Removing Urine Stains From Clothes, Carpet, and Upholstery

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Accidents happen to all of us and urine stains are seldom a popular topic. However, it's important to remove even small urine stains as soon as possible to reduce odor and discoloration. The longer the acidic urine is in contact with fabrics, the harder it is to remove.

These instructions or removing urine stains pertain to human urine. If you have pets, whose urine can be more pungent, it is best to follow specific procedures for removing pet stains.

Washable Fabrics

As anyone who has used cloth diapers knows, you should never allow urine-soaked fabrics to accumulate because they can actually mildew. If you can't treat diapers or bed sheets or any type of washable clothing right away, fill a large plastic container or the washer with cold water and allow them to soak until they can be properly washed. Add 1/2 cup of baking soda to help reduce and remove the odor.

Urine is a protein stain and fresh protein stains can be removed by soaking and agitating or rubbing the stain in cold water before washing. Never use hot water because it cooks the protein, making the stain harder to remove.

When it is time to wash away urine stains, use the hottest water recommended for the fabric. To your usual detergent, add 1 cup of baking soda to the wash water. If you are concerned about bacteria in the urine, use a disinfectant in the wash water. White, one hundred percent cotton fabrics can be disinfected with chlorine bleach. Colored and synthetic fabrics require a different method of disinfecting.

If the urine stain is dried or old, soak the fabric in a solution of cool water and oxygen-based bleach, such as OxiClean, Clorox 2, or Tide Stain Release. Follow the directions on the package to mix the solution. After pre-soaking for at least 30 minutes, launder in warm—not hot—water with your regular detergent. If stain remains, mix a new solution of oxygen-based bleach and water and soak overnight, then rewash. This will remove any discoloration but oxygen bleach DOES NOT disinfect fabrics.

Dry-Clean Only Fabrics

If the garment is dry clean only, blot up the urine with a dry white paper towel. Sponge the stain with a clean white cloth dipped in plain water and then blot to dry. Do not add additional water if the fabric is silk because the stain could grow bigger and be harder for the dry cleaner to remove. As soon as possible, get the garment to the cleaner and point out and identify the stain to your professional cleaner.

If you are using a home dry cleaning kit, be sure to treat the stain with the provided stain remover before putting the garment in the dryer bag.


As quickly as possible soak up the urine with white paper towels or a white rag. Don't use a colored cloth because the dye can transfer to the carpet and that's a whole new problem.

Create a solution of 1 cup of white distilled vinegar, 1 cup of water and 2 teaspoons liquid dishwashing detergent. Dip a clean white cloth or soft-bristled brush into the vinegar solution and apply to the urine-stained carpet. Work it in because the solution needs to get deep into the fibers but try not to over saturate the carpet.

Use a dry white paper towel or rag to blot away the vinegar mixture. Next, apply a generous amount of plain water to the stain to rinse away any residue. Rinsing is important because any remaining soap can attract soil. When most of the soapy solution seems to be gone, place several layers of paper towels on the stain and weigh down with a heavy bowl or plate. Allow to sit for 15 minutes and then discard. Allow to air dry away from direct sunlight or heat. Vacuum to lift carpet fibers.


Since most upholstery cannot be tossed in the washer, follow the same steps recommended for removing urine stains from carpet. Do not over-saturate the fabric. Try to keep the stained area as small as possible.

The exception is on vintage or silk upholstery, in which case adding water may make matters worse. When dealing with these delicate fabrics, it may be best to call in a professional cleaner.