How to Clean a Smelly Mattress

Corey M. Mackenzie

Mattresses develop odor easily due to everything from regular use (perspiration and body oils build up after a while) to urine accidents and other unplanned, odor-causing problems.

It takes time to clean a smelly mattress, but when you use the right kinds of products, the results are worth the time and effort -- you will save yourself the expense of a new mattress.

  1. Use the attachments (brush and hose) on your vacuum cleaner to vacuum the mattress. Flip the mattress over after you have vacuumed one side and vacuum the other side. Vacuum all sides and seams as well.

  2. Take the mattress outdoors if possible and if the weather should be temperate for about 24 hours. Place it on a patio table or a tarp. Put on rubber gloves and mix 1 tbsp. of laundry detergent and 1 gallon of warm water in a bucket.

  3. Wet your sponge and scrub this mixture over the mattress. Allow that side to dry and turn the mattress over to do the other side.

  4. Rinse out your sponge and wipe over the mattress again to make it slightly damp. Sprinkle Borax over the mattress and wipe it into the fabric with the damp sponge. Leave it until it is completely dry and then vacuum that side of the mattress.

  5. Flip the mattress over, dampen the new side with the sponge and sprinkle Borax on this side, as you did the other. Rub it in and wait until it dries before vacuuming.

  6. Allow the mattress to air out overnight, preferably outdoors where there is a lot of ventilation. If indoors, turn on a fan to keep air flowing around the mattress.

  7. Tip

    If the mattress had a musty smell, leave it in the sunlight for several hours after cleaning. Sunlight helps kill mildew, which is often responsible for musty smells. Borax also helps kill mildew, as well as eliminate common odors from mattresses.

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