How to Remove Urine Stains and Smell from Clothes, Carpet, Mattress, etc

I don’t mind admitting that I regularly deal with clothes soaked in pee. Just this morning, I walked into my baby’s room and immediately noticed a strong smell. I knew right away that his diaper had leaked, and I’d have to wash his sleep sack. It’s even worse when daycare sends back soiled items in plastic bags, essentially soaking clothes in pee for hours. Whether you’re a parent, pet owner, caretaker, or just cleaning up an accident, here’s what you need to know about removing urine stains and smell from clothes, carpet, mattress, and couch.


Does Urine Stain?

The yellowish color of urine comes from urochrome, a chemical produced when the body breaks down dead blood cells.

While pee can leave a yellow stain that may intensify as it dries, it’s usually not a difficult mark to treat, especially if laundered within 12-24 hours.”

Why Does Urine Smell So Bad?

Normally, the urine of a healthy, well-hydrated person doesn’t have a strong smell. However, even small changes in diet can make the odor more intense.

Not drinking enough water can make pee smell like ammonia, certain foods (like asparagus) can create a strong scent, and conditions like bladder infections, urinary tract infections, or diabetes can affect the odor.

What You’ll Need

To effectively remove the smell of urine from clothes, gather the following items depending on the method you choose:

Why It’s Important to Act Quickly

Beyond the obvious smell, urine is acidic and can damage clothing fabric, making it smell bad and weaken its structure. Even after the stain disappears, the lingering ammonia in urine can leave a persistent odor, especially in non-washable items like car seats.

Fresh urine has a pH of 6.0, making it acidic. However, if left for a long time, its pH can rise above 8.0, turning it into an alkaline chemical. The strong alkaline salt in old urine can harm the fabric fibers of clothing.

To prevent these issues, it’s crucial to remove urine as soon as possible. Don’t worry; we’ve put together an easy guide to help you remove urine stains and odors from your clothes.

How to Clean Fresh Urine Stains

If you can wash the stained item right away:

  • Put the item in the washer with a urine stain remover. Use the hottest water setting suitable for the fabric. Then dry it as instructed on the care label.

For hand-wash-only items

  • Tear the strip into pieces and put them in a sink or basin filled with hot tap water. Let it soak, then gently agitate the item, rinse, and hang it to dry.

For stains you can’t wash immediately (like reusable diapers or bed sheets):

  • Soak the item in cold water. Fill a basin, sink, bucket, or bathtub with water and let the item sit until you can wash it. Later, drain the water, gently wring out the item, and wash it the same way as if it were a fresh stain.

Use Borax and Washing Soda to Tackle Tough Urine Stains

If your towels have a stubborn, lingering smell, don’t give up on them just yet. Try this all-natural solution using Borax and washing soda, with a touch of white vinegar for good measure.



  1. Fill your tub with cold water.
  2. Sprinkle in half of the Borax, washing soda, and white vinegar.
  3. Add the towels to the mixture.
  4. Submerge the towels thoroughly.
  5. Let them sit in the mixture for several hours.
  6. Rinse the towels thoroughly.
  7. Before adding any clothes, add the remaining ¼ cup of Borax to the wash.
  8. Wash as usual.
  9. Allow the towels to air dry.

How to Get Rid of Old or Dried Urine Stains

  1. Wet the stain with cold water.
  2. Pre-treat the stain by applying a powerful stain remover. Gently rub it into the stain with your fingers and let it sit for 30 minutes.
  3. Wash the garment in warm water following the care label instructions. Remember, use warm, not hot water.
  4. Let the garment air-dry. Important: Only use the dryer if you’ve finished treating the stain; the heat can set any remaining stains.
  5. Check the stain. Is it gone? If not, repeat the treatment. For tough stains, you can try a color-safe, oxygen-based bleach, but make sure your garment can handle it and always test for colorfastness first.

