a pungent odor. The stench you’re smelling is from the crystallized urine in the impregnated wood.

If the room gets humid or the floor gets wet, the stench might get more pungent as the crystals get wet. You’ll be compelled to replace the boards and plywood in the long run because the damage is so deep that getting rid of the smell will be a nightmare. But if your floor is light-colored, there is some hope. Either way, cleaning pet urine in the shortest time possible can be your only savior, particularly if you want to protect your investment.

How to remove pet urine odor in subfloors

Dried pet urine is a daunting odor to remove once seeped into the room through the floor or furniture. Cleaning cat urine depends on several factors: where it is, how long it has stayed unnoticed, and the type of hardwood floor deposited. In that case, replacing the entire subfloor should be the last resort. Fortunately, you can apply the following tips to remove it:

Roll back the carpet and ventilate the room

Assuming your cat peed on the carpet (and not a blanket or cloth), the first thing to do is roll it back. this allows you to see the urine-soaked places well. It could be one or more spots. You can organize to have your carpet cleaned and sun-dried before replacing it after cleaning the subfloor.

Opening your windows and doors can also work magic if you want your pet urine-cleaning strategy to work. Sufficient aeration invites clean air and removes unwanted stench. It also helps to eliminate any floating particles that could be lurking in the urine-soaked room.

Use enzymatic cleaners to get rid of the pet urine stains

Naturally, pet urines contain ammonia crystals which normal detergents might not succeed in removing. An enzymatic cleaner is designed to be tough on the stains but gentle to the hardwood floors. The enzymatic cleaner (Rocco & Roxie Professional Stain & Odor Eliminator) will remove all sorts of stubborn stains like organic spills and yellow urine.

Since it is free from chlorine, you can rest assured that it won’t discolor your hardwood floor.  Before you pour it on your hardwood flooring, could you test it out in an inconspicuous place? You can try the corner or areas with rugs to see if they’ll react with your floor.

Once you’ve confirmed that its actions on stains are effective, it is time to pour it on the urine-soaked area. Wait for it to fully dry for at least 24 hours before you confirm to see if the odor disappears. If it doesn’t work the first time, repeat the process until you see some changes.

Use home-based cleaning agents

Homebased cleaning solutions are the best since they don’t contain harsh chemicals. Your pantry contains dozens of multi-functional cleaning agents. Here is how to clean with homemade cleaners;

  • You can start with a cup of warm water, 1/3 cup of white vinegar, ¼ cup of baking soda, and ¼ of mild dishwashing soap. Mix the solution in a spray bottle by shaking vigorously.
  • Spray the contents on a cloth and wipe off the stain. But first, test it out in an inconspicuous area to reveal its action on stubborn stains.

Hydrogen peroxide is another good example of a home-based cleaning solution. If the urine stains are fresh, you can saturate a cup of hydrogen peroxide over the wood and let it permeate through the wood for a few hours. Clean it up using a clean cloth.

Clean up the floor as usual

The final step involves rinsing the floor using warm water to get rid of detergents. Don’t rub the floor obsessively. Instead, can dab or blot using a rag. Next, use a vacuum cleaner (SpotClean Pet Pro) to suck in pet furs and other particles. Finally, you can replace the clean carpet once the floor is clean and dry.

Can you seal the wood to prevent pet urine damage?

Sealing hardwood flooring is one of the best ways to prevent urine damage. It all depends on the floor sealant or any other floor pre-finishing products you choose for your floor. Your primary goal is to increase the outer layer of plywood that coats the subfloor. Think of it as putting sellotape between the paws of your pet and the hardwood surface.

Unlike tiles, hardwood floors are porous. Even the smallest amount of liquid can permeate through the deepest layers of the wood structure. It’s not easy to detect the damage happening in the wood fibers since it takes time. Eventually, the moisture that sips through wood can invite molds and mildew.

Hardwood floors are prone to scratches from pets’ claws which increases the rate of moisture absorption inside them. If the floor sealants get scratched, they get susceptible to urine seepage to the subfloor. While the outer surface may be robust enough to prevent liquid from seeping through it, the small openings from scratches can still invite unwanted moisture.

Protective finishing or sealants of hardwood floors are impenetrable by nature. While they might not prevent scratches, the good news is the scratches won’t extend to the wood. It’s safer to use many layers of pet-proof hardwood flooring instead of applying a single coat. Remember, the thicker the sealant, the more protection for your hardwood floor.

As you apply a sealant on your floor, keep in mind that your cleaning patterns after your pet have peed on it matters. If you have a rough hardwood floor, the best thing to do is sand it first before applying many layers of floor sealants. Alternatively, you can try out catalyzed cross-linkers to protect your floor.


No matter how well-behaved or trained your pet could be, they can urinate on your floor when you least expect it. When your dog or cat pees on your floor, and you ignore it or use harsh detergents to clean your floor, the results can be disastrous. The last thing you want is to spend your hard-earned money to solve a problem such as this one. Fortunately, preventative actions like sealing your floor and making your pet’s litter box more accessible can go a long way in protecting your investment.

when left uncleaned, can be cumbersome and costly to fix. Not only does pet urine make your floor unsightly, but its pungent smell can be nauseating. It takes the right products and a good cleaning technique to save your subfloor from ruins. While you may succeed at training your cat to pee in their litter boxes, sometimes, accidents happen.

Since the last thing you want is to punish your pet for staining your subfloor, it would be imperative to find a lasting solution to your problem. One of the best hacks to removing cat urine odor is to clean the accident as soon as possible, preventing it from sipping deeper into the wood. Once the urine permeates through the plywood into the subfloor, cleaning may take several steps. Once you remove the urine, the next step is getting rid of the stain.

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Joe McGuinty
I’ve been working with floors for over 12 years. I started as a flooring contractor, primarily in materials selection. Then, I switched careers into accounting, so my wife and I began buying, renovating, and re-selling homes on the side. You’d be surprised how much value you can add to a home simply by adding new floors.

2 thoughts on “How to Get Cat Urine Out of Wood Subfloor”

  1. I just bought a house that clearly had several layers of animal urine soaked into the carpet/underlayment and plywood subfloor in several rooms. I first removed all carpets then treated the plywood with a gallon of Natures Miracle using a pump sprayer. i waited 1 week for the NM smell to final dissipate, but on the next humid day the urine smell (although much more slight) had returned.

    I’m not 100% if I treated every area of plywood, but wondering if this wood is salvageable by treating it again and again or if I should just pay the $$$$’s to replace 500 sqft of plywood.

    What is the beat option here!? I am beside myself…

  2. Unfortunately, I have a very stubborn odor. I have treated multiple times with multiple products (commercial, vinegar/baking soda). The odor is still very strong.

    Fortunately, it is a small section against a wall so I will be replacing the sub floor.


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