How to Deodorise and Get Smell Out of Mattress

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Out of all the items in your house, you probably do not give much thought to your mattress. You go to bed, sleep on the mattress, wake up, and forget about it and the cycle repeats. However your humble abode, your mattress can start to smell a little funky over time. And when that happens, it needs timely action to get rid of that smell.

Tips to get rid of bad smell out of mattress

But, why do mattresses smell?

Even though you cover the mattress with protective layers like sheets and mattress protectors, the sweat, urine, blood, cry, drool, spill, hair and dead skin cells that accumulate on the mattress can create an unpleasant odour over time. Not to mention, if you have pets, their dander, urine and hair can also make your mattress smell bad.

Also if your room gets humid or if your mattress is left wet, it also creates a breeding ground for bacteria, mould, or dust mites and causes the mattress to smell damp and musty.

Deodorising the mattress is tricky & needs to be done right!

Caring for a mattress is more challenging than your typical bedding. It does not fit in a washer and dryer, unlike clothing. Mattresses are bulky and make deodorising a struggle.

On top of that, they are even more challenging to deodorise than other household items because they take a long time to dry. Your mattress must fully dry after getting wet to prevent bacteria growth. However, with the right approach and some handy tips, you can deodorise your mattress and restore it to its former glory.

Word of warning: Whatever method you use, make sure you dry your mattress completely to prevent any bacteria or mould buildup.

Effective Ways to Deodorise Your Mattress (As Needed)

Before you start, it’s a good idea to inspect bed sheets, mattress protectors, pillows or duvet covers for any foul smell. If they do, it’s best to launder and clean them as well.

1) Vacuum Your Mattress

Vacuuming your mattress removes any dust, dirt, or debris which may be causing the smell. Beds collect hair, dead skin cells, dust, and pet fur. Over time these particles accumulate and can contribute to foul odours. Make sure you use a vacuum with a hose attachment to get into the crevices of the mattress and vacuum every side of the mattress for maximum effects.

Vacuum the mattress to get rid of smell

2) Get Some Fresh Air

Like any moist place, your mattress also faces the risk of mould, mildew, and bacteria growth. The sun can kill any present bacteria or fungus on your mattress. Take it outside to sit for a few hours on a warm, sunny day. Flip it to make sure all sides can air out.

Lemon, Baking Soda & Vinegar for Deodorising
Lemon, Baking Soda & Vinegar for Deodorising

3) Rub Lemons on Top [For Light Odour]

Lemons are neutralisers that have good deodorising properties. They are also anti-bacterial and can kill germs on your mattress. Rub the lemon over the area where you think the smell is coming from. Allow a few hours for your mattress to completely dry. You will return to a fresh citrus scent! This technique works best for light odours like sweat or musty smell.

4) Spray Vinegar [For Medium Odour]

Vinegar has deodorising properties that make it an excellent household remedy for unpleasant odours. Mix an equal proportion of distilled white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Then, sparsely but evenly spray the mixture all over your mattress. Let the vinegar sit for a few hours, and vacuum or blot it up. 

5) Spread Baking Soda, Cornstarch, or Borax [For Medium Odour]

Baking soda, cornstarch or borax are quite effective against strong or lingering odours. Sprinkle a liberal amount of any of these powders over the top of your mattress. Let it sit for a few hours and then vacuum it up. You can even combine baking soda and cornstarch to make a more powerful solution. 

The odour may be extra potent if you have an older mattress or an old stain. You can make a powerful paste that works particularly well with caked-on urine stains. Start by lightly spraying your mattress with water. Rub in baking soda, cornstarch, or borax. Ensure that you wear protective cleaning gear (goggles, gloves, and a mask) when working with borax. The mixture forms a paste. Let it sit for a while. Blot the areas covered in the paste with a damp towel when you are ready. Let the mattress dry.

5) Make Your DIY Solution [For Strong Odour]

Even after all these treatments, the odour emanating from your mattress may not disappear. The best option is to make an extra-powerful DIY solution that can cut through caked-on urine, sweat, or other bodily fluids. 

Mix 8 ounces (240 ml) of 3% hydrogen peroxide, three tablespoons of baking soda, and a few drops of dish soap and essential oil of your choice in a spray bottle. Swirl the bottle to mix the ingredients, making sure not to shake the solution. Then, spray the mixture over your entire mattress. Leave it overnight, if possible. Vacuum the remaining baking soda powder and enjoy your odour-free mattress. 

If the urine smell is from pets or extra staunch, mix an enzyme cleaner with the solution.

6) Use Essential Oils

Essential oils are a great way to cover up any bad smells and make your mattress smell amazing. Strong smelling oils such as lavender, rosemary, and tea tree oil work the best. Mix a few drops of your favourite essential oil with some water in a spray bottle. Spray the mixture over your entire mattress. Allow it to dry. The smell of the essential oil will overpower any bad smells.

Which Method Works Best?

Every mattress is different and comes with recommended cleaning instructions from the manufacturer. It’s always best to start with those to ensure that you do not damage it or void the warranty.

Depending on the type of stain/odour you have and how long it has been there, you can choose any methods shared above. Generally, for light smell, vacuuming and rubbing lemon works. You can also look to combine different methods for extra deodorising powers. For example, you can use a combination of vinegar, baking soda, and vacuuming to rid your mattress of unwanted smells.

Ensure that you do not use any cleaners with bleach or harsh chemicals. They can stain the mattress and cause damage with prolonged exposure—don’t forget, you spend one-third of your life on your mattress!

The Bottomline

Cleaning and deodorising your mattress is a task. If only we could throw it in a giant washer and call it a day. Sadly, that reality has not yet come to fruition. 

That said, do not let this challenge prevent you from taking care of your mattress! Instead, use one or a combination of the methods discussed in this article to tackle stubborn odours. 

Save yourself the hassle of sleeping on a smelly mattress or replacing the bulkiest item in your house with one of these simple cleaning methods. You are sure to find something that works for you.

FAQs

Dogs, cats and kids – all are prone to accidents on the mattress. The best advice would always be to clean up any urine accidents as soon as possible to avoid stains or long term smells. As the mattress is highly absorbent, it is crucial to act fast.

For fresh urine, start by blotting up as much of the urine as possible with a paper towel or newspaper. If required, you can also lightly wet the area before blotting. The next step would be to neutralise the lingering smell – vinegar or baking soda should work in most cases.

If the urine has dried up or the smell isn’t going away, you would need a more powerful solution. Please follow the “Make your solution” guide shared above.

Vomit smell can be particularly difficult to remove from a mattress. As it is made up of both stomach acids and food, it can be hard to cut through the smell. The best way to start is to blot up as much of the vomit as possible. Follow with a dash of vinegar or baking soda solution. If the smell persists, try our hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, vinegar and essential oil solution (make your solution).

The sweat smell is pretty straightforward to remove. The baking soda or rubbing the lemon method and airing out the mattress should do the trick in most cases.

The new mattress smell is very common and the best way to get rid of it is to air the mattress out. Place it in a well-ventilated area with open windows and leave it for 24 to 48 hours. You can also use a fan to speed up the process.

James Lee

James Lee

James is the content director at WhatASleep, a certified sleep science coach from Spencer Institute and our in-house sleep product expert. Over three years, he's personally tested hundreds of mattresses. He likes to keep his reviews simple, objective, and straightforward so that the readers don't have to go through decision fatigue which is often the case while shopping for sleep products.

He hails from Sydney and has a journalism degree from the University of Queensland and an MBA from Melbourne Business School.

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