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How to Wash Dog Urine Out of Towels & Laundry (6 Quick Steps)

Written by: Elizabeth Gray

Last Updated on June 25, 2024 by Dogster Team

Towels stacked on table

How to Wash Dog Urine Out of Towels & Laundry (6 Quick Steps)

Accidents happen, and when you own a dog, many accidents seem to involve poop or pee. Whether your puppy is trying to get the hang of housetraining or your senior dog is losing bladder control, urine-soaked towels and laundry may result. While it might be tempting to throw the offending articles in the trash, why not learn the best way to wash them instead?

In this article, we provide step-by-step instructions for washing dog urine out of towels, bedding, and other laundry items. We also discuss when you should be concerned about accidents and what to do about them. After all, puppy messes are to be expected, but what if your older dog suddenly starts peeing in the house?

Before You Begin

Cleaning supplies stored in shelf
Photo Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

Before you begin removing the dog urine from your laundry, determine what materials you’re dealing with and the safest way to wash them. Dry-clean-only items should be taken to a professional cleaner as soon as possible.

Materials Needed

To wash out dog urine and deodorize laundry, you’ll need the following:
  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Laundry detergent
  • Enzymatic laundry additive (optional)
  • Washing machine

How to Wash Dog Urine Out of Towels and Laundry

1. Remove as Much Urine as Possible

Before beginning the washing process, blot or squeeze as much actual urine out of the laundry as you can. This is usually only possible with a fresh accident. The quicker you can begin the washing process, the better, so try to take the time to complete at least the first couple of steps on this list even if you’re having a busy day.

2. Rinse in Cold Water

Next, rinse the towels or laundry thoroughly using cold water. This is most effective if done right after the urine accident. Don’t use hot water for this step, as the heat will “cook” the proteins in the urine into the laundry item, making the stain and odor harder to remove.

After rinsing, move on to the washing step, or for particularly stubborn smells or stains, soak overnight.

3. Soak Laundry Overnight (Optional)

For laundry with older urine stains, try soaking it overnight in vinegar and water solution before washing. Make the solution by adding 2 cups of white vinegar to a gallon of cool water before placing the laundry into it and submerging it completely. Allow the laundry items to soak overnight before moving to the next step.

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4. Wash Laundry

Pre-soaked or not, the next step is to toss your laundry into the washing machine. Set the machine to the hottest temperature that your laundry can withstand. Wash with regular laundry detergent, preferably one that uses an oxidizing or enzymatic cleaning process.

For even more urine-destroying power, try adding about 2 cups of baking soda to the wash cycle. Add 1 cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle to complete the washing process. Alternatively, you can use a commercial laundry additive designed to target pet stains and odors.

5. Air Dry the Laundry

Towels hanging on clothesline to air dry
Photo Credit: webentwicklerin, Pixabay

Once the towels and laundry are clean, air dry them rather than using a clothes dryer. If some urine survived the washing process, heating it in the dryer may set the stain and odor into the fabric, making it harder to ultimately remove.

In contrast, drying the laundry in sunlight and fresh air can help kill off any remaining odor. Break out a good, old-fashioned clothesline if you have the space, or spread the laundry out on a deck or patio.

6. Repeat as Needed

Unfortunately, some urine stains and smells can be hard to remove. If you take a whiff of your laundry after completing the washing and drying process and still detect a scent, you may need to repeat one or more of these steps.

Should You Worry About Your Dog Peeing on Laundry?

Of course, washing urine out of laundry is annoying, but beyond that, should you worry about your dog having accidents?

Puppies commonly have accidents during house training, but behavioral concerns aren’t always the reason. Young dogs can also develop urinary tract infections (UTIs) that lead to accidents. Signs that your dog has an infection include frequent urination, straining to urinate, pain while urinating, and bloody or strong-smelling urine. Dogs with UTIs may also leak urine while sleeping, leading to more laundry for you to wash.

Besides urinary tract infections, your dog’s urinary accidents could have several other medical causes. Older dogs, male or female, may develop urinary incontinence as their bladders age and weaken. Spinal injuries may also cause dogs to leak urine. Dogs that drink excessive amounts of water due to chronic diseases like diabetes or Cushing’s disease are also more at risk of accidents.

Forgetting their house training is one sign that your senior dog may be developing canine cognitive dysfunction, similar to dementia in humans. Other signs to watch for are disorientation, restlessness, and behavioral changes.

If you’re concerned that your dog may have an underlying reason for their pee accidents, make an appointment with your veterinarian.

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No matter how your towels and laundry end up soaked with dog urine, the washing process is the same. Remember that the faster you can get started cleaning pee laundry, the more successful you’ll be. While it’s certainly possible to salvage laundry with set-in urine stains, it may take more time and patience on your part.

Featured Image Credit: malasiaphotos, Pixabay

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