4 Techniques for Removing Urine Stains and Odors From Mattresses

Illustration of methods to remove urine stains

The Spruce / Ashley Nicole Deleon

If you have young children, you've experienced the kind of "accidents" that end with a urine-stained mattress. Mattress pads can help prevent the problem—but once it's happened, what can you do? Odor-eating sprays like Febreze can help a bit, but because they just mask the smell, they don't have a permanent impact. Worse, they don't do a thing to remove urine stains.

There are several options for eliminating urine odor and stains; each has its pros and cons. It's important to know that the same solutions work for multiple surfaces (concrete and tiles as well as mattresses and sofas). It's also good to know that, because all mammal urine is made up of crystals of uric acid, the same products will work well on human, cat, or dog urine.

First Step in Removing Urine Odor From a Mattress

If you are dealing with soaked-in or dried urine, there's not a whole lot you can do before getting busy with one of the products below. But if you're confronting a puddle, or if a surface is still wet, start by using paper towels to blot up as much urine as possible. You can also use plain water to rinse the area before trying one of the cleaners described. 

Borax or Baking Soda

Borax is a chemical that is often used in cleaning products. While it is an antibacterial agent and can be quite effective, it is also somewhat toxic. As a result, it is usually used as a last resort rather than a go-to method. Borax is usually found in the laundry aisle of your local grocery store.

Baking soda, of course, is a substance used in baking. It's also a great odor-eater and can help to clean surfaces as well. Many people use baking soda to remove odors from refrigerators and closets, as it's a low-cost, non-toxic option. On the other hand, it may not be quite as effective as borax or borax-based products.

Both borax and baking soda are powders, so the same technique works for both substances:

  1. Dampen the soiled areas with water.
  2. Sprinkle borax over the areas.
  3. Rub the borax over the areas, working into mattress well.
  4. Let dry.
  5. Vacuum or brush off any remaining borax powder.

Vinegar or Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide, like borax, is toxic if ingested or inhaled—but it can be an effective deodorizer and cleaner. You can use hydrogen peroxide straight from the bottle or cut with two parts water.

Vinegar is not dangerous or toxic—but it is a bit stinky. On the other hand, if you don't mind a mattress that smells a bit like salad dressing, vinegar can be a very effective tool for cleaning up soaked in urine. 

Both of these methods use a liquid cleaner, so the same technique works for both. 

  1. Start by putting diluted hydrogen peroxide or undiluted white vinegar into a spray bottle.
  2. Spray the affected area until it is damp. 
  3. Blot dry with a cloth or paper towel and allow to air dry.