How to Get Pee Smell Out of Clothes (& Save Your Wardrobe) 

Accidents happen, and that's okay! With these tools in your pocket, you can rescue your clothes from urine-related mishaps.

Published November 30, 2022
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Laundry room with a washing machine

You smell ammonia, and it's coming from your laundry room. Unless you spilled some cleaner, that distinct odor typically means you have pee in your clothes, and Fido probably hit his mark. While urine odors are easier to treat when they're fresh, you can get them out. It's just going to take patience and a bit of cleaning know-how to get that unfortunate pee smell out of your clothes.

How to Get Pee Smell Out of Clothes

Do you have a chihuahua with a bad habit of marking your clean clothes? Maybe you have a toddler in the midst of potty training. Regardless of the why, it's in your clothes now. So, you've got to get that pungent ammonia smell out fast. Good thing you have a few materials to help. Different methods will require one or some of these materials, so check the instructions to determine which will work for you based on what you have.

Baking Soda Soak

Baking Soda on the counter

When it comes to odors, baking soda is your go-to. From putting it in a stinky room to keeping your fridge fresh, baking soda sucks up those odors like nobody's business. So, reach for your baking soda when you have some pee stink to vanquish.

  1. Fill a sink or bathtub with cold water.
  2. Pour a cup of baking soda evenly across the water.
  3. Stir to mix it up.
  4. Add your stinky clothes.
  5. Agitate them in the solution.
  6. Allow them to sit in the mixture for 30-60 minutes.
  7. Rinse away the baking soda mixture.
  8. Wash as normal.

Once your clothes are done washing, let them hang to dry. Resist the urge just to throw them in the dryer because if any pee smell lingers, the dryer is going to bake it in. Once they are completely dry, check the area for any lingering smell. If it persists, try out a few other methods.

Bleach Method

You cleaned up a bit of puppy pee with a towel and forgot about it. The smell is making your eyes water. Baking soda might not be enough for this tough of a job. So, you need to reach for something stronger. Oxygen bleach, like OxiClean, is going to be your bestie. Why? Because it's color safe and good at knocking out stubborn odors.

  1. Rinse the urine stain with cold water for several minutes to try to dilute it, or longer for especially pungent odors.
  2. Fill your tub with cold water.
  3. Add ½ cup of your oxygen bleach.
  4. Agitate to mix.
  5. Add your clothes.
  6. Agitate them in the mixture for a few minutes.
  7. Allow them to soak for three hours.
  8. Rinse thoroughly.
  9. Wash with oxygen bleach and laundry detergent.
  10. Allow to air dry.

When using a chemical like bleach, make sure to use protection on your hands. Wear rubber gloves or use a wooden spoon to agitate and mix.

White Vinegar Method

Cleaning with Vinegar

Not a fan of bleach? Go a more natural route by using white vinegar to break down that powerful pee smell. This method works well for stains you can see and know exactly where they are.

  1. Mix 2 cups of water, 2 cups of distilled vinegar, and a cup of detergent in a spray bottle. (Use high-quality laundry detergent, like Tide, to make this a more powerful odor killer.)
  2. Shake to mix.
  3. Soak the area well with the mixture.
  4. Sprinkle a bit of baking soda on the stain.
  5. Allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes.
  6. Wash the clothes alone in cold water with an extra rinse, adding a cup of white vinegar to the wash as a laundry detergent.
  7. Allow the clothes to air dry.

Enzyme Cleaner Method

You don't have time to fill the tub. You need a solution now. In this case, you might want to have an enzyme cleaner ready, especially if you have a wayward dog or accident-prone toddler. While you can buy enzyme laundry detergents, a spray-on enzyme cleaner for clothes adds a little more punch.

  1. Check the label to make sure it's okay for your clothes.
  2. Spray the stain according to the instructions.
  3. Wash with an enzyme detergent, like Tide or OxiClean, for added smell-eliminating power.
  4. Repeat as needed until the smell is gone.
  5. Air dry and enjoy.

Borax and Wash Soda for Tough Stains

Your towels smell downright rancid. You've tried everything, and the stink is just not coming out. They aren't destined for the trash just yet; you can give borax and washing soda a try. You might even add a little white vinegar for good measure.

  1. Fill your tub with cold water.
  2. Sprinkle in ¼ cup of borax, ¼ cup of washing soda, and ½ cup of white vinegar.
  3. Add the towels to the concoction.
  4. Thoroughly submerge them.
  5. Let them sit for several hours in the mixture.
  6. Rinse thoroughly.
  7. Add ¼ cup of borax to the wash before adding any clothes. Wash as normal.
  8. Allow to air dry.

