How to Remove Urine Stains From Clothes, Carpet, and Upholstery

urine stain on a baby blanket

The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

Overview
  • Working Time: 15 - 30 mins
  • Total Time: 1 - 12 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner

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 the acidic urine is in contact with fabrics and fibers, the harder it is to remove.

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.

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

Before You Begin

If the garment is labeled as "dry clean only," put on a pair of disposable gloves and 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 fabric is vintage or silk, remove any solids and blot up moisture then contact an upholstery cleaning specialist. 

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

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

Materials

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

Instructions

materials for cleaning urine stains from fabrics

The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

How to Remove Urine 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.

    presoaking the urine-stained fabric

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

    Warning

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

  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.

    selecting wash temperature

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

    Tip

    If you are concerned about bacteria in the urine, use a disinfectant in the wash water. White 100% 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.

  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 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.

    checking to make sure the stain is totally removed

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

How to Remove Urine Stains From Carpet and Upholstery

  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 rag. Do not use a colored cloth because the dye can transfer to the carpet or fabric which creates a new problem.

    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 white distilled vinegar, 1 cup of water, and 2 teaspoons 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.

    Soft bristled brush dipped into cleaning solution

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

    Warning

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

  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.

    Sponge soaking urine stained carpet

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

    Tip

    Rinsing thoroughly 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.

    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.

    Vacuum lifting clean fibers

    The Spruce / Nelly Cuanalo

    Tip

    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.

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. Do not put hydrogen peroxide on dark carpets or it may bleach out some of the color. Mix in a spray bottle a solution of 3 tablespoons of baking soda, 8 ounces of hydrogen peroxide, and a few drops of dish detergent. Spray the solution onto the carpet, leave for up to 20 minutes, then blot with clean water to rinse.