Caring for an elderly loved one often involves cleaning up urinary incontinence accidents. The AgingCare online Caregiver Forum is filled with people coming together to share valuable information with one another on common elder care challenges. We’ve compiled experienced caregivers’ best tips on how to remove urine odor from elderly clothes and get rid of stubborn incontinence stains.

Removing Incontinence Odors and Stains: Tips for Family Caregivers

“They make products for cleaning urine that contain special enzymes, such as Urine Kleen, or you can use something like Nature’s Miracle that is sold in pet shops.” –vstefans

“Vinegar helps. I soak soiled items in vinegar, take them out while wet, hang them on a clothesline outside and hope for rain. Some things I can leave until nature removes the smell, but some I just keep washing.” –1healthyangel

“I wash soiled items in the hottest water I can, soak them in an oxy-based cleanser and baking soda solution, and rinse with vinegar. It sometimes takes two to three washings, but the urine smells all come out.” –Carlen

“Iodine scrub will neutralize smells in one washing. Use about one tablespoon in the washer. Usually iodine wash (one brand name is Betadine) is in the first aid section of just about any drug store. It’s dark red and the advertised use is to clean wounds.” –pamstegma and sandwich42plus

“I use a baking soda laundry detergent pod, add some grapefruit juice in with it and wash soiled items on a warm cycle. It seems to take the smell out.” –Kenneth08

“In the facility where I work, the staff uses a product called Peri-Wash to control the smell of urine. It works well.” –JackieMiller

“Borax and washing soda: 50/50 mix. Works every time for any kind of nasty odor. I use it on my dad’s bedding every day.” –Katiekate

“When I was washing my mom’s clothes (she was in a long-term care facility), members of the AgingCare Forum recommended 20 Mule Team Borax, which did help.” –freqflyer

“I have found that apple cider vinegar works better than white vinegar on incontinence odor.” –BoovieD


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“We use OdoBan with eucalyptus scent. The nursing home by us uses it, too. It works fabulously. You can get the spray one at Walmart and the gallon size at Sam’s Club. It smells wonderful and fresh. I put half a cup in the laundry and we spray it on the furniture and Mom’s mattress. It is a deodorizer and disinfectant.” –Flmother

“Use Morrisons Non-Bio laundry liquid. I mix that with a teacup of baking soda crystals, and then I put white vinegar in the fabric softener drawer. The smells are gone, much to my relief.” –SmellFree

“My adult daughter is a quadriplegic with an indwelling catheter that frequently clogs, so she bypasses. What I have found works is to rinse the urine-soiled clothes, towels and/or linens in cold water and add about a cup of Listerine (arctic mint I find is the best) and some Arm & Hammer liquid laundry soap. Then I put everything through a full wash with a bit of bleach and some more Arm & Hammer. The reason for the cold-water wash/rinse is because bodily fluids don’t do great when washed with hot water. It tends to cook the urine smell and stains right into the fabric, making them extremely hard to get rid of! So, always rinse in cold first! I also never wash her stuff with anything else. I always do all the household clothes, towels and bedding separately.” –Maggspie