Whether you have a kid or a pet running around your house, you’ve probably had to deal with urine getting on your clothes. The smell of urine isn’t a pleasant one, and it can be hard to get rid of even if you wash the clothing. So if you’re at your wit’s end about how to get the urine smell out of clothes, don’t worry because there is hope.
Usually, you can’t remove urine smell from clothing or fabrics just by using your regular laundry detergent. You’ll need to use something to pre-treat the clothing, such as bleach, vinegar, or baking soda. Then, follow up with a stronger enzyme laundry detergent when washing.
Depending on how much urine was on the clothing and how long it has been there, you may need to use more than one product to remove it. Most of these products you probably already have on hand, and I’ll share with you how to use them in this article. I’ll also explain how to remove the smell of urine from furniture and upholstery as well.
- Does Human Urine Smell Go Away Over Time?
- Can You Remove Urine Smell From Clothes?
- How to Get Urine Smell Out of Clothes: 7 Ways
- Best Way to Remove Urine Smell From Clothing
- What Is the Best Laundry Detergent for Urine Odor?
- How to Get Cat and Dog Pee Smell Out of Clothes
- How to Get Pee Smell Out of Couch, Mattress or Carpet
- What to Do if Clothes Smell Like Urine After Washing?
- Best Urine Smell Remover
- How to Avoid Urine Smell in Pants
Does Human Urine Smell Go Away Over Time?
Although a urine stain isn’t hard to remove, the smell is a different story. Whether the urine comes from a human or a pet, the smell can linger for a long time, even if the actual stain is removed. In some cases, you may think you’ve gotten the smell out of clothing or upholstery, but it can be reactivated due to certain environmental factors.
The reason why urine smells linger is because of what urine is made of. Urine is 95% water, which is why the stain itself can be removed fairly easily with soap and water or regular laundry detergent.
However, another large component of urine is uric acid. Uric acid is a substance that is formed as the body breaks down certain foods and beverages. But, it also causes urine to have an odor because it forms salt deposits that can be left behind on surfaces even when the stain is removed.
The salts don’t have an odor as long as they remain dry, which is why you may think that the urine odor is gone after cleaning a urine stain. But when a urine-stained area becomes wet or exposed to humidity, the uric acid salts can release an odor again.
It’s possible that the urine smell can diminish on its own over time. But it is very unlikely for the smell to go away completely without using strong cleaning agents or products that can neutralize the urine salts and odor.
Can You Remove Urine Smell From Clothes?
Even though urine is one of the toughest smells to remove from clothes, it isn’t impossible. You can get the urine smell out of clothes as long as you use the right products. Mild laundry detergents usually aren’t strong enough to remove the urine smell because they lack the powerful cleaning agents needed to break down the odor-causing uric acid.
Instead, you will most likely need to pre-treat the clothing to break down the stain before washing the clothing. When washing urine-stained clothes, you will need to use a special laundry detergent formulated to remove tough odors, such as urine smells. Don’t worry because I’ll explain how to pre-treat the stain and what type of laundry detergent to use.
How to Get Urine Smell Out of Clothes: 7 Ways
If the urine stain is fresh, you’ll first want to remove as much of the urine as possible by blotting it with a paper towel. This will help make stain removal easier because there will be less of the stain that needs to be broken down, and you can remove some of the uric acid before it settles into the clothing.
If the urine smell has been there for a while, you’re not going to be able to remove it just by blotting it. But regardless of whether the stain is new or old, you can still use the products below to pre-treat the stain, then use an enzyme laundry detergent to wash the clothes.
When it comes to pre-treating the stain, you may need to use one or more of the products below, especially if the odor is particularly strong or has been there for a while. Under each product, the steps will be provided for using it to remove a urine smell.
1. Baking Soda
To use baking soda to remove the smell of urine, follow these steps:
- After blotting the stain, sprinkle baking soda liberally over the wet area.
- Use a scrub brush or an old toothbrush to work the baking soda into the clothing fibers,
- Let the baking soda sit for several hours overnight, depending on the size of the stain.
- Dust off the baking soda, then launder the clothing to remove any baking soda and the rest of the stain.
- You can also add baking soda to the wash to further help absorb odors.
For starters, you’ll need to determine whether you need chlorine or non-chlorine (oxygen) bleach. Chlorine bleach can be used on white clothing, but it will remove the dye from dark clothing in addition to removing the urine smell. If working with colored clothing, you’ll need to use non-chlorine bleach.
Follow these steps to use bleach to remove urine odors:
- Put on rubber gloves to protect your hands from the harsh chemicals found in bleach.
- In a bucket or washtub, dilute ¼ cup of chlorine or non-chlorine bleach in a gallon of water.
- Add the urine-stained clothing to the water and bleach solution and allow it to sit for around 3 hours.
- After soaking, wash the clothing to remove the rest of the stain. You can add more bleach to the wash if necessary, following the instructions on the product label.
Follow these steps to learn how to use vinegar to remove urine smells:
- In a bucket or washtub, mix one cup of distilled white vinegar with one gallon of water.
- Place the clothing into the vinegar and water solution and allow the clothing to soak for several hours or overnight.
- Optional Step: You can use baking soda after removing the clothes from the vinegar soak to help absorb any odors, following the steps above.
- Wash the clothing in the washing machine, adding 1 cup of vinegar instead of detergent.
- Wash using hot water unless the care tag for the clothing says otherwise.
When using Borax to get urine smells out of clothing and upholstery, follow these steps:
- In a small bowl or container, mix ¼ cup of Borax with ¼ of salt, ¼ of vinegar, and a pint of water.
