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How To Get Pee Smell Out of Your Couch — No Matter What Material It’s Made From

Plus, the hairbrush trick that’ll get even velvet sofas looking new again

Whether Fido had an oopsie or you are toilet training a little one in your life, accidents happen — and if they happen on your couch, well, the resulting aroma has a way of sticking around. And while your granddaughter may not try to pee where she has peed in the past, rest assured your dog certainly will. So removing the stains and the smell are equally important. With so many different couch materials, from leather to velvet, and cleaning methods out there, it can be tough to know how to tackle the problem. That’s why we asked experts to share their go-to strategies for how to get pee smell out of your couch.

Why is pee such a stubborn odor?

While it’s mostly comprised of water, urine also contains proteins, ammonia and bacteria. “Proteins are surfactants, which means they can break the surface tension of other molecules, causing your couch to absorb more of the liquid, and more deeply,” explains Will Cotter, a cleaning specialist with FreshSpace. “The ammonia and bacteria are what you’re actually smelling.”

Whatever material your couch is made from, if you catch the stain early, blot out as much liquid as you can by gently pressing the area with paper towels. Keep applying pressure until no new liquid is absorbed.

How to get pee smell from your couch if it has removable cushion covers

Regardless of their material, removable cushions are typically machine washable. Simply check their tag for washing instructions and use the hottest allowable water setting; then add ¼ cup baking soda along with your regular detergent.

Baking soda is alkaline, and when it’s used on urine, which is acidic, it neutralizes the stain, absorbing the odor.

It’s also a good idea to wash all the covers together, even if only one had the stain on it. This way, if there is a slight alteration in the color of the fabric from laundering, everything will still match.

With the covers in the washing machine, check to see if the urine soaked through to the foam part of the cushions. If it did, take the foam and place it in your bathtub, then fully soak it in hot water. Once saturated, squirt some dish soap over the stain and work it in as deeply as you can with your hands. Then use the shower hose on its hardest setting to rinse out the cushion until no more soap suds appear.

“At this point, do a quick sniff test. If all you smell is soap fragrance, you’re good to go! If you still smell urine, just repeat the soap-and-rinse process until it’s gone,” recommends Cotter.

Once the smell is removed and the cushion is fully rinsed, press down on it to push out as much excess water as you can. Then, if possible, leave the cushion outside in the sun to fully dry; if the weather isn’t cooperative, stand the cushion up in the shower and run a fan over it until it dries completely.

How to get pee smell from a couch with non-removable cushions

If your cushions aren’t removable you’ll want to use an enzymatic cleaner. Typically found in pet aisles, “these cleaners use good bacteria (i.e., friendly bugs that won’t make you sick) to break down and destroy the odor-causing bacteria and ammonia found in urine,” explains Cotter.

They can be highly effective when used alone or alongside any of the methods listed below — but be sure to spot test any new product on a less visible area of your couch before applying and always follow the product instructions.

A few to try: Arm & Hammer Oxiclean Plus Stain & Odor Eliminator, (Buy from Chewy, $5.59), Nature’s Miracle Urine Destroyer Plus (Buy from Amazon,$12.70), Resolve Urine Destroyer (Buy from Staples, $13.29).

No enzymatic cleaner on hand? Whip up this gentle cleanser. The key with these materials is eliminating the stain and smell without harming the finish or drying it out, which can cause leather, suede and even faux leather to crack. For a gentle odor eliminator, Cotter recommends combining 3 cups water and 1 cup white vinegar in a spray bottle; spritz the stain, then let it dry.

“Vinegar neutralizes ammonia and also kills bacteria, so it eliminates both the stain and the smell on contact.”

After spritzing just pinpoint your couch’s material below and follow the easy cleaning steps to eliminate the funk fast.

To get pee smell from a suede couch: Grab a brush

Once it your spot cleaner has dried, run a soft-bristle brush or an old hairbrush over the area to revive the fibers. You can also find specially made suede brushes, like the Shacke Suede 4-Way Leather Brush Cleaner (Buy from Amazon, $6.99) or Shoe Gear Suede & Nubuck Brush Kit, (Buy from Walmart, $4).

To get pee smell from a leather couch: Use olive oil

Lightly buff leather with a bit of olive oil to reseal it after cleaning. To do: simply pour a little oil onto a clean, dry rag and rub it into the area you cleaned until no greasy residue remains.

From a cotton, linen or wool couch: Reach for *this* mix

woman sitting with a dog on the couch with no pee smells on couch
Getty Images

Natural fibers will not only soak in the smell of urine, but if your couch is white, beige or grey, chances are the urine will also discolor the fabric.

“To remove the stain as well as the odor from natural fibers, mix 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide — which will gently break down and remove the urochrome , the chemical that makes urine yellow — 3 Tbs. baking soda, and 1 Tbs. dish soap in a spray bottle, then pour it on the stain,” says Partth Narula, cleaning expert for Henderson Cleaning Co.“Let sit for about 15 minutes, then wipe with a damp, clean cloth to remove any baking soda residue.”

From a velvet, velour or chenille couch: Enlist vodka

These materials require something strong enough to eliminate the stain and odor without damaging the soft and fluffy fibers that give them their signature look and feel. Enter rubbing alcohol. “Not only does it break down and destroy urine and odor, it also evaporates quickly and won’t weigh down the material,” says Narula. “Simply pour ½ cup rubbing alcohol — vodka also works in a pinch — into a spray bottle and spritz the stain until it’s fully covered; then gently blot the spot with a cloth. Repeat until the stain and odor are fully removed.”

To be extra certain your velvet returns to its formerly lush appearance, once the area is completely dry, run the brush attachment on your vacuum hose over the entire sofa. This will re-fluff any flattened fibers and make the whole couch look like new.

To get the smell from a synthetic couch: Use soapy water

Sofas made from a blend of fibers — like polyester, nylon, rayon and microfiber —  often require extra TLC. “Because it can be challenging to know how cleaning products will impact different blends of materials, it’s often best to tackle these couches with a gentle combination of dish soap and warm water,” Cotter says. “Just dampen a sponge in the mixture, then gently scrub the spot until the stain is removed and let dry.”

Here YouTuber HotandHandyShow demonstrates how she removes cat urine from a couch:

What *not* to use to get pee smell from your couch

Cotter cautions against using bleach on urine stains — not only is it ineffective, it can potentially damage most couch cushion material, he explains. “It can also react to the ammonia in the urine, which can create toxic gases.”

Related: How to Clean Cat Pee From a Carpet + Why Scrubbing Actually Makes the Odor Worse

Click through for more ways to get your couch in tip-top shape:

The $6 Cleaner That Has Taken TikTok By Storm Is What Pros Recommend for a White Couch

Is Your Couch Sagging? These 2 Easy Fixes Will Make It Look Like New

How to Clean and Deodorize a Couch — The Right Way

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