How to Remove Urine Stains From Clothes and Carpet

How to Remove Urine Stains

The Spruce / Madelyn Goodnight

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 15 - 30 mins
  • Total Time: 1 - 12 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $0 to 10

It's no secret that accidents happen. However, it's important to remove even small urine stains as soon as possible to reduce lingering odor and discoloration. The longer acidic urine is in contact with fabrics and fibers, the harder it is to remove. When blotting any urine stain, never use a colored cloth, only a white cloth, as the dye can transfer to the piece of clothing or carpet.

The following instructions pertain to human urine. If you have pets—whose urine can be more pungent and challenging to erase—it is best to follow specific procedures for removing pet stains, which may involve similar cleaners but slightly different steps. Fortunately, you can effectively remove human urine stains from clothes and carpets with some products you most likely already have in the house and by doing the following simple steps.

Stain type Organic protein
Detergent type Heavy-duty, or enzyme-based stain remover
Water temperature Warm to hot
Cycle type Varies depending on type of fabric

Before You Begin

Check the care label of any clothing, and if it's labeled dry clean only, follow the steps in the dry cleaning section.

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

materials for cleaning urine stains from fabrics

The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Large plastic tub
  • Washing machine or large sink
  • Paper towels or old white cloths
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Small bowl or bucket
  • Sponge
  • Disposable gloves
  • Heavy bowl or platter
  • Fan (optional)


  • Baking soda
  • Heavy-duty laundry detergent
  • Laundry disinfectant
  • Oxygen-based bleach
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Dishwashing liquid


How to Remove Urine Stains From Washable Fabrics

  1. Presoak if Necessary

    If you can't treat diapers, 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 1/2 cup of baking soda to help reduce and remove the odor.


    Work quickly to remove the urine. Never allow urine-soaked fabrics to accumulate because they can get mildew.

    presoaking the urine-stained fabric

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

  2. Select Water Temperature and Washing Supplies

    When it is time to wash away urine stains, use the hottest water recommended for the fabric. Add 1 cup of baking soda to your usual heavy-duty detergent and 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, such as a pine oil disinfectant product.

    selecting wash temperature

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

  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 for Colors, or OXO Brite. Follow the directions on the package on how to mix the solution. After presoaking 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 wash again. This will remove any discoloration, but oxygen bleach does not disinfect fabrics.

    making an oxygen bleach soak

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

  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. If the stain is still there, repeat the steps.


    Do not put the clothing into the dryer until making sure the stain is thoroughly gone. Drying in a dryer can set the stain in so it is even harder to remove. Air dry first to ensure the fabric looks like it should.

    checking to make sure the stain is totally removed

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

How to Remove Urine Stains From Dry Clean Only Clothes

If the garment is labeled as dry clean only, follow these steps to remove urine stains.

  1. Blot Stained Area

    Put on a pair of disposable gloves, and blot the stained area with a dry white paper towel until the moisture is removed.

  2. Sponge and Blot

    Sponge the stain with a clean damp white cloth and then blot to dry.


    Do not use a colored cloth because the dye can transfer to the carpet or fabric, which creates a new problem. Also, don't add additional water if the fabric is silk because the stain could grow bigger and become harder for the dry cleaner to remove.

  3. Dry Clean Garment

    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.

How to Remove Urine Stains From Carpet and Upholstery

Before cleaning any furniture, always follow the manufacturer's care label on cleaning upholstery. This tag can be found under the sofa cushions or fabric skirt with letter codes that indicate how to clean the furniture.

  1. Blot Away Urine

    Soak up the urine as quickly as possible from the carpet or upholstery with white paper towels or an old white cloth. Again, do not use a colored cloth because the dye can transfer to the carpet or fabric.

    Paper towel soaking up urine stained carpet

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

  2. Mix the Cleaning Solution

    In a small bowl or bucket, create a solution of 1 cup of distilled white vinegar, 1 cup of water, and 2 teaspoons of dishwashing liquid.

    White distilled vinegar being poured into plastic bowl

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

  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 or fabric.
    • 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 saturate the area.


    Avoid saturating the fabric and the interior cushion with the cleaning solution or it can lead to mold and mildew.

    Soft bristled brush dipped into cleaning solution

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

  4. Blot and Rinse

    • Use a dry white paper towel or cloth 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 thoroughly is important because any remaining soap can attract soil.

    Sponge soaking urine stained carpet

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

  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 platter. Allow this to sit for 15 minutes and then discard the towels. Repeat if needed.

    Folded paper towel weighed down by ceramic bowl on carpet

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

  6. Air-Dry and Vacuum

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


    To help the carpet or fabric dry more quickly, use a rotating fan to circulate air and remove the cushion from the furniture, if possible.

    Vacuum lifting clean fibers

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo


Although vinegar should be enough to cut through the odor of the urine on carpet, the smell may continue to linger. If that's the case and you have a light colored carpet, you can try a mixture that includes hydrogen peroxide.

  • Mix a solution of 3 tablespoons of baking soda, 8 ounces of hydrogen peroxide, and a few drops of dish detergent in a spray bottle.
  • Spray the solution onto the carpet, leave for up to 20 minutes, then blot with clean water to rinse.


Do not put hydrogen peroxide on dark carpets, or it may bleach out some of the color.

Additional Tips for Handling a Urine Stain

While air and fabric refreshers will not remove urine stains, they can help control the odor. Select a product like Pet-Pourri Pet Odor Eliminator that is formulated for pet stains.

Sometimes you just need a professional upholstery cleaner to handle that stain on the furniture. If the stain is still not coming off, or the care label states the piece needs special treatment, let a specialist handle removing the stain.