How to Get Stains Out of a Mattress, and Keep it Safe and Clean

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Our beds can take quite a beating between nightly sweat, breastfeeding, and other liquids that can leave unsightly stains. Urine or vomit doesn’t mean it’s the end of the road for your mattress.

There are ways to remove sticky messes and smelly odors so that you can rest with peace of mind that your bed is safe and clean.

Mattresses are significant investments, and you’ll want to look after them with care, so they last as long as possible.

Whether you prefer heavy-duty chemicals or natural substances, we’ve got multiple tricks up our sleeve to clean mattress stains to help yours stand the test of time.

Mysterious Yellow Stains

Finding yellow stains on a mattress is a common occurrence. Many individuals sweat in their sleep; even if the sweat is in small amounts, the moisture can build up over time, yellowing products and pillows.

Besides sweat, our bodies naturally produce oils, leaving marks that sometimes aren’t initially noticeable but yellow with age. The odor from sweat and oil can accumulate, creating an unpleasant scent.

Urine creates stains and odors that are difficult to remove, and the moisture from this liquid creates an ideal breeding ground for mold and mildew. However, there are ways to tackle these issues to keep your bed fresh.

Illustration of Yellow Stains on a Mattress

Cleaning Supplies You Will Need

Natural

While heavy-duty cleaners can be great for sanitizing and getting rid of stains, natural-based ingredients can often do the same job with fewer chemicals.

Some natural ingredients you can use to remove stains include:

  • Vinegar

  • Baking Soda

  • Water

  • Salt

  • Lemon Juice

  • Essential Oils (optional)

Sanitizing and eliminating odors can often be done quickly and easily in less than a day with these common household items, letting you or your children crawl back into bed the next night without unpleasant odors, stains, mold, or mildew.

Illustration of a Bottles of Essential Oils for Sleep

Chemical

Heavy-duty chemical-based cleaning products can provide excellent remedies for smelly mattresses and abolish ugly stains for good.

Chemical-based ingredients to treat your mattress and freshen up your bedroom include:

  • Hydrogen peroxide

  • Enzyme-based upholstery cleaner

  • Simple Solution

  •  Vanish

  • OxiClean

  • Dish soap

  • Laundry detergent

Potent ingredients like these should be able to revive your bed so you can feel comfortable and confident knowing you’re dreaming on top of a clean product.

How to Remove Different Stains Out of a Mattress

Try not to stress if you’ve discovered unsightly stains on your bed; most likely, they can be treated. Typically it’s best to remove the mattress cover if there is one, and you may have to treat the cover as well as the mattress.

Sweat Stains

Illustration of a Young Man Having a Nightmare

Our bodies naturally sweat at night and can leave behind yellow stains as the moisture dries. You can get rid of the color using a chemical remover or by following the steps below using common household ingredients:

  1. Distill white vinegar (or don’t, the smell will dissipate) in a spray bottle and spray the mattress liberally.

  2. Let the vinegar sit for a while, and then blot with paper towels if there are spots with excessive moisture.

  3. Sprinkle baking soda on top and let it sit for as long as needed

  4. Vacuum the baking soda

The spots should be gone but repeat as needed, and this method works great with urine stains as well.

Breast Milk Stains

Protein-based stains aren’t always as simple to remove as other substances, but there are ways to help remove dried breast milk. Cleaners with special enzymes like lipase will degrade fat-based substances, and protease enzymes should break down proteins— both of which reside in breastmilk, so these types should be more efficient in treating these spots.

  1. Using a heavy-duty detergent that contains lipase or protease enzymes, saturate the stain

  2. Let sit for about 15 minutes or however long it says on the bottle’s instructions

  3. Dab with cold water, blot, and air dry

Other products that work well are OxiClean or Clorox Oxi Magic.

Blood

Following the same steps detailed under “Sweat Stains” should help remove blood, but this substance can be tricky. If the blood is particularly stubborn, it may be because the bloodstain is old. In this case, a meat tenderizer is surprisingly effective.

Meat tenderizer is designed to break down blood proteins, so it also works great to remove stains.

