Do It Yourself » Easy Ways to Remove Urine Smell from Clothing

Easy Ways to Remove Urine Smell from Clothing

fb iconpinterest iconpinterest iconlinkedin iconbuffer icon

The resulting odor and unsightly stain from a urine accident are enough to act to avoid staining and to avoid further sensory unpleasantness. Ultimately, quick action is necessary for successfully cleaning the urine smell from fabrics, but there are easy remedies to follow even if they set in.

The best ways to remove urine smell from clothing are to spot clean, soak in a baking soda and warm water solution, rinse in warm water, add fabric and detergent to a washing machine, and clean on a warm setting. Then, check to ensure the smell is gone and dry thoroughly.

It is probable that if such an accident occurs, the materials you need to fix the situation and rid the clothing of urine smells are already in your home. Try not to stress. Quickly go ahead and start by spot cleaning, soaking your clothing, and continuing reading for further advice once the soak has begun.

pee soaked sheets

How to Remove Urine Smell from Clothing

Urine is a complex substance that is composed of waste products, salts, urea, uric acid, ammonia and other chemicals in the body. When it comes into contact with clothing or fabrics such as cotton or wool; it leaves behind an unpleasant odor.

If you are currently involved in a urine emergency, the short version of the steps to follow to omit urine smell from fabrics is:

  • Spot clean
  • Soak in baking soda
  • Rinse material thoroughly
  • Add fabric and detergent to the washing machine
  • Wash in, at most, a warm setting
  • Dry completely

Uric acid, the main component in urine, is harder to dissolve in colder water at a lower pH, like that provided by vinegar, but is easier to dissolve in warmer water at a higher pH like that supplied by baking soda. The stronger the acidity of the water you are attempting to clean fabrics in wouldn’t do much to dissolve the acrid, acrid smell of a urine-soaked product.

elderly urine issues

To dilute the fabric’s urine smell, you need more of an alkaline, or basic on the pH scale, water composition. Since urine is so acidic, for successful cleaning, the more basic on the pH scale, the more successful the clean; this will allow the product’s acidity to move towards the pH scale’s basic side, effectively using science to help clean the urine smell out of fabrics.

natural urine stain removal

Therefore, a pre-soak in a solution of baking soda and warm water is the way to go. These reasons illustrate why urine doesn’t always wash out with detergent alone, but other components and steps are helpful for this process.

It might seem like the best thing to do to eliminate stains, and foul smells are to use hot water, especially to kill all the bacteria possible, but surprisingly, hot water can actually set stains in.

A protein-based stain like urine would become even less likely to clean away if you use hot water to try doing so. To add, cold water is not always successful in killing all the bacteria in fabrics either, so a warmer temperature is actually the optimal choice.

Of course, once that wash is complete and the urine smell is eliminated, you could always do a rewash at a warmer temperature, but that is entirely preferential.

However, it is essential to note that if the laundry is still a bit smelly, you should not put it in the dryer. The dryer will not eliminate the smell further; you might cross-contaminate your dryer and make other clothes pick up that smell in another dry cycle.

line dry clothing to remove smells

How to Effectively Kill Human Urine Smell

The uric acid in urine smells like ammonia, which becomes a more pungent smell if the person is dehydrated. Medical conditions, certain medications, and eating certain foods can also affect the smell of urine, potentially making it more odoriferous.

smelly pee in clothing

Here is a list, in order of least effective to most effective, in remedying the dilemma of killing human urine smells in fabrics:

  1. Prevention
  2. Sprays like Febreze or Shout
  3. Using products with ammonia as a base
  4. Soaking in vinegar
  5. Spot clean immediately
  6. Pre-soak
  7. Clean with warm water
  8. Good quality detergent-consider children’s clothing detergent
  9. Enzyme based cleaner, laundry disinfectant, proper bleach
  10. Make sure all of the odor is gone before drying

In truth, this list should be split nearly down the middle, between soaking in vinegar and spot cleaning immediately, as everything after that includes excellent steps to follow.

Thinking about preventing urine stains can seem like 20/20 vision. Even with protective lining on children’s gear or putting their diapers on perfectly, kids will still find a way to soil themselves and their clothing, making a mess everywhere.

Urine collecting panty-liners work, but they can at times be unsuccessful in the prevention of urine messes. However, if prevention is the ticket for you, then do what you can.

Febreze is pleasant for a refreshing smell around the house and is good for applying a lovely scent to a couch or a rug that cannot be washed, though it still will not kill odor-causing bacteria or completely eliminate the smell.

You might have to apply the product consistently because it just masks the scent. Products like Shout might be good spot cleaners, but they do not entirely rid fabrics and clothing of urine stains or smells.

Using products with ammonia as a base or even using ammonia itself is definitely not a good idea. Ammonia smells so much like urine as it is that it will do practically nothing to rid the area of the urine smell.

It might do a decent job at destroying the urine’s bacteria, but it might also ruin your clothing at the same time. It is also a terrible idea to use ammonia on clothing or fabrics that your baby or young children will go near, as it will retain a displeasing smell and irritate skin fairly quickly.
cloth diapers

Vinegar is a touchy subject when considering cleaning urine smells. Many people use vinegar as an “all-purpose” cleaner and swear by its properties of cleaning powers, but vinegar can do more harm than good.

Truth be told, vinegar is an excellent cleaner when you don’t want to use caustic cleaners for children’s eating or playing areas, and even if you feel a strong connection to its use, consider the following:

  • the difficulty of removing its smell
  • having just as acidic of scent in your fabrics
  • the strength of vinegar weakening the fibers of your clothing
  • the unlikeliness that it will remove the stain or the urine smell, as acids make acid smells worse

Using vinegar to remove urine smells in fabrics will likely make the cleaning job more complicated than it needs to be. Remember the earlier mention of the pH scale and acidity while cleaning urine.

