How to Clean Urine Off a Couch

Updated February 21, 2017

No matter the type of urine—human or pet—you find on your couch, improperly cleaning and disinfecting can lead to several problems. Although urine is water-soluble, chemicals in urine can leave behind mild to strong odours. In addition, urine can spread disease and promote the growth of mould and other harmful organisms. You should not only thoroughly clean and remove it from your couch’s surface, but also from inside any upholstered areas.

Put on your gloves and blot fresh urine with white microfiber cloths or sponges until you've absorbed as much of the urine as possible. If dealing with a dry or old stain, skip this step.

Clean attached upholstery (cushions with non-removable covers, couch arms or back) with a steam cleaner following the washing and drying instructions for your specific cleaner and couch upholstery type. To clean cushions with removable covers, or other unattached upholstery fabric or items such as couch covers, go to Step 3.

Prep your cleaner. Fill a bathtub or large plastic container with lukewarm water and 1 tbsp of upholstery shampoo. If you don't have upholstery shampoo, pour in 1 tbsp of liquid dish detergent or 1 cup of white distilled vinegar.

Pull the fabric or items from the couch. If necessary, remove the cover from the polyurethane foam or pad, or pull the cushion filler (for example, cotton or feathers) from inside the cover. Place the upholstery fabric or other materials in the water and soak for at least half an hour.

Hand-wash and rinse the fabric or materials. Dunk up and down in your bathtub or container for at least five minutes and then rinse thoroughly under cool running tap water. Fill another container with cool water and dunk the materials in the water to rinse, or rinse under a shower.

Remove the excess water. Squeeze gently and blot with absorbent microfiber cloths. If dealing with polyurethane foam, press firmly at the centre of the foam repeatedly to force out the excess.

Lay the fabric or materials on a blanket in a semi-shaded area outside to dry or, depending on the material, place in a dryer with low or no heat. After everything has dried completely, reassemble any upholstered items.


If the upholstery material and filler are machine-washable, place them in your washer machine. Turn on the soak cycle, then wash based on fabric type. When finished, remove excess water and dry as outlined for non-machine-washable upholstery. To clean non-upholstered areas of your couch, wipe the urine away with a slightly soapy cloth and then rinse with a damp, non-soapy cloth. Wipe dry. If a urine smell or stain remains after cleaning, contact a professional furniture cleaner.


Refer to your couch’s care manual or contact the manufacturer before proceeding with any cleaning method, because the upholstery may stretch, discolour or break down if improperly cleaned. If you don’t have the manual or manufacturer’s information, test any cleaning methods on a small inconspicuous area of your couch. Never dry the cushion cover in a dryer; it may lose shape or shrink. Seal any loose, non-machine-washable filler materials, such as cotton or feathers, in a pillowcase before drying to protect against burning. Make sure any cushion materials—especially polyurethane foam—have dried completely before you put the cover back on. Moisture in the cushions can lead to mould growth. Polyurethane foam pads can take a week or more to dry completely, depending on the thickness of the pad.

Things You'll Need

  • Gloves
  • White microfiber cloths
  • Sponge (optional)
  • Upholstery steam cleaner
  • Bathtub
  • Large plastic containers (optional)
  • Upholstery shampoo
  • Liquid dish detergent
  • White distilled vinegar
  • Shower (optional)
  • Blanket
  • Pillowcase
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Based in Southern Pennsylvania, Irene A. Blake has been writing on a wide range of topics for over a decade. Her work has appeared in projects by The National Network for Artist Placement, the-phone-book Limited and GateHouse Media. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Shippensburg University.