How to Clean Urine From Car Seats

by Kathy AdamsUpdated August 23, 2018

The sooner you clean up urine in the car, the better the chance of preventing odor, which can be overwhelming in a confined space. Blot the affected area with paper towels, then dilute and clean the upholstery with a mild dish soap solution and vinegar.

Act Fast

As soon as you notice the urine, blot the area with folded paper towels. Open the car windows to lessen the odor as you work. If the upholstery is leather or vinyl, wipe the urine up by wiping from the outside of the liquid toward the center. Blot areas where urine may have pooled, such as indentations along stitching and seams. Keep dabbing, wiping or blotting until the paper towels no longer pick up moisture.

Cleaning the Car Seat

Items you will need

  • White vinegar

  • Liquid dish soap

  • Bucket or bowl

  • Absorbent white cloths

  • Rubber gloves

  • Paper towels

  • Baking soda

  • Vacuum cleaner

Mix 2 cups of cold tap water with 1 tablespoon each of white vinegar and liquid dish soap. Mix the liquids in a small bucket or a bowl, whichever feels more convenient to you.

Dip an absorbent white cloth into the soapy liquid while wearing rubber gloves. Wring out much of the moisture.

Open several car doors or windows to avoid breathing in foul odors. Dab the wet cloth over the soiled area of the upholstery, blotting gently. If the affected area is relatively large, wipe it from the outside edges of the stain toward the center to avoid spreading the urine. Rinse the cloth regularly and continue dabbing the affected area of the upholstery.


  • For leather or vinyl seats, straight vinegar may be used to clean the area instead. Use as little moisture as possible on real leather to avoid damaging it. 
  • A car-upholstery shampoo may be used in place of water, vinegar and dish soap for cloth upholstery.
  • For foul-smelling problems such as cat urine, clean the upholstery with an enzymatic cleaner if unable to remove all of the odor with regular dish soap, water and vinegar. Follow the directions on the enzymatic cleaner package, as these may vary from product to product.
  • If a pet has frequent accidents in the car, cover the seat with a rubber mat, placing a towel or pet blanket atop the mat. This helps prevent the seat from becoming soaked.

Blot the area again with a dry white cloth to absorb excess moisture. Rinse the cloth, wring it out, then blot the spot again to remove soap residue.

Pat the area dry again with a fresh white cloth or folded paper towels. Press down to help lift moisture embedded within the seat. Allow the seat to air-dry with the car door or windows open, if possible.

Sprinkle baking soda over the car seat once the seat feels dry to the touch if an odor is still noticeable. Allow the baking soda to sit for an hour or even overnight, then vacuum up the powder.


Test moisture-based cleaners on an inconspicuous area of the upholstery to ensure the upholstery does not stain.

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