Cleaning must go deep to get rid of cat odors

The Philadelphia InquirerJune 19, 2013 

I get the impression that there are a lot of untrustworthy cats in this country from the number of remedies submitted to me on combating urine odors.

Here’s a step-by-step from reader Ed Zoller in Jacksonville, Fla.:

If the area is carpeted, remove the carpet and padding.

Clean the area by scrubbing with a stiff bristle brush and a solution heavy with Pine-Sol or Lysol. Don’t use ammonia-based cleaners; ammonia will intensify the odor and might even attract the cat for a return.

If the surface is wood, underlayment, oriented strand board, plywood or even concrete, be sure to dry the area as quickly as possible. Use a Shop-Vac or old towels.

Continue to dry the area with fans for at least a day or two after you scrub.

When it is absolutely dry, paint the area with Kilz or a similar product. Use a generous coat or two, and let it dry thoroughly.

Replace your padding and carpet.

“By the way, remember that a black light used in the dark can show you where urine is located on carpet or other surfaces,” Zoller says. “This can help you narrow your search so you know where to remove carpet and treat.

“You might also want to research all the reasons cats do not use their litter box.” Otherwise, “you may solve the odor and stain problem only to have to replace the carpet and re-treat all over again.”

Question: I only just discovered your column, so I hope you haven’t covered this problem.

Dishwasher detergent leaves glassware with a cloudiness that worsens each time it is washed. How do you avoid or correct this, besides discarding and replacing with new? After-rinses only provide spot-free drying. The cloudiness persists.

When asked, detergent makers only equivocate and waffle.

Answer: Should we tell him, ladies and gentlemen? The majority of the votes on the issue that we handled a few months ago was for Cascade Complete, although my spouse, who is much more attuned to the problem, says the Cascade Platinum I bought by accident recently does an even better job than Cascade Complete.

Q: We have hard water. We have not gotten a water softener because I have sensitive skin that gets red blotches when using softened water at other homes.

Our home is 35 years old, and I’ve noticed that the water pressure is not as good as it used to be.

Can this be caused by some kind of buildup in the pipes due to the hard water, or can there be another explanation?

A: It could be the hard water.

Limescale deposits not only form and tend to block the water pipes, especially in heating systems, but they also have an adverse effect on appliances and the hot water heater.

Are there alternatives to water softeners to ease the buildup? I’d talk with a plumbing contractor to see what your situation is, and then do some research.

Questions? Email Alan J. Heavens at or write him at The Inquirer, Box 8263, Philadelphia PA 19101.

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