How to Remove Urine Smell from Clothes

Using Vinegar

  1. Prepare the Vinegar Solution:
    • Mix water and vinegar in a 3:1 ratio in a container.
    • Apply the solution to the urine stain on your clothing and let it soak for a few minutes.
    • Use white vinegar for white clothing to avoid potential staining; cider vinegar may impact color.
  2. Optional Step – Baking Soda:
    • Optionally, apply baking soda to the urine stain. This step is effective for severe stains as it helps absorb the odor along with the vinegar-water solution.
  3. Soak Clothes:
    • After letting the clothes soak in the mixture and using baking soda if needed, transfer them to the washer.
    • Do not add detergent at this point, and make sure not to use hot water, as it can set the stain.
  4. Air-Dry the Clothes:
    • After washing, air-dry the clothes by hanging them outside or inside if space is limited.
    • Avoid using a dryer, as its heat can set stains and odors into the clothing, making it harder to eliminate the smell.
    • Allow your clothes to dry for at least a full day for the best results.

Remove Set-In Urine Odor With Baking Soda and Laundry Detergent

Step 1: Pre-Soak with Baking Soda:

  • Fill a basin or sink with warm water and four tablespoons of baking soda, making sure it dissolves completely.
  • Place the item in the water and let it soak for 15-20 minutes. Baking soda helps break down uric acid, the cause of the ammonia-like smell, by adjusting the pH.

Step 2: Thoroughly Rinse:

Step 3: Wash According to Care Label:

  • Follow the garment care label instructions, choosing the warmest water temperature suitable for the fabric.

Step 4: Air Dry:

  • Allow the item to air dry.

Step 5: Smell Test:

  • Check for lingering odor. If it persists, repeat steps one through four.
  • Once the odor is gone, you can resume machine-drying if suitable for the garment.

Best Products for Tackling Urine on Clothes

We’ve shared the methods, now let’s talk about the reliable products to have on hand when dealing with those unpleasant accidents and pee smells in your clothes.

  1. OxiClean Laundry Powder: Great for tackling various stains and odors, especially effective against stubborn urine smells.
  2. Biokleen Bac Out Stain Remover: A powerful option for boosting enzymes, ideal for addressing stains and odors.
  3. OxiClean Spray: Perfect for quick action against urine smells or when you need a fast cleaning solution.
  4. Tide Laundry Detergent: A strong and dependable detergent for washing urine-soaked clothes effectively.
  5. Borax Laundry Booster: Not just for removing urine; it’s a trusted booster for regularly eliminating set-in stains and odors.
  6. Washing Soda: Essential for the laundry stripping method, providing reliable and effective cleaning.
  7. Spray Bottles: A cleaning cabinet essential; keep a few for homemade cleaners and stain removers.
  8. White Vinegar: Handy for cleaning, even if you don’t use it in the kitchen.
  9. Clorox Bleach: A powerful addition to your cleaning toolkit for dealing with tough stains and odors.
  10. Clorox Disinfecting Mist: Useful for cleaning surfaces before laundering pee-soaked clothes, especially in your home.

How to Get Urine Stains and Smell Out of Carpet Using a DIY Cleaning Solution

Step 1: Blot the Urine: If the urine is still fresh, quickly blot it with paper towels or a white cloth. Use your weight, preferably with shoes on, to press fresh towels into the carpet until no more moisture is transferred. Avoid using colored rags to prevent bleeding dyes.

Step 2: Prepare a Cleaning: Solution For fresh urine, mix 1 cup of distilled white vinegar, 1 cup of water, and 2 teaspoons of dishwashing liquid in a spray bottle. Label and keep it for future use. For old stains, combine 3 tablespoons of baking soda, 1 cup of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide, and two drops of dishwashing liquid in a spray bottle. Remember to mix this solution freshly each time.

Step 3: Apply the Cleaning Solution: Spray the vinegar solution on fresh urine stains until the carpet is very wet. For old stains, spray the solution on the carpet and let it sit for 20 minutes.

Step 4: Scrub the Carpet: For fresh urine, use a clean white cloth or a carpet scrub brush to gently scrub the stain from the outside edges toward the center, preventing the stain from spreading. Continue moving to a clean area of the cloth as you see discoloration. For old stains, use a white cloth to blot and rinse.

Step 5: Rinse with Water: Spritz the cleaned area with plain water from a second spray bottle to rinse away the soapy residue. Blot with dry cloths until no more moisture is transferred.

