How to Get the Smell of Pee Out of Clothes

how to get the smell of pee out of clothes image

You may be familiar with the smell of pee in the laundry. It’s easy to encounter when you have a toddler or a pet that has not been potty-trained yet. You may also run into them when you are taking care of someone who has incontinence. Aside from the stained clothes, urine odor is the greater enemy.

Urinating incidents are something that may be hard to control. Moreover, removing the urine smell from clothes is also challenging. Here are ways to help you get rid of the strong urine odor in your laundry.

What Makes The Smell Of Urine So Bad?

The body gets rid of excess water and waste by peeing. It produces urine after the kidneys filter all the toxins from the blood. Pee is the body’s liquid waste. Thus, it contains various components such as water, electrolytes, salt, and uric acid. Of these components, what makes urine smell is uric acid.

The urine will most likely smell like ammonia if there are more waste products than fluids in the pee. Thus, when someone is dehydrated, the pee smells more pronounced. Furthermore, changes in urine odor may show a person’s diet, health, or even lifestyle choices.

How to Get The Smell of Pee Out of Clothes

If not washed properly, you can still get a whiff of urine smell on your laundry even when it’s already dry. Getting rid of the urine smell off clothes may be difficult, but it’s not a lost cause. You can get rid of the odor in freshly soiled or already washed and dried clothes using a few household staples.

Pretreat the urine stain

striped clothes soaked in a blue basin with water

The first thing to do if you want to get rid of the stain or smell out of clothes caused by urine is to deal with it fast. Never put the dirty clothing with the rest of your laundry. If you do so, you will get urine smells transferred to the rest of the clothes in the hamper.

To pretreat the urine-soiled garment, you have to rinse the stained clothing with cold water. Doing so will remove urine found in the garment. Dry the wet area by blotting it with paper towels or a clean cloth. Be careful and try not to scrub the spot as you don’t want to push the stain deeper onto the fabric. You can remove as many marks as possible by doing so. Remember to always pretreat fresh urine stains before soaking or washing them with laundry detergent. It’s also best to wash urine-soiled clothes in the washing machine in a separate wash cycle.

Oxygen-based bleach

a bottle of oxygen bleach against blue background

Oxygenated bleach can get urine stains and smell out of clothes. Even if it’s from recent or lingering odors. You can use it to soak your urine-soiled clothing or add them during the wash. Remember to use non-chlorine-based bleach. Sometimes the by-products of urine break down into ammonia. When this happens, ammonia may react with sodium hypochlorite, which is an active ingredient found in chlorine. This reaction produces toxic gases called chloramines. These gases can cause coughing, nausea, and shortness of breath, among others. To be safe, avoid using chlorine bleach and opt for oxygenated ones. Plus, oxygen-based bleach does not damage colored clothes.

  1. Fill a basin with 1 gallon (3.8 L) of cold water and add 1/4 cups of oxygen bleach.
  2. Soak the urine-stained clothes in the bleach solution for three hours.
  3. Wash the garment with the right amount of detergent and a cup of oxygen-based bleach on a normal cycle. You may opt to use warm water if the fabric can tolerate it.
  4. Skip the dryer and allow the clothes to air dry under the sunlight if possible. Be careful of drying your delicates or colored clothing under the sun to avoid fading.
  5. Make sure you dry the clothes thoroughly before folding them.
  6. Once dried, check the garments for any lingering urine odor. You can repeat this method if the smell of urine persists.

Baking soda

baking soda in a mason jar and a spoonful of baking soda

You can use baking soda as a remedy if you want to get rid of the urine smell out of your clothing. Baking soda can remove the urine smell from clothes by neutralizing its odor. You can use this pantry staple to presoak your clothes.

  1. Fill the sink with water and add a cup of baking soda. Agitate the mixture to make sure that the baking soda disperses properly. 
  2. Submerge the soiled items in the baking soda and water mixture for 15 minutes. Doing so will allow the baking soda to work its way and break down the uric acid component in urine.
  3. Rinse the clothes with water before laundering them in the washing machine.
  4. Use a detergent to wash the clothes in a normal cycle. Check your clothes’ care labels and wash them using hot water.
  5. You may also add a cup of white vinegar during the wash to further deodorize your clothing.
  6. After washing, skip the dryer and air dry your laundry. The hot temperature from the dryer can set in any remaining stains in your garment.

Enzyme-based detergent

blue spray bottle of enzyme based detergent against brown background

Using laundry detergent is one of the best ways of getting rid of old urine smells. Some detergents boast and promote the use of enzymes on their washing powder. A range of enzymes can help break down protein stains. An enzyme-based detergent works best in removing discoloration and odor caused by proteins. Such stains include blood, urine, and fecal matter. 

  1. If you are dealing with clothes washed previously but still have a lingering urine odor, you may opt to wash them with the rest of your laundry. Yet, it’s best to wash fresh urine-soiled clothes in a solo wash cycle after pretreating them.
  2. Use the appropriate amount of enzyme-based detergent in a normal cycle. If the fabric can take it, wash the item with hot water. You may also add white vinegar during the wash to help get rid of the smell.
  3. Allow the clothes to air dry in an open space after washing and check for any remaining odor once it’s dry.
  4. Wash again with the enzymatic detergent in warm water if there is still a lingering urine smell.


a bottle of white vinegar against blue background

Using a vinegar wash on urine-stained clothing can help remove odors caused by pees. This nature’s miracle and cupboard staple can deodorize and soften clothes.

  1. After pretreating the freshly stained item, prepare a vinegar and water mixture. To make this, mix three cups of water and one cup of white vinegar in a bowl and apply it to the stained area. Let the vinegar solution soak the fabric for around 15 minutes.
  2. To further neutralize the odor, you can put some baking soda in the affected area and let it sit on the clothing.
  3. After presoaking the fabric, you can place the clothes in the washing machine and use cold water to run the cycle. Do not put any detergent yet.
  4. Once it’s finished washing, you can air-dry the fabric and allow it to dry completely.
  5. You can wash the dried clothes with an enzymatic detergent. Remember to use the highest water temperature the clothes can bear.
  6. After washing, hang the clothes to air dry. This method will avoid any persistent stains from setting onto the fabric.

In Conclusion

Sometimes the smell of urine on clothes is too harsh that you can get frustrated and may want to throw them away. There are natural and chemical products you can use to make them smelling fresh and clean again. If you feel this content is helpful, don’t forget to bookmark our page and follow us on social media for more tips on better cleaning!

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About Sonia Peters

Sonia Peters is a communications specialist and a freelance writer. As a mother of a young boy, she's a self-declared expert on dealing with stains and grimes after a fun day with her child.