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If stains and odors are taking over the mattress in your child’s room, use this simple 3-step method to clean pee out of a mattress!

This is the very best way to clean pee out of a mattress. This easy process will remove those nasty odors and stains from wetting the bed will quickly become your best friend.

How to Clean Odors and Stains from a Mattress (or carpet!)
My son, showing you how easy the 3-step all-natural cleaning process is. No children were harmed in the making of this article.
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How to Clean Pee Odors and Stains From A Mattress

This may be an odd topic to discuss on a food blog, but it’s a real life issue that we deal with on a weekly basis when my son was younger. Years ago I talked about my son’s bedwetting issues and I had a lot of feedback from moms dealing with the same thing. I figured maybe you could use some cleaning tips like this as well.

His poor mattress was riddled with stains because he wouldn’t always tell me that the sheets were wet, and by the evening, they were dry. Despite using mattress protectors, the urine would soak through even that.

I would clean it as best I could but nothing worked. Febreze and other cleaners simply masked the urine odors, and some cleaning solutions that I’d found online would remove the odor but didn’t work well on the stains.

So I created my own method with a mattress cleaner based on items in my pantry, and it’s been working great! This method of removing odors from your mattress is really simple and doesn’t require any fancy scented oils or kitchen utensils. I also like that the products I use aren’t harmful and my son can help with the clean-up.

Follow these easy tips for how to clean your mattress with my easy, all-natural mattress cleaner.

Getting urine stains and smells out of a mattress

Here’s What You Need:

There are only a few ingredients and tools that you need to clean pee out of a mattress.

  • A roll of paper towels (or lots of rags that you don’t mind washing)
  • Baking Soda
  • Distilled White Vinegar
  • An empty spray bottle
  • Vacuum Cleaner
How to Clean Urine Stains from a Mattress

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Step-by-Step Instructions

Step One: Blot the pee as dry as possible with paper towels or rags. If it’s already dry, move on to step 2.

Cleaning Urine from a Mattress Step 1

Step Two: Saturate the stain with distilled white vinegar. I highly recommend using a spray bottle as pouring the vinegar directly on the stain could over-saturate the mattress. If you’re concerned about a heavy vinegar smell, you can dilute the vinegar with water, which a lot of methods call for, but that just didn’t seem to work as well. The straight vinegar is very strong and really helps to pull out that nasty urine odor.

Step Three: Let the vinegar sit for 5-10 minutes. If you have a ceiling fan, turn it on, or run a stand alone fan if you can. At the very least open the windows. The increased air flow helps to speed up the process.

Cleaning Urine from a Mattress Step 2

Step Four: Blot with paper towels or rags to soak up the vinegar. Press several layers of paper towels into the mattress for this step. You want to soak up as much of the vinegar as possible.

How to Clean Urine Stains from a Mattress Step 3

Step Five: Sprinkle baking soda all over and around the stain. You can get real fancy and use a sieve or a sifter for this step, but I don’t think it’s necessary. If there are a lot of clumps just break them up with your fingers. Let the baking soda sit for several hours. The longer the better. After a couple of hours, you’ll begin to see the baking soda caking as it soadks up the vinegar (and takes that nasty odor with it!).

Cleaning Urine from a Mattress Step 4

Step Six: Vacuum up the baking soda from the mattress. Make sure to go over the crevices several times. It makes me kinda happy making those lines in the powder with the vacuum cleaner.

Getting urine stains and smells out of a mattress Final

That’s it! If the stains and odors are really bad, you may have to repeat this process, but it really does work! And it doesn’t just get pee out of a mattress. Readers have used this method to remove blood stains, wine and more from their mattress. Be sure to read all of the tips readers have shared below.

Pro Tips

  • If you have some really difficult stains, use an old toothbrush to rub the vinegar into them vigorously.
  • I highly recommend using a spray bottle for the vinegar. However if you just don’t have one, saturate a rag with vinegar and lay it over the stain to pull the odor out.
  • Some methods online tell you to dilute the vinegar. You can do that, and it will help with the vinegar smell. But it also dilutes the effectiveness in my experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use other types of vinegar?

I recommend Distilled White Vinegar. I keep it on hand in the gallon bottles because it is amazing with so many different household cleaning tasks like this mattress cleaner, and it’s super cheap.

Other vinegars are for cooking and are more expensive, and really just won’t work as well. However I did have a reader mention that she used apple cider vinegar and it worked great. The vinegar is just a strong acid that breaks down the odor causing proteins.

Why don’t you just use a waterproof mattress cover?

