How to Remove Urine Stains and Smell From a Mattress

By Stacy Liman
Last Updated On November 17th, 2020

As unglamorous as it may be, everyone has dealt or will eventually deal with a urine-stained mattress. Whether from a pet, family member, or yourself, accidents happen. When accidents happen,…

How to Remove Urine Stains and Smell From a Mattress

As unglamorous as it may be, everyone has dealt or will eventually deal with a urine-stained mattress. Whether from a pet, family member, or yourself, accidents happen.

When accidents happen, we encourage you to tackle the clean up as soon as possible. Allowing urine to settle into your mattress will not only result in an unpleasant aroma but potentially lead to mold growth. Luckily, basic household items can help you avoid these adverse effects. Ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and liquid detergent will easily sterilize and renew your mattress after a urine accident.

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In this article, we provide step-by-step instructions for cleaning your mattress and removing every type of urine stain, as well as any lingering odors.

Three Ways to Tackle Accidents on a Mattress

Method 1: Best for Wet Stains

This method is the most common because it is quick and effective, making it best for recent accidents. Let’s take a look at how it is done.

What you will need:

  • Paper towels to soak up excess liquid
  • Distilled white vinegar to break down uric acid (metabolic waste released through urination) and neutralize the smell
  • Your favorite essential oil to further reduce urine odor or minimize vinegar smell (optional)
  • Baking soda to lift and absorb the urine while removing any remaining stench
  • Spray bottle to apply white vinegar and essential oil
  • Vacuum cleaner to remove the baking soda
  1. If the urine stain is fresh, use paper towels to blot up as much urine as possible. Do not rub or wipe the wet area, as this could force the stain deep into your mattress’s fibers and make it more difficult to remove. Also, be sure to grab a new paper towel every time one becomes soiled.
  2. Once a majority of the urine is removed, lightly coat the affected area with baking soda.
  3. Next, pour undiluted white vinegar into a spray bottle. If the vinegar smell is too strong for you, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil as well.
  4. Spray the urine stain until it is covered, but do not drench it. Let the vinegar sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
  5. Once you have let the vinegar sit, use new paper towels to soak up any excess moisture. This step will remove some of the baking soda you initially applied—that’s okay.
  6. Sprinkle more baking soda over the stained area and let it sit for 18 hours. To further freshen your bed, sprinkle baking soda over the entire surface of the mattress. The required time for this step may call for altered sleeping arrangements.
  7. After 18 hours have passed, vacuum the top of your mattress several times to remove the baking soda.

Method 2: Best for Stubborn Stains

If the above method does not remove the stain or urine smell from your mattress, you may need the reinforcement of laundry detergent.

What you will need:

  • Paper towels to remove surplus moisture
  • Distilled white vinegar to combat uric acid and ammonia smell
  • Color-safe laundry detergent to further weaken uric acid and urine odor
  • Spray bottle to spread white vinegar and laundry detergent
  • Baking soda to soak up urine
  • Vacuum cleaner to clean up the baking soda
  1. If the stain is fresh, dab it with paper towels, removing as much urine as you can. As mentioned above, do not rub or wipe the fresh urine stain.
  2. Pour the white vinegar into a spray bottle then lightly coat the affected area and let it sit for one hour. After one hour, use fresh paper towels to soak up any remaining moisture.
  3. Rinse out your spray bottle and fill it halfway with a color-friendly liquid laundry detergent to prevent discoloring your mattress. Fill the remaining space with cold water and gently swirl the bottle to mix the two ingredients together. Avoid warm water because it will set the stain, making it more difficult to remove.
  4. Use the spray bottle to thinly coat the urine stain with the solution and let it sit for one hour. After one hour, use paper towels to blot dry any excess moisture.
  5. Generously cover the affected area with baking soda. Allow the baking soda to sit for at least 8 hours, then vacuum it dry.

Method 3: Best for Old Stains

Once urine has dried, it sets into the fibers of our mattress, leaving behind a dingy yellow color. These types of stains call for strong oxidizing agents, such as hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide changes the chemical compound of urine by breaking down its chromophore—a part of the molecule that absorbs visible light to create color.

Although hydrogen peroxide is an effective antiseptic and stain remover, it can discolor fabric so it isn’t the best choice for non-white mattresses. It may also compromise the consistency of mattresses with foam, resulting in a lumpy and worn surface.

Therefore, hydrogen peroxide solution is best for non-foam pillow tops and innerspring mattresses while anyone with a memory foam, latex, hybrid, or foam pillow top mattress should avoid using it.

