When it comes to puppies and young children, "accidents" happen, and not always in ideal locations. The couch is one less-than-wonderful place for pee as the cushions may absorb the liquid, making it even harder to remove. The sooner you respond to this aromatic issue, the better you'll be able to remove the urine smell from the couch.
Remove the Cushion Covers
If your couch cushions have removable covers, you're in luck. Removing the filler material from the affected cushion covers helps prevent the urine from soaking farther into the cushions. Once you've pulled the covers off, inspect the filler material for wet spots. If you've acted quickly enough, the urine may not have soaked through yet.
If the inner material is wet, blot it with folded paper towels for now, removing excess moisture before cleaning. If the cushions don't have removable covers, take the cushions off the sofa and inspect the actual sofa to determine if any liquid soaked between the cushions. If so, blot those areas as well.
For a sofa with permanent cushions, blot up as much moisture as possible with paper towels. Be sure to blot areas around the perimeter of each cushion in case some urine soaked down the sides. Even if the sofa has removable cushions, blot the spot right away to help prevent odors. Use a lint-free white cloth and blot without rubbing the liquid, as rubbing it may spread the urine.
Look for a Care Tag
The perfect cleaning solution for the job depends upon the upholstery material. Check the individual sofa cushions for a tag that lists the materials or the care instructions. If the cushions have no such tag, look for one on the back or bottom of the sofa. In some cases, the cushion covers may be machine washable. If so, wash them according to the instructions on the tag.
A "W" on a tag means the sofa can be washed with water-based cleaners. An "S" means a solvent without water must be used, such as rubbing alcohol. This tag is common on microfiber sofas. An S and a W means either water-based or non-water solvents may be used.
Treat Fresh Spots
Clean pee off water-washable sofa cushions while the urine spot is still fresh for the best results. Apply the cleaner only after blotting up as much urine moisture as possible using a lint-free white cloth.
Mix your own cleaner by stirring a few squirts of dish soap and 1 tablespoon white vinegar into 2 cups cool water, ideally distilled water. Dip a lint-free white cotton or microfiber cloth into the liquid, then dab it over the spot, working from the outside of the spot towards the center. Repeat as needed, rinsing and wringing out the cloth between treatments. Blot the cleaned area with a damp cloth afterward, following up with a dry lint-free cloth.
This same cleaner can be used for the inner foam material on cushions with removable covers. Use as little liquid as possible when cleaning the foam innards, as these materials are a bit more delicate than the upholstery fabric.
Urine Stain Remover
For spots that have set so long they've stained the couch, a little more work is necessary. Whip up your own urine stain remover for water-safe sofas by adding 1 cup hydrogen peroxide, 3 tablespoons baking soda and a few squirts of dish soap to a spray bottle, shaking it up after replacing the nozzle. Test the spray on an inconspicuous area, allowing it to dry before treating the urine stain.
Spray the affected area liberally with the peroxide mixture, allowing it to sit for an hour or longer. Afterward, blot the spot with a damp lint-free cloth to help remove the peroxide and soap residues. Blot it again with a dry cloth to remove excess moisture.
Cleaning Solvent-Only Couches
A couch with an "S" or solvent-only cleaning code on its tag doesn't mean a trip to the store for a special dry-cleaning solution. Instead, use regular rubbing alcohol as an alternative to potentially harmful chemicals to clean a couch. This solution works particularly well on microfiber furniture, as regular water-based cleaners tend to leave water rings or stains that make the piece look even worse after cleaning.
Blot all the urine from the sofa with a lint-free white cloth, as you would on any type of spill on any upholstery fabric. Pour a little rubbing alcohol, or even flavor-free vodka, into a spray bottle. Spritz the soiled area liberally with the alcohol, spraying a little beyond the affected area. Wipe the spot with a clean lint-free white cloth, working from the outer edges of the spot toward the center.
Once the cleaned area is dry or nearly dry, gently brush it with a clean nylon scrub brush, such as a fingernail or vegetable brush. This helps revive the fibers so they feel less stiff and more like the rest of the fabric.
Dealing With Leather
Cleaning urine out of a leather couch cushion is a bit like cleaning any other water-friendly cushion, except some leather develops water stains unless the entire cushion is treated.
Remove the cushion cover, if it comes off, to help keep the urine from soaking the foam portion of the cushion. Blot up the urine as much as possible. Mix a few squirts of dish soap into cool water, then dip a lint-free white cloth into the solution, wringing out excess liquid. Wipe the urine spot from the outside edges toward the center to help prevent the urine from spreading. Wipe the area again with a fresh damp white cloth using only water.
Allow the leather to air dry; if it has a water stain from the soiled area, wipe down the entire cushion top with a damp white cloth. This way, it will dry evenly, resulting in a consistent appearance. Once the cushion is completely dry, apply a leather-reconditioning product, as recommended by the furniture manufacturer. Leather sofas vary from one to the next, so it's best to use the type of conditioner recommended by the sofa manufacturer.
Treat Lingering Odors
If the sofa smells less than fresh after cleaning it, or if the odor permeated through to the foam inside a cushion with a removable cover, baking soda is the answer. This wonderful household product excels at removing all sorts of odors. Sprinkle the cushion or foam surface with baking soda, wait a couple of hours, then vacuum the powder.
For the delicate inner area of a cushion that may be damaged by a vacuum cleaner, hold the vacuum nozzle near the baking soda while brushing the powder off with a soft-bristled brush. If dealing with leather, sprinkle the baking soda onto a thin cloth atop the smelly area rather than directly onto the leather, as baking soda may harm some forms of leather over time.
The Cat Pee Conundrum
The uric acid in cat pee doesn't dissolve in water, which means a water-based cleanup may not remove the stench completely from your couch. Test an enzymatic pet-stain cleaner on an inconspicuous area and allow it to dry to determine if it stains the upholstery. If not, apply the cleaner to the blotted urine spot and allow it to sit for 15 minutes or as recommended on the bottle. Blot the excess liquid with a lint-free white cloth.
Cover the spot with an upside-down laundry basket or another deterrent to prevent pets and people from sitting on the treatment area as the cleaner air dries, which could take hours or days, depending on the amount of liquid present. It may take several treatments to completely remove the odor.
If you prefer not to use an enzymatic cleaner, the homemade peroxide, dish soap and baking soda solution also works, as the peroxide helps lift out crystallized urine that causes stains.
- Catster: The Best Cat Urine Cleaner Methods
- Today: How to Remove Pee Stains from Anything and Everything
- One Good Thing by Jillee: How to Clean Your Microfiber Furniture the Safe and Easy Way
- Go Cleaners London: How to Clean Sofa Cushions
- Octane Seating: Leather Stain Removal
- The Leather Solution: Leather Stain Removal Tips
Kathy Adams is an award-winning writer. She is an avid DIYer that is equally at home repurposing random objects into new, useful creations as she is at supporting community gardening efforts and writing about healthy alternatives to household chemicals. She's written numerous DIY articles for paint and decor companies, as well as for Black + Decker, Hunker, SFGate, Landlordology and others.