How to Remove Urine Smell Without Washing

You can't always wash every item when an accident happens. Sometimes, there's just no time. But walking around smelling like pee isn't an option. Thankfully, you can make an effective odor eliminator at home with the right ingredients.

  • 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide
  • 3 tablespoons of baking soda
  • Several drops of dish soap (Dawn recommended)

Hydrogen peroxide and baking soda are a powerful duo when it comes to stains. Think of them as the Daniel-san and Mr. Miyagi of the cleaning world. They create a powerful stain and odor fighter.

  1. Mix the ingredients together in a spray bottle.
  2. Shake well.
  3. Spray over the stinky area.
  4. Scrub the area with your fingers.
  5. Allow it to sit for 20 minutes or so.
  6. Rinse and allow to air dry.

Hydrogen peroxide can have a bleaching quality, depending on your fabric. So, try it on a test patch first every time you use it on a new material. But, once the area is dry, you should be good to go. No washing is needed.

Tips for Removing Urine From Clothes

Pee odors are simple to handle if you catch them quickly. But typically, that unique odor sends you to the laundry room, sniffing the air. By that time, the smell has dried into the fabric, making it harder to get rid of. It's not impossible, though. Give these tips a try the next time you encounter a pee disaster.

  • Use paper towels to blot out as much of a fresh accident as possible.
  • Use a blacklight to help you find the source of the stain and treat it.
  • Rinse the area to dilute the stain as much as possible.
  • Wipe down the area with a sanitizing wipe to help remove germs until you can handle it.
  • When out, seal clothes in a Ziploc container to keep them moist until you get home.
  • Allow the clothing to air dry after washing to avoid baking in any lingering smell you missed. Plus, the sun is a natural deodorizer.
  • Use natural deodorizing sprays made of essential oils to help remove odors on clothes.
  • Keep an enzyme cleaner handy.

Frequently Asked Questions for Urine Smell in Clothes

Do you wonder what makes pee smell so bad? Maybe you're just curious about washing it out. Find answers to a few common questions when it comes to how to remove pee smells from your laundry.

What Temperature Should I Wash Urine Stained Clothes?

Always wash clothes with a pee smell in cold water. Hot water is a big no, no. It will make the odor more pungent and harder to completely eliminate.

Why Do My Clothes Smell Like Urine After Washing?

There are several reasons your clothes might smell like pee after washing. It could be you didn't remove the stain completely, the stain is buried deep in the fibers, or you might have used the wrong water temp. Whatever the case, you'll want to bust out your black light and try to find the source of the stain. Then, treat it directly with an enzyme cleaner or the hydrogen peroxide mixture. Wash it as many times as necessary until the smell is completely gone.

Why Does Urine Smell so Bad?

Pee has a very distinct ammonia smell from the acid in the body's waste. This also makes it harmful for fabrics and hard to remove once it has dried in there. That's why attacking the stain early by rinsing and adding baking soda is so important. The quicker you act, the easier it is to remove.

What Detergents and Cleaners Are Best for Pee Smell?

If you find yourself dealing with pee smells a lot, you might try grabbing a detergent or cleaner that breaks down enzymes. Peruse your laundry detergent or pet aisle for some of these cleaners. Any will work, so find the one or two that work best for you.

  • Tide Hygienic Clean - With Tide's concentrated formula and strong odor-fighting power, all you need to do is follow the directions to get fresh-smelling laundry. This is great for an all-around laundry clean.
  • Persil - You can't go wrong with Persil. It's gentle on clothes but tough on odors. Just wash clothing as normal to remove odors. It also has an active scent boost that freshens all your laundry.
  • Nature's Miracle 3-in-1 Odor Destroyer - This stuff is a miracle in a bottle. Spray it on the urine area and wash it as normal. No more pee smell. Use this for targeted pee smells. It's also versatile enough to use on the carpet and furniture.
  • Biokleen - Safe for surfaces and fabrics, Biokleen uses live enzymes to get rid of the cause of the pee odor. Just add the recommended amount to the stain and enjoy the magic of freshness. This formula is great for a targeted area of your clothing.
  • Zero Odor - Prevent and remove odors with this spray for surfaces around your home, including fabrics. Follow the instructions, and the patented formula easily removes the odors. It also has a tracer so you can see where you sprayed it.

How to Remove Pee Smell From Laundry

Hopefully, you've found success in removing the pee smell and have another go-to method for urine odor elimination from your laundry. Remember, start with the easiest method, baking soda, and work your way down. You can also try laundry stripping if you are struggling hard with pee smells.

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How to Get Pee Smell Out of Clothes (& Save Your Wardrobe)