Getting Urine Stains and Odor From Upholstery

upholstery Ideas

Have you ever gone to someone’s home and sat on their couch and the scent of urine rose up around you? Is this a problem in your home? It’s bad enough when our wonderful little pets pee on our carpets but when they pee on the furniture that’s a more difficult challenge. Whether it is on sofas, couches or chairs here is how to take care of the problem.

When you find urine, it is important to remove it right away or else your pets may start to consider that an appropriate place to pee.

Hi, I have been a professional carpet cleaner in Anchorage Alaska for over 30 years. I have cleaned a lot of urine out of upholstery.

The number one rule for eliminating any urine odor anywhere is you have to do three things:

Find all of the urine
Remove as much urine as you can
Kill the bacteria causing the odor

Find all of the urine
What you see on the surface is not necessarily all of the urine. The urine depending on where it was deposited will travel through the fabric and into the batting. How deep it goes depends on how much urine was deposited. Often times a pet will pee on the same spot several times and each time the urine will go deeper.

On some types of fabric it might be hard to see urine stains. You can smell it but you can’t pinpoint where it is. In this case go to a big pet supply store and purchase two items, a black light made to detect urine and a urine detector probe.

The black light
With the black light you can see the urine areas light up. They will be a blue green color under the light. If you have already applied other cleaners to this area, this may affect the black light reading. The room must be as dark as possible. Do this at night if you can. If it is too light you won’t be able to see the light well enough. Look at every square inch of the upholstery including under the cushions. Use a piece of WHITE chalk to mark the urine areas. Draw a circle around them.

The moisture probe
The probe is little moisture detector with two sharp prongs that you insert into the materials you are testing and will beep if it detects moisture. Urine has salt crystals which hold moisture. Be very careful with some fabrics so you do not damage them with the prongs. Use the prongs everywhere you think you found urine with the black light. When the detector gets louder that means it has detected more moisture. This usually means a higher concentration of salt crystals. If you get zero response from the probe then use old world technology and stick your nose in there and smell that area. The probe can also be used in areas where you can not see the results of the black light such as inside of the upholstery. You know, when you have lost your cell phone so you are digging in the recesses of the upholstery? That’s where I am talking about.

Okay so now you have located and marked the urine areas. The next step is to:

Remove as much urine as you can
I would suggest renting a carpet steam cleaning machine with an upholstery attachment. As professionals we use acidic solution urine stain removers. You can use vinegar. This breaks down the salts and helps remove the stain. Use one cup white vinegar with every gallon of water you use. Using the rental steam cleaner extract as much of the urine as possible. You can carefully use a watering can to pour the vinegar water solution onto the stain areas on horizontal surface and the use the machine to extract it out. Be very careful that you do not drive the urine deeper by over wetting without extracting it out.

Once you feel you have gotten as much urine out as you can, it’s time to kill the bacteria.

Kill the bacteria causing the odor
There are two different types of solutions you can use to do this, a disinfecting solution that kills the bacteria outright or an enzyme that eats any remaining urine and causes the bacteria to die for lack of food.

For you I would suggest using the enzyme process. There are many good enzymes for sale but while you are at the pet store getting you other tools you can pick up some enzyme solution made for removing urine odors. Read instructions carefully. The most important thing to know about using enzymes is that you need to use enough to do the job. If you try to save money by using “just enough” it probably will not work. Overkill is not a bad idea when it comes to using enzymes. You might put a sheet of plastic under the upholstery in case the enzymes run clear through. If there is already a disinfectant on the urine areas do not use enzymes. The disinfectant will kill them.

While you are in the store see if they have a syringe with a long needle designed to inject the solutions into the upholstery. This needle will be necessary for vertical surfaces and is great for in the recesses. The whole idea here is too get the enzyme or disinfectant to where the urine is. You want to inject more cleaning solution into the upholstery than the amount of urine the pet put into the upholstery.

If you use an enzyme do not put fans on the upholstery. The enzymes work best when wet.

Final step is to clean the upholstery. You can use the regular method and solutions recommended by the place where you rented your machine.


If you have cotton, wool or silk fabric on your upholstery, use extreme care. I would suggest you ask a professional to take care of this problem for you. These fabrics stain very easily and need to be dried immediately after cleaning.

Even with all of these steps being taken you may not be able to eliminate the entire urine odor. The problem is that you are trying to clean a problem you can not see. If you missed areas of urine deep in the piece of furniture it may still have a urine odor.

It is possible an ozone machine might help. As professionals, for serious urine problems in upholstery we are successful about 85% of the time.

Good luck

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