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How to Get Stains Out of a Mattress Like a Professional

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updated: February 18, 2024

Depending on the type of stain you’re dealing with, you may need one or more of the following tools to clean a mattress. According to Angela Brown, host of the Ask a House Cleaner show and podcast, you will need:

  • A hand-held vacuum cleaner with a hose or an upholstery attachment
  • Clean cloths and sponges for blotting
  • Baking soda
  • Cold water
  • Mild soap, such as Dawn dish soap or a drop of Sal Suds or Castile soap
  • Hydrogen peroxide (for blood stains)

To this list, Diana Ciechorska, Founder of Park Slope Cleaning, adds:

  • Fresh towels or paper towels
  • Spray bottle
  • Soft brush or sponge
  • Enzymatic cleaner (if needed)

Do these solutions work for every mattress?

Be sure to check the care label on your mattress before you start any of these treatments, and pay attention to any special instructions or warnings. If you have a memory-foam mattress, the main thing to be careful of is getting it too wet. They absorb water quickly and are tough to dry completely, so use the minimum amount of water necessary when cleaning—or you might end up with mildew.

How to get each of these types of stains out of a mattress

How to get urine stains out of a mattress

Whether it’s your not-quite-potty-trained kid, a wayward pet, or a blackout drunk guest, pee stains on your mattress are no laughing matter. To remove them, Brown recommends the following steps:

  1. Blot any excess moisture
  2. Mix equal parts water and white vinegar
  3. Spray the solution onto the stain, then blot with a clean cloth
  4. Rinse and blot with a cloth dampened with plain water
  5. Let the mattress dry completely

Ciechorska also recommends deodorizing the area with baking soda when you’re done, then vacuuming it up, a step that can be added to every clean-up set of instructions listed here.

How to get yellow stains out of a mattress

Is it more urine? Is it sweat? Is it, somehow, something worse? Whatever it is, Brown suggests trying the following:

  1. Mix a paste using equal parts hydrogen peroxide and baking soda
  2. Apply the paste to the stain and let it sink in for 30 minutes
  3. Gently scrub the stain with a clean cloth or sponge
  4. Remove the paste by blotting with a cloth, dampened with plain water
  5. Let the mattress dry completely

How to get sweat stains out of a mattress

Humid nights, fevers, anxious dreams, or you finished an intense run and passed out before you could make it to the shower: There are many ways you could end up with a sweaty mattress. Brown suggests the following steps to address it:

  1. Get an enzyme cleaner like OdoBan BioStain and Odor Remover, which comes in a ready-to-use spray that digests organic and protein stains
  2. Apply it directly to the mattress
  3. Agitate the stain with a cloth or sponge
  4. Use plain water and a sponge to blot the area and remove the soap
  5. Let the mattress dry completely

How to remove blood stains from your mattress

Blood on the mattress? Never a good look. To lose that “are they a serial killer?” vibe, Ciechorska advises doing the following:

  1. Blot the area with a clean towel to absorb any excess moisture, but avoid rubbing the blood in further
  2. Rinse the stained area with cold water—don’t use hot water, as it can set the blood stain
  3. Pour a small amount of hydrogen peroxide directly onto the blood stain and allow it to bubble and fizz as it reacts
  4. Use a clean cloth to blot the stained area gently, until the stain starts to lift
  5. Rinse with cold, plain water
  6. Absorb excess moisture with a clean towel and air dry the mattress

How to remove vomit stains from your mattress

Welp, it’s happened—however it happened—and now you have to deal with it. Tackle those nasty vomit stains with these tips from Ciechorska:

  1. Remove any remaining chunks (Brown suggests using a spoon or even a paint scraper)
  2. Blot the stain with a clean towel to absorb liquid
  3. Apply a mixture of equal parts water and white vinegar
  4. Blot the stain until it lifts
  5. Rinse with cold, plain water
  6. Absorb the remaining moisture with towels
  7. Deodorize with baking soda and vacuum (this step is often optional, but you don’t want to mess around with a vomit stain)
  8. Air dry the mattress completely

Brown also suggests trying OdoBan again, since the enzymes will break

down the protein in the vomit and help to remove stains and odors at the same time.

