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Mattress Mold: Signs, Causes and How to Remove It

by SleePare

By Dustin Morgan | 5 minutes Minute Read

Mattress mold is a fungus that thrives in humid environments and feeds on dead skin cells. It reproduces in the form of lightweight spores that travel through the air. Usually, they are harmless but when settled on a damp surface, they can multiply rapidly and destroy it.

Mold is typically brown, yellow, green or purple in color. It can grow anywhere from damp walls to carpets to mattresses. That being said, mattress mold is something that can definitely happen to you, whether you have a synthetic or organic mattress.

If a person is constantly exposed to mattress mold it can cause allergies and disturbed sleep. However, you can easily clean mold stains using home remedies and take precautionary steps to prevent its growth.

How to Remove Mold from a Mattress

Vacuum cleaner on mattress

Unfortunately, mattress mold can grow almost anywhere. Once a mattress is moldy, it can spread all over your belongings and cause allergic reactions such as nasal congestion, headache and watery eyes. 

Continuous exposure to mattress mold can pose a significant health risk as you spend one-third of your life in bed. Many times mold is invisible to the naked eye but a foul smell, constant headaches or disturbed sleep are tell-a-tale signs. 

Luckily, cleaning mold from a mattress is quite simple if the mold hasn't deeply penetrated into the mattress. Remember to check the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions before you get started to ensure you don’t damage your sleep area. 

Here are some steps to take if you’d try to rid your mattress of mold.

1. Vacuum Your Mattress

Use a vacuum cleaner on both sides of your mattress to pull out dirt, gunk and mold. Also, immediately wipe the vacuum cleaner to get rid of the spores so that they don’t spread into the room and contaminate other items.

2. Prepare the Cleaning Mixture

Mix equal parts of rubbing alcohol and warm water to treat the affected area. Dip a clean towel and ring it out to dampen the mold-stained area. Scrub the mattress in a circular motion with some force, to penetrate deeper into the mattress.

Mix equal parts of warm water and rubbing alcohol

3. Blot the Area

Wipe the area using a clean damp towel. Rinse using warm water and a tightly-wrung out cloth to prevent adding moisture. Otherwise, it could lead to more mold formation.

4. Use a Disinfectant

Spray disinfectant all over your mattress to kill bacteria and germs. Before using any disinfectant solution, check the label on your mattress. It helps to ensure that the solution is suitable for your mattress material. 

5. Ventilate Your Mattress

Once you have thoroughly cleaned your mattress, place it in a highly ventilated area to dry off any leftover moisture. Exposing it to sunlight will help you get rid of germs and speed up the drying process. It will also inhibit the growth of mold as sunlight effectively kills mold spores. 

Ways to Prevent a Moldy Mattress

Person with spray bottle and wipe

Since mattresses are made of soft, porous materials such as cotton, wool and foam, mold can easily form. All of these materials can absorb moisture and thus provide a suitable environment for mold growth.

Here are a few preventive tips that can help you reduce the chances of getting mold on your mattress. Follow all these tips, especially if you are living in a tropical region, for best results.

1. Use Dehumidifier

A damp environment can promote the growth of mold. Therefore, you should control the humidity level of your bedroom to prevent a mold infestation. Using a dehumidifier allows you to keep the humidity between 40-50% for maximum health and germ-control.

2. Use Air Purifier

Air purifiers can remarkably improve the quality of the indoor environment. They promote air circulation and filter out dirt, dander and spores from the surroundings. Air purifiers with HEPA and Active Carbon filters and UV-C light can help eliminate mold spores and stop its reproduction.

3. Ventilate Your Room

Let the air circulate in your home even when you are not around. If you’re in a less humid environment, try opening the windows once in a while. When you close the windows, switch on air purifiers, dehumidifiers and ACs to prevent mold infestation. Doing so will keep the indoor environment clean and dry.

open window with air blowing in

4. Expose It To Sun

To protect your mattress from mold, keep it dry. We sweat a lot during the night which can dampen our sleep area. You can remove the bedsheets and open windows on a sunny day to dry off excess moisture and kill mold spores naturally. Doing so once a week ensures you can keep your sleep area clean without any chemicals and hard work. 

5. Use Antimicrobial Protection

If your mattress has mold stains, apply antimicrobial treatments. It will not only remove any stains and smell but also prevent further degradation of mattress materials. These chemical compounds inhibit the growth of mold by interfering in its reproductive cycle. Meanwhile, they also remove fungus, bacteria and viruses from your mattress surface. 

6. Change Bed Sheets Regularly

According to a National Sleep Foundation poll in 2012, 91% of people change their bed sheets every other week. However, experts recommend weekly washing as sheets accumulate lots of dander, sweat and bacteria, leading to mold and fungal growth. 

Changing bed sheets regularly also allows you to inspect the mattress surface, which can be a home to mold and mildew. 

