How to Remove Urine Odor From Elderly Clothes

As we advance in age, the bladder changes from elastic to less stretchy. This makes it tougher to hold more urine, and most seniors need to access the bathroom more often. When the pelvic floor and bladder walls weaken, it becomes harder to empty the bladder fully, causing leaks.

If an elderly loved one suffers from urinary incontinence, this is not a major cause for alarm. While putting a senior on diapers is not always necessary, it is imperative to ensure the restroom is more accessible. This can help manage leakage and urine odors.

This post will help you learn a few proven ways to remove urine odor from elderly clothes and upholstery.

Read on!

Steps To Permanently Remove Urine Smells from Fabric 

Let’s begin by listing down the items you need

  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • Oxygen bleach
  • Enzyme detergent
  • Paper towels
  • Pre-Treat the Fabrics

When a loved one has urinary incontinence, there is a good chance you need to remove urine odor from more than just the clothes. It is also necessary to treat the bedding and upholstery.

Begin by pre-treating the fabrics stained with urine. Make sure you do not mix them with other garments when preparing a wash load.

Here are the steps for pre-treating the clothes:-

  • Step 1

Rinse the urine spot(s) using clean, cool water. Take a paper towel and begin blotting the area without scrubbing it. Drying the area instead will ensure that the urine stain does not sit deeper into your fabrics. By the time you are done, about 80% of the urine will be removed.

  • Step 2

Fill a sink with water and pour half a cup of oxygen bleach. Make sure you are using Oxygen bleach and not Chlorine bleach, which can cause discoloration of fabrics.

Mix the bleach thoroughly into the water then soak the urine-stained clothes. Let them sit for 1-4 hours, depending on the nature of the stain and the fabric.

  • Wash With Vinegar 

After pre-treating the clothes, it’s now time to use vinegar to wash them effectively.

Follow the following steps:-

  • Step 1

Pour water and vinegar into a sink at the ratio of 3:1. Make sure you only use white vinegar for white fabrics, but you can use apple cider vinegar for colored clothes. Soak your fabrics into the solution and let them sit for several minutes.

  • Step 2

If you notice some stained areas, apply baking soda on them. The mix of vinegar and baking soda will help treat the stains and neutralize the odor effectively.

  • Step 3

Your fabrics are now ready to be placed in the washing machine. Run a cycle using cold or lukewarm water depending on your preferences. It is crucial not to add any laundry detergents at this stage of the cleaning process. Additionally, avoid using hot or warm water because it can set the urine smell deeper into the fabric.

  • Step 4

The need to let the clothes air-dry for at least 24 hours must not be underestimated. You can hang them outside if you have space or indoors in a well-ventilated room.

I’m sure you think it’s more convenient to use a clothes dryer, right?

Well, the heat from the dryer is best avoided because it could permanently set the odor into your fabrics.

  • Final Laundering

This is the final process of removing urine smells from the clothes of an elderly loved one. At this point, most of the odor and urine stains will be gone. If not, repeat the earlier steps. If you have managed to remove the smells and stains, it’s time to launder your clothes as usual.

Here are the steps to follow:-

  • Step 1

Put the clothes in the washing machine and use cool water settings. Use your enzyme-based detergent instead of regular non-enzyme detergent. This type of detergent breaks down urine stains and smells and separates them from the fabric.

  • Step 2

After a cycle, air-dry the clothes by hanging them outside or in a well-ventilated indoor area as you did before. Once they are dry, do a sniff test to detect any lingering odor.

  • Step 3

If the urine smell has disappeared and there are no stains, your clothes are ready for pressing and storage. In case you smell even the slightest hint of urine odor, you have to do one final laundering step.

Can Urinary Incontinence Be Treated?

Even in the elderly, this concern can be treated through behavioral therapy. This involves increasing the time between washroom trips to make the bladder walls stronger. Double voiding when going for short calls can also help to treat or manage urinary incontinence.

Other tips for managing the concern include:-

  • Do pelvic floor exercises
  • Stop smoking
  • Lose excessive weight
  • Reduce caffeine intake
  • Promptly treat constipation
  • Avoid or reduce alcohol consumption

While urinary incontinence is prevalent among the elderly because of structural changes in the aging urethra and bladder, it is not considered a normal part of aging. Be sure to talk to a healthcare provider about the concern.


There you have it, simple steps for removing urine smells from elderly clothes. The best way to prevent the odor from getting overwhelming is to pre-treat the clothes as soon as you realize they have urine stains.  Remember that the longer the fabrics remain untreated, you risk allowing the odor to set in deeper.

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