Why Do My Clothes Smell Like Pee After Washing?

When you finish your laundry, your clothes should smell fresh and amazing, but, sadly this is not always the case. It becomes frustrating when it smells like urine instead. Urine smells bad and no one would be comfortable around the odor.

There are several reasons why your clothes smell like urine after washing. The washing machine, the laundry detergent you use, and how long you leave your clothes in the machine are contributing factors to the pee smell on your clothes after washing.

Improper maintenance of your washer can cause a build-up of bacteria which in turn leaves an odor on your clothes after doing your laundry.

Moisture in the machine can cause the growth of mold and mildew which leads to the growth and multiplication of bacteria.

Also, remnants of laundry detergent in the machine can decay and cause the build-up of bacteria that causes your clothes to smell like pee. Furthermore, washing clothes soaked with urine can leave the smell in the washer which in turn can get to other clothes.

The type of laundry detergent you use for your clothes matters. When washing clothes soaked with urine, using mild detergent won’t do the trick; you would notice they still have a pee smell on them after you might have washed and dried them.

If you wish to get the pee smell out of your clothes completely, you would need stronger detergent and other chemicals to get the work done. 

Again, if you leave your clothes in the washer without moving them to the dryer, molds would accumulate and cause bacteria growth. This would leave urine odor in clothes.

How To Get Pee Smell Out Of Clothes In Washer

There are different ways to get the urine smell out of your clothes. So when your clothes smell like pee, you don’t need to fret about it. Follow these steps and get the smell out with the use of your washing machine.

Use Bleach

Bleach is an alkaline chemical that has several uses in the home. It can work well to remove the urine smell from your clothes by neutralizing the uric acid in the urine.

  • Soak your white clothes with tap water mixed with chlorinated bleach. Make sure the bleach is thoroughly mixed with the water, before putting in your smelly clothes. Submerge the clothes in properly. Allow it to soak overnight before removing it.
  • For colored clothes, use bleach that doesn’t contain chlorine to prevent the colors from bleeding. You can soak them for 3-4 hours before removing them. Take note to put on a glove while working as bleach is a very harsh chemical
  • Put the soaked clothes into the washing machine and add your washing detergent, then add the bleach. Set the machine cycle to normal spin speed. You can use a water temperature of your choice. Don’t forget to use non-chlorinated bleach for colored clothes to prevent them from fading.
  • After the cycle is complete, remove it from the washing machine and allow it to air-dry or dry in the sun. For colored clothes, you may only air-dry as direct sunlight could fade the clothes.

You can repeat this process until the smell is completely out.


Vinegar is a good household agent that’s good for absorbing stains and smells.

  • Set your washer to full wash cycle using cold temperature
  • Then add distilled white vinegar (be careful not to add too much as it won’t be good for your washing machine.) Don’t add detergent, then let the cycle complete
  • When the cycle is completed, you then load again. Add detergent this time and wash at a very hot temperature as the fabric permits.
  • Hang your clothes to air-dry.

You can repeat the process until your clothes are completely rid of the smell.

Use Enzymatic Detergents

Another method to rid your clothes of urine smell is by using enzyme-based detergents that act on protein-based stains.

You can purchase a liquid or powder detergent. Make sure you check for the type that can be used in the washing machine.

  • Pour the enzymatic detergent into your washer. Check the information on the container or packet for the right quantity to use.
  • Set the machine cycle to run at a normal spin speed and use the water at a hot temperature.
  • Allow the cycle to complete. You can repeat this process if the clothes still smell of pee. Repeat as much as you can until the smell is gotten rid of.
  • Hang up your clothes to air-dry or place them outside in the sun

Using Baking soda

Baking soda is another household item that neutralizes odor. It will work well in absorbing the smell, especially from fresh urine.

You should consider using another product before applying baking soda if the odor has been on the clothes for a long time.

  • Sprinkle baking soda on the clothes and allow them to sit overnight. Brush off the powder afterward
  • You can also mix baking soda in warm water and soak the clothes in completely and leave for some minutes. Then rinse off the clothes properly to remove all traces of the baking soda.
  • Put your clothes in the washer and add the laundry detergent. Set the cycle to normal spin speed and use any water temperature of your choice
  • Hang in the sun or air-dry

Take note to dry your clothes naturally and avoid using the tumbler dryer. The heat from the dryer could make the smell get worse, defeating the whole process.

What Temperature To Wash Clothes With Urine? 

The best temperature to wash clothes with urine is determined by the clothes label instruction. Generally, hot water is good for rinsing away stains and odor.

But you should endeavor to check the clothes care tag instruction to check if hot water is safe for the fabric. If the instructions don’t permit the use of hot water, then make use of cold water.

You can also wash with warm water depending on the heat the fabric can take. Don’t make the mistake of always using hot water, it could damage the fabric.

To make use of hot water, the water’s temperature should be between 120 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

To use warm water, the temperature should be between 85 and 105 degrees Fahrenheit. To make use of cold water, the temperature should fall between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

General Ways To Take Care of Clothes To Prevent Urine Smell

There are ways to take care of your clothes to prevent them from smelling urine. Below are the steps:

Always Keep Your Washer Clean

Washing machines don’t wash themselves. It might seem strange to tell you to wash your washer.

But, like every other machine, your washer needs proper maintenance. Dirt from clothes, uncleared detergent residue, mold, and mildew usually gets trapped in the washer’s seal, gasket, and detergent dispensers.

These combine to cause your washer to develop an odor. Urine odor from washed clothes can also leave your machine smelling of pee. This odor will later be transferred to your clothes and cause them to reek of pee.

But, taking proper care of your washer by cleaning them regularly will help do away with urine odor and prevent it from getting to your clothes.

The Following Are Ways to Clean Your Washing Machine

  • Turn on your washer and set it to run on a regular wash cycle
  • Set the temperature to hot and allow the machine to fill halfway
  • Pour one-quarter of white vinegar and add 2 cups of baking soda
  • Allow the wash cycle to complete. Afterward, add 2 cups of white vinegar into the machine during the rinse cycle.
  • You can repeat as many times as possible until the odor has completely dissipated

Don’t leave Clothes In The Washer

After washing your clothes in the machine, learn to dry immediately and remove them. Leaving your clothes in the machine can make bacteria grow on them which will leave them smelling like pee afterward.

Wash off soaked Clothes Immediately  With A Good Cleaner

When your clothes come in contact with urine, make sure you wash them off immediately. Leaving the clothes for later or keeping them with other dirty clothes to wash later will get them to smell of urine.

When you want to wash clothes soaked with urine, use a strong cleaner that will eliminate the odor. This will prevent your clothes from smelling of pee afterward.

Keep Clothes Out Of Reach Of Pets

If you’ve cats and dogs around your house, you would know they tend to mess things up, including urinating on your clothes.

You can prevent these from happening by keeping clothes far from where they can reach.


Preventing your clothes from smelling like pee is better than fighting to remove the odor much later.

But, you may not always be able to prevent urine from getting on your clothes especially, if you have babies in the house.

However, you can prevent the odor from lingering and getting to other clothes by washing them immediately with the right cleaner.

Also, learn to keep your washers always clean to prevent them from developing odor that can be transferred to your clothes after washing.


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