How to Treat and Wash Urine Stained Clothing Properly

The steps mentioned in the list and then explained above serve to give some reasons why you might not want to use those methods to clean urine-soiled materials. Instead, follow the following steps to ensure success:

  1. Spot clean immediately
  2. Pre-soak
  3. Clean with warm water
  4. Good quality detergent-consider children’s clothing detergent
  5. Enzyme based cleaner, laundry disinfectant, proper bleach
  6. Make sure all of the odor is gone before drying

Spot Clean the Affected Fabric

Your first step to success is to spot clean. Soak up the urine as best as you can with an absorbent cloth, preferably a dry white towel. White is particular because you can just toss it in with bleach for cleaning later, and also because the lightness of its color won’t transfer another color onto the soiled fabric; think red or brown towel on a light carpet. Next, spot clean with warm soapy water after soaking up as much urine as possible.

pre treat with detergent


Pre-soak the material in a mixture of water and baking soda. A ½ cup measure to a whole load-sized washing machine for a pre-soak is the general ratio. Adjust as needed, but baking soda will not weaken the fibers of your clothing, so you can do as little as you feel is required, but exceeding the ½ cup measure is unnecessary. You should already see some strides in the cleaning of the fabric.

presoak urine stained clothes

Clean with Warm Water

Launder your clothes in warm, not hot nor cold, water. Warm is the optimal temperature to remove stains and smells.

Use a Quality Detergent

Use a laundry detergent of merit if affordable. Brand names can be a bit pricey, but they do have quality ingredients. It is certainly worth noting that brand-name children’s clothing laundry detergent is tailor-made to clean out the stains of bodily fluids, and from personal experience, has worked wonders on urine-soaked clothing and sheets that were destined for the trash bin. The smell of these types of laundry detergents is also heavenly.

When to Use an Enzyme-based Cleaner

If you could not get to the stain in time before it totally dried and then became set in, you might want to consider an enzyme-based cleaner. These are made for the purpose of cleaning urine stains and smells from fabrics and require fewer tricks up your sleeve to get the job done. They are definitely more pricey and are unlikely to be readily carried in a supermarket, but they work just as effectively.

Bleach, of course, is another alternative to these enzyme-based cleaners, though it can certainly be used in conjunction with any pre-treating step this article mentions. You can dilute bleach to be safe for colored clothes and fabrics, and there are also color fabric-safe bleaches on the market that are accessible.

Clean Your Washing Machine & Tools

Clean your washing machine or any other tool you used to clean the urine mess with bleach after the fact for the sake of disinfecting is undoubtedly a smart idea. There are also laundry machine disinfecting and cleaning products out on the market, but if you have bleach readily available, just use that. The worst thing would be to generate a urine smell in your washing machine that could cross-contaminate other clothes with the urine bacteria or the smell.

Please remember, however, that bleach is not a safe product to use on children’s clothing, bedding, or toys without proper dilution. The same can be said for fabric disinfectants, which have become popular laundering products as of late.

Check for Odors before Drying

Before drying your laundry, make sure that the stain and the smell are totally gone. If you need to repeat any previous steps, do so before drying. The clothing might just need another run through the machine with more detergent as opposed to starting the whole process over again. If you choose to machine dry again, make sure the smell is gone, or you will certainly transfer the odor to the machine.

dry clothing in sunshine

Once you reach this stage, professional opinions vary on how best to dry your clothing.
1 Some say to line-dry outside because the fresh air and the sun will help with the freshness of the smell, along with avoiding heating the fabrics, which can set in stains and smells.
2 Some say to machine dry because you can add scent boosters or a dryer sheet to the machine and contribute those smells to the fabric, along with drying the fabric fairly immediately to avoid a mold smell from growing.

This choice will be left to the reader’s discretion because as long as the smell of the urine has gone before drying, you have successfully cleaned the urine from your clothing.

Tried these tips? Mention @Budget101com or tag #Budget101

Love this tutorial to remove urine smell from clothing? Pin it!

Easy Ways to Remove Urine Smell from Clothing! Pet urine stains are bad enough, but human urine stains are worse! Either way, urine can be quite stinky and messy. Here are some easy ways to remove the smell of urine from your clothing. #budget101 #cleaningtips #urinesmellremoval #peestains #DIY #Howto

See also: How to Remove Pet Urine Smells

More DIY Projects

View More Tips-n-Tricks

4 thoughts on “Easy Ways to Remove Urine Smell from Clothing”

  1. While it’s great to know how to clean urine stains and smells from clothing, here’s a trick I learned awhile back on how to clean urine from tile grout.

    How to clean urine from tile grout

    First, never use vinegar to clean urine from grout as it will destroy the grout. Vinegar should not be used to clean grout that has not been sealed or needs to be resealed. The vinegar penetrates the grout’s air spaces and weakens them. Vinegar will deteriorate the condition of grout over time by etching or wearing it away.

    Try OXICLEAN DOUBLE-DELUXE, or OXICLEAN PLUS SPOT REMOVER, both available at home centers and hardware stores. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to remove set in urine stains from grout.

    They lift it right out!

    • Yes, to remove urine odor from elderly clothes, follow the guide in the article above. If you have old dried, set urine stains make a solution of baking soda, peroxide, and Dawn liquid dish detergent.
      Even the strongest urine smells can often be driven away by the combination of these simple ingredients. For ingredient amounts, we use 1 cup of peroxide, 3 tablespoons baking soda and a few drops of dawn dish detergent.


Leave a Comment