  1. Make a paste with one tablespoon of meat tenderizer and two teaspoons of cold water

  2. Using a toothbrush or similar, rub the paste into the stain

  3. Let it dry and then vacuum or blot away the remains

  4. Repeat as needed

Urine

Illustration of a Urine Stain on a Crib Mattress

Urine can leave behind a horrendous scent. You could use a natural or chemical-based cleaner, but for urine, enzyme-based substances meant for pet accidents can sometimes be better for breaking down odor-causing proteins.

  1. Absorb and soak up excess urine with a dry towel

  2. Spray with an enzyme-based cleaner or detergent and let it sit for about 15 minutes to allow the chemicals to break down any odor-causing proteins.

  3. Blot with a towel or rag dipped in cold water; this should “rinse” the product.

  4. Dab with a dry towel until you can’t get any more liquid out, then leave the bed to air dry.

Vomit

Vomit can leave an incredibly potent smell. You can tackle these accidents with natural ingredients using baking soda and vinegar, with a harsher enzyme-based cleaner, or both, which is detailed below:

  1. Scrape the surface clean of any remaining bits

  2. Dap with towels or rags to reduce moisture as much as possible

  3. Cover the bed liberally with baking soda to absorb the odor and excess moisture, let it sit for 15 minutes

  4. Vacuum up the substance

  5. Apply an enzyme-based cleaner, vinegar, or dish soap.

  6. Blot the cleaning liquid and let the surface air dry

  7. Repeat as needed

Wine

Animated Image of a Woman Testing Motion Isolation of a Mattress

Red wine is notorious for permanent damage, but simple cold water and salt could do the trick. If that doesn’t work, a product called Wine Away is specially formulated to remove red wine stains, in which case you can follow the instructions on the back of the product.

However, if going the natural route, follow these steps:

  1. Blot up as much wine as possible using cloth or paper towels

  2. With a wet cloth, dab cold water on the stain

  3. Sprinkle salt over the spot and wait three minutes

  4. Dab gently with cold water, rubbing the stain, then blot dry

  5. Repeat if necessary

Food and Coffee

Coffee and food can be challenging; if baking soda and vinegar don’t work, the following method should yield success:

  1. Absorb or extract as much liquid or food as possible using clean towels

  2. Saturate the stain with a chemical stain remover— oxygen bleach is often safe for many fabrics

  3. Let the remover sit for about 15 minutes

  4. With a damp sponge, extract more of the coffee stain, dap with clean towels, rinse the sponge, and repeat

  5. If the color hasn’t yielded, you can repeat these steps as necessary

  6. Allow the mattress to air dry or use a blow dryer without heat to dry

Protect Your Mattress

Illustration of a Parent Removing Wet Mattress Pad from Their Baby's Mattress

Mattress covers, protectors, crib pads, and other accessories can allow sleepers to keep their mattresses in good condition for years. These products could help beds and cribs endure night sweats, breast milk leaks, urination accidents, and more.

Depending on the quality, mattress protectors could provide a formidable, preventative barrier against undesirable liquids and moisture. However, keep in mind that the quality of these products varies, and they won’t all be able to provide the same level of protection.

Mattress pads, in particular, not only help protect your product but add an additional layer of comfort as well.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to Freshen a Mattress?

A quick and easy way to keep a mattress fresh is by using everyday household items that most people have in their cupboards. Misting the surface of your mattress with vinegar followed by a sprinkling of baking soda should expel odors and smells. Allow it to air dry, then vacuum the remnants for a fresh scented, stain-free bed.

How Often Should You Change Your Mattress?

Illustration of a Couple Replacing Their Old Mattress with a New One

Most mattresses need to be renewed between 6 to 10 years. A great way to lengthen the longevity of a bed is to add a comfortable mattress topper.

However, a great way to judge how long your bed should last is to inspect the warranty; a manufacturer’s confidence is often directly reflected in its promises to customers.

Content Writer | + posts

Rachael is a content writer for Sleep Advisor who loves combining her enthusiasm for writing and wellness. She’s had a passion for writing since she was a kid when she wrote awful poetry. She’s honed her craft quite a bit since then and considers herself a lucky duck to get paid to do what she loves.

Embracing the remote work life, she occasionally takes her work on the road and lives out her travel writer pipe dream.

In her free time, she attempts to meditate regularly, rides her bike to Trader Joe’s, and enjoys trying every type of food that she can get her hands on.

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