Urinary incontinence is prevalent among elderly people. It can be a result of eating certain foods or can be caused by some medical conditions (for example, kidney stones or a urinary tract infection), among other things.
Even for seniors who don’t have urinary incontinence, having a hard time getting up quickly can cause them to reach the bathroom too late.
If you have clothing that retains the unpleasant odor of urine, what’s the best thing to clean them?
Here’s how to remove urine odor from elderly clothes:
- Combine warm water with baking soda in a tub
- Agitate the ingredients
- Soak the urine-stained clothing
- Let them sit for 15 minutes
- Rinse baking soda residue
- Put the clothing in the washing machine
- Wash and dry as usual
In this guide, we’ll discuss how to neutralize human urine odor and how to remove a lingering urine smell using the method above.
If you’ve already washed your senior parent’s clothes and still can’t get the urine smell out, we’ll advise you on what to do in that situation as well.
Let’s get started!
What Neutralizes The Smell Of Urine?
It doesn’t matter if it’s from a person or a pet, urine is a most pungent scent.
It’s not caused simply because urine is a waste product of the body. The odor results because urine contains uric acid.
Uric acid is a blood waste product that gives off an odor like ammonia. That’s what makes you pinch your nose at the smell of urine.
What can neutralize the human urine smell?
You have plenty of options, some of which are commercial chemical products and others which are likely already in your pantry.
Pet Mess Products
If you are a pet owner, you know that cats and dogs can have accidents in their youth as well as their senior years and at any time in between.
For that reason, many pet products are designed to not only remove urine stains but to neutralize the uric acid that produces that unpleasant pet urine smell as well.
One such product is Angry Orange Enzyme Cleaner & Pet Stain Remover Spray (pictured above).
Here’s a weird one, but it works!
Mouthwash, when diluted using water, has been proven to be a uric acid odor remover.
However, before you apply it on stains, be cautious.
If you’re cleaning light-colored carpeting or light or white garments, a bright blue mouthwash can stain them.
As a general rule, white vinegar is pretty effective for cleaning clothes, whether they contain urine residue or are simply a normal laundry load. It doubles as a fabric softener, too.
White vinegar is also a great odor eliminator.
It is highly acidic, so it can neutralize a bad smell by killing the associated bacteria, plus it can remove stains (be careful when using vinegar on brightly colored clothing because it can change the color of some fabrics).
You need half a cup of vinegar mixed with one and a half cups of warm water. After five minutes, the vinegar should make a big difference in the smell of your senior’s clothing.
TIP: apple cider vinegar also works to remove acidic urine!
Since vinegar is acidic, you might also be wondering does lemon juice remove urine smell. Thankfully, it does!
It breaks down and kills bacteria just like vinegar does. It’s also a good idea to use lemon juice for odor removal on mattresses, carpets, and furniture by dabbing it on with paper towels or a clean cloth.
Baking soda is a magic little ingredient in your pantry that can clean so much. It neutralizes the smell of urine and can do the same for vinegar.
After all, removing urine stains with vinegar is great, but the smell of vinegar is none too pleasing.
You can get rid of both odors with baking soda.
How Do You Get Old Urine Smell Out Of Clothes?
It doesn’t matter whether it’s new urine or urine that’s stained clothes for weeks or longer, baking soda can clean it.
As we mentioned in the intro, here’s how to remove urine odor and stains from elderly clothes using baking soda.
Step 1: Prepare A Basin Or Tub With Water And Baking Soda
Depending on how many urine-stained clothing items you have to launder, you can soak them in a basin or a clean bathtub.
First, fill the tub or basin with warm water. Next, pour in a generous amount of baking soda.
Step 2: Agitate The Mixture
To agitate just means to swish the water around.
You can use your bare hands (or gloved hands if you have sensitive skin) for this if you wish. You can also use something like a comb or the handle of a brush to stir the solution.
Whatever you choose to stir the water, be sure to thoroughly rinse or wash it off when you’re done.
Step 3: Put The Clothes In The Basin Or Tub
Now your senior’s urine-soaked clothes are ready to go in the basin or tub along with the baking soda solution.
You want to ensure each piece of clothing is submerged in the water, rather than floating.
Step 4: Let The Baking Soda Solution Work
The baking soda solution requires enough time to work, so the clothes will need to soak for awhile.
After about 15 minutes, the baking soda will begin neutralizing the unpleasant smell of the urine and lessening the appearance of urine stains by breaking down the uric acid.
Step 5: Rinse The Clothing In Clean Water
In a sink or another bathtub or basin, dunk the clothes in completely clean water.
