How to Get Urine out of a Car Seat

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It is absolutely astonishing how many bodily fluids kids can get all over the place.

Snot, sick, urine, and dribble will encroach on your home and car from the moment you bring them home from the hospital! 

With the best will in the world, there are going to be accidents. And usually, those accidents happen at the least convenient time and in the most awkward place. In the car, for example.

Getting urine out of a car seat can be difficult. It’s a porous surface that will suck urine up and hold on to it.

This means that the smell can linger for weeks afterward if it’s not cleaned up as soon as possible. 

Cleaning a Car Seat

Fear not! There are ways to clean your upholstery and remove the foul stench of urine.

You can even use ingredients that you probably have at home. 

What You’ll Need

  • Dish soap
  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • Baking soda
  • Rubber gloves
  • Paper towels
  • Absorbent cloths
  • Bucket or bowl
  • Vacuum cleaner

Step 1: Blotting

The first thing you need to do is blot the soiled area. This will help you remove as much of the urine as possible. 

Use paper towels to soak up any urine that may be sitting on the surface of the seat. For upholstered seats, blotting will be the best method.

For leather seats wipe from the outside in. This will prevent the urine from spreading. 

Once the surface urine has been absorbed you need to blot the areas where it is likely to have pooled. This will be any dips or indents in the seat as well as the seams. 

You’ll need to press fairly hard to get the urine to rise to the surface. Keep doing this until the paper towels come away clean.

You do not want to leave any urine in the upholstery or padding. 

Step 2: Create your cleaning solution

In a bucket or bowl, mix 2 cups of water with a tablespoon of white vinegar and a tablespoon of dish soap. 

White vinegar is the most acidic vinegar you can buy in a grocery store. It is usually laboratory-made and contains acetic acid.

This is why it is such a good cleaner. Acids are very effective at shifting dirt, grime, and stains. 

Urine contains uric acid which is a fairly weak acid. The acetic acid in white vinegar is much stronger. Because of the strength of white vinegar, it can break down the uric acid. 

Dish soap is great at cutting through grime and oils. It is also nice and gentle on fabrics. The dish soap also helps to neutralize the vinegar smell which can be just as unpleasant as urine. 

It’s important to remember the water as this dilutes the vinegar. Neat vinegar may strip the fabric of its color.

Step 3: Apply the solution

Here is where you’re going to want to put on your rubber gloves. You’ll be dipping your hand into the cleaning solution.

White vinegar can dry your hands out over time. It’s best to use gloves and avoid having to buy hand cream. 

Dip the absorbent cloth into the solution and wring it out. You don’t want to soak the seats especially if they’re leather. 

Using the cloth, dab at the stained upholstery. Do it gently so that you’re not squeezing moisture out of the cloth and onto the seat.

If it’s a really big stain you can wipe it instead of dabbing. As before, wipe from the outside in. 

Make sure to rinse the cloth in the solution frequently and wring it out each time. 

Step 4: Drying it out

Once you’ve cleaned the stain, you’ll need to dry the seat. Otherwise you’ll have a damp smell instead of a urine smell. 

The first thing you’ll need to do is get a dry absorbent cloth. Then you need to rinse it with clean water and wring it out. Use this cloth to wipe away any residual soapiness. 

Now you can use paper towels to dry out the seat. Make sure to press hard to remove the moisture, especially in those dips and seams. 

When the towels are coming away fairly dry you can leave the seat to air dry. If possible leave the doors and windows open to speed the process up. 

Step 5: Residual odor

If you find that the odor is sticking around after the seat is touch dry, you can sprinkle some baking soda over the seat. 

Baking soda, which is alkaline, neutralizes any residual acids that are lingering. It’s these acids that cause any lingering odors. 

Allow the baking soda to work it’s magic for at least an hour, but ideally overnight if possible. To finish, vacuum up the baking soda. 

Tips

There are a couple of ways you can change things up and a number of reasons why you might want to. 

Leather seats

If you have leather seats, you need to keep as much moisture away as possible. You can use straight vinegar instead of water and soapy water. Remember to patch test before using on a large visible section of the car seat.

You can also try leather cleaner first if you want to reduce the chance of stripping.

If using leather cleaner you will also want to use a soft bristled brush to get the urine and dirt out of the lines and cracks. 

Upholstery shampoo

As with leather cleaner, you can use upholstery shampoo instead of the homemade cleaner. 

Follow the same procedure as detailed above to use the upholstery cleaner. Again, if you need to use baking soda to get rid of any extra odors, you absolutely can. 

Persistent odors

For really persistent odors, usually things like cat urine, you can use enzymatic cleaners.

These enzymatic cleaners use good bacteria's to break down the odor molecules.

Patch testing

To make sure that your cleaner isn’t going to damage your seats, make sure to do a patch test. 

Spray or dab a little bit of the cleaner on an inconspicuous area and leave it overnight.

Final Thoughts

The key thing is to tackle the urine as soon as possible. You really don’t want to give it time to soak into the padding and fabric. 

If you’re having frequent accidents, you might want to consider putting a rubber mat down. This will save you time and effort on the clean up. 

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