How to get pee out of a mattress

Ok, this is a difficult question that I’m sure no one wants to answer.

But the truth is, it’s surprisingly common for people to pee on their mattresses while they are drunk and passed out. If you’re reading this post then chances are you have dealt with this problem before too.

It can be embarrassing to admit that your child or pet has peed on your bed but don’t worry because I will show you how to get pee out of a mattress in nine easy steps.

Why you should trust this guide

I spent 22 hours researching the best methods to clean the urine out of a mattress. I considered 17 different cleaning methods picked only the most effective ones. I consulted with IIC certified house cleaning technician and surgical cleaning technician (CSCT) to empower this guide with expert opinions.

How to get urine out of mattress

This is the best method that performed best during my testing.

Things to have:

  • Baking soda
  • Paper towels
  • White vinegar
  • Laundry detergent
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Spray bottle
  • Vacuum cleaner

Step 1: Remove the bedding

Remove the covers, pillows, sheets, and other pieces of bedding as soon as possible to prevent further urine from leaking to the mattress. Put all the bedding into a washing machine.

While a washing machine will clean the bedding, you will be able to clean the mattress. This will save you time and will double the effectiveness of your cleaning.

Step 2: Wash the bedding ASAP

Add 1 spoon of apple cider vinegar and set the most intense washing mode allowed. If you can feel the smell of urine after the wash, you should add 1 spoon of lemon juice and repeat the procedure. Your goal here is to use the strongest detergent possible to remove any trace of urine from your bedding.

Once washed, dry it in clothes drier or outside on a line if weather permits. This step is also important because without proper drying the bedding can start molding and smelling bad.

Tip:

You can ask your wife, husband, or other relative to do this step for you. This will save you extra time before all the urine gets into the mattress and starts to smell.

Step 3: Soak up the pee

Soak up the pee to get pee out of mattress

Use a paper towel to absorb the pee on the surface of the mattress. Being fast is very important here because it is much easier to catch the urine before it gets absorbed by a mattress.

Please, do not press too hard, your moves should be gentle. Otherwise, you will push the urine into a mattress and do only worse.

Step 4: Prepare a highly effective cleaning substance

The most effective household substance to clean pee out of mattress

Mix 400 ml of water, 150 ml of white vinegar, 50 ml of apple cider vinegar, and 25 ml of laundry detergent.

This proportion of the ingredients performed best during my testing:

Test proportion, #WaterWhite vinegarApple cider vinegarLaundry detergentUrine cleaning efficiency, %
1380120401580%
2400120401591%
3420120401593%
4400120401593%
5400150401595%
6400180401592%
7400150401592%
8400150501596%
9400150601593%
10400150501593%
11400150502597%
12400150504594%
Testing different component proportions to find the most effective home remedy for a guide on how to clean pee out of a mattress on MattressTree

Sasha Grigorieva, IIC certified house cleaning technician, HCT, explained why this proportion is so effective:

“White vinegar is very effective because it is a weak acid that can dissolve dirt, debris, and grime. Vinegar also has antibacterial properties. And apple cider vinegar has the same benefits as white vinegar, but it also smells better. Both are acidic enough to dissolve urine, grease, and other soils.”[1]From phone interview withSasha Grigorieva, IIC certified house cleaning technician, HCT August 1, 2021

Also, vinegar is proven to be able to kill some viruses like the Influenza A virus [2]Effectiveness of Common Household Cleaning Agents in Reducing the Viability of Human Influenza A/H1N1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2813869/

Step 5: Apply the cleaning substance to the surface

Remove urine from the mattress using a highly effective cleaning substance

With help of a spray bottle, apply the cleaning substance to the surface. Use the spray at a distance of approximately 1 foot (30 centimeters).

For effective disinfection, completely cover the surface and let it stand for 15 minutes.

Tip:

Don’t be afraid of using too much cleaner; the cleaner won’t damage surfaces as long as you don’t leave it sitting for a prolonged period of time.

Step 6: Blot the excessive liquid

After 15 minutes there can still be a lot of liquid on the surface – do not dry it off, but blot as much cleaner as possible with paper towels.

Step 7: Apply the baking soda

Generously cover the area with baking soda. Here is what happens when the vinegar contact with baking soda: The baking soda will neutralize the acid in the vinegar and will be converted to water and carbon dioxide.

This chemical reaction can be time-consuming so leave the baking soda for 12-18 hours. The time you should wait depends on the severity of the stain.

Caution:

Although baking soda and vinegar reactants are common in households, caution is needed when dealing with them. Please avoid the contact of the liquids with your eyes and clothes because it may lead to irritation.

