Accidents happen, and if you have young children, pets, or a bed-ridden family member, you're likely to encounter pee stains and odor on a mattress. Unless you have the mattress protected by a waterproof pad, the pee can sink deep into the fibers of your mattress, leaving an odor that can be tough to remove.
Of course, the best results will come if you find the accidental pee as quickly as possible and clean away the evidence promptly. You may need to try several different cleaning products to completely remove the smell, depending on the age of the stain and its chemical makeup. Pet urine is more concentrated and more smelly than human urine. But with just a few household cleaning products, it is possible to get out the pee smell, however it ended up on your mattress.
Equipment / Tools
- Spray bottle
- Rubber gloves
- Microfiber towels
- Soft-bristled brush
- Vacuum with an upholstery attachment
- Steam cleaner (optional)
- Baking soda
- Distilled white vinegar
- Laundry borax
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Enzyme-based laundry detergent or stain remover
How to Clean Fresh Pee Stains on a Mattress
Remove All Bedding
When a pee accident happens, remove all of the bedding as quickly as possible. Toss the sheets, mattress pad, and any affected blankets in the washer.
Blot the Wet Stain
Use paper towels or microfiber cloths to blot away as much of the pee as possible. Wear rubber gloves and press hard to help the towels absorb the moisture. Move to a dry towel as the urine is transferred.
Treat the Stain
Mix one-half teaspoon of an enzyme-based stain remover or heavy-duty laundry detergent with one cup of warm water. Dip a soft-bristled scrub brush in the solution and lightly scrub the stained area of the mattress. Work from the outside edges of the stain toward the center to prevent it from getting larger.
Blot the area with a dry towel to absorb the moisture.
Treat the Pee Smell
While the area is still damp, sprinkle the freshly cleaned spot with a generous layer of baking soda. Allow the baking soda to air-dry completely. This may take several hours. When the powder is dry, use the upholstery attachment of a vacuum or a handheld vacuum to get rid of the powder.
How to Get an Old Pee Smell out of a Mattress
If urine stains are not caught right away, the pee smell can seep deeper into the mattress fibers and continue to smell. Try these methods, starting with the mildest and getting more aggressive, to remove the smell.
If possible, choose a breezy, dry day to clean the mattress. This will help it dry more quickly. A thorough cleaning can take up to 12 hours for the mattress to dry.
Use a Baking Soda Paste
Mix one cup of baking soda with a tablespoon of water to make a paste. Spread the paste liberally over the areas that smell like pee. Use a soft-bristled brush to work the paste into the mattress surface. Allow the paste to dry completely. It is best to leave the paste on the mattress for at least four hours, so the pee smell can be neutralized.
When the paste is dry, vacuum it away.
To freshen the entire mattress, sprinkle the rest of the surface with dry baking soda. It will help absorb body odors and oils and when you vacuum it away, you'll be capturing dust and dust mites, as well.
Use Distilled White Vinegar
Distilled white vinegar is a mild acid that helps neutralize the components in urine. Pour some distilled white vinegar in a spray bottle and liberally spray the areas that have a pee smell. Allow the mattress to air-dry. The vinegar smell will be strong at first but will dissipate as it dries.
You can speed the drying time by using circulating fans to move air across the mattress.
Use Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is a mild disinfectant and oxygen-based bleach. It is sold in concentrations of three to 10 percent at most drug stores. The three percent solution works best for removing pee odor without damaging the surface of the mattress.
Place some hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle and liberally coat the pee-stained area. Be sure to use it promptly after filling the bottle because hydrogen peroxide reverts to water after it is exposed to light. Allow the mattress to air-dry.
Hydrogen peroxide is a mild bleach and can discolor a printed or colored mattress cover. If that is a concern, dilute the solution with an equal amount of water before using it.
Use a Borax Paste
Borax, found in the laundry product aisle, is an alkaline mineral salt that helps to neutralize acid stains like urine. While natural, it is toxic to humans and can cause skin, eye, and respiratory irritation. Always wear rubber gloves and eye protection when using it, and be sure that the mattress is well-vacuumed before anyone uses it again.
Mix one cup of borax with one tablespoon of water or enough to make a thin paste. Spread it over the pee stain and work it in lightly with a soft-bristled brush. Allow the paste to dry completely and vacuum away the residue.
Steam Clean the Mattress
If the spot treatments have not gotten rid of the pee smell, try steam cleaning the entire mattress. This is not difficult but will require at least 12 hours for cleaning and drying the mattress.
Boric Acid General Fact Sheet. National Pesticide Information Center, Oregon State University.