Changing the bed sheets only to discover black or green patches of mold growing on your mattress is not something anyone wants to have to deal with.
It’s unsightly, smelly, and can be bad for your health. So, what has caused this in the first place, how can you remove it, and importantly, how can you stop it from happening again?
In this article we will cover all these questions and more, so, for all you need to know about removing mold on mattresses, keep reading.
What causes mold on mattresses?
Humidity is the number one cause of mold growing on mattresses, as warm climates can have ambient humidity levels greater than 55% even at night, which is the ideal range for mold growth. The high humidity, and often high temperatures also cause sweating in people sleeping on the mattress, increasing the moisture trapped in the mattress even more so.
Mold doesn’t only need moisture though, it also needs nutrients, and where do these nutrients come from? Well, once again, the person sleeping on the mattress is often the cause, as the smaller dead skin cells that are shed during sleeping can make their way onto the mattress.
The bedsheets may be changed often, but each time this is done, dust from the sheets can be passed onto the mattress where it can slowly build up over time. These skin cells provide the minerals, oils, and proteins that mold needs to survive.
What kind of mold grows on mattresses?
Both mold and mildew can grow on a mattress, and whilst the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, there are clear differences between the two.
Molds are fungi that typically grow in a range of colors, including black, green, blue, pink, and even orange. They are usually described as having a fuzzy texture.
Mildew, on the other hand, is most often seen with gray or white coloration and often has a powdery texture. Both mold and mildew are able to stain and damage fabrics, so neither is something you want to be sleeping on.
Mold or mildew could begin to grow on your mattress, but should it be mold, there are three common strains you may be dealing with, these are:
Cladosporium – Blackish brown/gray-green with a powdery or velvet-like texture.
Aspergillus – Yellow-green/brown in color with a cotton-like texture.
Penicillium – Blue-green/gray-green shades with a powdery texture.
These are the three most commonly found molds growing within properties, so if you see patches of mold on your mattress, at least one of these strains is probably the culprit.
Which types of mattresses are affected more?
Any mattress can be affected by mold as long as the circumstances are correct for it, however, foam-based mattresses such as memory foam are far more likely to suffer from mold growth, as they soak up and retain moisture better than pocket spring or open coil mattresses.
Memory foam mattresses can of course be cleaned, but, as you may only notice the mold formation whilst changing sheets or when a musty odor appears, it may well already be deeply established within the center of the mattress, making it exceptionally difficult to remove.
What does mold on a mattress look like?
Mold on a mattress will often present itself as small spots or clusters of green, black, or yellow-green circular shapes. More often than not, it will be extremely difficult to determine which strain of mold you are dealing with from sight alone.
Rather than sight, you will be able to tell if you are dealing with mold on your mattress by its distinct smell. If you smell a musty odor, similar to that found in a basement or attic, you are most certainly dealing with mold.
Are the molds dangerous?
Many strains of mold can be dangerous to both humans and animals, as they can produce mycotoxins as a defense mechanism whenever they feel threatened.
The three strains we mentioned earlier (Cladosporium, Penicillium, and Aspergillus) all have the ability to produce these toxic compounds.
In small doses, mycotoxin exposure is unlikely to cause any serious harm to healthy individuals. However, to those with suppressed immune systems or allergies, even short-term exposure can cause symptoms, including:
- Brain fog
Certain types of mold are far more toxic than others, for example, Stachybotrys chartarum (black mold), which causes more serious symptoms such as diarrhea, memory loss, and severe respiratory illnesses. The good news is that this strain of mold is fairly rare, appearing in only 3% of samples.
How to remove mold on a mattress
Removing mold from a mattress can be a fairly simple affair as long as it is discovered quickly. Once mold or mildew has had the opportunity to establish itself, it could become deeply embedded in the mattress and become significantly harder to remove. This is why it should be dealt with as soon as it is spotted.
As you may be getting fairly close to the mold during cleaning, it is important that you wear the correct protective equipment to prevent any health issues from arising.
We recommend that if you are planning to remove mold from a mattress yourself, you take the mattress to an outside space, and wear a breathing mask, goggles, and rubber gloves to protect yourself from coming into direct contact with or inhaling any mold spores.
With that being said, here are three excellent methods you can use to remove mold from a mattress:
Hydrogen peroxide method
Step 1. Vacuum your mattress to remove as many of the spores and as much of the mold as possible.