Do not allow your children and pets to have contact with the mattress during the waiting period

Tip:

Make sure that the air is circulating in your room so that the carbon dioxide will not concentrate in the air. It is very important because if the COO is inhaled, it can cause serious health problems such as cardiac problems, or increased blood pressure[3]Carbon Dioxide Health Hazard Information Sheet https://www.fsis.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media_file/2020-08/Carbon-Dioxide.pdf

Step 8: Clean the mattress with a vacuum cleaner

Using a vacuum cleaner to remove baking soda after the chemical reaction

To clean dried baking soda, vacuum the mattress with a hose attachment. To prevent damage to your vacuum, ensure that the powder is completely dry before vacuuming.

Step 9: Inspect the mattress

At this point, urine should be removed from the mattress. However, if you see any stains or unpleasant smells, you can repeat the procedure several times.


How To Get Pee Stains Out of a Mattress

You haven’t noticed a wet accident on your mattress on time? And now wondering “how to get urine out of a mattress when dry”?

Fresh pee stains are much easier to remove. However, you still can significantly remove even dry urine using the method below. I also tested this method myself and found that the HE laundry detergent is really effective for removing old urine stains from the mattress.

You should have:

  • Baking soda
  • Paper towels
  • White vinegar
  • HE laundry detergent
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Spray bottle
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Plastic bags and scotch or a plastic wrap

Step 1: Strip the mattress

Remove bedding and place it in a washing machine. Washing machines can clean bedding, but a mattress needs to be cleaned by hand.

Step 2: Wash the bedding

You should wash your bedding with the strongest detergent possible. If you can still smell urine after the wash, add 1 spoon of apple vinegar and do one more washing.

Once washed, dry it in clothes drier or outside on a line if weather permits. This step is also important because without proper drying the bedding can start molding and smelling bad.

Step 3: Create a highly effective homemade mixture

Mix 600 ml of water, 200 ml of white vinegar, 75 ml of apple cider vinegar, and 25 ml of HE laundry detergent. This mixture works best for removing the stains because it is using the HE laundry detergent that is designed to get out tough stains.

Please, pay attention that you should use cold water because vinegar may evaporate and become ineffective when it is heated.

Step 4: Apply a highly effective homemade mixture

Apply the cleaning product with a spray bottle to the surface. Spray it from about 1 foot (30 cm) away.

Step 5: Cover the stain with plastic

Right after you applied the mixture to a stain, you should cover it with plastic wrap or a plastic bag as soon as possible. Plastic will prevent the mixture from evaporation and will prolongate the effect of the product.

Tip:

To further enhance the effect, you should put duct tape on the edges of the plastic.

Let the stain be covered with plastic for at least 72 hours.

Precaution:

Please, do not let your pets or kids contact the stain because the mixture contains vinegar and HE laundry detergent that can be toxic to them.

Step 6: Wait until the mattress dries out

After 72 hours, please remove the plastic cover and let the stain dry out. This may take up to 24 hours depending on the thickness of the mattress, air humidity, and the size of a stain.

Tip:

If you don’t have enough time to wait for it, try using an air dryer, a hairdryer, or use an electric fan in order to accelerate this process.

Step 7: Be prepared for several iterations

You will only find out if you removed the stain after it dries out. If the stain is still visible, you should repeat steps 3-6 several times until the stain will disappear completely.

Step 8: Blot the stain with water

After the stain completely disappeared, you should blot it with water. Water will help you remove all the soap residues from a surface.

Step 9: Let it dry out

Let the water dry out.

Tip:

If you don’t have enough time to wait for it, try using an air dryer, a hairdryer, or use an electric fan in order to accelerate this process.

Step 10: Apply stain protection product

You could stop at this point but I recommend you apply a stain protection product.

My results of removing urine stains from mattresses using steps above.

Tip:

As we know, we should use water-based stain protection products if you have spilled something on the mattress that can be removed with soap and water.

And we should use an oil-based stain protector for stains from liquids that cannot be washed off using soap and water, such as cooking oils or motor fluids.

I recommend you mix these two products in equal parts to get the ultimate protection.


How to get pee smell out of a mattress

Pee smell is much more difficult to remove than other stains.

The main reason for this is that urine often contains ammonia, which reacts with the foam in a mattress to create an unpleasant odor.

It’s also because of its low pH level, being about as acidic as lemon juice; it has a much stronger smell and can penetrate deeper into fabrics than other types of liquids can.