Baking soda, as great as it is, has a high pH that will not interact well with many detergent brands, Tide among them.
Step 6: Put The Clothes In The Washing Machine
Squeeze out the excess water, transfer the wet clothes to a laundry basket, and get them in the washing machine right away.
You can use the normal wash cycle to clean the urine-soaked clothes, but we recommend deferring to whatever the clothing label recommends.
Step 7: Assess And Repeat
Once your senior’s clothes come out of the wash, hold them up and review them. Is the old urine stain visibly gone? Can you still smell urine?
The above process can take more than one attempt to remove the urine completely.
If the clothes still have a strong odor or have visible stains, please do not put the clothing in the dryer.
The heat of the dryer can cause a stain to become set in, and then you’ll have to work a lot harder to remove it.
To speed up the process, you can always soak the clothes in water and baking soda overnight rather than in 15-minute increments.
Step 8: Dry Clothes In The Dryer
When you’re pleased with the condition of your senior’s clothes, you can then put the clothes in the dryer and run the drying cycle as usual.
How Do You Get Urine Smell Out Of Clothes That Have Already Been Washed?
You wish you had realized that you weren’t supposed to wash and dry urine-stained clothes until after treating them with baking soda, but you read that information too late. Now what?
To get a urine smell out of already-washed clothing, the same process as described above might be able to work.
We would recommend soaking the stained clothing in baking soda for longer than 15 minutes, such as overnight.
If that’s not helping, then you can try the following products.
Essential Oils + Epsom Salt
Take a pleasant-smelling essential oil and combine it with Epsom salt aka magnesium sulfate. It’s a great scrubber, which will come in handy here.
Once you have your ingredients mixed, pour in a half a cup into your washing machine and then add half a cup of baking soda as well.
Turn on the washer on high and wash the clothes as normal.
They should come out of the washer looking and smelling a lot better.
Read more about essential oils for seniors here.
Enzymatic Cleaners + Oxygen Bleach
For those heavy-duty urine stains or soaked-in urine odor, the best solution is a mix of an enzyme detergent and oxygen bleach.
An enzyme product contains biological enzymes that will catalyze the water solution and stain in a reaction that should remove smelly stains.
Oxygen bleach, also referred to as oxygenated bleach, is not the same as chlorine bleach.
Oxygen bleach has no chlorine in it. The product will break down and destroy bacteria to treat stains on clothing and other household objects.
To use this method:
- Pretreat the clothing by wetting the affected area using water and oxygen bleach. Like traditional bleach, oxygen bleach can whiten clothing, so don’t use this method on darker-colored clothes.
- Let the oxygen bleach and water work for a few minutes.
- Then wash the clothes in cold water in the washing machine, adding the enzyme detergent before you turn on the washer.
What Home Remedy Gets Rid Of Urine Smell?
The household products we’ve discussed to this point can remove urine smell. To recap, those products are baking soda, vinegar, oxygen bleach, essential oils, and mouthwash.
Here are some other low-cost home remedies to use so your senior parent’s place doesn’t smell of urine.
If you run out of baking soda, you can always sprinkle cornstarch on it instead. Cornstarch works in much the same way as baking soda.
The longer the cornstarch sits on a stain, the better it will absorb and lessen odors.
A recommended minimum setting time for the cornstarch is between 30 and 60 minutes if you just don’t have much time to spare.
The cleaning product you reach for whenever you run your dishwasher can come in handy for neutralizing stinky urine odors.
You can use it on its own, such as mixing a cup of water with a teaspoon of detergent. The water should be lukewarm.
Transfer the ingredients to a spray bottle and then mist the affected areas on the clothing. You might have to do this a few times before you see results.
Then you can pat dry the area using a towel or a clean microfiber cloth.
Carpet foam is best known as a stain remover for rugs.
It’s not necessarily for use on clothing (although you could try it on a hidden area of the clothing fabric), but could be an easy way to get the smell of a urine accident on of a bathroom rug or furniture upholstery.
The last home remedy to remove urine odor from elderly clothes involves hydrogen peroxide.
The peroxide is an adept surface cleaner. It is also a type of bleach, though, so be aware that it may alter or remove the color from fabrics.
Combine four tablespoons of the stuff with two tablespoons of water.
This time, make sure to use warmer water.
Again, put the ingredients in a spray bottle and mist your senior’s clothes until they’re wet. Rinse the affected area, dry it, and repeat as needed.
As seniors get up there in age, they can’t always take care of their bathroom needs.
Tending to urine-stained clothes allows your senior to hold onto their wardrobe, which is something they can feel good about.
We hope the tips in this article help. Good luck!