How to Clean Urine off a Couch

A step by step guide on how to clean urine off a couch

Urine stains are without a doubt the worst and you never see them coming. Whether it’s your favourite dog leaving a “nice surprise”, your cat marking its territory or your little one having an accident, preserving the couch can turn into a real challenge. It’s not just about aesthetics, too, but about prolonging the piece’s lifespan. So, finding just the right treatment is essential, as it can save you a lot of time, unnecessary efforts and money altogether.

 

In this article:

 

Why is urine so tough to clean?

It’s hard to define which is worse – the liquid’s persistence or the smell, but we can all agree that cleaning urine stains can be frustrating. Despite the fact that urine mostly consists of water, 91-96 % to be exact, there are also various other elements that contribute to its specific properties, as their quantity changes, depending on whether it’s human or animal pee.

Uric acid is present in any type of urine and it is the main reason why removing urine from upholstery is so challenging. While other elements can be diluted in water, uric acid is transformed into invisible crystals, which are not only tough to extract from fabric but are also reacting with it, changing its colour over time.

Once the urine is absorbed by a couch’s textile, high temperature or moisture can reactivate the crystals, making them release a strong odour. This is exactly what attracts cats and dogs over and over again to the same spot when they need to “do their business”. This is also why the early removal of the urine stain is a good prevention measure.

 

How to remove urine stains from fabric couch

Before you put on your gloves and get ready to clean, take a moment to examine the label on your couch. This will prevent further damage to the fabric, since some furniture may have to be dry cleaned only.

Getting those stubborn stains successfully out of the couch depends on choosing the right treatment. While there are plenty of commercial cleaning products claiming to be the best urine removers, homemade solutions are a good eco-friendly alternative that will cost less and be beneficial for your family’s and pets’ health.

 

Cleaning fresh urine stains

The moment you catch your furry companions “doing their business” on the couch, it is best to start treating the spot immediately with one of the following home remedies.

Enzyme cleaner

This product can create a quick chemical reaction, resulting in the neutralisation of the urine. While it is favoured for solving tough urine problems, it can be also effective for destroying greasy stains. Its composition makes it safe to use not just for cleaning the couch, but for removing dog and cat urine from fabric in general.

While you can directly purchase a product from an eco-friendly store, there is the option of preparing an enzymatic cleaner yourself. Keep in mind, though, that the solution needs to ferment, which usually takes about a month. The good news is that only kitchen ingredients are required, including fruit scraps, which is a good way to naturally clean your furniture and avoid chemical residue.

Salt

This is another easy and effective method for instantly getting the fresh urine stains out of your favourite couch. Since no water is used in the process, this method can come in handy when you struggle with cleaning stains on delicate velour, velvet, microfiber or suede couches. Due to the specifics of the material, you may find that the label allows only a solvent treatment.

If that’s the case, then salt can be of use. Here is the process:

  1. Carefully absorb some of the liquid with kitchen paper without using force (if you press too hard you may cause for the urine to soak further into the couch’s textile).
  2. Sprinkle a generous amount of salt on the affected area (you can directly do this and skip the first step if you are worried about spreading the stain).
  3. Leave it there for a few hours until it starts looking dry.
  4. Thoroughly vacuum.
  5. Inspect the results of your work and repeat if necessary.

(Optional) You can repeat the process until you get satisfying results or you can apply the enzymatic cleaner if the fabric of the couch allows it.

 

Old urine stain treatments

While fresh stains may not put up much of a fight, older ones can be a real nightmare. There is still something you can do, but arm yourself with patience, as this may take a lot more efforts.

Vinegar and dishwashing liquid

When it comes to eco-friendly cleaning, it is impossible not to mention white vinegar. It is a popular all-purpose cleaner that can be safely applied on pretty much everything – from carpets to curtains, windows and even jewellery. Given that it is acid-based, it can break down urine, making your couch look and smell much better. However, it is preferred to treat just the dry old stains, otherwise, it is possible to exacerbate the urine odour when a stain is fresh and make the cleaning process more difficult.

