How to Clean and Remove Blood, Vomit and Urine Stains From a Mattress
Have have ever watched one of those TV shows where they inform you of all the germs, allergens and contaminants that are on a mattress?
Ignorance was bliss...but now, after being totally sickened, you will most likely want to know how to keep your mattress as clean as possible. Maybe that's why you are reading this article now!
Mattresses are expensive, and you should clean your mattress regularly to prolong its useful life. This not only means a more comfortable nights sleep, but piece of mind knowing that you are getting the most out of your purchase. With proper cleaning, dust mites will be kept to a minimum, odors will be nonexistent and any allergy problems should be greatly reduced.
The cleaning and maintenance process should start right when you bring the mattress into your home, but it's never too late to try to revive your old mattress and have it smelling sweet once again.
Cleaning Vomit/Feces Stains
This may not happen often but inevitably when someone gets the flu (especially children) you may be faced with having to deal with this unpleasant problem. Not to worry, there are definite ways to clean and disinfect this kind of mess.
If you have a pair of cleaning gloves, put them on to keep your hands clean.
- Remove as much of the solids as possible and flush down the toilet. A dustpan is a great tool for this kind of job (you can hose it off later outside).
- Take the sheets and mattress pad off and put them in the wash.
- Using cotton or terry cloth towels (whatever you have available) soak up as much remaining liquid as you can. Be careful to blot to absorb the staining material, don’t rub.
- Make a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and warm water in a spray bottle.
- Spray the area lightly (don't saturate) then use an absorbent towel to soak up the liquid. In fact, you should use as many clean towels as needed because you can always wash a towel, and a towel is much cheaper than replacing a mattress.
- Repeat this process of spray and blot until the stain and odor is gone. You may smell the vinegar, but this will dissipate after the mattress dries.
- Let the mattress air dry overnight.
If you've followed the disinfecting steps above and still notice an odor on your dry mattress:
- Sprinkle baking soda lightly on the soiled area.
- Rub in lightly.
- Let the baking soda sit undisturbed on the mattress to absorb the odor.
- Vacuum the baking soda off the next day.
Removing Vomit/Feces Stains
- Use a spray bottle and spray full strength household type hydrogen peroxide (3% solution) directly on the stain.
- Do not over saturate the mattress.
- Let the hydrogen peroxide air dry for a few hours.
- If the stain appears to have lightened, you can repeat this process until the stain is gone.
Note: Hydrogen peroxide converts to water after being exposed to light, so there is no need to rinse.
Heavy Duty Vomit/Feces Stain Removal
In the case of heavy duty staining such as you can find from food, grease, or fats such as milk or ice cream, you will need to add a detergent / degreaser to help break the fats and solid stains down.
Don't go overboard with the soap. A little goes a long way. Detergent or shampoo can leave a residue and it is impossible to remove it completely from a mattress. It's always best to use a steam cleaner to flush the area with your cleaning solution and then extract as much of the liquid and detergent residue.
- 3 cups of warm water.
- 1 cup of vinegar.
- Add 1/2 tsp of dish-washing liquid or regular shampoo (non bleach)
Following directions on your specific steam cleaner, lightly go over the stain again being careful to extract as much of the liquid as possible. The vinegar will deodorize and the detergent/degreaser will help loosen and lift the remaining stain. Your mattress should be fresh and clean and stain free.
- Using cold water and several clean towels, blot up as much blood as possible to avoid soaking it further into the mattress.
- Pour household strength hydrogen peroxide (3%), into a spray bottle.
- Spray the solution on the blood stain. Working very quickly spray, blot, spray, blot with your clean towel.
- The blood stain will start bubbling up upon contact with the hydrogen peroxide.
- Repeat this process until the stain is gone.
Urine Stains And Odor
It's always important to work as quickly as possible to avoid the urine from soaking into the mattress. Most importantly is to avoid soaking the mattress pad with any liquid, and /or forcing the urine into the mattress further.
Start by using a clean absorbent cotton towel and blot up as much liquid as you can.
You can use a enzymatic cleaner or a pet stain remover if you have some on hand. These work well but are often expensive, not to mention I can never find them on hand right when I need them.
