Jump to navigation links Jump to main content Jump to footer links
Mold Busters 101: How to Spot, Clean, and Prevent Mold on a Mattress

Mold Busters 101: How to Spot, Clean, and Prevent Mold on a Mattress

When you spot mold on a loaf of bread, you toss it into the garbage can without a second thought – but what are you supposed to do if you see mold on your mattress? Beyond inconvenience, mold exposure can pose serious health risks, and it’s important to know what may cause this problem and the signs to watch for. Keep reading to better understand mattress mold and, ultimately, create a healthier sleep haven.

What is Mattress Mold?

It’s precisely what the name implies: mold growing on your mattress. Mold can grow anywhere there’s moisture, and your cozy sleep space is no exception. Hypothetically, mold can grow on almost any moist surface within 24 to 48 hours. It’s easiest to bust mold if you catch it early, so it’s essential to be on the lookout (especially if you live in an environment with high humidity).

Signs of Mattress Mold

  • Visible mold. The most obvious sign that mold has taken up residence on your mattress is seeing it. But what does mold on a mattress look like? Mattress mold varies in appearance, coming in various shades of green, white, and black! The mold may look fluffy or slimy and often appears in patchy spots.
  • Musty odors. Another obvious sign of mattress mold is a strong, musty smell. Even if you don’t know exactly what mold smells like, this pungent, damp smell is hard to miss.
  • Allergy symptoms. Sometimes, the first indication that you may have mold in your mattress is unexplained allergy-like symptoms. If you’ve suddenly developed watery, itchy eyes, a cough, sneezing, headaches, and even a rash, it’s important to examine your mattress thoroughly.
  • Unusual Stains. You may not see the telltale fluffy mold, but new and unexplained stains may also indicate mattress mold. Carefully examine any blotches or areas of weird discoloration, as they might be sneaky mold patches.

What Causes Mold on a Mattress?

Various things can cause mattress mold or increase your risk of developing it, so it’s important to stay vigilant if any of these risk factors apply to you and your sleeping environment.

  • Living in a humid environment
  • Sleeping in a room with poor airflow/ventilation
  • A warm bedroom
  • Spilling anything liquid onto your mattress
  • Placing your mattress on the floor

Mold can thrive almost anywhere that’s warm and moist. By taking steps to keep your sleep space cool, ventilated, and dry, you can work to prevent mold growth.

Effects of Mattress Mold

Is mold on a mattress dangerous? According to the EPA, mold can have numerous impacts on our health, ranging from mild to severe. While some people may experience mild cold/allergy symptoms, such as a dry throat, watery eyes, headaches, rashes, and coughs, others may experience more adverse effects. For example, people with compromised immune systems or asthma may experience more severe reactions, like lung infections.

How to Clean a Moldy Mattress

Fortunately, if you’ve learned how to know if your mattress has mold before it truly takes over, you have a few options for getting rid of it. If you’ve found the invader on your mattress, the steps below can help you stop it in its tracks.

1. Vacuum your mattress.

Vacuuming your mattress can help get solid dust and debris off. Be sure to run your vacuum over your entire mattress – the top, bottom, and every single side.

2. Prepare your cleaning solution.

Create a cleaning solution from one of the options below:

  • Equal parts rubbing alcohol and warm water
  • One part hydrogen peroxide and three parts water
  • Equal parts vinegar and warm water

3. Scrub!

Use a brush or a rag to scrub the mold spots with your cleaning solution. Cover the entire spot with the solution, as well as a generous area around the stain in case it’s begun spreading.

4. Dry it out.

Put your mattress in direct sunlight and allow the solution to dry. (This part may be tricky, but the sun’s UV radiation can help inhibit mold growth!)

5. Repeat the cleaning process.

Repeat these steps for good measure and to ensure you’ve cleaned thoroughly.

6. Dry it again.

Allow your mattress to dry thoroughly before putting on your (freshly washed and disinfected) bedding. No one wants to go to bed on a soggy mattress or, worse, encourage new mold growth.

7. Keep your mattress elevated.

Does having a mattress on the floor cause mold? It definitely can! Airflow can become obstructed when a mattress is placed on the ground, preventing the sweat and oils from your body from being aired out and potentially causing mold and mildew growth.

How to Prevent Mattress Mold

While it’s great to know the most effective ways to kill the mold, it’s even better to prevent it from growing in the first place. There are a few ways to reduce your chances of getting into a moldy mess.

Use a waterproof mattress protector.

Mold grows on moist mattresses (say that three times fast), so one of the best ways to prevent mold is by keeping your mattress nice and dry with a waterproof mattress protector.

Wash your bedding regularly.

There’s nothing better than cuddling up under freshly washed bedding, but washing your bedding often is more than just comforting. By keeping your bedding clean and sanitized, you’ll likely kill any mold spores within your bedding before they have a chance to multiply.

Keep your bedroom properly ventilated.

Letting humid, damp air linger and become stagnant in your room is a recipe for disaster. To help prevent mold from growing, keep your space ventilated with fresh air flow.

Sleep with dry hair.

Have we mentioned that mold comes from moisture? Try to plan your showers accordingly so that by the time your head hits the pillow, your locks are completely dry.

Use an air purifier.

Mold spores travel in the air, but you won’t see them until they’ve settled on a surface and begun growing. Using an air purifier in your bedroom can help prevent those airborne mold spores from wreaking havoc.

Replace your mattress every 7 to 10 years.

Even if you diligently keep your mattress clean, dry, and in tip-top shape, all mattresses have an expiration date. By replacing your mattress once it’s past its prime, you can potentially avoid major mold issues.

Sleeping on a bed that has had signs of mold is not generally recommended. Once you’ve deep cleaned your mattress and omitted the potential causes in your bedroom, you’ll still want to keep a watchful eye in case the mold returns. For quick replacement and peace of mind, consider replacing your old one with a new mattress at Rent-A-Center. Shop our wide selection of comfortable options online or stop by your nearest Rent-A-Center for help finding the perfect fit.

About Us

The good things in life don’t have to be out of reach. Rent-A-Center is here to make the things you want and need accessible, and Front & Center is your resource for living well on a budget.

Each week, we’ll bring you tips and tricks for infusing simplicity, style—even a little fun—into every aspect of your life and home. From decorating advice to money-saving strategies to opportunities to share with others like you, we’ll give you ideas that inspire. Live well, friends. And send your submissions, suggestions and questions for the blog to blog@rentacenter.com. For all customer service inquiries, please contact our Solution Center team at 1-800-422-8186.