Of all the nasty stains you might get on your car seats, urine is one of the worst. It’s nasty, stains, and the odor can linger for what may seem like forever. Whether you are a rideshare driver who dealt with inebriated riders or a pet parent with accident prone kids, urine on your upholstery is something you’ll need to handle quickly to prevent permanent damage. We’ll show you how to remove urine from your car seats safely and effectively.
Determining the Type of Upholstery Fabric
The first step to removing urine from car seats is to identify the type of material your seats are made from. Many modern cars use a mixture of man-made materials like vinyl or imitation leather while some older cars may have velour or cloth seats. The methods you use will change based on what your seats are crafted from. Acting quickly is the best tip to removing the smell urine may leave behind.
Step One: Open the Doors and Windows
This is an important step because you’ll want to air the interior of the car out as quickly as possible. Odors will get trapped in the surfaces of your car and the longer you leave the odor in the car, the harder it’ll be to get the smell out.
Cleaning Urine from Vinyl, Leather, and Leatherette Surfaces
We picked most of these tips up from our friends at the boat yard. It turns out that birds poop on boat seats and covers pretty regularly. One of the primary components of bird poo is urea, a substance similar to the stain-carrying chemicals in urine. Gross, right? The good news is that cleaning urine from vinyl and leather is easier than any other substance.
Simple Steps for Removing Urine from Vinyl and Leather
Before you begin, use a dry towel or rag to blot up as much of the liquid as you can. It’s gross, so wear gloves. You may also choose to use a slightly damp rag to help blot as much of the urine from the seat as possible.
Using a clean spray bottle, add cold water and a few drops of liquid dish soap. Test this process in an inconspicuous area to ensure that it doesn’t damage the surface. Spritz the area, but don’t soak it. Use a damp towel and sprinkle baking soda liberally on the rag.
Scrub firmly but gently in the area of the urine stain, making sure not to over-do-it. Allow the baking soda to sit on the stain for a few minutes. Baking soda works because it absorbs the odors and moisture.
Next, use a clean, damp towel to wipe the baking soda from the surface until it is clean. You may need to reapply baking soda several times to fully remove the odor.
The final step is to use a high-quality vinyl or leather cleaner. This will help to preserve and protect the surface and prevent it from drying or cracking. In most cases, this will ensure your car remains urine-odor free.
As a side note, using a baking soda mixture to clean vinyl seats is one of the best ways to remove all kinds of stains.
How to Clean Urine from Car Seats that are Cloth
Acting quickly is absolutely paramount when dealing with urine on cloth seats. Urine will rapidly absorb through the cloth and stain the foam underneath. Once the foam is soaked in urine, you’re going to have a very challenging time cleaning the seats.
The first thing you’ll want to do is mix one tablespoon of vinegar with one tablespoon of dish soap into two cups of water. You can place the mixture in a shallow bowl or a spray bottle. As always, test the mixture in an out-of-the-way location to make sure it won’t damage the material.
Spray the stain deeply with the mixture or use a clean cloth to blot the stain. You’ll want to work the mixture into the fabric. Quickly use a clean, dry cloth to blot the liquid from the seat. You want to remove the odor of vinegar along with the urine.
Vinegar works because it helps to break down the odor-causing chemicals in the urine. Vinegar will also leave a strong odor, so you may need to do a little extra work to clean it. One of the best ways to manage vinegar odors is to use a carpet shampooer. In a pinch, you can use a shop vacuum that is wet/dry capable to suck the liquid from the surface.
What Happens When the Stain Sets In
I bought a car once online that was sold as a parts car, but it looked like a repairable car. When the car was dropped off at the shop, the reason for it being a parts car was instantly obvious. Cats had moved in and made it their litter box. Even though the seats and upholstery appeared good, there was no amount of scrubbing that would get the smell out.
So, does that mean you can’t get the stain out once it sets? No, but you’ll have to do more work and maybe even resort to manufactured urine-removing chemicals. We recommend starting with baking soda, even on cloth, but check carefully to make sure it won’t lighten or stain. Then, switch to the vinegar treatment. If you need to get even deeper cleaning, you’ll want to switch to a stronger product. In this case, you are going to want to use hydrogen peroxide.
Hydrogen peroxide is excellent for cleaning all kinds of difficult stains. In fact, it’ll take blood out of fabric quite easily. The downside is that it can easily damage lots of types of fabrics, vinyl, and leather.
Acting quickly is the secret to removing urine stains from car seats. You can use a variety of common household items to remove the urine and prevent stains from lingering. Baking soda and water works best for vinyl, while vinegar and water are better for cloth. Hydrogen peroxide works in a pinch, but be careful that it doesn’t damage the surface. You should always use a good quality fabric, vinyl, or leather protectant after deep cleaning your car seats.