National Continence Helpline

8am - 8pm Monday to Friday AEST Talk to a continence nurse

Smell of urine

Get help from a health care professional, or talk to your supervisor or care coordinator if you think the person has a urinary tract infection. Look for the following signs:

  • temperature or shivering
  • acting differently or more tired than usual
  • blood in the urine
  • pain, especially in the lower back.


Fresh urine should only have a mild smell. If there is a strong smell, it is important to work out why.

What should you do do when you can smell urine?

  • Work out where the urine smell is coming from. Is it on:
    • the person?
    • their clothes?
    • their bed sheets?
    • their chair?
    • the floor?
  • If the person has urinated on themselves, help to clean them and change their clothes.
  • If the person's bed smells of urine, change the sheets, doona cover and blankets. If the matress smells, it might need professional cleaning or need to be replaced. You might also need a protective cover on the matress. A continence nurse advisor can help in selecting the right type of protection.
  • If the person's chair is wet, it might need professional cleaning to take the smell away. A chair protector pad may be needed.
  • If there is urine on the floor, you will need to clean the floor.
  • If there is urine in the person's commode pan, bucket or bottle, empty it into the toilet and flush. You will need to wash the pan, bucket or bottle afterwards.
  • If the person's continence pad is leaking, you need to work out why. It might need changing or it might not fit properly. Talk to your supervisor, a continence nurse advisor or other health care professional about the person's need for a continence pad review.
  • If the person is wearing a leg bag for collecting urine, check if the bag needs emptying.
  • Always check the care plan to make sure you are following the person's toileting plan (if available).
  • If you can't find a cause, talk to your supervisor or care coordinator. The person might need a review by a health care professional.

Need more help? Call the National Continence Helpline on 18OO 33 OO 66 and talk to a continence nurse advisor.


View this content and more for free via the learning modules at

This information is not a substitute for independent professional advice.