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The best ways to remove urine stains and smells from your mattress

Mother sleeping with baby in a cozy bed

With our handy guide, you’ll know exactly what you need and what to do when the inevitable wee accident happens.

Every parent fears it: the 3 am ‘uh oh’ of a sopping wet toddler at the foot of the bed informing you they’ve wet the bed and demanding to be changed. Of course, the experience isn’t unique to parents. Pet owners who love to snuggle their dogs and cats know the feeling well. Honestly, many adults do, too. 

There’s no shame in bedwetting accidents — they are accidents, after all. The only thing to do is act quickly. You’ll need to know what you need and what steps to take, and that is precisely what this guide aims to teach you.

In this guide, you’ll learn:

  • Household essentials to keep stocked in case of bedwetting
  • How to clean fresh urine from your mattress
  • How to remove soaked-in urine stains from your mattress
  • How to get rid of lingering pee smells in your mattress
  • How to clean potent pet pee from your mattress
  • How to prepare for future pee accidents

Household essentials for getting wee out of a mattress

Preparing for bed-wetting accidents is quite easy. The materials you’ll need are all widely-available household items that you can pick up from your local grocery store, if you don’t already have them.

Cleaning essentials for urine-soaked mattresses:

  • Baking soda
  • Clean towels
  • Cold water
  • Enzyme cleaner
  • Essential oils
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Kitchen paper
  • Laundry detergent
  • Pet repellant (we’ll give you our natural, non-toxic DIY recipe)
  • Plastic wrap
  • Spray bottle
  • Vacuum (a handheld vacuum would be perfect)
  • White vinegar

Many of these essentials have other household uses and will have their own home in your house. But, if bedwetting is a regular occurrence in your household, we’d suggest creating a small ‘accident management’ station where you can quickly grab what you need.

Child has wet their bed while asleep

Your child’s just had an accident: how to clean wee from your mattress in 5 steps

The accident has just occurred, the bed is still wet and the pee is still warm. There’s no time to lose. 

Quick! Grab the essentials:

  • Baking soda
  • Clean towels
  • Cold water
  • Kitchen paper
  • Laundry detergent
  • Spray bottle
  • Vacuum
  • White vinegar

1. Strip the bed

As quick as possible, get your wet bedding into the washing machine. The longer the urine sits, the deeper it stains. A cup of white vinegar in the wash will help break down the still-weak stains and smells.

2. Blot the wet mattress with a dry towel

Spread the dry towel over the wet area of the mattress. Gently pat it down and let it soak up as much urine as possible. Once the towel’s laden, repeat the process with a fresh towel if you can spare one. Squares of kitchen paper will do the trick, too.

Do not press the towels and paper down, and do not scrub at the mattress — you’ll risk pushing the pee even deeper into the mattress core.

3. Spray the pee-soaked area with a white vinegar solution

Fill the spray bottle with ⅓ white vinegar, then dilute it with ⅔ cold water. Give the wet area a generous spritzing, and let it soak in for 10 minutes. Then, dab the area with kitchen paper and soak up the excess solution.

White vinegar breaks down the uric acid in the urine, making the wee easier to remove.

4. Sprinkle the urine with baking soda

Lay it on thick, especially in areas you think the pee has really worked its way into the mattress. The baking soda will need to sit for 8 hours or so to do its work. Hopefully, most of that time will be overnight.

Baking soda is used to clean urine for 2 reasons. The first is that baking soda is alkaline, and neutralises acidic pee to stop it from staining and stinking. The second is that it absorbs moisture very well, so it will draw out pee that’s soaked deep into the mattress.

5. Vacuum the soiled baking soda

By the next day, the baking soda should’ve absorbed any remaining pee in the mattress. All that’s left to do is remove it. The easiest way is with a vacuum. We’ll leave it to you to decide which attachment is best, but personal experience has taught us a handheld vacuum makes the job much easier.

You should now have a dry mattress, ready to be made up and slept on once again. Any minute traces of uring left in the fabric will have been neutralised by the white vinegar and baking soda.

If you’re still getting a pungent smell, or reckon another round of treatment could fade the stains even better, repeat steps 3 to 5 again.

Dried yellow urine stains on a mattress

If the wee’s already soaked in, here’s how to remove stains from your wee-soaked mattress in 5 steps

You weren’t able to get to the accident on time, and now the urine’s soaked deep into the entire mattress. The stains have dried and the smell curdles your blood.

The war is not yet lost. There is still hope. But be prepared — removing dark stains from a mattress is a time-intensive process, so you may need to do up the guest bed or the couch while we work on the mattress stains.

Quick! Grab the essentials:

  • Clean towels
  • Cold water
  • Hydrogen peroxide (you’ll find bottles at any major supermarket)
  • Laundry detergent
  • Plastic wrap
  • Spray bottle
  • White vinegar

1. Spray the urine stains with a heavy-duty solution

We’ll need to create a stronger solution to weaken the dried stain. Fill your spray bottle 2 parts hydrogen peroxide to 2 parts cold water. 2-3 tablespoons of baking soda and a few drops of laundry detergent. 

Soak the wee stains with your new solution. The deeper and darker the stains, the more solution you’ll need, so don’t be stingy. 

Don’t scrub or rub at the stains — just let the solution do all the work.