- Dip a rag or sponge into the water, wring it out, and use it to wipe the stained area.
- Let the mixture sit on the stain for about 45 minutes.
- If using it for clothes, wash the clothing in the washing machine. You can add vinegar to the wash if necessary.
- If using it for upholstery, wipe the Borax mixture off of the upholstery and vacuum over the area.
5. Hydrogen Peroxide
Here’s how to use hydrogen peroxide to remove urine smells from upholstery and clothing.
- In a spray bottle, combine 10 fluid ounces of hydrogen peroxide with 3 tablespoons of baking soda and a few drops of dish soap.
- Hydrogen peroxide can remove the color from certain fabrics, so spray the mixture in an area that is not noticeable and check for any discoloration before use.
- Spray the stain with the hydrogen peroxide mixture and let it sit on the fabric for about an hour.
- Wash the clothing, adding 1 cup of vinegar to the wash if necessary to remove any lingering odors.
6. Enzyme Laundry Detergent
- After pre-treating the stain with one or more of the above methods, you will want to wash the clothing to finish removing the stain.
- Wash your clothes as you normally would, using the enzyme detergent instead of your normal laundry detergent.
- It’s best to wash clothing in warm or hot water for the enzyme detergent to be most effective, but if the clothing can’t be washed in hot water, then cool water is okay too. Just check the care tag first.
- After washing the clothing, check to see if the odor has been removed. If not, wash the clothing again with the enzyme detergent.
7. Air Dry
After washing urine-stained clothing, it is best to let it air-dry, preferably outdoors in the sun. Air-drying the fabric will help remove any lingering odors as the fabric dries and give you an idea of whether or not the odor has been truly removed. If you still notice an odor after air-drying the clothing, you will need to wash the fabric again or repeat any of the above methods.
Best Way to Remove Urine Smell From Clothing
The best way to remove the urine smell from clothing is to treat the stain while still wet:
- You’ll want to blot the stain, then use baking soda to absorb the stain and the odor.
- Rinse off the baking soda, then soak the clothing in a vinegar and water solution.
- Wash the clothing using an enzyme laundry detergent and let the clothing air dry.
What Is the Best Laundry Detergent for Urine Odor?
The best laundry detergent to use to remove urine odor is an enzymatic laundry detergent. These laundry detergents contain enzymes that break down certain stains, and they’re designed to remove tough stains such as blood, urine, and even some food-based stains.
Most enzyme-based laundry detergents will be labeled as such. But, some of them are labeled as heavy-duty, while others say that they are specifically for urine. A laundry detergent marked for urine is probably your best bet, but any enzymatic laundry detergent should do the trick.
How to Get Cat and Dog Pee Smell Out of Clothes
Pet urine odors can be removed in much the same way as human urine odors. The most effective methods for dog and cat pee are the Borax method and the vinegar method, especially if the stain has dried or has been there for a while.
After pre-treating the stain, just wash the clothes with an enzyme laundry detergent, but add a cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle as well. This will help to remove any lingering odors. Then, let the clothing air dry.
How to Get Pee Smell Out of Couch, Mattress or Carpet
Pee smells on furniture and upholstery, including couches, mattresses, and carpets, are especially frustrating because they can’t be washed in the washing machine. But regardless of whether they come from humans or pets, pee smells are easier to remove from furniture and upholstery if you clean them while the stain is fresh.
You can use the Borax or hydrogen peroxide method mentioned above if the stain has already dried. But if the stain is still wet, follow the steps below for the most effective urine odor removal method:
- Use a paper towel or microfiber cloth to soak up as much of the urine as possible by blotting at the stain.
- Thoroughly spray the area with a solution of vinegar and water to deodorize and neutralize the smell.
- After spraying with vinegar, liberally sprinkle baking soda over the area and let it sit for a few hours. The baking soda will absorb the vinegar smell.
- Once the baking soda has had time to absorb the smell, vacuum over the entire area to remove the baking soda.
- Repeat the process if the odor remains. Once the smell is gone, allow the area to dry.
What to Do if Clothes Smell Like Urine After Washing?
Remember that moisture can cause urine smells to come back, even if the clothing didn’t smell like urine before being washed. The best thing to do is to wash the clothes again using an enzymatic laundry detergent and some vinegar in the wash. Together, these two products should be able to remove the smell.
If you don’t have time to rewash the clothes, you can always use an odor neutralizer designed for urine. Most odor neutralizers come in a spray bottle, so you can spray the clothes to deodorize and neutralize the odor until you have time to wash the clothing again.
How to Avoid Urine Smell in Pants
Pants are more prone to smelling like urine due to the warm and moist conditions while wearing them. Whether the smell results from a medical condition or a stain on the clothing or around your house that you can’t seem to get rid of, there are ways to avoid this smell.
One of the best ways is to make sure that your pants or anything else that may have come into contact with urine are thoroughly cleaned after each wear. This applies to bedsheets as well. Adding some baking soda and vinegar to the washing machine can boost the cleaning properties of your regular laundry detergent and help keep urine smells out of your clothes.
It’s also important to determine the source of the urine smell. If it is the result of a medical condition, speak with your doctor for ways to prevent it. But, sometimes, the smell is simply the result of the pants or other surfaces that the pants have come into contact with not being cleaned as thoroughly as possible.
Urine is one of the toughest smells to remove from clothing because uric acid can get left behind even if the actual stain was removed. There are several household products that are effective at removing urine stains. Pre-treat the stain with one of them, follow up with an enzyme laundry detergent when you wash the clothing, and then let it air dry.