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How to get Urine Smell and Stains Out of a Mattress

By: Christina Davies
Updated on: April 05, 2024

Accidents happen, and dealing with urine-stained mattresses is an unglamorous but common issue for many. Whether it gets pee from a pet, family member, or yourself, it’s crucial to address the cleanup as soon as possible. Allowing urine to settle into your mattress can result in an unpleasant odor and potential mold growth. Fortunately, you can easily sterilize and renew your mattress using basic household items like vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and liquid detergent.

In this comprehensive guide to pet stains, we will provide you with step-by-step instructions on effectively cleaning your mattress and removing various types of urine stains and lingering odors. We will explore four different methods that cater to wet stains, stubborn stains, old stains, and strong-smelling stains. We’ll also talk about why using a mattress protector is important to avoid urine accidents from happening in the first spot.

Four Methods to Tackle Accidents on a Mattress

Method 1: Best for Wet Stains

This method is ideal for recent accidents and is quick and effective. Here’s how you can approach it:

What you will need:

  • Paper towels
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Your favorite essential oil (optional)
  • Baking soda
  • Spray bottle
  • Vacuum cleaner


  • When dealing with a recent urine stain, use paper towels to soak up the urine without rubbing or wiping. This prevents the stain from settling deeper into the mattress.
  • Once you’ve removed the majority of the urine, lightly coat the affected area with baking soda.
  • Put concentrated white vinegar in a spray bottle. If the smell is overpowering, mix in a few drops of your preferred essential oil. Spritz the urine stain until it’s covered, but don’t soak it. Allow the vinegar to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • After letting the vinegar sit, use fresh paper towels to soak up any excess moisture. This step will remove some of the baking soda you initially applied. Sprinkle more baking soda over the stained area and let it sit for 18 hours. Spread baking soda all over the mattress’s surface for a fresh scent.
  • After 18 hours, vacuum the top of your mattress several times to remove the baking soda.

Method 2: Best for Stubborn Stains

If the previous method doesn’t remove the stain or urine smell, you may need the reinforcement of laundry detergent. Follow these steps:

What you will need:

  • Paper towels
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Color-safe laundry detergent
  • Spray bottle
  • Baking soda
  • Vacuum cleaner


  • If the stain is fresh, dab it with paper towels to remove as much urine as possible. Avoid rubbing or wiping the fresh urine stain.
  • Put white vinegar in a spray bottle and gently cover the area. Wait an hour, then use new paper towels to absorb any leftover moisture.
  • Clean the spray bottle and fill it halfway with laundry detergent that’s safe for colors. Fill the remaining space with cold water and gently swirl the bottle to mix the ingredients. Don’t use warm water, as it could make the stain set.
  • 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.
  • Generously cover the affected area with baking soda and let it sit for at least 8 hours. Vacuum the baking soda to remove it completely.

Method 3: Best for Old Stains

Once urine dries on a mattress, it leaves behind a dull yellow stain that’s hard to remove. To tackle these stains, you need strong oxidizing agents like hydrogen peroxide. This special substance changes the makeup of urine by breaking down its color-causing part, called a chromophore, which absorbs light and creates the stain.

Hydrogen peroxide is great at fighting germs and removing stains, but be careful – it might change the color of fabrics. So, it’s not the best choice for mattresses that aren’t white. Plus, if your mattress is made of a memory foam mattress part, hydrogen peroxide can make it uneven and bumpy over time. For mattresses with no foam, like those with soft pillow tops and springs inside, hydrogen peroxide is a good pick. But if you’ve got a memory foam, latex, hybrid, or foam pillow top mattress, it’s better to steer clear of using hydrogen peroxide to avoid any damage. Here’s how you can tackle old stains:

What you will need:

  • Baking soda
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Liquid dishwashing detergent
  • Spray bottle
  • Vacuum cleaner


  • Sprinkle baking soda over the dry stain and use an old toothbrush or dry cloth to work it into the mattress fabric. Let the baking soda sit until it darkens, indicating urine absorption. Vacuum the darkened baking soda and repeat until it remains white.
  • Combine baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and liquid dishwashing detergent in a bowl. Pour the solution into a spray bottle.
  • Evenly cover the urine stain with the cleaning solution, but avoid soaking it. Allow the mixture to dry, and you can make it faster by opening a window or using a fan.
  • Once the mixture has dried, vacuum the mattress to remove any remaining residue.

Alternatively, you can use borax powder to remove old urine stains. However, exercise caution, as borax is toxic to humans. Before applying borax to remove urine stains, dampen the stain with water. Sprinkle a liberal amount of borax powder directly onto the urine stain or create a paste by mixing borax with water. Use a soft-bristled brush to work the borax into the stain, then let it dry completely before vacuuming.

Method 4: Best for Strong Smelling Stains

At times, human urine can contain a lot of ammonia, which is a not-so-good waste substance. This can happen when you’re not drinking enough water or due to bladder problems, infections, or other health issues. Even our furry friends, like dogs and cats, might have stronger-smelling urine accidents because they have different pee chemistry.

The pee from dogs and cat pee from cats isn’t quite like ours. It has more stuff in it, like ammonia for cats and dogs, and extra things like carbs and fatty stuff for dogs. It’s important to clean up their accidents properly, or they might think it’s an okay spot to do their business again.

