How to clean urine

Knowing how to clean urine is essential to removing it effectively to avoid stains and smells. Here are the best ways to clean up urine

How to clean urine: Dog on sofa
(Image credit: Lucy Searle)

How to clean urine: the job you never see yourself taking on when you buy that new carpet, sofa or mattress. Yet it's a job that inevitably comes around if you follow up that purchase with a new baby or a new puppy. So, for that period between your new family member's arrival and them being potty/house-trained, you'll need to know how to clean up urine quickly and effectively if you are to avoid stains (and that tell-tale smell). 

With any stain, the faster you act, the more likely you'll be successful at removing it. As with all our methods, it's always worth doing a spot test, particularly on carpets and upholstery, to ensure you don't cause further damage.

It's a pretty easy job, but getting it right is a must. Follow our guide to find out how, then see all our cleaning how-tos and hacks to keep your home sparkling.

How to clean wet and dry urine stains from fabrics

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Little ones have accidents (regularly) when they're potty-training, but even the best nappies can leak. Or perhaps you're caring for an elderly relative and need a quick fix up your sleeve? 

It's likely your baby's cot has a waterproof mattress, or you may have topped the cot mattress with a waterproof sheet to protect it. Doing the same to an elderly person's mattress is a wise move, too.

If you're removing urine from sheets or clothes, running them through a cold wash with a cup of distilled white vinegar will make the stain easier to remove. When the wash cycle has finished, check whether the stain has disappeared.

If it has, run the machine again, this time with washing detergent and at the hottest possible temperature that the fabric can take. If it hasn't, you may need to soak the item in a vinegar and water mix again – a cup of the vinegar in a bowl of cold water will do. Leave overnight then machine wash again on a cold cycle. Repeat until the stain disappears, then try the hot wash.

How to remove wet urine stains from a sofa

Been changing that baby's nappy on the sofa? Potty-trained toddler not quite there? Puppy excited that your home... it's time to clean urine stains off your sofa...

Before you begin, check any manufacturer instructions for your upholstery. If you are unsure, and particularly for velvet, silk or antique upholstery, it might be best to consult a cleaning professional.

Start by lightly blotting the urine stain with an absorbent cloth (microfibre cloths will work for this) to remove the excess, pressing lightly so that you don't spread the stain.

Using a microfibre cloth, apply a mixture of one tablespoon of washing up liquid and one tablespoon of white vinegar to two cups of cold water. Start at the outside of the stain, working inwards so as not to spread it. Repeat, rinsing and squeezing out the cloth as you go (ideally use a bathroom sink, not a kitchen sink to do this). 

When the stain has disappeared, swap the cleaning solution for clean, cold water and dip a clean cloth into it. Squeeze it out and blot at the stain with the damp cloth, removing the cleaning solution as you go.

Finally, blot at the stain with kitchen roll until it's dry. Once dry, sprinkle with bicarbonate of soda, leave for half an hour then vacuum up. Doing so will remove any remaining odours.

How to remove dry urine from a sofa

If you've not noticed the stain originally and it's dried, it will be harder to remove, so you will need to take more drastic action (please do a patch-test in an inconspicuous place first, obviously). If you don't feel confident doing this, call in a professional.

In an old bowl, mix a loose paste of 10oz of 3 per cent hydrogen peroxide with three tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda and a couple of drops of washing up liquid. Spray (or gently dab) on to the stain and allow to dry. Leave it for about an hour. 

Vacuum up any caked on bicarb, then rinse the remaining mixture from the stain by dabbing at it gently with a damp, cool microfibre cloth. Blot with kitchen roll, then dab again with a freshened cloth until all of the cleaning mixture has gone. It's important to ensure that all of the mixture has been cleaned off the upholstery or it could bleach the fabric.

Shop bicarbonate of soda and hydrogen peroxide on Amazon

How to clean urine stains from a carpet

First soak up the urine as much as possible with some kitchen roll, pressing down with an old shoe on a carpet, with rubber gloves on a sofa or mattress. Then, with an equal mix of water and white vinegar, wet the carpet, sofa or mattress. Next, using a soft brush, work at the stain, then blot again with kitchen roll and allow to dry. 

Once the urine stain is dry, sprinkle it with bicarbonate of soda. Leave for half an hour or so then vacuum up. This should help dispel any lingering odours.

If you have an enzyme detergent to hand, you can substitute the water and white vinegar solution with it. Then follow the rest of the instructions above. 

For more carpet cleaning tips and instructions, see our guide. We've reviewed the best carpet cleaning products, too.

More ways to clean up after your dog

Let's finish with pooch, probably the biggest offender. If you have a dog, and particularly a puppy, it's likely you'll need to clean up its urine from your carpet, the sofa and (eek!) the bed, too, every now and then. Follow the steps above for a stain-free home. 

To clean dog urine from fabrics and upholstery, you can also follow the instructions for humans above. For more, best ways to clean up after dogs, see our feature.

Need more help? A carpet cleaning machine might be a good long-term investment.

Urine on a mattress: how to remove the stain and smell

1. Blot any fresh liquid with paper towels. 

2. Mix up a half and half white vinegar and water solution in a spray bottle, and apply to the area. 

3. You can even use neat vinegar if you’re working on a large stain. Don't worry about the smell, it will disappear once the mattress dries. 

4. Leave for 5 minutes. 

5. Blot again with a clean cloth. Repeat if any staining remains

6. Then leave to dry, ideally with the window open to speed up the airing (and get rid of the vinegar smell faster). 

7. Invest in a mattress protector! It's a must-have if you have pets on the bed, young kids or an elderly relative. Mattress protectors will protect the mattress from both urine, sweat and spills, and protect the sleeper from allergies caused by dust-mites; they'll also prolong the life of the mattress and means it won't get that musty smell AND you can pop them in the wash when you change the bed to keep them fresh. Sermon over, best mattress protector deals today below.


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Lucy Searle

Lucy is Global Editor-in-Chief of Homes & Gardens having worked on numerous interiors and property titles. She was founding Editor of Channel 4’s 4Homes magazine, was Associate Editor at Ideal Home, before becoming Editor-in-Chief of in 2018 then moving to Homes & Gardens in 2021. She has also written for Huffington Post, AOL, UKTV, MSN, House Beautiful, Good Homes, and many women’s titles. Find her writing about everything from buying and selling property, self build, DIY, design and consumer issues to gardening.