Cat pee in yarn is more than an annoying problem. Yarn is expensive, so you don’t want to sacrifice the yarn, not to mention all the work that you have put into the actual knitting of the yarn.
There are several different scenarios for this problem.
First of all, the cat may have peed on the knitting that is a WIP (Work In Progress). So you may be halfway through a project and when you come back to the project, whether a few hours later or weeks later, there is a tell-tale cat urine smell and your heart sinks.
Secondly, the cat may pee on the yarn in your stash. A “stash” (in the knitting world), for those not in the know, is yarn or wool that is waiting to be knitted. No stash shaming here, but stashes can get on the largish side, so you get the idea.
Yarn is a comfy place for cats to hang out. If it is not packaged, the cat may leave a calling card. Yarn that is stashed may be still in a hank or already wound into balls.
The yarn may already be knit and be a completed garment, for example, a sweater.
The term “yarn” is commonly used in the USA; however, in other countries, such as the UK or Australia, “yarn” usually refers to wool. A store selling wool in Australia would be a wool shop, and in the US, a yarn store. Just to get that out of the way. I will use the terminology, “yarn,” here.
I have compiled a comprehensive list of all possible solutions to get cat pee out of yarn. These solutions are from other knitters who have had this problem. The solutions are the solutions that worked for them. Hopefully, there is something that resonates with you and the particular problem you have.
In addition to describing the process of removing the cat urine, I have, where possible, included comments about the actual results.
Some of these methods overlap. Take the information here and apply to your situation.
How To Get Cat Pee Out of Yarn
Problem 1: My cat peed on my WIP. What should I do now?
Put all the stitches on a safety line (secure the ends to the knitting with plastic stitch markers), so you can temporarily remove the needles.
Next, hand-wash the item in an enzymatic cleaner.
Then wash in a wool wash to make it all lovely and soft. Remove excess water and let the yarn air dry. You may even be able to just put it all back on the needles and keep knitting.
Someone else recommends Furry Freshness. Furry Freshness is 100% natural, non-toxic, and has no fragrance or enzymes.
Furry Freshness works by triggering pet accidents to breakdown and dissolve into oxygen & water. It also triggers pets stains to completely breakdown.Furry Freshness
Another recommendation was to put the knitting out in the sun when their cat peed on their knitting. This may work for lightly soiled items. I would definitely wash the knitting first.
Soak it, use a wool wash while it’s on the needles. This knitter remarks that it’s a little odd to do, but they have done that with projects the dog peed on.
Try this before you discard the WIP. Mix 16 oz of hydrogen peroxide hydrogen peroxide 3% solution, 1 tsp Dawn, 1 tbsp baking soda, and mix together. Put this mixture on the affected area. Let it air dry completely and brush away the excess powder. This is an excellent remover for cat urine (according to the contributor).
Problem 2: My knitting bag held a current project and a few skeins of yarn. The cat peed in the bag!
Last week, I had to de-pee 4 skeins. I made them into hanks and then soaked them in enzyme detergent for a day.
Next, the hanks were carefully washed with wool wash, hung to dry, then they were balled them into cakes. A yarn bowl is a handy gift for a knitter by the way and for a cat lover, a yarn bowl with cats is really good. It wasn’t as hard as it sounds as long as you’ve used hanks before and know how they are tied to prevent tangles.
Note: Make sure the hanks are tied, otherwise an almighty tangle could be the result. This is a super quick video, approx 2 mins that shows how to tie a hank.
There is another video further down the page that explains how to make a hank, with no special equipment needed.
This is for after you have solved the yarn pee problem and to hopefully stop any further cat urine incidents.
Have you tried Feliway spray?
It’s a pheromone spray and calms cats that are stressed. It mimics the cat’s natural facial pheromones (when your cat is rubbing the side of his face on furniture, your shoes etc).
Look for a product called Nok-Out Odor Remover (shown below), Pet Deodorizer, and Cleaning Spray. It is an enzyme cleaner that is safe for even the most delicate of fibers.
I used an enzymatic cleaner on two machine-made wool rugs. It got the smell out and the colors ran on only one. It happened to be the one with a lot of red in it. The color ran into the fringe that is now pink instead of cream colored. I used Nature’s Miracle as my cleaner.
