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Why Do My Clothes Smell Like Pee After Washing? 6 Possible Reasons

Imagine putting on a piece of clothing and realizing it smells like pee. You then check your closet for a replacement and guess what? It also smells like someone urinated on it. What’s going on?

The smell of urine can make you cringe. It’s not something you want on your body or around your home.

So, do you throw your clothes away? Only if you are ready to invest in a whole new wardrobe, and that is not a sustainable solution anyway. This article will look at possible reasons why this could be the case and what you can do about it.

Reasons Why Your Clothes Have a Pee Smell After Washing

There are lots of possible reasons why your clothes might acquire a pee-like smell. As you can imagine, the urine smell is pungent and can be very embarrassing. It is important to know what causes this so that you can solve the problem as soon as possible. Here are some potential causes.

Your Load Had a Clothing Item that Had Pee on it

The most common reason your clothes smell like urine is that the load you washed contained a clothing item with urine on it. The most common culprit is the family dog, but other animals, such as cats and birds, can also have accidents on your laundry.

If you wash loads containing these items, you may notice that your clothes smell like urine. Fortunately, there are different ways to get rid of this smell without having to rewash the load or throw out all of your clothes. More on those later.

You Used Insufficient Detergent

If you have ever washed your clothes and they ended up smelling like urine, chances are that the problem was due to low detergent levels in your washing machine.

You should use at least two tablespoons of detergent per load. If you normally use a low-sudsing detergent, use at least one tablespoon or even more.

If you prefer to use anti-bacterial or anti-odor products, use 1/2 teaspoon of your favorite liquid laundry detergent and add the same amount of water as regular detergent.

You may think that a good wash will get rid of the smell. However, using insufficient detergent can leave behind a residue that your clothes will continue to reek of.

Your Washing Machine Needs a Deep Clean

A dirty washing machine is one of the leading causes of bad-smelling clothes. It can also cause your clothes to shrink or fade faster.

As such, it needs to be cleaned at least once a month if you have hard water and twice a month if you have soft water. This is because hard water has more minerals, which can leave residue on your laundry and cause it to smell.

You Have an Underlying Condition

You may have an underlying condition causing your clothes to smell like sulfur or ammonia. If that’s the case, then the urine smell is emanating from your body’s waste products which are probably getting eliminated through urination or sweating.

If you’re not urinating as often as you should, or if other health problems affect your body’s ability to eliminate waste efficiently, your body might naturally opt to eliminate waste products like urea and ammonia through sweating.

This might, in turn, create a urine-like smell on your clothes.

Your Plumbing is Faulty

The most common reason clothes smell like urine after washing is that your plumbing system is faulty. This could be a result of clogs, leaking pipes in the laundry room, or an insufficient sewer line connection to your home’s sewer system.

You Let Your Dirty Laundry Sit for Too Long

This is a common mistake, especially when you have a busy life and feel like laundry takes up too much of your time. However, if you do this regularly, it can cause your clothes to smell like pee. That’s because bacteria can grow in the damp fabric and produce the dreaded ammonia-like smell that makes you want to gag.

You can avoid the same by making sure that all of your dirty clothes get washed before it becomes too stinky.

How to Get Rid of Pee Smell from Your Clothes

Pee on clothes is something you want to avoid dealing with. Whether it’s a stain or even a mixture of urine and sweat, you can use the following home remedies to eliminate the smell from your clothes.


Bleach is a very effective way to eliminate the pee smell from your clothes. It’s a cheap and straightforward solution that will work in most cases.

You can use any bleach that you want. It’s important to note that bleach should be used with caution on delicate fabrics such as silk and wool.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is a household staple. It’s used to clean countertops and remove stains from clothes. Other than that, hydrogen peroxide is a highly reliable deodorizer thanks to its strong oxidizing abilities. Just a little bit of it can help remove the urine smell from your clothes.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is an excellent remedy for eliminating the pee odor from your clothes.

Mix baking soda with water in a bowl and soak your clothes overnight. Alternatively, add two tablespoons of baking soda to your washing machine to pre-soak the clothes. Leave the items in the wash for 15 minutes, then launder as usual.


Vinegar is a cheap and easy way to eliminate the smell of urine from clothes. Add some vinegar to a large bucket of water and let it sit for a few minutes. Then, wash your clothes in the solution. Vinegar works by neutralizing the smell of urine.

Air Dry

Another way to get rid of the pee smell from your clothes is to air dry them. This will eliminate the odor from the fabric and reduce any lingering odors that could cause a more pungent smell. If you have time, you can put the clothes in the sun for several hours or overnight before rewashing them.

Tips to prevent your Clothes from Smelling like Pee

  • Avoid overloading your washing machine
  • Use a suitable detergent
  • Clean your laundry hamper
  • Store your clothes appropriately
  • Put them in a zip lock bag and then place them in the freezer for about three hours, and then hang them out to air dry.
  • Spray them with vinegar and let them air dry.