Tip 1:

You should start cleaning the mattress as soon as possible because with the passing of time, the urine will diffuse through the foam and it will be much more difficult to remove it.

Also, the urine may become an enabling environment for bacteria to grow even though the urine itself is not a breeding ground for bacteria.

Tip 2:

It is important to remove the smell instead of masking it because the unpleasant smell will come back once the masking scent disappears.

What you will need:

  • Odor eliminator spray
  • Baking soda
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Air purifier

Step 1: Spread the baking soda

Spread the baking soda evenly on your mattress’ surface. If you know that the specific location of the bad smell, you should put more baking soda in that place.

Do not remove the baking soda for 48 hours.

Step 2: Vacuum the baking soda

As a rule of thumb, 48 hours is enough to absorb all the bad smells. After that, you can vacuum the baking soda off your mattress’ surface. But it’s too early to change your bedsheets.

Step 3: Apply the odor eliminating spray

While it may seem that you already removed all the odors using baking soda, it is always good to apply the odor-eliminating spray on your mattress before you change bedsheets. This spray will kill the rest of the bad smell and prevent it from coming back.

Step 4: Change the bedsheets and pillowcases

Finally, change your sheets with fresh ones so that you get a clean and pleasant sleeping experience. You also need to wash or replace your pillowcase to avoid having mixed smells on it too!

Please, keep in mind:

While cleaning pet stains, it’s important to remember that they may require a more potent solution that removes lingering odors. This will help deter the animal from urination in the area again. The best way to find an enzyme cleaner is by going to your local pet store.


How to prevent human pee on mattress

Once you encounter such a problem, you will definitely start searching for ways to prevent it in the future.

A lot of people use a plastic sheet on their mattresses, but that can be quite uncomfortable and impractical if you’re sharing your bed with someone else.

One of the best solutions to this problem is a waterproof mattress protector. This solution will protect your expensive investment from any type of liquid spill while also keeping it in good condition for years.

How to Get Cat Pee Out of Mattress

Cat urine smells much stronger than human or dog urine.

When a vet wants to know how concentrated your cat’s urine is, they need to measure it with a refractometer. When you use a refractometer to measure your cat’s urine, the measurement is called specific gravity.

  • The normal range for human urine specific gravity is 1.005 to 1.030
  • The normal range for a dog’s urine specific gravity is 1.005 to 1.030
  • The normal range for cat’s urine specific gravity is greater than 1.040

This means that cats have much more concentrated urine which produces a stronger odor that is more difficult to remove.

Please, pay attention:

If you are the owner of a male cat that was not spayed, this will make his urine ten times more stinky.

With this in mind, now we understand that removing the odors of cat urine is a much more difficult task.

What you will need:

  • Baking soda
  • Vacuum
  • Enzyme cleaner
  • Apple cider vinegar

Removing feline pee from a mattress is very similar to the steps above, with a couple of minor adjustments.

Step 1 – Apply the enzyme cleaner

Enzyme cleaner is a very powerful solution. But you should pick the right one. There are three main aspects to pay attention to when picking the right enzyme cleaner to remove the cat pee smell from the mattress:

  • Type of a surface. When looking for a product to treat bedding, look for a formula that is free of chlorine to avoid unwanted bleaching.
  • Active ingredients. A lot of different chemicals can kill odors, but some are safer to use around kids and pets. To prevent pets from urinating again, you should purchase a cleaner that eradicates ammonia odors. Citrus scents are recommended because they seem to work well in deterring your pet. And on the other hand, you should look for organic options because they are safer for your family.

All you have to do is read the instructions carefully and follow the steps to make sure that you are taking care of your mattress. You may want to make several iterations to completely get rid of the odors.

Step 2 – Apply baking soda

All you have to do is to spread the layer of baking soda across the spill. Baking soda is very effective and it will guarantee that you will completely get rid of bad smells.

Step 3 – Vacuum the baking soda

Clean the soiled powder from the area using the vacuum cleaner. You can make several iterations if you are not sure that you have completely removed the odor.


How to prevent the cat from peeing on a mattress

Cleaning the mattress from cat urine is a very difficult and time-consuming task. I’m sure that in the future you will want to prevent this.

Please, take the following steps:

Step 1 – Apply a cat repellent

There is a number of cat repellents that will help you with the issue. You can use a commercial product or make your own. A good repellent will prevent your cat from coming back to the soiled mattress and will discourage him or her from urinating on the mattress.

Step 2 – Visit the vet

Your cat may have a huge array of health issues that provoked urination: urinary tract infection, bladder stones, or chronic kidney disease. This is why it is super important to take your cat to the vet and make sure that your pet is healthy.