7. Use HEPA Vacuum 

HEPA vacuums differ from conventional ones as they contain filters that can easily trap small microorganisms. Cleaning your mattress with a HEPA vacuum cleaner helps you get rid of allergens and irritants including, microbes, dust particles and mold spores.

HEPA filter with huge pile of dirt

8. Keep the Mattress Dry

Use mattress covers and protectors to keep your sleep surface dry. Make sure the fabric is breathable for adequate airflow to help avoid moisture formation. Covers and protectors can also act as a barrier between you and your mattress surface, thus protecting you against the icky stuff. 

9. Put your Mattress on a Slatted Base

Put your mattress on a slatted bed base. Unlike box spring and flat platforms, slatted bed bases encourage continuous airflow through both sides. This prevents mold growth on the underside of the mattress. 

10. Immediately Clean Water Spills

Immediately wipe off any liquid spilled on the mattress as it could lead to developing mold and mildew. Use a dry napkin to absorb the liquid and sprinkle baking soda to wick away excess moisture. 

Signs of Mattress Mold

Person looking worried

Mattress mold is usually not visible to the naked eye, especially if you don’t thoroughly check it on a regular basis. However, identifying early signs of mold contamination can help limit its proliferation. It will also ensure a healthy and undisturbed sleep. Listed below are 10 common signs of mattress mold.

1. Your Mattress Smells Funny

The mold spores have an unnoticeable persistent and musty smell while mold itself produces a pungent odor similar to rotten food. If your mattress starts smelling foul, then chances are it's mold-infested. Typically, your mattress may start smelling before it shows any visible stains. 

2. You See Green and Purple Blotches

Stains are the most prominent signs of mold growth. As the fungus spreads, it leaves green and purple blotches on the surface. If you notice your mattress has turned into an art canvas without any plausible connection, then it can be mold. 

3. You Develop Allergy Symptoms

Exposure to mold for an extended period can typically cause allergy-like reactions, such as red watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, headache and skin rashes. If these symptoms aggravate as soon as you are on the bed and disappear during the day, then you might have a moldy mattress.

a person sick with allergies

4. Your Sleep is Disturbed

Easy breathing is essential to have a peaceful slumber. However, mattress mold can cause breathing difficulties which may disrupt your sleep patterns. A mattress with mold can lead to various sleep problems, including snoring, sleep apnea, and insomnia. 

5. You See Bed Bugs On Your Mattress

Bed bugs such as gnats and mold mites feed on mold spores. Its pungent smell attracts bugs, including termites. So if you find a sudden outburst of bed bugs in your mattress, then it can be due to mold.

6. Your Mattress Feels Damp

Mold thrives in humid environments and damp areas. If you had a liquid spill or bedwetting incident, it can easily attract mold spores. Nighttime sweating also makes the situation favorable for mold growth. It is better to use a moisture-wicking or waterproof mattress protector.

7. You Find Mold in Other Areas of the Room

Mold spores are very tiny and can travel through the air. But mold needs a dark and moist surface to grow. Mattresses can be one of the ideal locations for mold infestation but you can typically find them under the carpet and in walls. Thus, it’s quite common for mold to spread throughout the room.

mold over wall near bed

8. You Find it Difficult to Breathe

Wheezing is one of the most common side effects of mold exposure. If sleeping on the bed causes stuffy nose or sneezing then your mattress could be infested with mold spores. Continuous exposure to mold can pose a significant health risk to those with severe respiratory issues.

9. You Get Sick Frequently

Exposure to mold for a long period of time can exacerbate sinus and other respiratory problems. It can also cause flu and cold in people with a weak immune system. If you’re getting sick frequently, then check your mattress for mold growth.

10. You Have Skin Rashes

Mold can lead to skin allergies and eczema, especially in people with sensitive skin. If you notice irritated skin or aggravated rash, your skin might have come in contact with mold. Unfortunately, many don’t realize it can be due to mold exposure.

We spend most of our time on our bed, which makes it all the more important to keep it clean. Due to our nighttime sweating, dead skin cells and liquid spills, mattresses can become a hotspot for bacteria, mold, and fungus.


We hope our in-depth guide will help you identify the symptoms, preventive measures and cleaning techniques to combat mold contamination. However, getting a hypoallergenic and moisture-wicking latex mattress could also reduce the chances of mold growth. You can use our mattress comparison tool to get the best mattress that suits your sleep needs and climatic conditions.

 
Dustin Morgan

Dustin Morgan


Dustin is the lead content creator at SleePare. With a degree in Computer Science and extensive experience reviewing mattresses, curating comparisons and advising on "best of" guides, he's truly a mattress technology expert.

Dustin has perfected this method by personally testing over 200 different mattresses, so he's not only able to discern the overall value of a specific bed, but to assign its value to different types of sleepers.

Along with creating honest and straightforward mattress features, Dustin enjoys creating pieces aimed at helping people get their best sleep ever.

When he's not creating helpful content, Dustin enjoys jogging, fishing, hunting and playing video games in and around his Virginia home.