Urine odors, whether from a fresh accident or a lingering stain, can challenge even the most diligent housekeepers. Pet or child accidents can occur on anything from carpet to bedding or clothes. Home remedies to control urine odor should be your first line of defense in treating the smells. Many are so effective you won’t need to pay for more expensive products or services. Remember that even all-natural products like vinegar may trigger allergic reactions in some people; proceed with caution.
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Vinegar, Soap and Water
To eliminate urine odors from linoleum floors, begin by absorbing the stain with a mop or paper towels dampened with soapy water, advises Ohio State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Rinse with plain water. Wipe the place of the original mess with a sponge dampened with white vinegar, and leave to air dry. To keep urine odor out of wood floors, blot up any wetness from the accident, then sponge with cool water and re-blot. Sponge on white vinegar or a product such as Lysol or Pine-Sol, then quickly use a water-soaked sponge and blot up the vinegar or cleaner. Blot dry.
Vinegar and Laundry Detergent
To treat urine-soaked clothes, first run them through the washing machine, using cold water, with 1 cup of white vinegar and no detergent. Then run the load again, this time using the customary amount of laundry detergent and whichever temperature the color calls for. This method helps remove the urine odor from clothes.
Paper Towels, Dish Soap and Club Soda
Even if you plan to use an enzymatic cleaner on your carpet, get the area as clean as possible first, Ohio State's veterinary college advises. If the accident is fresh, begin by layering paper towels over the mess, then cover with an old terrycloth towel. Stand on the layers to weigh it down. Remove the paper towels and test for dryness. If the area still seems damp, repeat the process with new paper towels until you’ve removed as much of the urine as possible. Soak the area with a few drops of dish soap mixed with warm water, and let stand several hours. Blot with more paper towels, rinse with a damp sponge, and pour club soda on the carpet. Blot with a clean sponge or paper towels, and put one final layer of paper towels on top of the area. Put something heavy on top of the paper towels, and leave them overnight. Remove the next day. If odor persists, move on to the enzymatic cleaner.
According to the University of Kentucky’s Cooperative Extension Service, Listerine mouthwash can make an effective odor-control measure for old or new urine stains. Douche solution is another bathroom-cabinet fixture that may help. Sprinkle either liquid over the problem area and blot dry.
Citronella Oil and Rubbing Alcohol
Add 2 tbsp. of citronella essential oil to a half-cup of rubbing alcohol, then mix with a gallon of warm water, suggests the Kentucky extension service. Citronella oil is available at health-food stores and some drug stores. Mop or wipe down the problem area with the citronella formula, but test a small, hidden area first to rule out discoloration or damage from the mixture.
Before you call in the professional carpet cleaners, consider going to a pet supply shop for enzymatic cleaner. It might not be something you have in your pantry — but perhaps it should be. The Ohio State veterinary program notes a range of enzymatic cleaners, geared to different surfaces. These cleaners may be especially helpful with hardwood floors or carpets, the college notes. Each comes with specific instructions; be sure to follow them carefully.