How to Remove Stains From a Mattress Once and For All

Get rid of those unsightly stains.

Bedroom with white bedding

Arbor & Co.

Keeping your mattress in good shape is important to get the longest life out of your investment. A well-kept mattress can last up to ten years, and if you've invested in a high-quality one, it's important to care for it the right way.

But accidents happen and sometimes a perfectly good mattress is soiled with an imperfect stain. It is ideal to catch a stain as soon as it happens for the best possible outcome, but even an old stain can be removed with the right tools. Whether you have a memory foam mattress or an innerspring mattress, here are the tools you need to get rid of that stubborn stain and refresh your bed.

How Often Should You Remove Stains From a Mattress?

According to experts, you should aim to clean your mattress at least twice a year. This ensures that bacteria and dirt and debris are kept at bay and your mattress lasts for years to come. But what happens when you discover an unsightly stain on your mattress? Any stain should be cleaned as soon as you catch it, whether that is immediately after it occurs or weeks later when you're changing the sheets.

A fresh stain will be easier to clean than one that has lingered for days and days, so we recommend checking your mattress over every time you change your sheets (so, ideally, weekly), to ensure your mattress is stain-free.

Bed with white sheets

Ashley Webb

Things You'll Need to Remove a Mattress Stain

  • Brush
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Dish soap
  • Soft brush
  • Handheld vacuum
  • Store-bought enzyme cleaner (optional)

Before you consider replacing that badly stained mattress, read on for how to remove even an age-old stain and make your mattress look and feel brand new.

Step 1: Blot Up the Stain

If you act quickly and you spot a stain as soon as it happens, never rub. Grab a microfiber towel and carefully blot up the stain until you are no longer getting any residue up. We recommend avoiding paper towels, especially with liquid stains, but whatever you have on hand will work in a pinch.

Step 2: Vacuum the Mattress

Whether you caught the stain as soon as it happened, or it is already dry by now, it's time to vacuum up the mattress. Grab a handheld vacuum or an attachment that allows you to easily sweep up dirt and debris from your mattress.

We recommend doing this at least every month as a habit, but it's a key step to complete before you try to tackle a stain. Even if the dirt isn't part of the current problem, this is a great way to keep dust to a minimum and extend the life of your mattress.

Boho bed theme


Step 3: Spray a Vinegar Solution

Your next step will depend slightly on what type of stain you have (if you know!). If you find a general stain and can't determine the source of it, start here. Take an empty spray bottle and mix one part warm water with one part vinegar and a dash of dish soap. Mix it around and spray it directly on the affected area. Allow the solution to sit for at least 10 minutes or longer if your stain is old and then carefully begin to blot the stain.

As with any stain, at no point in the process do you want to rub the solution into the mattress. This will only make the stain worse and push the mess deeper into the fibers.

If this removed your stain, great! Wait until the mattress is fully dry before putting your sheets back on.

Step 4: Consider a Store-Bought Cleaner

If you're confronted with a potty training accident or another bodily fluid, you may want to reach for an enzyme cleaner while you tackle the stain. A store-bought cleaner that is formulated for urine or other accidents can help prevent smells from penetrating deep down in your mattress.

When it comes to bodily fluid stains such as blood or urine, always avoid using hot water as the heat can "set" the stain and make it permanent. Start with cold water and never go warmer than tepid.

Bedroom with green accent

Emily Henderson

Step 5: Sprinkle Baking Soda

Once you've let the solution do its job and you've removed the stain, sprinkle baking soda all over the mattress. This can help prevent mold and reduce the chance of smells lingering behind in your mattress. Let the baking soda sit for at least 10 minutes and then vacuum it up.

Step 6: Always Let It Air Dry

Whether you own a pillowtop or a memory foam mattress, it's important to always let your mattress dry fully before you make your bed again. Using the least amount of liquid to clean the stain as possible will help avoid mildew and mold and letting it air out gives your mattress a chance to breathe.

Tips to Avoid Stains on Your Mattress

Of course, the best course of action to remove a stain on your mattress is to do your best to avoid stains in the first place. While you can't prevent accidents from happening, we recommend always covering your new mattress with a well-made mattress protector. Look for something that is waterproof, but still breathable and flexible.

Check your protector for rips or tears every time you change your sheets and don't forget to clean it every few cycles as well.

How to Get Rid of Smells in Your Mattress

As we discussed earlier, baking soda is a great natural odor reducer and a wonderful last step to any cleaning routine you do on your mattress. If you are still struggling with lingering smells, consider trying cornstarch instead. Carefully sprinkle it just over the stain or smell and vacuum it up.

Other options include a fabric sanitizing spray or a few drops of essential oils mixed with water. Just be sure to avoid saturating your mattress with any of these methods–a mist is enough to freshen up your mattress.