Waking up to the pungent smell of fresh urine is not the most enjoyable way to begin your day. For people with children or pets, a pee-soaked mattress may be an all-too-common occurrence, but “nighttime accidents” can also occur with adults who are incontinent due to an illness or medication.
If YOU have just peed in bed, there is no reason to feel ashamed or embarrassed. It is one of the most natural things a human does. We’ll show you an easy (and inexpensive) way to clean it.
Not only is urine on a mattress unpleasant and smelly — it might also be a serious health concern. Urine contains bacteria, so if it’s left in a mattress, mold and fungus can grow. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains the many health problems that can occur with indoor mold.
Excreted urine contains water, urea, uric acid and other inorganic salts and organic compounds. As naturally occurring bacteria eats away at the urine’s residue, it releases an ammonia smell that can get trapped inside your mattress. This ammonia from old urine can irritate the nose, throat and lungs, and it may cause respiratory problems.
Ammonia is especially dangerous for those with allergies, asthma or an existing respiratory ailment such as COPD. And what about pet urine? Cuteness.com talks about the health risks from dog urine.
Yes, it’s important to clean your urine-soaked mattress right away!
There are safe, easy and effective ways to remove urine stains and odors with items that you already have around the house or can buy cheaply. Common household ingredients like distilled white vinegar, hydrogen peroxide and baking soda can work just as well and are safer for humans, pets and the environment than commercial products with harmful chemicals.
Commercial cleaning products often contain potentially toxic chemicals. Even if the ingredients haven’t been found to be carcinogenic, many people are allergic to certain substances, have respiratory conditions or sensitive skin that can be irritated by harsh chemicals. Since your mattress is something you spend a lot of time with, be careful about the cleaning solutions you get up close and personal to!
Dr. Weil mentions some of the toxic substances to watch out for in commercial cleaners. The American Lung Association warns of health risks from volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and they suggest using safer alternatives such as vinegar and baking soda.
Fortunately, you can clean a pee-soaked mattress with eco-friendly, safe ingredients. Distilled white vinegar is biodegradable, safe to use and highly effective at cleaning many items. Vinegar naturally gets rid of viruses and bacteria.
Baking soda, another household product found in most homes, is another superstar when it comes to eliminating urine stains and smells. Also known as sodium bicarbonate, baking soda has a whopping 9.0 pH, so it’s great at neutralizing acidic odors.
Hydrogen peroxide, which is anti-viral and anti-bacterial, should be another weapon in your mattress-cleaning arsenal. It disinfects and sanitizes. You can buy 3% hydrogen peroxide at a low cost.
Even if you manage to clean the stain, urine odor can linger. According to Medical News Today, certain foods, medications and medical conditions may cause your urine to smell strongly of ammonia. Even if this isn’t the case, a pee-stained mattress that hasn’t been properly cleaned will continue to smell because the urine has soaked through to the inside material.
If some time has passed and you still smell urine, follow the easy procedure below to completely remove any leftover odor.
The best way to remove urine stains and odor from a mattress will depend on when the deed was done. Fresher stains are easier to remove than old, set-in dry stains. If it’s a new stain, and the mattress is still wet, you must first remove as much pee as possible.
Even if you have a urine soaked mattress, you can get the pee out by first taking up the excess liquid with paper towels. You can also use cloth towels or rags, if you don’t mind cleaning them.
If your urine-soaked mattress is still a fresh memory, it will be easier to clean, as the urine hasn’t had a chance to fully soak in.
Important! Use a blotting method and do not rub or push the towels into the mattress, as this can push the urine even deeper into the material.
Memory foam mattresses are made with highly absorbent, dense material. They’re durable and offer great back support but yes, they’re also good at absorbing urine. You can use the same cleaning method but it’s best to act quickly!
Cleaning a memory foam mattress might require more vinegar soaking and towel blotting, but the procedure will still work. If the mattress still seems damp the next day, after you’ve vacuumed up the baking soda, try putting the mattress outside in the fresh air, preferably in a sunny location. If that’s not practical, you can open windows or use a fan to speed up the drying.
Did you inherit grandma’s old mattress, or did you just discover a mattress with older pee stains and a lingering odor? If the stains are dry, it is still possible to clean them and banish the odor, though you’ll require a cleaning solution with a bit more “oomph.”
What You’ll Need:
To see the magic cleaning power of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and dishwashing liquid in action on an old pee-stained mattress, check out this:
Do you have a dog or cat that pees on your bed? In addition to wanting to be free of that awful smell that seems to permeate your home, there’s another important reason to get rid of pet urine odor as soon as possible. Both dogs and cats have a keen sense of smell, and in addition to ordinary urination, they spray urine to mark their territory.
If the animal continues to smell the urine, even a faint whiff, they’ll keep marking their turf!
Did you know that the half-life of uric acid, the most common by-product of cat urine, is six years? Yikes! Catcentric.org explains that cat pee contains a strong concentration of urea, urobilin, uric acid and various forms of bacteria. When the urine dries, the bacteria breaks down the urea and creates ammonia, which is what makes the smell of cat urine so memorable.
Urea and urobilin can be cleaned with vinegar or hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. However, uric acid, which binds to surfaces and isn’t water soluble, is not so easy.
To permanently remove cat urine odor, you might have to use something that will break down the chemical structure of the uric acid. Neither commercial cleaners nor household substances can do this. If our cleaning procedure fails to get rid of an especially stubborn pet pee odor, try an enzymatic cleaner.
Specially designed pet urine cleaners are highly effective at removing pet urine odor, because its enzymes will eat and break down uric acid into ammonia and carbon dioxide, which then evaporates as the solution air dries.
According to the Mayo Clinic, bedwetting in childhood may be due to the slow development of nighttime bladder control or an emotional disturbance.
As WebMD confirms, bed wetting in adults and the elderly may also be due to anxiety and stress, or a medical condition such as diabetes or a urinary tract infection (UTI). Certain medications, such as antipsychotics or sleeping pills, may cause urinary incontinence.
Whatever the age, if the bedwetting persists, it is advised that you inform your doctor so they can determine if there is an underlying cause. In the meantime, to prevent those little accidents from becoming big clean-up projects, you can purchase a waterproof mattress protector.
There are also incontinence products such as pads and specially designed underwear that can provide comfort in addition to mattress protection.
Even your pet might have a problem that’s causing them to pee in an undesirable place, such as on your mattress. As with humans, this can be a sign of stress or possibly an illness. You may think it’s “to get you back” for leaving them alone when you go to work.
However, according to Fidose of Reality, dogs don’t pee for revenge. Dogs and cats pee for various reasons, including fear, anxiety, bladder control problems and other medical conditions. With cats, the ASPCA explains that it may be a litter box issue.
They offer valuable information as to what you can do about this, including an in-depth article about urine marking in cats, also known as spraying.
Now you know how vital it is to keep your mattress pee-free. If you find yourself tossing and turning and losing precious sleep because of a lingering smell of urine, don’t hesitate. Get it cleaned up safely and naturally with these simple procedures, for a more peaceful, relaxing and odor-free sleep.
Greg Taylor is a Mechanical Engineer and former competitive long distance runner with a keen interest in health and general well-being issues. He acquired some carpentry and welding skills from his father and worked for a couple of very famous furniture and mattress manufacturers over the course of 30 years.