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How to Clean Stains on a Mattress

An ounce of prevention may be worth a pound of cure, but that won’t help you when your houseguest spills deep red wine on your guest bed, or your pet has an unfortunate accident in the worst possible place. These things happen, and Murphy’s Law ensures that they’re most likely to occur at precisely the same time that your mattress protector is in the wash. For this reason, it’s essential for mattress owners – especially those who’ve recently invested in new mattresses – to be versed in stain removal. In case you haven’t memorized the ideal cleaners for every type of stain under the sun, we offer this handy guide for getting stubborn stains out of your mattress.

Rules of Thumb

If your friend waited until they’d safely returned home before telling you about a messy mishap, you’re in for an uncomfortable conversation. Whenever possible, you want to act quickly and remove any impending stain before it’s had a chance to set. Don’t use hot water, and don’t rub; these will work against you. Whichever stain remover you use, apply as little as possible, and keep in mind never to drench your mattress. Always use clean cloths, preferably white, and use a dabbing motion. You have lots of options when it comes to cleaning fabric, but if you encounter a particularly tough stain, you can always resort to calling in professional cleaners. 

Substance-Specific Stain Removal

Blood

If you discover blood on your mattress while it’s still wet, start by dabbing away excess moisture with a clean cloth. Apply baking soda directly to the stain, then spray with white vinegar. Let the treatment do its work for half an hour, then blot away with cold water on a clean cloth. Repeat until all traces are gone and the vinegar smell has dissipated. 

Removing a dried blood stain is a tougher task. Make a paste of 1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide (3%) mixed with one tablespoon of liquid dish soap and one tablespoon of table salt. Spread the mixture on the stain and allow it to sit. When the treatment has dried, scrape away the residue, then dab off any remaining stain with a clean rag dipped into hydrogen peroxide, rotating the cloth as the stain lifts off.

Red Wine

It’s wise to avoid both alcohol and exercise before you try to sleep, but should that Bordeaux make it onto your bed, you’ll want to leap into action. Start by diluting the wine with cold water. This will likely lighten the stain, but it won’t remove it entirely. Try to remove as much fluid as possible by blotting with dry tissues or a cloth. If the stain is fresh and you have some club soda on hand, this go-to cleaner should do the trick. Cover the stained area with club soda and gently work it in. Then add a layer of table salt and let it rest for a few hours. As the salt dries, it will absorb the wine from the fabric, lifting the stain from your mattress. For a particularly stubborn stain, you may need to take the additional step of adding white vinegar. After letting this sit for about 10 minutes, blot the area with cold water until neither the stain nor the vinegar smell is detectable.

Urine

It happens to all parents – of fur babies or otherwise. The little members of our families who need constant care just don’t have the self-control to prevent every potential potty-related predicament. Should urine soak the surface of a mattress in your home, don’t despair. First, use clean rags to blot the affected area, absorbing all the moisture you can. Then sprinkle the surface of the mattress with baking soda. Spray the area with a homemade or store-bought enzyme cleaner, let it sit for three to five minutes, then blot again to remove any excess moisture. Sprinkle the surface with baking soda again, and this time allow the mattress to dry overnight. Once the fabric has dried completely, vacuum up the baking soda.

 

Nail Polish

Who paints their nails on an unprotected mattress? 3-year-olds, that’s who. If someone (since it couldn’t possibly be you) gets nail polish on the surface of your bed, you’ll want to get it out right away. Dab the area with a clean white cloth to remove the excess nail polish. Then use a non-acetone nail polish remover on a clean sponge or white rag to dab away the stain. As you move from the outside of the stain to the center, be sure to keep moving to a clean part of the cloth to prevent from transferring polish from one part of your mattress to another.

Stop stains before they start!

You might figure that a stain on your mattress won’t matter because it’s always covered with sheets anyway. In truth, stains are serious business. If you have a new mattress, any stain on its surface is likely to void your valuable warranty. Untreated biological stains, like pet urine, can make future stains more likely. And any unabsorbed moisture in your mattress – regardless of the cause – can cause mold to grow. The best policy is to keep your mattress clean and to protect it, starting the day you get it, with a high-quality, washable mattress cover.

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