Urine smell is easy to clean. You may disagree with this. After all, you are reading this article because it has not been easy.
But then there is a reason why it is not easy for you. You probably left the urine tainted clothes/ upholstery etc neglected for too long or failed to follow the basic rules in removing urine from fabric. It must already be smelling really disgusting. The longer urine has remained on the fabric the worse it smells. And Urine stains.
If the urine has set and the smell is terrible enough, you will have to bring your A-game in laundry. Don’t worry – the so called ‘A-game’ is nothing but a bunch of rules you need to follow.
Rules for Removing Urine stains and smell from clothes
Prevent Urine accidents
I do not want to be preachy by saying you should have done this beforehand but you should know that Urine is bad for fabric. It can weaken even the toughest of fabric fibers. It is acidic in its fresh form and a strong alkaline salt when dried.
The ammonia based urine odor is very repulsive and lingers on and on. Even if it has not stained something, the nauseating smell will never make you forget about it. Urine can disappear but smell for years to come. The smell never goes off on its on. As long as there is moisture in the air the urine smell continues.
The best course is Prevention.
Prevent urine mishaps with mattress covers, waterproof sheets etc. If you have urinary incontinence, use Panty liners inside panties. Do not hesitate to teach the kid to potty train early (if the kid is refusing to and does it where it suits, be there when he does with a bucket ready) and wash cloth nappies as soon as possible. Try to get the cats and dogs out of the beds and sofas. Especially cats, as cat urine smells the worst.
If you have older kids or elders who have accidents and they don’t wear diapers, you will need a mattress protector on the bed. One with a waterproof backing is best. You may want to use more than one more layer of protection over the waterproof cover to be sure that nothing seeps in. Being overzealous is far better than living with the smell of urine all your life.
Spot clean immediately
As I said, Urine turns from an acidic liquid of pH value( 5 or 6) to an alkaline salt of pH value (10 or12), as it dries. This spells destruction for fabric fibers.
The best method is to clean the clothes, carpets etc as soon as urine is spilled – fresh urine cleans easily enough. Just run the tap with the clothing underneath.
Blot un-washable items (Mattress/ car seats/ carpets) with clean towels. You may want to spray some water to get the urine out, after the first blotting. Blot again. Press with all your force and absorb everything from deep down. Keep the towel on top for a few hours for completely absorbing everything. Do this till it looks dry. Air dry.
Use 100% cotton fabric for their absorbency for all your blotting. You can also use paper towels.
Never use Hot water
Our first instinct in cleaning is always to use hot water (the Cure-All) but with stains and smells made by urine this is the wrong way.
Remember that heat sets stains and smells made by protein particles which include Urine. They are permanently set. So wash away the residue of urine first in cold water. Rub the fabric in your hands to remove the residue thoroughly and rinse away the last trace of urine.
Later you can use hot water for regular washing. Wash with regular washing detergent.
Use Enzyme washing detergent
Get a washing detergent containing enzymes for thorough removal of urine stains and smell.
Rinse and dry as well as you can
Urine smell is a result of traces of urine remaining in the fabric. Rinse as many times as you can to remove everything thoroughly. Dry in sunlight to destroy all germs and dissipate the remaining vapors.
Treat Old dried urine smell and stain properly
Old Urine need some extra cleaning. You will have to soak the clothes/fabric for half an hour in cold water along with detergent (dissolved in water in ratio 1 tsp to 1 cup) and then rinse thoroughly to remove urine that has already dried on fabric.
Use a cloth brush if needed. Wash in hot water in a regular cycle. Usually this is enough.
You may want to use a home based remedy on the spot for thorough cleaning. Read on.
Home based remedy for urine smell
Mix bicarbonate of soda, vinegar and water. Use white Vinegar. Spray it and leave for some time. Wash as usual. You can also use Vinegar alone as a solution diluted in water in a 1:2 ratio.
Use commercial cleaning agents
For stubborn areas with a lingering smell you can use a commercial urine neutralizing product. There are many odor removers in the market that will remove stinky smells including that of urine. They are usually added like you do fabric softeners in the wash. I have read that enzyme based odor removers work best.
You can also use a laundry sanitizer /disinfectant or antiseptic lotion in the wash. Use a clear disinfectant solution. With some it may at first smell like a hospital corridor, but the nauseating urine smell will be gone. The disinfectant smell soon disappears.
Treat un-washable items correctly
If something like a mattress or carpet or car seat which cannot be washed, is dirty with old urine stain and smell, you will have to rub the detergent solution (in lesser concentration) on the surface with a towel and blot the stain away with more clean towels. Do this till there is no detergent residue on the mattress or carpet.
You also get mattress cleaning spray specifically for these situations. You may also want to try a pet urine spray. They work wonderfully well.
Deep clean washing machine
If you regularly wash urine smelling clothes you will want to rinse the washing machine before you put in other clothes. A deep clean once a month also helps to prevent other clothes smelling bad.
Note : Always use all stain removal products mentioned here or otherwise with caution. Some may cause color loss, bleeding or damage of the fibers. Test on an inside portion to be sure of the usability on your material.