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 and fibers, the harder it is to remove.

These instructions for 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.

Stain type Organic protein
Detergent type Heavy-duty laundry detergent or enzyme-based stain remover
Water temperature Warm to hot
Cycle type Varies by type of fabric

Project Metrics

Working time: 15 minutes

Total time: 8 hours

Before You Begin

If the garment is labeled as dry clean only, wearing gloves, blot the stained area with a dry white paper towel until the moisture is removed. Sponge the stain with a clean damp white cloth 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.

Even if the area looks clean, head to the dry cleaner to point out and identify the stain. The urine can leave acids in the fabric that will affect the fibers with time. 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.

When treating urine stains on upholstery, if the upholstery is a vintage fabric or silk, remove any solids and blot up moisture then contact an upholstery cleaning specialist. 

What You'll Need

Supplies

  • Paper towels or old cloths
  • Baking soda
  • Heavy-duty laundry detergent
  • Laundry disinfectant
  • Oxygen-based bleach
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Dishwashing liquid

Tools

  • Large plastic tub
  • Washing machine or large sink
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Small bowl or bucket
  • Sponge
  • Heavy bowl or platter

Remove Urine From Washable Fabrics

  1. Pre-Soak if Necessary

    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 the stained items to soak until they can be properly washed. Add one-half cup of baking soda to help reduce and remove the odor.

  2. Select Water Temperature and Washing Supplies

    When it is time to wash away urine stains, use the hottest water recommended for the fabric. To your usual heavy-duty detergent, add one 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, 100 percent cotton fabrics can be disinfected with chlorine bleach. Colored and synthetic fabrics require a different method of disinfecting.

  3. Remove Set-In Urine Stains

    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 OXO Brite. Follow the directions on the package on how to mix the solution. After pre-soaking for at least 30 minutes, launder in warm—not hot—water with your regular detergent.

    If the 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.

  4. Inspect and Dry the Fabric

After washing urine-stained items, check that the stain is completely removed before tossing the item in the dryer. The high heat from the dryer can set the stain making it much more difficult to remove.

Remove Urine Stains from Carpet and Upholstery

  1. Blot Away Urine

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

  2. Mix the Cleaning Solution

    In a small bowl or bucket, create a solution of one cup of white distilled vinegar, one cup of water, and two teaspoons dishwashing liquid.

  3. Treat the Stain

    Dip a clean white cloth or soft-bristled brush into the cleaning solution and apply it to the urine-stained carpet. Start at the outside of the wet stain and work toward the center to help prevent the stain from becoming larger. Work it in because the solution needs to get deep into the fibers but try not to over-saturate the carpet.

  4. Blot and Rinse

    Use a dry white paper towel or rag to blot away the soapy mixture. Next, apply a generous amount of plain water to the stain with a clean sponge to rinse away any residue. Rinsing is important because any remaining soap can attract soil.

  5. Absorb Residual Moisture

    When most of the soapy solution seems to be gone, place several layers of paper towels on the stain and weigh them down with a heavy bowl or plate. Allow this to sit for 15 minutes and then discard the towels. Repeat if needed.

  6. Air-Dry and Vacuum

    Allow the carpet to air dry away from direct sunlight or heat. Vacuum well to lift carpet fibers.

  7. Upholstery Stain Removal Tips

Urine can be removed from upholstery follow the same steps recommended for removing the stains from carpet. Take extra care to not over-saturate the fabric and the interior cushion. To help the fabric dry more quickly, use a rotating fan to circulate air and remove the cushion from the furniture, if possible.