Cheeky logo

How To get Rid Of Urine Smell In Pants

Here at Cheeky, we’ve been all about Simple Reusables since we launched our reusable wipes kit back in 2008.  Our range of reusable pads launched in 2013 and was followed by period and pee proof pants and kits back in 2017. 

This question crops up fairly regularly in relation to both womens incontinence products and mens incontinence products, so we thought it was a great topic for an article.  It can be tricky removing urine smells from clothes, but we've got answers for you.

Why do pants smell of urine

Why Do My Pants Smell Like Urine?

There are quite a few reasons why your pants might smell like urine (ammonia), such as: 

  1. Bacterial Vaginosis
  2. Urinary Tract Infection
  3. Menopause
  4. Incontinence
  5. Pregnancy
  6. Dehydration
  7. Sweat
  8. Washing Routine


1. Bacterial Vaginosis

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) upsets the natural pH balance, which can cause an unpleasant odour. Fifty percent of people with BV are unaware that they have it, symptoms include a fishy smell with grey / white watery discharge especially after sex with no itching or soreness. To find out more about BV and how to avoid it, read ‘ Ultimate Guide to BV & Your Period

2. Urinary Tract Infection

Urinary Tract Infections (UTI's) can also be a cause of very strong smelling urine. In fact, they can sometimes be the only symptom. Moreoften though, they are associated with needing to pee frequently and a burning sensation.

If you suspect a UTI, contact your Dr as you may need antibiotics to clear it.

3. Menopause 

A decrease in oestrogen and a thinning of the vaginal wall can your vagina to atrophy. Joy! This can cause little leaks which can lead to a build up of ammonia in your knickers if not washed thoroughly.

4. Incontinence 

Many people find that they suffer from urge incontinence or stress incontinence, particularly as they age or after having children. This incontinence means that urine leaks onto your pants, causing an ammonia smell.

5. Pregnancy

One early pregnancy symptom reported by many women is a change in the smell of their urine. No one is sure why this occurs but Doctors think it may be related to changes in diet. Often when pregnant women crave foods that they wouldn’t normally eat. These foods can cause a change in urine smell, which again can lead to pants smelling of ammonia.

6. Dehydration

A simple and obvious reason for pee / pants smelling more strongly of ammonia is dehydration. Less liquid means urine is more concentrated and therefore smells more strongly of ammonia. Think how different the colour / smell of your pee is first thing in the morning for example….

6. Sweat

99% of sweat is water, with the other 1% being made up of excretions such as ammonia. In particular, the glands which you sweat from in your groin (apocrine glands) are more likely to cause a smell when they reach your skin.

7. Washing Routine

Washing in cool / cold water, short wash cycles or inappropriate washing detergents can cause ammonia to build up in your knickers. This is particularly important in absorbent pee protection knickers as the ammonia can become trapped in between layers.

Pants which smell of urine need to be washed in warm water, in a decent length of wash with suitable laundry detergent.  

How to get rid of urine smell in pants

How to Get Rid of Urine Smell in Pants

To get rid of the urine (ammonia) smell in pants:

  1. Soak in a baking soda (Bicarbonate of Soda) solution
  2. Wash with appropriate laundry detergent
  3. Choose a longish wash cycle
  4. Dry thoroughly


1. Soak in Bicarbonate of Soda solution

Here’s the science: Uric acid in your pee gives it that ammonia like smell. To dissolve it and therefore remove from your knickers, you need warm water, with a higher PH, which baking soda will give you.  

To save your ammonia smelling pants, soak pants in a basin or sink or strucket filled with warm water and a few tablespoons of baking soda for 15mins to an hour. Then rinse and wash thoroughly in the washing machine.

Some people recommend white vinegar to remove urine stains from clothes. However the PH of white vinegar is not high enough to easily dissolve uric acid. Warm or hot water plus bicarb is best.

2. Wash with appropriate laundry detergent

If you’re finding that your knickers smell of pee, your washing detergent may be to blame. We’ve found that eco washing products such as eco balls sometimes need a boost to make them shift stains and stinks effectively. A good bio washing powder is best at stain removal, but for stubborn smells like ammonia, add a scoop of oxi type stain remover too.

3. Choose a decent length of wash cycle & the correct temperature

A rapid wash often won’t cut the mustard for removing smells.  Also as above, uric acid dissolves best in warm water, not cold, so if you’re washing at 30c and find your knickers still smell after washing, this could be a culprit.

Wash in a longer wash (at LEAST an hour) and at 40c if you find your period or pee pants are smelling of ammonia after washing.

4. Dry thoroughly

It’s important to dry your knickers thoroughly after washing. This is particularly important when it comes to pee protection knickers which have additional layers. Avoid tumble drying and line / air dry where possible.


How to Avoid Urine Smell in Pants

To avoid urine smell in pants altogether, you should:

  1. Wear reusable incontinence protection
  2. Stay hydrated
  3. Freshen up using reusable intimate wipes
  4. Rinse heavily soiled pants immediately after wearing 
  5. Wash in warm water with decent washing powder
  6. Choose a decent length of wash programme
  7. Add a tablespoon of bicarb of soda to your wash now and again

We hope that you found this article helpful and interesting andit solved your problems with pants smelling or urine. You may also be interested in:


About the Author: Helen Rankin founded Cheeky Wipes, the original reusable wipes kit back in 2008 after disposable wipes caused her eczema to flare up. 4 kids later, internal period protection such as tampons or menstrual cups were no longer an option for her and she went on to develop their range of 'Simple Reusables' to include period pants, reusable panty liners and reusable sanitary pads.

The Cheeky customer services team pride themselves on providing honest, friendly advice and just LOVE to chat pee, poo and periods all day long, helping people make the switch to reusables! The Company was recognised for their hard work in developing environmentally friendly products with the Queens Award in Enterprise for Sustainable Development in 2021.