Problem 3: I stored a baby blanket in my yarn bin. The cat peed in my yarn bin and on the blanket. How can I get cat pee smell out?
Odor Mute. Best thing I know for getting cat pee out of fabric.
There is a product with enzymes that digest urine called Nature’s Miracle. I’ve never used it on yarn, but I have 3 dogs and it has saved our carpet many times. Maybe spot test it on some scrap yarn?
I would use Nature’s Miracle. Soak it well. Rinse and soak it again.
Note: Nature’s Miracle has been mentioned multiple times. To be fair, I don’t know if this is just because it is a well-known brand or because it works so well—maybe a bit of both.
Nature’s Miracle is an enzymatic cleaner that is specific to pet urine stains. Get if from a pet store or online.
This is a “Thinking Out Of The Box” Solution. Hunters use a laundry detergent that is scent free to wash their clothes (and a body wash) to help them go undetected when hunting. These products also work to get rid of stains.
I am not a hunter, but here is the information about both of these products. Some of you may already know about these or similar products. Both are listed as safe to use on merino wool.
Wash in the washing machine on a gentle cycle with fabric softener. Then put the item in a mesh bag or pillow case, pinned closed with a safety pin, and dried on low heat. This worked wonderfully for a crocheted baby blanket that smelled of cat urine.
Listerine gets rid of the cat pee smell. Put some in your washing machine and let the blanket soak for a while. Note: Take care with the color of Listerine. The color may cause additional problems.
Problem 4: The cat peed on A bag Containing New yarn. Continued below…
I Need To Wash The Yarn Even Though Not Much Got Inside The Bag. I Intend To Get Some Knee-High Stockings, Put Yarn In Each, And Wash Them In The Hand Wash Cycle (I’m Not Sure If I Can Dry Them).
Wind into skeins and hand wash, then hang up to drip dry. If you put it in the washing machine, it will tangle. I have done this with yarn I have unpicked to reknit.
I would make them into hanks first. If you do not have a swift use the back of chairs, then hand wash, then hang to fully dry. A Swift is not necessary.
Use the legs of a chair to work like a swift. I do this all the time.
This solution has been suggested multiple times and is a sensible solution to the problem. It is not a quick fix.
What is the fiber content? Acrylic should be just fine for putting in knee-high stockings and washing in the machine. I would be careful with anything with animal fiber unless it says it is superwash yarn. If there’s any animal fiber, I would hand wash.
This is what one person did to solve the problem. I put the hanks (they had not been wound into cakes or balls) in a lingerie bag and washed the yarn on the gentle cycle with cold water and a gentle detergent. I used Zum. I left the yarn that keeps the hanks tied in place. When the wash cycle finished, I took the yarn out of the bag and hung it to dry around a hanger (the hank looked like a necklace being worn by the hanger). I then wound the dry hank into a ball and knit with it as usual.
You would need to make the yarn into a hank and tie it off. A hank is looser than a cake or ball. If anything got deeper into the yarn, washing it as a tight skein/cake/ball may not get it out. You also risk not getting the middle dry, which can cause other problems.
How To Make Yarn Into A Hank
Here is a video showing how to make yarn into a hank.
You can see that it is much looser than a ball or cake and therefore easier to wash and dry. The person in the video is talking about preparing the wool for dyeing, which is not the purpose here, but notice how she also says that the yarn/wool can easily be washed in a hank because it is looser than a ball/cake.
A Different Solution To remove Cat pee From Yarn
I’m not sure about this one. Maybe it is worth a try if all else has failed and you are about to ditch the yarn.
Meat tenderising powder breaks down animal proteins. The smell of cat urine comes from short-chain proteins. Depending on the yarn, either dilute in warm water and detergent, or cold water. This tip was from a dog groomer. This will cost a fraction of most pet urine treatments.
There are some great ideas here. I hope that you have been able to find a solution to the cat pee on yarn problem.
As we know, cat urine can also cause problems on other items that will need to be treated, such as furniture, or maybe a down comforter, pillow, cross stitch, or acrylic yarn.
The methods explained here could also be used in other situations to treat cat urine smells.