We do – I actually have 3 of THIS ONE. It works really well, except for that time you are so tired that you forget to put it on, or it rips and you didn’t know, or your son makes his own bed and forgets to put it on, or it slips off the corner because he thrashes around too much at night, or he just doesn’t like the sound/feel of it so he takes it off without telling you, or he wets more than once in a night and you don’t have a back-up, or sometimes, they just fail.

It’s not for lack of trying, believe me. Sometimes these accidents just happen and are totally random and it’s always good to have a great mattress cleaner method ready to go.

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Reader Tips

Here are some tips from readers who have tried this method.

Set your mattress in the sun.

Jim says, “Vinegar and baking soda do an excellent job for cleaning a mattress. It has always worked for me. If there is too much odor, you may have to put the mattress out in the sun.” (editor’s note – this is great for freshening pillows, too!).

Works on pet stains and odors, too.

Hadley says, “This method works wonderfully on urine odor and stains from pets, too! Last weekend, my sister’s dog had an accident on the end of my bed, and there was a large, yellow urine stain. I was going to purchase some fancy expensive pet stain remover, but I found your website, and read about your method, instead. Ingenious!

I saturated the stain with distilled white vinegar, let it set for about ten minutes, blotted the vinegar with some paper towels, sprinkled a generous amount of baking soda on the stain. I let the baking soda sit for about three hours, and I literally just finished vacuuming the baking soda up, and the stain and smell is completely gone! Thank you so much for telling folks about this method! Your mattress cleaner saved me time and money!”

Bridget says, “I just had to tell you I wish I could give you the biggest hug! I have a tempurpedic mattress and my cat decided to pee on it! I almost had it out my door to throw away and I was so angry that I knew I would NEVER get that smell out! Yes it had ALL the appropriate waterproof covers too! Still soaked through! Well something told me google it before you throw it. I did and I saw this. Well I did it and oh my god! It worked!!! No smell at all!!!! Thank you!”

Add vinegar to really smelly laundry.

Cassie says, “Thank you! I am going to try this! Why didn’t I think of vinegar before? It’s the best to use on any odors, and I’ve even used to get odors out of clothes and bedding. I tried the baking soda [but] didn’t try vinegar! Genius – I will be doing this today. FYI, they do make vinegar for laundry [too].”

Worried about the strong smell of vinegar? Add scented oils.

Katie says, “I have found that adding a few drops of essential oil (lemon works well) to the vinegar in the spray bottle works wonders to mask the strong smell of the vinegar.”

Don’t have vinegar? Try…vodka?

Sheridan says, “I also have another remedy that is great for getting rid of smells… Vodka! I tried it once to get mildew smell out of a hat and have used it for smelly fabric issues ever since. Same principle, put it in a spray bottle, spray the fabric object down with it until it’s pretty moist to the touch, but for best results put it in a warm sunny spot to evaporate. You can’t really do that with a mattress but alcohol evaporates fairly quickly anyway, and using a fan helps. It doesn’t do much for stains, but works wonders on smells, including mildew!”

*Editor’s note: Basic rubbing alcohol would work the same way, similar to how hand sanitizer works.

Works on vomit, too.

Laura says, “I tried it today on vomit as my son got sick on my bed this morning. It worked great, and luckily there weren’t any stains. I also used a hot iron and damp cloth to get the stains up (to soak up the vinegar & stain), before the baking soda. It’s not great on the iron, but the stains come up so much easier. It’s the same trick used to get (pet) urine stains out of carpet.”

Recipe

All-Natural Mattress Cleaner

5
Use this simple DIY Mattress Cleaner to remove urine stains and odors from your mattress.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours 10 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 20 minutes

Equipment

  • Spray bottle
  • Paper towels and/or rags
  • Vaccuum cleaner
  • Fan optional

Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 cup Distilled white vinegar
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Instructions
 

  • Blot the pee as dry as possible with paper towels or rags. If it’s already dry, move on to step 2.
  • Pour vinegar into the spray bottle and spray all over the stain to saturate. Let sit for 10 minutes. Run your ceiling fan or open window so air can circulate.
  • Blot with paper towels or rags to soak up the vinegar.
  • Sprinkle baking soda liberally all over and around the stain. Let sit for 3-4 hours.
  • Vacuum up the baking soda from the mattress. 

