How to Remove a Urine Smell in the Air

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When the room smells like urine, it can make the space an uncomfortable place to be. You may have tried to mask it with room deodorizer spray, burning candles or other forms of air freshener, but urine smells get worse over time and can be very persistent.

How to Remove a Urine Smell in the Air
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A room smells like urine when stains go unnoticed. They can be hard to find and clean. Urine stains need specific cleaners and removal processes to completely eradicate the scent from the air of your living spaces.

Room Smells Like Urine

Pets can pee in the oddest of places, so you may not realize you have a urine issue until you walk in one day and are smacked with a wave of putrid odor. A soggy diaper or unknown accident from visiting friends who may have bladder issues can also create unforeseen odor issues.

To get out urine smells, douse the area with vinegar and let it sit for up to 30 minutes. If you have a wet vacuum, use water to suck out the vinegar and carry away the urine compounds that have broken down. Commercial cleaners also work to break down enzymes and are often faster and more efficient than vinegar or a human urine odor eliminator homemade remedy.

If you've thoroughly cleaned all of the known pee stains, but the smell of urine persists, use a blacklight to find stains around the house. Outline the pee spots with chalk or another neutral marker so you can find it when you turn the lights back on.

Urine Smell in the Bathroom

If your bathroom smells like pee no matter how much you clean the fixtures and surfaces, you may need to do some investigating.

Check the ventilation and clean out the duct with a neutralizing deodorizer. If you have poor circulation in the bathroom, you can plug in a small air purifier that can clean the air. Keep the door propped open to promote air flow.

If the smell persists, it could be the toilet tank. Clean the toilet's tank with vinegar. Scrub the sides and base as well as the tank top with straight vinegar. Flush and repeat until the smell is gone.

Best Cleaners for Urine

An enzyme-based deodorizer or other disinfectant that works well with musty, urine-based smells is your best bet when tackling urine smells that are in the air. Never use ammonia as this will make the stain and smell even worse.

Proven commercial cleaners include:

  • Angry Orange
  • Bissell 2X Pet Stain & Odor Remover
  • Lysol
  • DampRid

A block of odor absorber such as Bad Air Sponge will do more to reduce the scent of urine in the air than air fresheners, wax melts or scented plug-ins.

Urine Smells in the Car

After an animal or human has had a bladder-related accident in your car, it can linger long after you have blotted the stain and applied cleaner. The strong scent of urine can travel to other areas of your vehicle that can stay dormant for months in the winter. When the weather warms up, it may make its presence known with a heavy cloud of foul odor emitting from the vents.

Use an odor neutralizer with enzymes on the vents and replace the car's cabin air filter. Spray the soft fabrics of the interior and the plastic vents with a commercial cleaner before running the air conditioning for 10 minutes. Repeat this process until the scent of urine no longer lingers.

If your car air vents smell like urine after cleaning, you may have a leaking heater core. A mechanic can check that the engine is in working order.


Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing for a variety of clients, including The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal Home section and other national publications. As a professional writer she has researched, interviewed sources and written about home improvement, interior design and related business trends. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her full bio and clips can be viewed at

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