How to Get Pee Smell Out of Carpets, Mattresses, and Furniture—Without Harsh Chemicals

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Close-Up Of Cat On Carpet
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Accidents happen. There are puppies, potty-training toddlers, uncontrollable laughter with a leaky bladder, and haughty cats that pee for pleasure. Whether it is human or cat pee, no one wants urine smells in their home. My current offender is a rescue pup that pees when she is excited or frightened. I am now an expert on removing urine stains and odors from every type of surface—but she's worth it!

So let's take a look at how to get pee smell out of carpet, clothes, mattresses, and upholstery. Urine is acidic and the longer it remains on fabrics, the more damage it can do and the more the odor-causing molecules bind to the fibers. Prompt cleaning is always best and offers the best chance to remove all of the pee smell. While there are many commercial odor removal products on the market, these methods use supplies you probably already have in your pantry.

What You'll Need:

For carpet:

  • Paper towels or white cloths
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Spray bottle
  • Baking soda
  • 3 percent hydrogen peroxide
  • Vacuum

For mattress and sofa:

  • Paper towels or white cloths
  • Laundry detergent
  • Soft-bristled scrub brush
  • Baking soda
  • Vacuum
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • 3 percent hydrogen peroxide
  • Laundry borax
  • Rubber gloves

For clothes:

  • Baking soda
  • Laundry borax
  • Laundry detergent
  • Laundry sanitizer or chlorine bleach (for colorful vs. white cotton fabrics)

How to Get Pee Smell Out of Carpet

  1. If the urine is fresh, blot it up as quickly as possible with paper towels or a white cloth. Wearing shoes, use your weight to help press fresh towels into the fibers until no more moisture is transferred. Don't use a colored rag unless you are sure it is colorfast. You don't need bleeding dyes to deal with on top of the pee!
  2. Pour 1 cup of distilled white vinegar, 1 cup of water, and 2 teaspoons of dishwashing liquid into a spray bottle. Label the mixture and keep it on hand for the next time.
  3. Spray the pee stain with the vinegar solution until the carpet is very wet.
  4. Starting at the outside edges of the stain and working toward the center to prevent spreading the stain, use a clean white cloth to work the vinegar solution deeper into the carpet fibers. Use a gentle scrubbing motion and keep moving to a clean area of the cloth as you see discoloration transferred to the cloth. Using a dry cloth or paper towels, blot away the cleaning solution.
  5. Fill a second spray bottle with plain water and spritz the cleaned area thoroughly to "rinse" away the soapy residue. Blot with dry cloths until no more moisture is transferred and allow the area to air-dry. Finally, vacuum to lift the fibers.
  6. If the pee stain is old or the smell lingers, a solution including hydrogen peroxide works well on a light-colored carpet. Never use it on dark carpets because hydrogen peroxide is a mild bleach that can cause discoloration. In a spray bottle, mix 3 tablespoons baking soda, 1 cup 3 percent hydrogen peroxide, and two drops dishwashing liquid. (This must be freshly mixed for each use because hydrogen peroxide breaks down quickly and loses its effectiveness after exposure to light.) Shake well and spray the solution on the carpet and let it "soak" for 20 minutes before blotting it away, rinsing, and air-drying the carpet.

How to Get Pee Smell Out of a Mattress

For fresh pee stains, blot the area with paper towels to absorb as much urine as possible.

  1. Mix 1/2 teaspoon of heavy-duty laundry detergent with 1 cup of warm water. Dip a soft-bristled scrub brush in the mixture. Working from the outside of the stain toward the center, gently scrub the mattress.
  2. Blot the area with a dry cloth to absorb excess moisture.
  3. Sprinkle the damp, cleaned area with a layer of baking soda at least 1/4-inch thick. Allow the mattress to air-dry for several hours. When dry, use a vacuum's upholstery attachment to remove the baking soda.

Older pee stains require a deeper cleaning that may take up to 12 hours of drying time. Depending on the age of the stain and the biological components of the urine (cat pee is the worst), you may need to use more than one cleaning method or repeat the steps to remove all of the odor. Use one cleaning product at a time until you find that the odor is gone.

  1. Create a paste of 1 cup baking soda and 1 tablespoon water. Spread the paste over the pee stain and use a soft-bristled brush to work the paste into the mattress fibers. Mix up more paste as needed. Allow the paste to air-dry for at least four hours to help absorb the pee odor molecules before vacuuming away.
  2. Liberally spray the stained areas with pure distilled white vinegar. The vinegar odor will be strong but will dissipate as the mattress dries. Use circulating fans to help speed the drying.
  3. Use fresh 3 percent hydrogen peroxide to spray the pee stains. Be aware that the mild bleach may discolor the mattress cover. Allow the mattress to air-dry.
  4. Mix 1 cup of laundry borax with one tablespoon water to make a paste. Spread it over the pee stain and work it into the mattress with a soft-bristled brush. Allow the borax to dry completely and then vacuum away. Borax is a natural mineral but it can cause eye and respiratory irritation. Always wear rubber gloves and eye protection when working with the product.

How to Get Pee Smell Out of a Couch

Cleaning upholstered furniture is a bit trickier because there are so many types of fabric. If the upholstery can be cleaned with a wet solution (look for a W or WS on the care label), move forward with homemade solutions. If the care label recommends S (solvent) or X (professional cleaning) only, all you should do is blot up the pee and/or sprinkle the area with dry baking soda, then call a professional.

For fresh pee stains on couches with a W or WS care tag, follow the same steps as those for a mattress. If the stains are older, test the cleaning solutions (vinegar, peroxide, borax) on a hidden area first to make sure they don't discolor the upholstery. Always use circulating fans to speed drying.

How to Get Pee Smell Out of Clothes

Once again, check the care label. If the garment is labeled as "dry clean only," take it to a professional. Share the origin of the stain so they can take the appropriate measures. For washable clothes, follow these steps.

  1. If you can't wash the item right away or the urine stains are dried, do a presoak by filling a sink or plastic tub with enough water to cover the fabric and add one cup baking soda or 1/2-cup laundry borax per gallon of water. Let the fabric soak until you have time to do a complete cleaning.
  2. Ready to wash? Use the hottest water temperature recommended for the fabric. Add 1 cup baking soda to the water and use an enzyme-based, heavy-duty laundry detergent. To disinfect the fabric, add Lysol Laundry Sanitizer, which is safe for both white and colorful clothing, or use chlorine bleach for white, 100 percent cotton fabrics, following the product's label directions.
  3. Give the clothing a sniff test. If you still smell pee, do not put the item in a hot dryer. Heat can make the odor more difficult to remove. The safest bet is to let the item air-dry and then give it another whiff to make sure the odor is gone.
  4. If the odor is not gone, repeat the soaking and washing steps. Be sure to use a high-quality detergent that contains enough enzymes to break the bonds of the odor molecules from the fabric. Line drying outside can also help remove odors.
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