Step 6: Air Dry and Vacuum: Allow the area to air dry for both fresh and old stains. Finally, vacuum to lift the carpet fibers.

Note: If you have a light-colored carpet, use hydrogen peroxide, but avoid it on dark carpets as it may cause discoloration due to its mild bleaching effect.

How to Get Urine Stains and Smell Out of Mattress

As outlined in out mattress cleaning guide follow the methods below;

Fresh Urine

If you catch the accident quickly, follow these steps:

  1. Strip the bed and wash all bedding in the machine promptly.
  2. Gather supplies: white vinegar, baking soda, water, a spray bottle, a vacuum, and cleaning towels.
  3. Gently blot moist areas with a towel to absorb liquid, avoiding rubbing to prevent pushing urine further into the mattress.
  4. Mix equal parts water and distilled vinegar, put it in a spray bottle, and spray the affected area.
  5. Blot excess moisture with towels.
  6. Cover the area with a generous layer of baking soda.
  7. Let the baking soda sit for at least 8 hours.
  8. Vacuum off the baking soda and inspect the mattress for signs of stains and urine odors.
  9. If needed, repeat steps 5 through 9 until odors and stains are completely removed.

This process generally eliminates urine smells and prevents permanent stains. Use plenty of baking soda and allow enough time for it to absorb excess moisture.

Learn the simple steps to get cat pee out of mattress

Urine Stains on a Mattress

If stains are already set in, use a stronger cleaning solution with these steps:

  1. Create a solution using 3 tablespoons of baking soda, 8 ounces of hydrogen peroxide, 3 to 4 drops of liquid laundry detergent or dish soap.
  2. Apply the solution generously to stained areas with a spray bottle, allowing it to soak in.
  3. Wait for the mixture to dry; a baking soda residue layer will form.
  4. Vacuum off the baking soda and check for remaining stains.
  5. Repeat as necessary.

This method uses a more potent cleaning solution that allows it to soak into the stained area. As it dries, the peroxide evaporates, drawing urine upwards with the baking soda, neutralizing stains and odors.

Note: Peroxide may bleach some materials, so test it in a small area first. It may also slightly damage or discolor materials like memory foam. Use it sparingly and remove colored bedding to avoid bleaching.

Removing Urine Smell from a Mattress

If your mattress still smells of urine after cleaning, follow the methods below;

  1. Baking Soda Solution:
    • Spread a thin layer of baking soda over the entire mattress surface.
    • For stronger odors in specific areas, use a slightly thicker layer.
    • Let the baking soda sit uncovered for 5 to 10+ hours, then vacuum it.
    • Repeat as needed for best results in neutralizing urine odors.
    Vinegar Solution:
    • Mix equal parts cold water and distilled white vinegar in a 50/50 solution.
    • Optionally, add a few drops of essential oil like lavender or eucalyptus for a pleasant scent.
    • Apply the solution using a spray bottle and allow it to air-dry completely.
    • Use baking soda to remove any remaining moisture and neutralize the vinegar smell.

How to Eliminate Pee Smell from a Couch

Cleaning urine odors from sofas and upholstered furniture can be a bit challenging due to the variety of fabrics. It’s especially important to choose a sofa that is kid- and pet-friendly. Follow these steps:

Step 1: Blot the Stain: Use a paper towel to blot, not rub, the stain until it’s almost dry. Avoid letting the fabric absorb more of the urine.

Step 2: Cleanse with Vinegar and Water: Mix one part distilled white vinegar with four parts water (or half and half for extra-smelly stains). Pour or spray this solution on the fabric to neutralize the odor. If you have a microfiber couch, use rubbing alcohol instead of vinegar to avoid staining.

Step 3: Wipe the Stain: with a Sponge Starting from the inside and moving outward, apply pressure as you scrub the stain.

Step 4: Sprinkle Baking Soda: Cover the entire spot with enough baking soda and let it sit overnight. If time is limited, wait at least 4-6 hours.

Step 5: Vacuum: Once the fabric is thoroughly dry, use a vacuum to remove the baking soda. The combination of vinegar and baking soda should completely eliminate the pee smell.

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