Cleaning Guides

How to Clean Urine off a Couch

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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 baby having an accident, keeping the couch clean of pee 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 removing urine stains can be a pain. 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 pee 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” not just on the couch, but on the carpets, too. This is also why getting the urine stains out as early as possible is a good prevention measure. Especially, if you have nice and clean jute rug, for instance, that could be seriously damaged by any form of liquid.

Before you put on your gloves and get ready to clean, take a moment to examine the label on your sofa. Some materials are more sensitive, so in case you have suede or velour sofa, make sure to take the listed instructions in mind to avoid damages.

How to clean urine off fabric couch

Successfully cleaning the urine off 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, in order to neutralise 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 a homemade enzyme cleaner, suitable for cat and dog urine. 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 makes this product a natural urine remover you can use all around the house.


This is another easy and effective method to get the fresh pee 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 the salt to soak up the urine for a few hours until the stain 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.

Treating dried pee stain on couch

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 come in handy in tough situations – for removing stains from carpets, spot cleaning curtains, washing 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, the urine smell could intensify 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 you need to clean pee off a 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 this homemade cleaner for getting rid of both human and pet urine stains.

  • Mix 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.
  • Pour the solution into a spray bottle and spray the whole stain.
  • Wait for 45-30 min for the concoction to work.
  • Once the urine stain and odour are eliminated, you can move on to washing with water.

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.

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Alternative cleaning methods to consider:

Sometimes, cleaning urine off 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 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 staining. Besides, getting urine smell out of a leather couch is not any easier. 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. When there is a dried pee stain on a cushion, make sure to wash the filling, as well, in addition to treating the cover.

How to protect your couch from stains 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.
  • Keep an eye on the area under the couch, which makes a nice marking spot for pets, too.
  • 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.


  • 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.
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