Step 3 – Consult with the cat behaviorist

Your cat may encounter separation anxiety, stress, or difficulties with an adaptation period. It is a great idea to consult with a cat behaviorist who can teach you how to react in these situations and provide advice on how to avoid them.

Step 4 – Purchase a waterproof mattress protector

The mattress protector will protect your mattress from any type of urine or other fluids in case of other steps failed.


How to Get Dog Pee Out of Mattress

While dog urine is less concentrated than cat urine, it still has a stronger odor comparing to human urine. This is why it is difficult to remove the dog pee smell from the mattress. However, it is still possible.

What you will need:

  • Baking soda
  • Vacuum
  • Enzyme cleaner
  • Apple cider vinegar

Step 1 – Apply baking soda

Use baking soda to scrub the area or accident. It won’t guarantee a strong, fresh smell from the first minute — you should allow up to 36 hours for the odors to get absorbed.

Step 2 – Vacuum the baking soda

If the area was soiled with powder, use the vacuum to remove it from the surface. Make multiple passes if you are unsure that all of the smell has been eliminated.

Step 3 – Apply the enzyme cleaner

Enzyme cleaner is a very strong, natural cleaner that will remove the smell and stains. All you have to do is pick the cleaner that won’t be toxic to your pet and follow the instructions.


How to prevent the dog from peeing on a mattress

Your dog may pee on the mattress occasionally. But also it is possible that there are some underlying reasons for such behavior. Please, take the following steps to stop the dog from peeing on a mattress in the future.

Step 1: Consult with a dog behaviorist.

For example, pregnant female dogs can also be very stressed and they might try to relieve their stress by urinating on something soft, like a mattress. Dogs should stay calm when there are changes in their living environment because otherwise, they may urinate on your bed. Actually, there are dozens of reasons for such behavior, this is why I recommend you to consult with a professional dog behaviorist to find the reasons and effectively prevent them in the future.

Step 2: Consult with a dog veterinarian.

There are numerous health issues that could lead to this. Consulting with the dog vet will help you make sure that your dog is healthy and won’t do this again.

Step 3 – Purchase a quality waterproof mattress protector

A mattress protector will prevent urine from leaking onto your mattress, even if it’s already failed in preventing the incontinence.

Having a clean mattress will make you healthier

I consulted with a certified pulmonologist Helen York about this question.

“You should understand that a clean mattress without any odors will help you prevent mold, mites, bacteria, and other factors that will lead to more serious health problems.” – York said [4]Interview with a certified pulmonologist Helen York Jun 22, 2021

As you can see, this is not an aesthetic whim. I hope, this will motivate you to try your best to effectively clean your mattresses.


Frequently asked questions

When should you replace your mattress?

If your mattress is old and stained, it may be time to replace it with a new one. You can’t expect any product made of cloth or foam to last forever. Also, many people experience relief from body aches after replacing the mattress.

I used vinegar to clean out cat urine from my mattress, and while it helped to keep the smell down, now my whole room smells like vinegar. What’s a good way to eliminate that?

The main reason for it is an excessive amount of vinegar that was used.

The urine is a protein-based stain, so the vinegar reacts to it by breaking down the proteins and turning them into ammonia. Initially, this will help keep your mattress clean and reduce the smell. When too much vinegar was used, there is not enough urine to react with it. The excessive vinegar causes that smell.

It’s not too difficult to remove the vinegar because it is evaporating quickly. To speed up the process you can place your mattress outside in the hot sun. The smell of vinegar will disappear fast.

Can a pet urine cleaner be used in a steam cleaner to clean a mattress?

Most of the steam cleaners support a distilled water only. The reason for it is the possibility of failure to remove the minerals from tap water. Other, more advanced models allow using tap water.

A typical pet urine cleaner contains enzymes, which are helpful in breaking down the urine. The enzymes also help to neutralize the smell of ammonia left by the uric acid crystals that form as a result of bacterial decomposition. When put in a steam cleaner, enzyme cleaner will break down and the enzymes will be diluted, there is a high probability of toxic evaporations that can be hazardous for you and your family.

Caution:

Please, never put enzyme cleaner into a steam cleaner.

Never use a steam cleaner to clean urine odor from carpets or upholstery. The heat will set the stain in by bonding the proteins with any man-made fibers.

To effectively combine these two cleaners, you should first apply an enzyme cleaner and wait until it will dry out. And only after this you should use a steam cleaner as a second stage of cleaning.