I use a white vinegar solution. It's inexpensive, natural and effective stain remover and deodorizer.
- Mix a solution of 50/50 white vinegar and water in a spray bottle.
- Spray the solution on the stain. Working very quickly spray and blot the stain working from the outside edges in.
- Repeat until the stain has been removed.
A portable steam cleaner is is an ideal tool because you can flush the area with your cleaning solution and then extract most of the liquid back out of the mattress. Use 3 cups of water to 1 cup of vinegar for best results.
Removing Urine Odor
By following the stain removal procedure using vinegar, you will be doing double duty. Vinegar is not only a mild antibacterial and antiviral, it is the most incredible deodorizer you'll find. I know you're probably saying that vinegar is pretty smelly itself. That is true when it is applied, but the vinegar odor will dissipate as it dries.
Let the mattress air dry completely. Then give it the sniff test, you should be good to go!
Heavy Duty Urine Odor Removal
If some stubborn smell remains, baking soda is also a natural deodorizer that works wonders.
- Simply sprinkle baking soda on the urine stain and let it sit for several hours.
- Vacuum up the dried baking soda and the smell should be gone.
Keeping Your Mattress Fresh
Most people do not think of mattress maintenance as part of their regular cleaning. They launder their sheets weekly and think that everything is clean and fresh...
No matter how clean you (or your sheets are), your mattress will accumulate allergens, odors coming from you and your pets. We (and our pets) are constantly shedding our outermost layer of skin and this debris settles in the sheets and eventually escapes and dwells right on the mattress top.
This said, all is not lost. If your mattress is worth keeping, then all you need to do is follow these tips to sanitize and freshen it up.
Yes, a vacuum! You can use a vacuum cleaner with a hose and appropriate attachment and go over the mattress fabric really quickly. Assuming you are doing routine cleaning and not dealing with a pesky stain, simply strip the bed and use the vacuum cleaner to get all loose materials off the mattress and out from under the bed.
This will help remove dead skin, dust and debris that collects in the seams in your mattress. Another bonus of vacuuming is that it fluffs up your mattress allowing for a more comfortable night's sleep. After I am done with the "top" of the mattress, I like to move it to the side and vacuum the top of the box spring. It is amazing how much dust and pet hair can accumulate. This is a good time to flip the mattress and vacuum the other side.
The entire area around the bed (including all cracks and crevasses) should be cleaned at the same time. This helps limit dust, pet hair and other things from migrating back into the bed.
Flipping the mattress at least two times each year helps it wear evenly, minimizing wear and tear.
Pillow Top Mattress
Pillow top mattresses cannot be flipped, but they can have the top reversed to the bottom to make sure that the mattress wears evenly.
If the mattress is not a pillow top, the bottom of the mattress can flipped to the top, and also have the top and bottom reversed.
- Keep up with how the mattress is moved each time so that all four positions allow the mattress to wear evenly.
- While the mattress is being repositioned, it is the opportune time to clean the box springs and vacuum them thoroughly. When the reverse side of the mattress is placed on top, be sure to clean it completely before putting the mattress cover and sheets back on top.
Keeping Your Mattress Clean
The best way to keep a mattress clean is to protect it.
Buy a Mattress Cover
Purchase a mattress cover that completely envelops the mattress and zips up to keep anything from getting inside. This will keep out dust mites and allergens that will otherwise make their home in the mattress material.
Using a Mattress Pad
A mattress pad is another way to keep a mattress clean, but it needs to be laundered weekly. Utilize the time when the mattress cover or pad is not on the bed to clean and vacuum the frame and mattress. Dust the frame and all the crevices to remove bugs, dead skin and other items that may have become trapped there.
Waterproof Mattress Cover
If you are caring for an elderly parent or if you have young children, waterproof mattress pads/covers are affordable and help protect the mattress.
Remember: precautions taken beforehand can reduce problems later, but they can't eliminate the need to perform periodic maintenance on the mattress and bed frame.
Now Enjoy a Good Night's Sleep!
Now you can clean and disinfect your mattress so that no one will have any idea that your mattress was stained. Just be sure to remember the maintenance.... so it will smell as fresh as it looks.
Image courtesy of Stefan Powell, CC BY Flickr.