Removing urine odor from wood floor

jlc102482June 3, 2013

I am experiencing a disgusting problem with my bathroom floor. In a nutshell, my home's previous owners had really bad aim and really poor cleaning skills. The wood floor is emanating urine odor (gag).

When I moved in three years ago, the wood floor had 1960s vinyl installed over it, which took months of repeated cleaning to get the urine smell out of. Last winter, I removed the vinyl to uncover the wood floor, which I then sanded, stained and polyurethaned. Now that the weather is warm, my nose tells me that the aforementioned "no aim/no cleaning" problem went through the vinyl right into the wood floor. Talk about gross.

I don't know how/what products to use to deep clean the floor without bleaching or staining it. I also don't know if deep cleaning will even work, since the odor is permeating three coats of polyurethane on a surface that was sanded fairly heavily. Any suggestions, or should I plan on sanding the heck out of the area and refinishing the floor a second time?

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Also - I should mention that the wood floor is the original 1857 pine floor, so I can't really replace it, nor do I want to. At least, not yet!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 10:52AM
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Nature's Miracle, use plenty and let it soak in!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 11:34AM
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Yes! Nature's Miracle is superb for neutralising urine, whether cat, dog or manly man ;-)

The two bathroom floors in our new/older house are terribly urine damaged; to a point of infiltrating the concrete slab. I know I have to take up the toilets and may have to take out the two vanities to get the slab clean.

Nature's Miracle is a digestive enzyme; non-toxic to aquatic, bird & animals. I usually buy it at PetSmart by the gallon. (I also have cats & dogs.) It may be available in the cleaning section of places like Lowe's, Home Depot, WalMart, Kroger, etc.

Hope you can get the wood cleaned. You're right, it IS yucky.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 3:31PM
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Chiming in with Nature's Miracle or some similar enzyme product. I, too, buy it by the gallon and when I had a very old, incontinent dog I began using it in a vacuum sprayer - the kind you pump up.

I haven't finished my floors yet but I have it on *very* good authority that 1) cat urine is by far the worst for smell and persistence and 2) after all the NM in the world, it needs to be sealed with shellac and nothing else works.

True or not? Not sure but I will be shellacking my floors and would do yours too.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 8:28PM
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Even better than Nature's Miracle is Kennel Odor Eliminator by Thornell

My old house POs had cats, lots of them. And no litter box. It's more expensive, but it did in 4 treatments what Nature's Miracle (and others) could not.

Now, the one problem you may have (and I did) is that the urine has infiltrated the HW and is into the subfloor. Try TOE first, but if it still smells....then your only option left is to remove the HWF and treat the subfloor. Mine was so bad I removed the entire subfloor because it had sunk into the joists below, but I think I'm a worst case scenario.

Good luck.

PS....the smell is due to the ammonia salts left behind, which are activated by moisture, hence the stronger smell when the humidity rises. My floor was so bad it changed color (got darker) when it was humid...hopefully yours is not!

    Bookmark   June 9, 2013 at 10:13AM
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You can buy reclaimed pine floorboards from architectural salvage stores. I had to have the boards around two toilets replaced because of rot. Your bathroom probably isn't large and it wouldn't be terribly expensive. And it would eliminate the ick factor once and for all.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2013 at 8:59PM
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Are you SURE the wax ring under the toilet has not failed?

The problem being that lifting the toilet to examine the ring means it MUST be replaced anyway.

Does the toilet rock or move when you sit on it?

Move around on the seat (besides the seat slipping around)?

    Bookmark   June 10, 2013 at 12:24PM
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I'm with Brickeeye here. Many a foul odor in a bathroom is blamed on us guys with aiming issues only to find the closet flange wax ring or old cast iron flange itself has failed. You want to remove the toilet and inspect before going to all the trouble of cleaning only to have a reoccurrence.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2013 at 6:00AM
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Thanks for all the help, everyone! I'm sure it's the floor and not the wax ring/toilet, unfortunately. I bought some Nature's Miracle and it has made a significant difference. If I can't get it to go away entirely, I have resigned myself to redoing the floor...sigh. I don't want to resort to that, but it's worth having a clean bathroom for. At least it's a relatively small bathroom and not the whole house that has to be redone!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2013 at 1:51PM
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While I know this post thread is over a year old, I was wondering if you had heard to use hydrogen peroxide. While it won't lift out all the stain, it will cause the uric acid crystals that are deep in the wood to lift up. This is what is causing your odor. Soak a towel in peroxide, place over the stains and then cover with plastic for 24 hours. I found this solution on the web and then actually saw Scott McGillivray use it to get urine stains out of a concrete basement floor on his show. It works.

1 Like    Bookmark   September 30, 2014 at 5:45AM
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