With most people spending about one-third of their lifetimes in their beds, it’s small wonder that mattresses become dirty and stained. Everything from spilled beverages, such as tea and coffee, even juice and wine, to bodily fluids such as blood and urine, can stain the fresh, clean surface of your mattress and shorten its useful life. But don’t worry – with a bit of vigilance and stain-removal know-how, you can prolong the life of your mattress and keep it looking and smelling clean and fresh for longer.
Oh No! A stain!
Just like when tackling a lot of other stains, fast action is the key, especially to prevent fluids from seeping down into the mattress padding. Unfortunately, a lot of times, a mattress stain is only discovered several days or even weeks later when the sheets are being changed and by then, it is an old, dry one that is much harder to remove. In addition, it may be hard to determine exactly what the stain was caused by in the first place. Don’t despair: a bit of trial & error will help determine the type of stain and stain removal needed.
One thing to keep in mind is that no matter which method you use, the most important thing is to keep the mattress as dry as possible and avoid letting any liquids seep into the inner padding. After stain removal treatment, always let the mattress dry completely before covering with sheets again – otherwise moisture left in the mattress can cause the growth of mould and mildew. This cause not only more unsightly stains but are also potentially a serious health hazard. If you have to, you can use a hair dryer or fan to help dry a mattress faster.
Dry Suds Method
When tackling any kind of stain on any surface, it is always best to err on the side of caution and start with the mildest stain removal methods first. A good example of this is a mild solution of dishwashing detergent and water, which can be blotted onto the stained area and then gently wiped away with a damp sponge, followed by blotting the area dry with paper towels. To be even safer, you might like make up some “dry suds”: this can be done using a ¼ cup mild detergent powder whisked with 1 cup of warm water, using an electrical mixer or egg beater, until thick, frothy suds form. These suds can then be gently rubbed into the stain using a sponge, until the stain begins to fade. This method allows you to clean the stain, while keeping the mattress as dry as possible. It is most effective on fresh stains, although it can still work on older stains.
When the Going Gets Tough
If your stain is resistant to general household detergent, you may need to move onto using an upholstery cleaner, although bear in mind that these usually contain harsh chemicals to do their job. Make sure you follow the instructions on the label precisely and keep the room well-ventilated both during and after treatment, by opening all the windows that you can. If you find that the stain is stubborn, even to a general upholstery cleaner, then you may be dealing with one of the specific stains in the “difficult” category:
- Urine stains – particularly common from pets but also from bed-wetting children, this stain is tough because not only the stain but the odour must be removed. Preventing the urine from soaking into the mattress is crucial. Use paper towels to blot up as much of the excess liquid as possible. Then saturate the stained area with white vinegar – an excellent stain and odour-remover. Again, blot up any excess liquid with paper towels and then cover the area with baking soda. Let this sit over night to absorb all odours and then vacuum it all off in the morning. And alternative to using household vinegar and baking soda is to go to a pet store and purchase a urine odour removal agent, and following the instructions given.
- Blood stains – blood stains can be one of the most challenging stains to get out of your mattress, particularly if they are old and dried. You can start by trying the mild detergent solution – in some cases, this will work quite well. If your blood stain is stubborn, however, then the best solution may be to get hold of some hydrogen peroxide which is very effective against blood stains. Dab the hydrogen peroxide solution onto the stained area, starting from the outside in, and watch it begin to bubble. Keep applying more hydrogen peroxide and blotting, until the stain has faded. Be careful though – hydrogen peroxide can be a powerful bleaching agent and may easily bleach your mattress fabric so be prepared for some colour loss in the stained area. It is best to do a spot test in a corner first.
If all these DIY home methods do not remove the stains, then it may be time to seek professional help. There are companies which specialise in cleaning mattress – look in your Yellow Pages. Also, check your mattress warranty as some warranty policies may include stain removal. Lastly, prevent future stains by using a mattress cover to protect your mattress.