How to remove urine smells and stains from around your home — cleaning pros to the rescue for human and animal spills

Experts reveal how to banish urine smells including the methods and exact products to use

A fluffy dog sat on a chair by a bed
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you're dealing with a urine smell or stain at home, knowing how to treat each type of pee spill, be it human or animal, couch or rug, will better enable you to tackle it successfully and make sure there is not lingering smell or health risk.

There's nothing worse than a horrid smell at home to make it a miserable place to live, sleep, and work. Luckily, our cleaning experts have come to the rescue with top tips on successfully removing urine smells and accidents yourself including wet and dry stains on carpets, couches, mattresses and more.

Learning how to quickly sort out a stinky spill with the best cleaning supplies is the perfect remedy to sanitizing and refreshing the spot your pet or little human has had a pee-related accident.

Get rid of urine smells and spills like a pro 

Whether you're cleaning a couch, or dealing with a spill on a rug, taking quick action will bolster the chances of a great outcome. Once you have identified a urine smell or stain, gather your supplies, pull on some gloves and get to work.

Pet urine tends to have higher concentrations of ammonia and urea, which can be more potent and challenging to remove. Our cleaning and veterinary experts say using enzymatic cleaners that break down these organic compounds is crucial.

Where our experts have recommended products, we've matched their suggestions with highly-rated items from trusted retailers.

All prices were correct at time of publication.

1. Cleaning wet or dry urine smells and stains from fabric

Close up of neutral couch and cushions

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Parents, carers and older siblings will be in the know that little ones have accidents regularly when they're potty-training, and even when kids are older, illness or one-off accidents can happen too. Adults are not immune to peeing accidents either so it's an entirely judgement-free zone here at Real Homes.

To deal with a urine smell or stain on fabric, such as a mattress cover, blanket or clothes, rinse under cold water to start.

Yessica Bello, owner of Bello's Cleaning, has three simple steps to remove it. She says, "Rinse the fabric quickly under cold water to remove as much urine as possible. Then, soak the garment in a solution of cold water and half a cup cup vinegar for 30 minutes. Finally, wash the fabric in the washing machine using a regular detergent."

For added disinfecting, Yessica recommends adding half a cup baking soda to the wash cycle. If you prefer to add a chemical cleaner, Yessica recommends Nature's Miracle Stain and Odor Remover, available on Amazon, or Rocco and Roxie's Stain and Odor Eliminator, also on Amazon

Yessica adds, "Always test a small hidden area first to ensure no damage to the fabric."

If there's animal urine on your clothes, holistic veterinarian and chief scientific advisor at Paw Origins, Dr Kathryn Dench says, "Rinse the urine-stained area with cold water as soon as possible. Soak the garment in a mixture of one cup of white vinegar and three cups of water for 30 minutes, then wash as usual. 

"Adding a quarter cup of baking soda to the wash can enhance odor removal. If the stain persists, an enzymatic cleaner like BioKleen Stain Eliminator available on Amazon, which is specifically designed for dealing with pet urine, can be very effective."

Learn how to get rid of cat pee from carpets in our detailed guide.

2. Removing wet urine smells and stains from a couch

A fluffy dog sat on a chair by a bed

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Whether it's a nappy change gone wrong, an excited pooch on the couch, or an unexpected grown-up urine accident, ridding your couch of wet urine stains is a must as the odor only increases upon drying.

Before starting, check any manufacturer instructions for your upholstery. If you are unsure, and particularly for velvet, silk or antique upholstery, consider consulting a cleaning professional.

Otherwise, use a clean, dry, microfiber cloth to blot the wet urine first, soaking up as much as possible. A multi-pack of cloths (such as the Zulay cloths from BED BATH & BEYOND would be handy here as you don't want to spread the urine. Blot from the center out.

For next steps, Yessica says, "Prepare a mixture of half a cup white vinegar and one cup warm water. Using a spray bottle, apply the solution to the stain. Blot the stain with a clean cloth and sprinkle baking soda. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes before vacuuming it up."

I recently used baking soda on the base of a couch when there was a large urine spill and I was amazed at how this cheap substance whisked away all odor. It was incredibly effective on wet urine. I used about a cup's worth and left it overnight before vacuuming it away, keeping my cats out of the room and the couch firmly out of action till it was sorted. 

It is worth noting I immediately removed the vacuum bag and double bagged it as the smell was intense. Learn how to clean your vacuum for double freshness.

