I’m not afraid to admit, I deal with pee-soaked clothing on the daily. Just this morning I walked into my infant’s room and was immediately hit with an acrid whiff. I knew right away that he’d leaked his diaper and no doubt, I’d need to wash his sleep sack. Worse yet is when daycare sends soiled items home bagged in plastic—effectively, marinating clothes in pee for hours. Whether you’re a parent, pet owner, caretaker or you’re simply cleaning up an accident, here’s what you need to know about laundering urine-soiled clothes and removing a lingering odor.
What makes urine smell so bad?
The urine of a healthy, well hydrated person often doesn’t have a strong smell but even small changes in diet can intensify odor. Not drinking enough water can cause pee to smell like ammonia, eating certain foods (we’re looking at you, asparagus) can create a pungent scent, and suffering from a bladder infection, unitary tract infection or diabetes can all affect odor.
Does urine stain?
We can thank urochrome, a chemical that’s produced when the body breaks down dead blood cells, for giving urine its yellowish hue. While pee will leave a yellow stain – one that may intensify as it dries – it’s not typically a stubborn mark to treat, especially when laundered within 12-24 hours.
How to wash fresh urine stains
For fresh urine stains that can be washed immediately, go ahead and toss the item in the washer alongside a Tru Earth laundry eco-strip.) Select a wash cycle that uses the hottest water setting that’s still appropriate for the fabric type. Dry the item according to the garment care label.
For hand-wash-only items, tear the strip into pieces, place the pieces in a sink or basin, and fill with tap-hot water. Allow it to soak, then agitate the article, rinse and hang dry.
For fresh urine stains that can’t be laundered right away – like reusable diapers and bed sheets – simply soak in cold water. Add water to a basin, sink, bucket or bathtub and allow the item to sit until you can attend to it. Later, drain the basin, gently wring and wash the same way as a fresh stain.
How to treat old or dried urine stains in 5 easy steps
Step 1: Wet the stain with cold water.
Step 2: Pre-treat the stain. Apply a high-performance stain remover to the blemish, gently agitating it into the stain with your fingers. Allow it to sit for 30 minutes.
How to create a concentrated stain remover with Tru Earth eco-laundry strips: First, tear a strip into small pieces and place in a shallow bowl. Add two teaspoons (10ml) of tap-hot water to begin dissolving it. Stir with a spoon to form a paste, adding small volumes of water as needed. Smear the concentrate atop the stain, gently pressing the mixture into it to allow the surfactant to get to work, releasing the yellow residue from the fabric.
Step 3: Launder according to the garment care label in a warm water setting. (Note: warm, not hot water.
Step 4: Allow the garment to air-dry. Special note: Only place the garment in the dryer if you are finished stain treating; the heat of the machine will “set” any remaining stains.
Step 5: Inspect the stain. Has it resolved? If not, repeat the treatment again.
For ultra stubborn stains, consider using a colour-safe, oxygen-based bleach – if your garment can tolerate it and always test for colourfastness first.*
*Unfortunately, oxygen-based bleaches may contain ingredients that Tru Earth prides itself on being free-of and are often sold in in plastic containers. That said, fashion waste is a major climate issue and we encourage everyone to attempt to extend the life of their textiles.
How to remove set-in urine odor from clothes in 5 simple steps
What you’ll need to remove urine odor
- Baking soda
- Laundry detergent (recommended: Tru Earth)
Step 1: Pre-soak in a baking soda solution. Fill a basin or sink with warm water and four tablespoons of baking soda (60ml), ensuring the crystals are fully dissolved before placing the item in the water. Treating with baking soda provides the needed boost to break down uric acid (which causes the ammonia-like smell) by raising the PH. Allow the item to soak for 15-20 minutes.
Step 2: Rinse the item thoroughly. Tru Earth is formulated for optimal performance and rinsing avoids any interactions the baking soda may introduce.
Step 3: Wash according to the garment care label, selecting the warmest water temperature that is appropriate for the fabric type.
Step 4: Allow the item to air dry.
Step 5: Perform a smell test. If the odor persists, repeat steps one through four. When the odor has subsided, you can resume machine-drying the garment if appropriate.