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How to remove pee, urine stains from clothing and furniture

Urine stains? They're really nothing more than a wee problem — as long as you treat the area quickly and use the right products.
Potty training is a journey.
Potty training is a journey.Getty Images stock
/ Source: TODAY

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Accidents happen!

Whether it was a little one who peed the bed or a pet who couldn't make it until the walk, TODAY Home asked a team of cleaning experts to share how professionals would tackle this problem and clean urine stains from:

How to clean pee stains on clothing and bedding

Debra Johnson, a cleaning expert for Merry Maids, recommends running urine-soaked articles through a full-wash cycle using cold water and one cup of distilled white vinegar (without detergent at this point). Vinegar is an excellent urine stain remover; it breaks down the uric acid in urine and makes the stain easier to remove.

When the cycle is complete, run the load again (this time adding detergent) and wash at the hottest water temperature recommended for the fabric.

If the stain has been in the fabric for an extended period of time, soak the article overnight in the in the vinegar and water, then wash as usual in the morning. Repeat soaking the item in vinegar and water until stain is removed.

How to clean pee stains on furniture

For starters, always follow manufacturer’s recommendations for cleaning upholstery. For silk, antique and vintage upholstery, consult a cleaning professional.

Fresh urine stains:

Johnson’s easy method for removing fresh urine stains from furniture uses detergent, vinegar and water. Here is her advice for how to get pee (urine) out of a couch and how to get pee smell out of a couch — and other furniture. (Her suggestions not only include how to clean human pee out of couch cushions, but how to get dog pee out of couch cushions).

  1. Lightly blot the urine stain with a microfiber cloth to remove excess urine. If you press too hard, you may spread the stain. (Tip: If the stain is fresh, a wet/dry vac will do a great job.)
  2. Mix 1 tablespoon of dish-washing liquid with 2 cups of cold water in a small bowl.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar (to disinfect the area and break down the acid) to the solution and gently stir.
  4. Dip a clean microfiber cloth into the solution.
  5. Gently sponge the urine stain, starting at the outside of the stain and working toward the center.
  6. Repeat as needed.
  7. Rinse out detergent residue by blotting the area with a damp cloth.
  8. Using a dry microfiber cloth, gently blot the area until it’s dry.

Old urine stains:

Jason Weaver of ServiceMaster Clean removes old urine stains from upholstery with a DIY formula.

  1. In a bowl, mix 10 ounces of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide, 3 tablespoons of recently opened baking soda (note: not baking powder), and 2-3 drops of dish-washing detergent. Mix until the baking soda is dissolved.
  2. Pour into a spray bottle.
  3. Pre-test the upholstery by spraying some cleaner in an inconspicuous place.
  4. Allow it to dry. If the fabric does not change color, proceed as follows:
  5. Spray the stain and allow the cleaner to work for an hour. If the stain is not gone, repeat the process.
  6. After the stain is gone, rinse the cleaning solution from the area by dabbing with a damp cloth and blotting with a dry towel until all cleaning solution is gone. This is an important step because, over time, detergent residue will attract dirt. Also, if not removed, hydrogen peroxide could bleach the upholstery and weaken the fibers of the fabric.
  7. If the stain remains, contact a professional upholstery cleaner.

How to clean pee stains on carpet

Matt Smith, vice president of marketing for Simple Solution cleaning products, explained that when it comes to pet stains and odor on carpets, the main issue for consumers is not using enough product. (Johnson and Weaver confirmed the same.)

Fresh urine stains:

  1. Using a wet/dry vac or paper towels, remove as much urine as possible from carpet.
  2. Rinse the stain once with cold water.
  3. Vacuum or blot excess water.
  4. Wet the soiled area with an enzyme-based product and allow it sit for at least five minutes. “Pet urine tends to leak down into carpet backing and spreads for several inches,” said Smith. “So it’s best to spray a ring a few inches outside the stain area and then generously spray the stain remover on the area inside the ring to saturate the carpet and the pad below it.”
  5. Allow the cleaner to dry naturally, then vacuum.

Note: “Many people spray and remove immediately, which isn’t the right way to clean a pet stain," Smith added. “You need to let the product work to get great results.”

Old urine stains:

Old urine stains can be hard to fight — and sometimes even hard to find. Make your job easier by using a UV urine-finder like UV Flashlight Pet Urine Detector by Doggone Pet Products and Black Light UV Flashlight 100 LED by Jumbl.

Once you find the stains, it’s important to note that they’ll require more stain remover than fresh stains. Smith explains, “Instead of using a simple enzyme cleaner, you may want to try an oxygen-activated enzyme cleaner to remove the stains and destroy the odor. Apply as directed and allow it to dry naturally, then vacuum.”

What you'll need to remove urine stains:

This article was originally published on March 14, 2018.