Notes

  • If you have some really difficult stains, use an old toothbrush to rub the vinegar into them vigorously.
  • I highly recommend using a spray bottle for the vinegar. However if you just don’t have one, saturate a rag with vinegar and lay it over the stain to pull the odor out.
  • Some methods online tell you to dilute the vinegar. You can do that, and it will help with the vinegar smell. But it also dilutes the effectiveness in my experience.
  • For really stubborn stains and odors, you may need to repeat the process. 

Nutritional Disclaimer Kristin Maxwell of “Yellow Bliss Road” is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. For accurate calorie counts and other nutritional values, we recommend running the ingredients through your preferred online nutritional calculator. Calories and other nutritional values can vary depending on which brands were used.

Kristin Maxwell

Kristin Maxwell is the creator and main recipe developer, writer, and photographer of Yellow Bliss Road. A self-taught cook and self-appointed foodie, she specializes in easy, flavorful and approachable recipes for any home cook.

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Comments

  1. Alyssa says:

    Would this work for carpet as well ? We have a one bathroom and if someone is in there my daughter doesn’t say anything and has twice now just went and peed in her room. I’ve cleaned it but I still smell it help me.

    1. Kristin Maxwell says:

      It should work on carpet. Folex carpet cleaner also works well.

  2. Kelli says:

    Can I use this method on my couch? My puppy has had accidents on it and I cannot get the stains or smell to go away.

    1. Kristin Maxwell says:

      Yes you could try it on your couch.

  3. Kathleen Kaczmarski says:

    I sprayed my mattress and put the baking soda on it yesterday but it’s still not dry. I don’t know what to do.

  4. Sarah alsdale says:

    I’ve left the baking soda for 4 hours now and as I was vacuuming the mattress still appears to be wet/ damp, what can I do to fix this ?

    1. Kristin Maxwell says:

      I don’t mean to sound snarky, but you just have to let it dry.

  5. Esther says:

    Hello! Thanks for the step by step. I tried this method but the vinegar itself seems to leave a yellow stain… I know it’s the mixture because the more I try to cover those yellow lines with vinegar, the farther the line extends! Any tips?

    1. Kristin Maxwell says:

      Unfortunately this method won’t remove every but of stain, but it does greatly reduce it. I don’t worry about it personally because I just cover the mattress anyway. I’m more concerned with the smell, and this method totally removes it.

  6. Norma Hunt says:

    My son has really strong body odoour, I do this method with his bed and will put mattress out over night in really cold frost or if summer In the sun. both work miracles

  7. Deborah says:

    Kristin, my daughter had the same issue as your son. When she was 8 I took her to a urologist to chase it checked out. Her uretha tube was really small. It was stretched and clipped a bit. Just an overnight stay in hospital. She had a few accidents after that, but eventually it stopped.

  8. Annie Lewis says:

    Thanks for the reassurance! Vinegar works well. I am thankful that it is so simple Going from project to project it easy to forget how I started this journey. I appreciate you and the article.

  9. Sharon says:

    Thank you for taking the time to share this! Much appreciated.

    1. Kristin says:

      You are so welcome Sharon! Thanks for stopping by.

  10. Stacey Andrews says:

    I’ve tried this today on my mattress as my little ones have a had a few accidents in our bed and I just seem to get the smell out – followed all the steps and left all day but hoovered it up and got into bed and my bed smells terrible ! It’s like sitting in a pack of salt and vinegar crisps! What did I do wrong?!?

  11. Devid Warner says:

    Thank you for this sharing.. Its works out amazing..

    1. Kristin says:

      You are so welcome Devid! Thanks for stopping by.

  12. Kim A Gordon says:

    This worked out great, thanks!

  13. Bea says:

    hi, my son has saturated his mattress, the smell is coming through from the underside as well. Any ideas how to sort this? He has a wooden frame so seems to have soaked into the slants as well. He doesnt tell us he has done it even though I have always said I wouldnt be mad.

  14. Dacia says:

    Thank you! Will try this!

  15. J says:

    help!! I tried this with apple cider vinegar as the post had mentioned it could be used as a substitute, but it’s left a huge yellow stain that I can’t get rid of, what can I do?

    1. Kristin Maxwell says:

      Hi, I’m sorry you ended up with a stain. I mentioned in the post that a reader had tried it out and it worked for them, but it’s not something I recommended. I would try the distilled vinegar and baking soda method on the stain.

    2. Norma Hunt says:

      peroxide it, may help and leave outside in sun or in frost both are natural whiteners

      1. Ashley says:

        I use peroxide on my mattress protector when my kiddo has an accident and it takes away yellowing and smell every time. Mine is white tho so maybe colour test a spot first if yours is not. I liberally put it on a cloth and wipe.

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