3. Removing dry urine smells from a couch

Baking soda in glass bowl with wooden spoon

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sometimes, removing dry urine smells and stains from a couch will be harder and therefore need stronger chemicals. We strongly advise patch testing the following mix on an inconspicuous area of the fabric (try the back, bottom, or an area usually covered by couch cushions).

In a bowl, mix 10 fluid ounces of 3% hydrogen peroxide (such as McKesson's Gallon of Hyrogen Peroxide from Walmart) with three tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda, and a couple of drops of washing up liquid such as Dawn Dish Soap, also available at Walmart

Spray or gently dab on to the stain and allow to dry. Once dry, leave it an extra hour to work its magic.

Vacuum any dried paste, and remove stubborn leftovers by dabbing gently with a damp microfiber cloth. Use a separate, clean and dry cloth to blot dry. Repeat until the mixture has been removed.

If your vacuum is looking a bit tired, our guide on the best vacuum cleaners is a good place to start looking for a replacement of this vital cleaning appliance.

4. Cleaning urine smells from a carpet

Red vacuum on beige rug

(Image credit: Getty Images)

First soak up the urine as much as possible, then bag and remove the wet rags or paper towels.

Then, Yessica says to mix one third cup of apple cider vinegar with warm water. "Pour the solution into a spray bottle for easier application. Spray the mixture onto the urine stain and sprinkle baking soda over the area. Let it sit for 15 minutes. Vacuum the baking soda."

For tougher stains, Yessica uses undiluted sparkling water and blots dry with a towel. You can place a heavy object over the towel to absorb moisture.

Afterwards, sprinkle bicarbonate of soda (we like Target's 13.5lb bag of Arm and Hammer Baking Soda as it's such a useful cleaning item to have and you can clean with baking soda in at least 30 ways).

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 vinegar solution with it. 

Our guide on carpet cleaning delves into more detail and our team of testers have also tried and reviewed the best carpet cleaning products.

5. Cleaning urine smells and stains from a mattress

Turmerry latex mattress

(Image credit: Future / Paige Cerulli)

Speed is off the essence, so blot any fresh liquid with paper towels. Mix up a half and half white vinegar and water solution in a spray bottle, and apply to the area. You can even use neat vinegar if you’re working on a large stain. 

Once you've sprayed the area, leave it to dry, ideally with the window open to speed up the airing. Don't worry about the vinegar smell, as it will disappear once the mattress is fully dry. 

A mattress protector is a very worthy the investment to guard your mattress from urine, sweat and other spills and can help reduce allergic reactions caused by dust-mites, a common pest in the home.

These nifty sheets will prolong the life of your mattress and are washable. 

What to shop

Even if you don't have pets or kids, investing in one of the best carpet cleaning machines will be money well spent as you can use them across the home to refresh carpets, rugs, and some double up for use on curtains, upholstery, mattresses and even headboards.

Messy accidents with spills and stains happen so having the equipment you need on hand to sort things out quickly will make the process not only more successful, but less stressful too.

Meet the experts

Yessica has read hair
Yessica Bello

Yessica Bello is owner of Bello's Cleaning, and frequently encounters urine spills, stains, odors and challenges. Her experience in industry has helped her hone effective, tried and tested practical cleaning solutions such as the ones she's offered in this article, suitable for all households. 

Dr Kathryn Dench has long blonde curly hair and is pictured in a white lab coat sitting at a black desk
Dr Kathryn Dench

Dr Kathryn Dench (MA VetMB), is Chief Scientific Advisor at Paw Origins based in Chicago IL. She's a holistic and integrative veterinarian from Cambridge University and a Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. Her veterinary experience and opinions have been widely quoted in Forbes, Reader’s Digest, Rover, and VetStreet.

Urine isn't the only dreaded spill we work hard to avoid around the home, but sometimes, life happens and we can only work to rectify the problem. 

It might be a dirty job, but someone has to do it! Arm yourself for success by learning how to clean up vomit, remove blood stains and clean up after your naughty pooch.

Punteha van Terheyden

Hi! I'm editor of Real Homes. I've been a senior journalist and editor for national magazines and newspapers for 16 years, specializing in consumer, real-life, and lifestyle articles. I have a BA in English Language and Communication, mentor journalists, and I’m also founding editor of Lacuna Voices, an independent digital platform. I love to cook, add character to my newly-built home, try my hand at DIY projects, keep my collection of plants alive, and make memories with my little family of three. For Real Homes, I specialize in articles on pest control, DIY, declutterring and cleaning, interviewing experts daily for their top tips and product recommendations.