How to remove wine stains from your mattress

Who among us, right? To remove that wine stain, Brown says you should:

  1. Blot up any excess wine with a clean cloth
  2. Mix hydrogen peroxide with cold water (1:2 ratio)
  3. Apply the solution to the stain and let it sit for 10 minutes or so
  4. Rinse by blotting with a damp sponge or cloth
  5. Let the mattress dry completely

How to get coffee stains out of a mattress

Breakfast in bed seems like such a good idea—right up until it doesn’t. Scrub out those coffee stains with this advice from Ciechorska:

  1. Blot the area with a clean towel to absorb excess moisture (do not rub)
  2. Apply a gentle cleaning solution by mixing water and dish soap
  3. Blot the stain with the cleaning solution until it lifts
  4. Rinse with cold, plain water
  5. Absorb excess moisture with a clean towel and air dry the mattress

How to remove mystery mattress stains

If you’re not sure what you’re dealing with, try these steps from Brown first and see if the stain lifts:

  1. Mix warm water with a drop or two of mild soap
  2. Let the water with mild soap sit on the stain for a couple of minutes
  3. Rinse with water and blot dry
  4. Let the mattress dry completely

How to eliminate odors from a mattress

If your mattress remains smelly despite the stain being gone, Ciechorska advises trying these steps:

  1. Strip all bedding from the mattress
  2. Vacuum the mattress with the upholstery attachment, paying special attention to seams, crevices, and areas where the odor may be more concentrated
  3. Sprinkle baking soda all over the mattress, as it’s effective at absorbing odors
  4. Let it sit for a few hours, or overnight
  5. Vacuum again thoroughly, to remove the baking soda
  6. Air out the mattress in sunlight, or a well-ventilated area
  7. Consider using an enzymatic cleaner if needed
  8. Use a mattress protector to prevent future odors
Original Green Tea

Is it possible to just wash the whole mattress?

“It’s generally only advisable to wash some of the mattress,” cautions Brown. “Extra moisture in a bed can damage the materials, take forever to dry, and lead to mold growth. Spot cleaning and maintaining a mattress will prolong its life and keep it pleasant.”

How do you spot clean a mattress?

The main trick to spot cleaning a mattress is to act quickly. Gently blot up anything still seeping in, then do the following, per Brown’s advice:

  1. Create a mild soap and cold water solution (just a drop of dish soap with a cup of cold water should be enough)
  2. Dip a clean sponge in the solution to gently blot the stain
  3. Rinse the area with water and a cloth in a blotting motion
  4. Let the mattress air dry completely

When is it time to just get a new mattress?

There are plenty of signs you might need a new mattress, ranging from back pain to trouble falling or staying asleep. But from a cleanliness perspective, “if your mattress has frequent stains, strong odors, signs of mildew that cannot be effectively cleaned, or traces of bed bugs, consider replacing it,” says Brown.

Ciechorska adds that, “If your mattress has reached or exceeded the average lifespan of eight to ten years, it’s worth considering a replacement. Around this time, even with proper cleaning, older mattresses tend to experience a decline in hygiene.”

How do you prevent mattress stains?

Prevention is better than cure, and it’s certainly better than scrubbing urine stains out of a smelly mattress. “The easiest way to prevent mattress stains is to invest in a high-quality, waterproof mattress protector,” says Ciechorska. “This protective cover acts as a barrier against spills, stains, and dust mites, helping to keep your mattress clean.”

“They’re like big pillowcases that slide over both sides of a mattress and zip up the side,” explains Brown. “They’re often used to protect allergy sufferers from mattress fibers and dust mites, but they also create a barrier from body soil, sweat, oils, hair, urine, blood, pet dander, food, or anything else that could stain a mattress. Mattress covers can easily be washed in a washing machine to remove stains that otherwise would have been on the bed itself.”

Brown also suggests that, “The next best way to prevent mattress stains is to not eat or drink in bed,” but where’s the fun in that?

Final thoughts

“There’s no one approach that works for every kind of stain,” reiterates Brown. “Stains can be chemically different and may need slightly different approaches to removing them from mattresses.” That said, if you’re not sure what kind of stain you’re dealing with, Brown suggests a basic approach to try:

  • Vacuum the mattress using the hose and an upholstery attachment to remove loose dirt and dust
  • Spot clean the stain using a mixture of dawn dish soap or a drop of Sal Suds and water
  • Blotting is the key to removing the stain, and you’ll want to use a cloth or sponge
  • Avoid soaking the mattress
  • Rinse the area with clear water again with a cloth by blotting
  • Let the mattress air dry entirely before putting linens and bedding back on the mattress

Suddenly that mattress protector seems like a pretty good idea.

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