2. Let the mattress soak for a day

Cover the wet solution in plastic wrap. This will stop it from evaporating so that it can erode the urine stains for longer.

Leave the solution to work for 12-24 hours. You may notice a layer of baking soda residue — don’t worry about that.

3. Let the solution completely dry

After a day or so has passed, remove the plastic and let any remaining solution evaporate. This may take a few hours, or it may need to be left overnight. Check it regularly to make sure it’s thoroughly dry.

4. Pee stains still there? Repeat the process.

You should see a significant improvement, but don’t be too upset if a particularly dark urine stain remains. Do another round of overnight soaking with your new heavier cleaning solution.

Do as many rounds as you can spare the time to, till you’re happy with the state of your mattress.

5. A final clean with water

With the pee stains (and pee smell) gone, you’re ready to put your mattress back to use. All it needs now is a spot clean with a bit of water and some paper towels or a dry cloth. 

As before, make sure you dab gently at any stain remover residue, so you don’t smear it into the mattress.

The ghost of accidents passed: how to get rid of the smell of urine on your mattress in 3 steps

You might find an acidic pee smell continues to linger even though you thought you removed all the urine from a mattress. Fortunately, getting rid of that nasty urine smell isn’t difficult at all.

Quick! Grab the essentials:

  • Baking soda
  • Vacuum

1. Sprinkle baking soda over the entire mattress

The beauty of baking soda is that it doesn’t just mask odours — it absorbs them. You may need a fair bit of baking soda to fully cover the affected area. 

We strongly suggest dusting the entire top surface of your mattress to make sure you totally get rid of any urine smell.

2. Wait a few hours

The baking soda will need around 10 hours to absorb all the urine smell.

You can either leave the process to work overnight, or you can do it first thing in the morning so that the mattress is ready by bedtime.

3. Vacuum up the baking soda

Use a handheld vacuum to suck up all the baking soda. If the urine smell still lingers, repeat the process. Easy.

Puppy sitting next to a wet pee stain on the bed

Fur babies are babies too: getting pet wee out of your mattress in 3 steps (plus 3 cleaning tips)

Dog pee, cat pee, hamster pee… It doesn’t matter where in the animal kingdom your best friend hails from, pet pee stains and smells far worse than human urine. That’s because pet urine contains more concentrated levels of ammonia, carbohydrates and acid. We’ll have to adjust our cleaning method accordingly.

Quick! Grab the essentials:

  • Baking soda
  • Enzyme cleaner
  • Essential oil (optional, any kind)
  • Vacuum
  • White vinegar

1. Cover the stain in baking soda

Cover your mattress with baking soda while the fresh urine is still soaking in. Don’t worry about soaking up excess moisture with paper towels.

Leave the baking soda for 5 to 10 hours to absorb the pet wee as well as its odour. 

2. Vacuum the soiled baking powder and add a fresh layer

Baking soda yellows as it absorbs urine from a mattress. Once it is fully darkened, you can vacuum it up. 

To fully clean urine from your mattress, continue adding fresh layers until the baking soda stays white.

3. Do a final clean with a few towels

If there’s any remaining residue, gently wipe it away with a paper towel. If you notice any dampness, spread clean dry towel over the area and leave it for an hour to absorb as much moisture as possible.

3 tips for cleaning pet urine from your mattress

1. Use enzyme cleaners

When baking soda isn’t enough, you may need to turn to a strong enzyme cleaning solution. These cleaners create chemical reactions that break down the concentrated chemicals in pet pee.

As with everything these days, you’ll almost certainly be able to order a quality enzyme cleaner online. We would recommend visiting a pet shop though — they will be able to guide you to the right cleaner for your particular pet.

2. Avoid toxic cleaners and chemicals

Pets are far more sensitive to harsh chemicals than we are, so it’s important to avoid toxic cleaners like hydrogen peroxide, even when highly diluted. Check all of your products for toxicity labels, and strongly consider getting advice from the specialists at your nearest pet shop.

3. Use pet repellant to prevent them from peeing on your bed (or furniture)

By misting pet repellant over your bed, furniture or in any area you need your pets to avoid, you might be able to stop them from relieving themselves where they shouldn’t.

Our recipe for non-toxic, all-natural pet repellant:

  • 1 cup of cold water
  • 1 cup of white vinegar
  • 10 to 20 drops of essential oil (lemon, orange and eucalyptus are best)

Accidents will happen, but here’s how to prevent future wee stains and odours

There’s a limit to how many times you can effectively clean the pee out of a mattress, and that’s not to mention any other types of spills and stains. The best way to avoid having to buy a brand-new mattress is to get yourself a quality mattress protector. If you’re expecting regular accidents (from children or pets), you might consider investing in a waterproof mattress protector. 

With quick action, you may be able to strip the wee-soaked protector and sheets off of the bed before you get a urine stain. That’ll make the job as easy as throwing the sheets in the wash. 

The best treatment is prevention. So, if you want to avoid the hassle of cleaning your kids’ urine from a mattress or the lingering odour of cat pee, we have a waterproof and super soft mattress protector that’ll save your sanity on those hectic nights. If the above tips and tricks weren’t enough to save your little one’s mattress, perhaps it’s time for a new one, shop our kids’ mattresses here.