Here is all you have to do:

  • Check the furniture label for “W” or “S-W”, which means that you can treat the fabric with water-based products;
  • Mix well a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and lukewarm water in a spray bottle or in another container, adding only 1-2 drops of dishwashing liquid, so the solution doesn’t create too much foam;
  • Treat the smelly couch area with the blend and let it dry on its own;
  • Repeat if needed.

If the urine has affected the couch cushion only, then you can try removing the cover and washing it with 1 cup of vinegar and a few drops of lemon essential oil. Not all covers allow this, though, in which case you can follow the steps above, adding another ingredient – borax. Once the urine stain is covered with vinegar, sprinkle a solid amount of borax and leave it for several hours. The powder will absorb the moisture from the couch’s fabric, along with any unpleasant smells.

 

Hydrogen peroxide and baking soda

If you have light-coloured furniture, then you can test the effectiveness of this cleaner for old stains. Prepare a concoction of 3 % hydrogen peroxide (you can dilute it with water if you are worried about the couch’s material), baking soda and a small portion of laundry detergent. The dosage depends on the size of the stain and the specifics of the material. One thing to keep in mind is that the hydrogen peroxide could cause some bleaching, so always test first on an area which is hardly visible.

Once you pour the solution in a spray bottle and treat the spot, you should wait for 45-30 min for it to work. When the urine stain is eliminated, you can move on to washing it with water.

Alternative cleaning methods to consider:

Sometimes, cleaning the couch by hand may prove insufficient, in which case professional assistance is required. This is also a recommended choice when you discover that the fabric of your couch or sofa is suitable for dry cleaning treatment only. Doing the job yourself is not always worth it, as a wrong approach may result in permanent damage to the fabric.

Cleaning your couch with a steam cleaner is also an option, though, there are a few important things to keep in mind. Choosing the right attachment is the first one, as different steam cleaning machines come with their specific type. You can ask about this when you are buying or renting the equipment. The second one is testing on a small part first, as well as cleaning the cushions first before moving on to the other parts of the furniture.

Still, if you think you may damage your expensive new couch or you doubt that you can make the delicate sofa material spotless again, it is best not to take any chances. Just opt for a specialised upholstery treatment.

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How to get urine stains out of your leather couch

Leather is more durable and water-resistant, so the urine problem may not seem as frightening. However, no matter how reliable this material looks, it is still not fully protected when it comes to urine smell and staining. This is especially valid when white leather is involved, as yellowing could be an unpleasant consequence.

That is why you shouldn’t underestimate the problem and postpone dealing with it. In addition to the professional cleaning option, there are also homemade remedies to try. You can test the vinegar and dishwashing liquid recipe mentioned above minus the borax.

Make sure to have control over the amount of water used in the cleaning process. Once you blot the urine and treat the urine stain with the solution, absorb the liquid, leaving little moisture on the leather that can air dry easily. You may have to repeat the process. In case there is an old stain on a cushion, make sure to wash the filling, as well, in addition to treating the cover.

 

How to protect your couch in the future

  • Regularly inspect your furniture’s fabric, as sometimes, it is possible to miss on a fresh spillage and have a harder time cleaning it later;
  • Frequency in pets’ urination could be a sign of a health problem, so it is best to take them to the vet for a checkup as soon as possible
  • Plastic covers on the couch do not give the most appealing look, but resorting to this could be convenient at least for a certain period of time.

Takeaways:

  • Never miss to check the label on your couch and other furniture before starting a cleaning session;
  • Reacting fast and cleaning all “accidents” the moment they happen is your best insurance;
  • Consulting with a professional about the specifics of the couch’s fabric and how to approach the situation is sometimes your best bet, as the consequences of inappropriate treatment cannot always be reversed.

Image source: Shutterstock/cunaplus

Posted in Cleaning Guides

Last update: June 11, 2019

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