Step 2. Make a solution of 1 part hydrogen peroxide to three parts water and pour it into a spray bottle.
Step 3. Liberally spray the mold patches with the solution and use a soft-bristled brush to scrub the affected area to remove as much of the mold as possible.
Step 4. Leave the mattress to dry in an open environment, preferably in direct sunlight until it is completely dry.
Baking soda and vinegar method
Step 1. Make a solution of one tablespoon of baking soda, mixed with one cup of distilled white vinegar, and pour it into a spray bottle.
Step 2. After vacuuming the entire mattress, liberally spray the affected area with the solution and leave it to sit on the mattress for 20 to 30 minutes.
Step 3. Using a soft-bristled brush or abrasive sponge, scrub the area to remove any mold and solution residue. You can use more of the solution, or detergent mixed with warm water while scrubbing.
Step 4. Leave the mattress outside to air dry, this will allow the mattress to dry completely, and will also remove any leftover vinegar smell.
Rubbing alcohol method
Step 1. As with the other methods, vacuum the mattress entirely to remove as much of the mold as possible.
Step 2. Make a solution of one part rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol), with one part water, and pour it into a spray bottle.
Step 3. Spray liberally on the affected area and leave to sit for five to ten minutes.
Step 4. Using a soft-bristled brush, scrub the affected area. You can spray more of the solution if required.
Step 5. Take a clean, dry cloth and wipe over the area you have scrubbed to remove any mold residue, then leave the mattress to dry out in the open until completely dry.
How to prevent mold on a mattress
Rather than needing to clean mold from a mattress, preventing it from occurring in the first place saves a whole bunch of hassle and potentially needing to throw it away if the mold has grown too deeply.
With that being said, here are some simple tips to prevent mold from growing on a mattress.
Keep it dry
Keeping your mattress as dry as possible is one of the most effective methods to prevent mold growth. Without moisture, mold simply cannot grow, so make sure any spilled drinks are cleaned up as quickly as possible.
If you live in a humid climate, consider purchasing a dehumidifier to keep the overall humidity level below 55%, as this would in most cases prevent mold from growing or at least slow the growth to a manageable level.
Keep it clean
Washing your mattress every few months will prevent large amounts of dust from accumulating and providing food sources for mold.
Ensure it is vacuumed once per month and spot clean any stains or spilled food as quickly as possible.
Using a mattress protector will make things a little easier, as this can be simply washed in the washing machine and will prevent dust from settling on the mattress itself.
Keep the room ventilated
Opening windows and doors to allow a fresh supply of air into a room will help to reduce mold growth in two ways. Firstly, by introducing fresh air into a room, you make it difficult for mold spores to settle in one place and set up a colony.
The second way is that humidity is allowed to move through a property and not settle in one place and condensate in one spot where mold can use for hydration.
Is it safe to sleep on a moldy mattress?
You should not sleep on a moldy mattress under any circumstances. Laying on a mattress with mold will put you in close proximity to it for extended periods of time, making inhalation of spores highly likely. This can cause breathlessness and attacks in those with asthma or allergies.
Can a moldy mattress be saved?
A moldy mattress can be saved if it is treated quickly enough. If the mold is treated within the first few days after it is spotted, you may well be able to remove all of it. However, if the mold is allowed to grow for an extended period, it may become too well-established and will need to be thrown away.
Can you spray bleach on a mattress?
Yes, bleach can be used to kill mold on a mattress, as it is a powerful chemical that can kill many strains of mold, but, it can damage and stain fabrics if it is not colorfast. It is for this reason, that you should perform a patch test somewhere less easily seen to be sure it is safe to use.
Can pee in a bed cause mold?
Pee can cause mold in a mattress if it is not cleaned and thoroughly dried before being made and slept on again. If nocturnal bed wetting is occurring on a regular basis, mold can certainly form, as the high moisture levels along with proteins in the urine will provide exactly what mold needs.
Nobody wants to sleep on a moldy mattress, it’s unsightly, it smells and it can be potentially hazardous to your health. Keeping them dry and clean is the easiest way to prevent them from becoming moldy in the first place, but as long as it is caught quickly enough, mold can be successfully removed from a mattress using the tips provided within this article.