What You Need
Before we get started, here’s a quick disclaimer. Make sure you spot test a small, unobtrusive area of your bed before going all out and dousing your bed with the cleaning solution. While we doubt that this will harm your mattress, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Empty spray bottle
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Baking soda
- Liquid dishwashing soap (Dawn is the best)
- Lavender essential oil (optional)
- Vinegar (to get things started)
For the cleaning solution, you’ll combine eight ounces of hydrogen peroxide, three tablespoons of baking soda and half a teaspoon of dish soap into your empty spray bottle. If you want to get fancy, add a drop or two of lavender oil. It’ll neutralize the smell and help your child (or you, for that matter) sleep better.
Shake gently or just swish it around to combine the ingredients, but not too vigorously or you’ll have a bubbly mess to clean up in addition to a pee-stained mattress.
Soak with Vinegar
Whether the accident just happened or it’s been dry for ages, vinegar is your best friend. If the scene of the crime is still wet, the first thing to do is soak up all of the moisture with either paper towels or a dry cotton towel.
Once dry, soak the entire area and a little bit beyond with vinegar (make sure it’s white vinegar). If your accident has already dried on its own, then go straight to this vinegar step. Blot the vinegar until it’s dry.
Apply the Solution
Spray the solution over the affected area, and let it soak it for five to ten minutes. If your stain is particularly gnarly or set in, you can have it set for 20 minutes. Blot the solution with your towels until the mattress is dry.
Reapply as Needed
If the stain doesn’t lift, keep reapplying.
Note: Avoid wiping or rubbing with the towels. That only distributes the stain. Instead, blotting will lift it. Also, use light colored towels or white paper towels so you can see the stain is being lifted.
Use an Enzymatic Cleaner (optional)
If you’re dealing with a pet accident, you may need to use an enzymatic cleaner, which is better at neutralizing odors. Since pets have an acutely strong sense of smell, they’ll keep urinating on the same spot if there’s a lingering odor that signals your pet that it’s a sanctioned potty area.
While our DIY solution works wonders, there’s still a chance that there will be a lingering odor. This is where the enzymatic cleaner comes in. Urine, whether it originates from a human or animal, contains uric acid crystals. Regular formulas won’t be able to break down these crystals, which is why an enzyme-based cleaner is sometimes the only solution.
Sprinkle with Baking Soda
Baking soda is excellent for odor removal, so if the stain carries a stubborn smell, baking soda may be precisely what you need to neutralize it. Baking soda is also adept in absorbing moisture.
To apply the baking soda, sprinkle liberally on the surface of the mattress, making sure that it covers both the stains and outside the edges of it. If your bed is the victim of frequent accidents, you may want to also regularly apply a thin layer underneath the sheets to keep things fresh.
Let it Dry
After applying the solution, let the mattress dry completely. This usually takes about four to six hours. The bed should be naked without sheets, blankets, or covers. For evaporation and ventilation to occur, nothing should obstruct the airflow.
The last step of the cleaning process is vacuuming the baking soda. Work the vacuum into all the cracks, crevices, and folds. Since baking soda can be gritty, especially once it’s absorbed moisture, this is an important step.
Use a Waterproof Mattress Pad
A surprising number of people who’ve experienced accidents already had a mattress pad, but it didn’t perform to expectations. If you’ve had a leak, then it’s time to invest in a new one that’s waterproof. And, it goes without saying that if you don’t have a mattress pad, this should be your very next purchase. Even if you’re not worried about accidents, the right protector will keep your bed feeling (and smelling) new and fresh longer.
This concept is especially true if you ever need to file a warranty claim with your mattress manufacturer. Not many people know this, but having a stained mattress often voids any warranties.
Read Our Full Guide: Highest Rated Mattress Pads
Frequently Asked Questions
How long will the urine odor last?
If not properly cleaned, the urine odor can last forever! But don’t worry; if you follow all of the cleaning tips listed above, the smell should be gone by the time you’ve managed to remove the stain.
Is it the same process for pet urine?
Yes, with one exception. If your pet has urinated on the bed, you’ll have to be extra diligent in getting rid of the smell. Pets’ sensitive noses mean that if they smell even the hint of urine (you won’t even detect it), they’ll continue to urinate there because they think it’s somewhere they’re supposed to go.
So, if it was a tiny human who made the accident, you’re not likely to smell anything lingering once you remove the stain. However, if your pet was responsible for the accident, you have to make sure you eliminate any trace of an odor. That’s why I recommend an enzymatic cleaner in the case of a pet accident.
Why do some adults pee the bed?
It’s not just people who spent too much time at the bar and pass out who have nocturnal accidents. A variety of health issues can also cause adults to pee the bed. People with diabetes, for example, have higher levels of urine production, which can cause bedwetting.
Another condition that can cause accidents is a hormonal balance, specifically ADH (antidiuretic hormone). Not having enough of this hormone means your body doesn’t properly signal to slow down urine production at night.
Other circumstances that can cause the occasional misstep are stress, constipation, sleep apnea, an enlarged prostate, or a urinary tract infection (UTI).
A urine stain, although a hassle, doesn’t have to mean the end of a mattress’s useful life. With a little bit of patience and our scientific formula, your bed could be just like new within a matter of hours.
Jill Zwarensteyn is the Editor for Sleep Advisor and a Certified Sleep Science Coach. She is enthusiastic about providing helpful and engaging information on all things sleep and wellness.