Ammonia really stinks and can mess up sleep. But the good news is there are special cleaners that can help. These cleaners have things called enzymes that are really good at fighting bad smells and dog pee. Enzymatic cleaners have special parts called protease and friendly bacteria. The protease part breaks down the yucky stuff in pee, like proteins, into tiny bits. Then the friendly bacteria eat up these bits. And guess what? They turn into water and air, which just disappear.

The best way to get rid of pee stains and smells is to use these enzyme cleaners. But before you go all out, test a tiny bit on a dry towel or a hidden part of your bed, just to make sure it’s safe. If it’s good, then follow the directions on the cleaner. For pet pee spots, it’s a good idea to mix a few things. First, put baking soda on the wet spot. Baking soda likes to suck up moisture, so it will change color as it works. Just replace it until it stays white.

After that, treat get the pee smell off a spot like you would if a person had an accident. Use the enzyme cleaner to make sure there’s no smell left that might tempt your pet to pee there again. Some enzyme cleaners are made especially for pet accidents. You can also buy things at the pet store that keeps pets away from certain spots. Or you can make your own stuff to keep them away. Hope that helps keep your place smelling nice and clean!

Consider a Mattress Protector

A mattress protector is an excellent investment to safeguard your mattress against urine and other liquid spills. These waterproof covers create a barrier between the mattress and any excess liquid anywhere, preventing it from seeping into the mattress fibers.

When urine comes into contact with a mattress protector, it remains on the surface, making it easy to wipe away or wash clean urine off. Some mattress protectors also have absorbent layers or antimicrobial properties to provide additional protection.

Using a waterproof mattress protector not only extends the life of your mattress but also helps maintain its cleanliness and hygiene. You can find a variety of options available, including the Amerisleep Cooling Mattress Protector, which offers free shipping and can be purchased with a discount code.

Why Does Urine Smell?

Urine has a distinct odor due to various chemical compounds present in it. One of the main contributors to the pee smell is urea, a waste product produced when the body breaks down proteins. When urine is exposed to air, bacteria in the environment break down urea, releasing ammonia and resulting in a strong odor.

Additionally, sulfur-containing molecules and other compounds can contribute to the overall smell of urine. Factors such as hydration levels, diet, and overall health can affect the concentration and intensity of the odor.

Pets, particularly un-neutered male cats, may have stronger urine odor due to the higher levels of testosterone and unique compounds in their urine.

Additional Tips for Preventing and Dealing with Urine Accidents

In addition to the methods mentioned above, here are some extra tips for preventing and managing pet urine and accidents on your mattress:

  • Establish a routine for your pet’s bathroom breaks, especially before bedtime, to prevent accidents during the night.
  • Use a homemade pet deterrent by mixing water, vinegar, and citrus-scented essential oil. Spray the solution lightly on areas your pet is prone to urinate.
  • Consider using pet repellent products available at your local pet store to further discourage your pet from urinating on your mattress.
  • If you have a memory foam, latex, hybrid, or foam pillow top mattress, avoid using hydrogen peroxide, as it may compromise the mattress’s consistency.
  • Perform a spot test on a non-visible area of the mattress before using any cleaning solutions or enzymatic cleaners.
  • Vacuum your mattress regularly to keep it free from allergens, dust mites, and any residual baking soda or cleaning solution.

Accidents happen, but with the right approach and prompt action, you can restore your mattress to its former glory and eliminate any unpleasant odors for a restful night’s sleep.

FAQ: How to Remove Urine Smell and Stains from a Mattress

Can I use baking soda to remove urine odor from the mattress?

Yes, baking soda can neutralize urine odor. After blotting the urine, spread baking soda on the spot and leave it for hours, preferably overnight. Next, use a vacuum to take away the baking soda from the mattress.

How do I remove old urine stains and odor from a mattress?

Old urine stains may require extra effort. You can try an enzymatic cleaner specifically designed for removing organic stains. Follow the same process as mentioned earlier, but be prepared to repeat the steps multiple times for effective results.

Can I use hydrogen peroxide to clean urine stains?

While hydrogen peroxide can be effective, it’s important to note that it can bleach or discolor fabrics. If you choose to use it, do a patch test in an inconspicuous area and dilute it with water before applying it to the stain.

How can I prevent urine stains on a mattress?

To prevent urine stains, consider using a waterproof mattress protector. Teach children proper bathroom habits, and if you’re dealing with pets, make sure they are properly trained.

Are professional cleaning services recommended for urine stains on a mattress?

If home remedies don’t work or the stain is severe, professional cleaning services specializing in upholstery or mattress cleaning might be a good option.

Can I use fabric fresheners to mask urine odor on a mattress?

Fabric fresheners might temporarily mask the odor, but they won’t eliminate it. It’s best to address the source of the odor using the cleaning methods mentioned above.

Are there any natural remedies I can use to remove urine stains and odor?

Lemon juice, vinegar, and baking soda are some natural options. They can help neutralize odor and break down stains. However, results may vary, and it’s a good idea to test these methods in inconspicuous areas first.


Accidents involving urine on your mattress can be distressing, but with the right tools and techniques, you can effectively eliminate the smell and stains. Whether you’re dealing with fresh or dried urine from a mattress, the key is to act quickly and use appropriate cleaning solutions. Remember to blot, not rub, the affected area and allow sufficient time for baking soda and cleaning solutions to work their magic. By doing these steps and using a mattress protector, you can keep your clean mattress and avoid urine smells and stains. Sleep well, knowing your mattress is clean and odor-free.


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