How can I clean my inflatable mattress after a child urinated on it?

If you’ve ever had the unfortunate experience of a child urinating on your inflatable mattress, then you know that this can be quite an unpleasant mess to clean up. However, there is two good news here:

First, child urine is less concentrated.

Child urine specific gravity range from 1.005 to 1.030. It means that it is easier to remove the odors of child urine than adult urine or pet urine.

Second, an inflatable mattress is made of plastic or rubber. It means that urine will not penetrate the mattress deeply and it can be easier removed.

All you have to do is use a sponge with an enzyme cleaner and gently remove all the urine.

Tip: 

It’s your responsibility to make sure that the area is safe for children, and if there are any sharp objects around it can damage the inflatable mattress. It could potentially puncture or cut through the material of the air bed. Make sure not to leave these items anywhere near where a child might be playing unattended.

What are the wrong ways to remove pee out of a mattress?

There is a number of ways you can do mattress cleaning wrong:

  • Using a steam cleaner too early

It is not advisable to use a steam cleaner on carpet or upholstery. The heat can set the stain and bond it with man-made fibers. This will make future cleaning 10x more difficult.

  • Using too much vinegar

When too much vinegar is used in the urine, there will not be enough it to react with. This could cause various reactions including respiratory irritations and allergies.

  • Cleaning the mattress in a room with no ventilation

A room without adequate ventilation will keep all the evaporated vinegar and cleaners in the air. This can lead to respiratory irritations, allergies and provoke even more serious health conditions [5]Air pollution and chronic airway diseases: what should people know and do https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4740163/.

  • Using the toxic cleaners

Toxic cleaners can be ingested by your kids or pets and, if they are not diluted enough, can cause vomiting and diarrhea. This is especially true for pets who may be more sensitive to the chemical odor and in turn, ingest it because they think that it’s food or water.

They should also be avoided when cleaning mattresses because even though these chemicals will quickly evaporate, the fumes may remain in the air for hours afterward.

  • Using the essential oils

Essential oils should never be used because they will mask the odors instead of eliminating them.

Caution:

Essential oils are toxic to cats and dogs. Essential oils such as eucalyptus oil, tea tree oil, cinnamon, citrus, peppermint, pine, and wintergreen are toxic to pets even if they only lick the residue from a spilled bottle.

You should better invest in a good air purifier to remove odors and be healthier. Some of the best air purifiers on the market today will remove allergens and irritants from your home. There are also a number of other ways to keep it clean, such as using HEPA filters in your vacuum cleaner.

Do urine stains on your mattress cause cancer if you come in contact with them daily while sleeping?

We contacted a board-certified oncologist Nicholas De Rocka about this question. Here’s what he said:

“At the moment, there is no statistically significant evidence for this. Also, there were no researches that would prove that the urine would cause cancer. Although, if you are in contact with it every day, this may lead to other illnesses that can tangentially impact cancer. This is why it is strongly advised to keep your mattress clean. [6]From an interview with a board-certified oncologist Nicholas De Rocka May 12, 2021

What diseases can be caused by daily sleeping on a mattress with urine inside?

There is no possible illness that would directly stem from the person who urinates in his or her bed.

However, a number of illnesses can be provoked indirectly. For example, constant urine smell inhalation may cause respiratory irritation and respiratory allergies. Contact with salt may irritate the skin and cause skin allergies. Urine in the mattress can become an enabling environment for mold and mites that are dangerous for human health[7]Indoor dampness and mold health effects – ongoing questions on microbial exposures and allergic versus nonallergic mechanisms https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4667360/.

Closing thoughts

Now you understand the importance of a healthy indoor environment and the role of mattress cleaning in it.

We have covered all the possible scenarios and how to cope with them.

If you have any questions about cleaning or want to share your experience, post them in the comments below.

References

References
1From phone interview withSasha Grigorieva, IIC certified house cleaning technician, HCT August 1, 2021
2Effectiveness of Common Household Cleaning Agents in Reducing the Viability of Human Influenza A/H1N1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2813869/
3Carbon Dioxide Health Hazard Information Sheet https://www.fsis.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media_file/2020-08/Carbon-Dioxide.pdf
4Interview with a certified pulmonologist Helen York Jun 22, 2021
5Air pollution and chronic airway diseases: what should people know and do https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4740163/
6From an interview with a board-certified oncologist Nicholas De Rocka May 12, 2021
7Indoor dampness and mold health effects – ongoing questions on microbial exposures and allergic versus nonallergic mechanisms https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4667360/

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