Getting That "Pee" Smell Out of the Laundry

Updated on October 15, 2012
F.B. asks from Kew Gardens, NY
14 answers

DS, 2 and still in diapers has soaked through a few times of late. Ran his stuff and ours through the laundry, and now everything, has a mild "pee" smell about it. Any tips on what I might add to the laundry to resolve this?

We live in an apartment and have a communal laundry room on the ground floor. So tips like let it soak overnight aren't an option.

F. B.

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answers from Houston on

I have used vinegar for this, as well as borax. I remembered my mother using borax when I was a child, so I gave it a try. I have found borax to neutralize many odors.

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answers from Dallas on

Gotta neutralize the ammonia, so vinegar is probably your best bet.

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answers from Jacksonville on

Wash with a Tablespoon of your regular soap, plus 1/4 cup 20 Mule Team Borax and a 1/4 cup A & H Washing Soda. Use white vinegar as a fabric softener.

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answers from Washington DC on

I second the vinegar. You can also combine with baking soda.

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answers from Minneapolis on

vinegar is the least expensive option so you should probably try that first. if that doesn't work, get an enzyme based cleaner made specifically for urine. i picked one up a few years ago from the pet store (seriously) to use on pet stains for our new puppy, and have used it in the laundry many times since i found it works the same for human messes. just look at the bottles - they ones you want will include laundering instructions.

yah, they probably sell a version at the 'human' stores but i've not seen them. and it'll be cheaper at the pet stores. expect to pay $8-9 bucks for a bottle, but it works very well and is very little compared to the cost of replacing clothing. or carpeting if your little one ever has an accident!

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answers from Seattle on

I grew up diapering my two youngest sibs in clothe diapers and we NEVER washed diapers together with I would recommend that after you remove the smell with using both baking soda and vinegar in your loads for awhile....wash your diapers separately.

And we always used bleach on the diapers.

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answers from Austin on

Bug is right on - you can use about a 1/4 cup of white distilled vinegar, added to the wash cycle, without damaging the laundry, and it'll rinse out nicely and not smell, either. (My husband is VERY sensitive to taste and smell and he has NEVER noticed a vinegar smell from the laundry.) Bonus: you can also fill the liquid fabric softener dispenser with vinegar, and it acts as a natural softener (and helps repel lint, too), no smell, no chemicals, no nothing.

I also like Biz, for getting out tough smells AND tough stains.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

You've gotten a lot of great advice so far, I would just add that going forward you CAN soak the wet diapers overnight (or during the day) in a bucket or dishpan of water, with a little bleach. That's what I did with mine during potty training, I just kept the bucket in the tub until it was time to do a load of laundry :)

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answers from Washington DC on

Another vote for vinegar. Just plain white store brand vinegar. Dump some into the wash water and let it run. It gets out my DH's nasty sweat smell on his work out gear. I use it on anything that smells funky. If his clothes can stand to be washed a little hotter, that may help, too. We have an HE machine and I just put it in the softener dispenser if I don't pour it in the bottom and set the machine for an extra rinse.

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answers from Ocala on

Another vote for vinegar. I also use it on my windows and to damp mop my Pergo and Ceramic tile floors. Mother Nature's little deodorizer.

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answers from Sacramento on

Rinse cycle alone, then rinse cycle with baking soda, wash with detergent and baking soda and if you can Frebreeze laundry, a bit expensive but it really helps!


answers from Dover on

I use Sol-U-Mel for anything the has an odor. Anytime this happens, you can spray it on the problem laundry and then add some to the load when you wash it.



answers from Oklahoma City on

This is something that everyone who uses cloth diapers has to deal with. I can sit by someone and know if they use cloth diapers because they are used to it and don't realize they smell.


I know when my grandson has an accident I wash his pee clothes in the washer by themselves. I start the washer and add the laundry soap and about 1/4 cup bleach. No matter what color the clothes are they should not fade or gets spots on them if you add the bleach to the water as it is filling. I do this with my blacks, browns, reds, etc....BUT I do separate my clothes by colors so my dark's are washed with other dark's.

After these few clothes are washed until they don't smell anymore, which may be 2- 3 times then I can wash them with other clothes again.

At home after I wash the pee clothes a couple of times I run the washer through with just hot water and strong bleach to sanitize the washer so the clothes afterwards don't stink too. Because it always seems that clothes washed in the same machine do pick up that smell.

Cloth diapers are NOT very cost effective when you add in the time and effort plus the increased cost of laundering them over and over again until they are actually clean and smell free.



answers from Dallas on

OK. I have found that simply adding vinegar is not enough. I have had to do a straight "rinse cycle" with the vinegar first. Then wash with regular detergent and vinegar to really get the smell out of the laundry. in one instance I had to wash/rinse twice with some blankets after an overnight accident soaked through a special blankie. The "extra rinse" option is always a lifesaver:)

Good luck.

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