What you will need:

  • Baking soda to absorb dry urine stain and absorb lingering odor
  • Hydrogen peroxide to dissolve the bold stain and diminish bacteria
  • Liquid dishwashing detergent to penetrate and break down uric acid while neutralizing the smell
  • Spray bottle to dispense the solution
  • Vacuum to remove left over baking soda and solution residue
  1. Sprinkle baking soda over the dry stain and use an old toothbrush or dry cloth to work it into the mattress’s fabric. Let the baking soda sit until it begins to darken. Darkened baking soda is a sign of urine absorption. Once it has darkened, you can vacuum it dry. To maximize the results, complete this step until the baking soda remains white.
  2. Next, combine 8 ounces of hydrogen peroxide, 3 tablespoons of baking soda, and a few drops of liquid dish detergent in a bowl. Mix the three ingredients together, then pour the solution into a spray bottle. We advise mixing the ingredients in a bowl first because shaking the spray bottle to blend them will cause messy foaming.
  3. Evenly cover the urine stain with the cleaning solution, but do not soak it. Let the mixture sit until it has dried. You can leave a window open or point a fan toward it to speed up the drying process.
  4. Once the mixture has dried, use your vacuum to suck up any remaining residue.

Method 4: Best for Strong Smelling Stains

Sometimes urine contains a high concentration of ammonia—an unhealthy waste product caused by dehydration, bladder stones, infections, or other health conditions. Accidents from pets may have a stronger ammonia smell, as well.

Ammonia carries a lingering scent pungent enough to disturb sleep. Luckily, enzymatic cleaners were specifically designed to combat such odors.

These types of cleaners contain enzymes called protease as well as safe and natural bacteria. The protease enzymes break down protein-based stains, such as urine, into small particles for the natural bacteria to digest. Once the bacteria absorb the small particles of urine, they transform into carbon dioxide and water to evaporate.

Enzymatic cleaners are the most effective way to remove urine stains and smell, but be sure to conduct a spot test on a non-visible area of the mattress before applying it to the affected area. If your enzyme cleaner does not discolor your mattress, carefully follow the cleaning tips listed on the product.

FAQ

How do you get urine stains out of bedding?

Removing urine stains from your sheets, blankets, and comforter is much easier than removing them from your mattress. When a urine accident occurs, remove your bedding and toss it in your washer along with one cup of distilled white vinegar. Do not add any laundry detergent.

Wash your sheets and blankets in cold water only, as hot water may cause the urine to set. Once the wash cycle is complete, examine the bedding to ensure the soiled areas are gone. If they are, rewash the bedding as you normally would. If the urine persists, soak your sheets and blankets in cold water and white vinegar overnight or until the stain disappears.

How do you prevent urine accidents from reaching your mattress?

Waterproof mattress protectors are an effective way to avoid urine stains altogether. They are also extremely low-maintenance. After an accident occurs, simply toss your mattress protector into the washing machine with any other tainted bedding. A good mattress protector will also guard your bed against allergens like dust mites, mold, and bacteria.

Do air fresheners get rid of urine smell?

How to Remove Urine Stains and Smell From a Mattress

Air fresheners may mask the smell but cannot remove urine. Therefore, they will not permanently rid your bed from the urine odor. To eliminate the smell for good, you will need to lift and remove the stain. This will require a cleaning agent like vinegar, baking soda, a protease enzyme, or hydrogen peroxide. Depending on the cause and age of your urine stain, we suggest following one of the above methods.

Can urine on a mattress cause mold?

Urine may dry, but if not properly removed, it leaves behind the salt found in uric acid. If you experience night sweats or simply live in a humid or rainy climate, this salt will continually draw in moisture. When the affected area becomes filled with moisture, it reactivates, disturbing odors and creating a breeding ground for bacteria-causing mold.

Are enzymatic cleaners safe?

Most enzymatic cleaners do not contain toxic chemicals. Enzymatic cleaning products are usually composed of biological compounds called enzymes—naturally occurring proteins that speed up chemical reactions necessary to eliminating stains. However, we advise double-checking ingredients lists to ensure your enzyme cleaner does not contain toxic chemicals. Certain brands may add unnatural oxidizing, or stain removing agents to enhance their product’s ability.

Conclusion

Knowing how to remove urine stains is a critical skill, especially if you want to protect your mattress from damage. Although these stains can be frustrating, removing them is not nearly as intimidating as it seems.

More often than not, basic household items are enough to successfully expel urine stains and smells. Follow one of the above methods and before you know it, your mattress will look and smell brand new.

This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.


About the author

Stacy Liman is a journalism graduate student and a freelance writer with a focus on mindfulness and content marketing. Stacy enjoys discovering new mattresses and connecting people with their perfect bed, but she more so enjoys understanding and writing about the science of sleep to help people get deeper, healthier rest.

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