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How to Clean Fiberglass from a Mattress

Mattress Resources
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Fiberglass is a popular composite material to reduce mattress flammability, made with glass-reinforced plastic. But while it delivers flame protection, that doesn’t mean it’s entirely free of hazards for consumers.

In our research, we’ve found that while fiberglass is harmless enough tucked away into an inner cover, it can wreck havoc on the home and body if the mattress cover fabric wears down enough to let the fiberglass material leak through.

When disposing of a mattress with a fiberglass leak, check the regulations in your area and consider options like mattress recycling centers or scheduling a bulk pickup with your local waste management agency. Some retailers may also offer a pickup service for old mattresses when purchasing a new one.

It’s important to be aware of the potential health risks associated with fiberglass exposure. Fiberglass particles can cause skin irritation, eye and respiratory tract irritation, and in some cases, may even lead to more severe respiratory issues. While the risks are generally low, it’s crucial to handle fiberglass with caution and take the necessary safety measures during the cleaning process.

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Cleaning Fiberglass from a Mattress

When you first spot fiberglass on your mattress, it’s important to take precautions to protect yourself. Make sure to wear a respirator, goggles, and gloves to avoid any accidental contact or inhalation of the fiberglass particles while removing them from your bed.

In our experience, caution is essential because fiberglass can be harmful to your body, potentially causing harm to your organs, skin irritation, and breathing issues.

Before Cleaning Fiberglass

To ensure your safety while handling glass fibers, remember that we strongly suggest wearing goggles, gloves, and a respirator. These protective accessories will shield you from coming into contact with fiberglass shards, particularly tiny particles that you cannot see.

If possible, consider wearing a protective suit as well. It is crucial to prioritize your personal protection, especially if you already have respiratory issues or conditions.

Once you’re appropriately dressed, there is another precautionary step to take. Based on our observations, it’s best to turn off your air conditioner or heater. If the fiberglass becomes airborne, these systems can sweep it up and carry the small particles throughout your home. Naturally, this makes cleaning up fiberglass more difficult if it happens.

Once you have taken all the necessary safety measures, you can proceed with removing the fiberglass from your mattress.

Finding the Fiberglass Leak

Start by locating the source of the fiberglass leakage. Look for any openings in the mattress cover where the glass fibers may be escaping. Check for gaps or areas where the cover has worn down, revealing the layer of fiberglass underneath.

We found that it’s essential to locate this specific spot. Otherwise, even if you clean up the glass fibers, they will continue to escape if the source is not addressed.

Once you have identified the leakage point, you can bag up any loose fiberglass on the mattress surface. However, if you decide not to, you can proceed to the next step.

Sealing off the Mattress Leak

After you have identified where the glass fibers are coming from, it’s important to take the next step of sealing off the holes. One effective solution for this is to use a zipped mattress encasement.

You can find these mattress protectors easily on various online stores or from the brand that makes your bedding. The zippered encasement is designed to cover the entire mattress, acting as a barrier that prevents the fiberglass from spreading inside the mattress and escaping into the air.

Alternatively, if you intend to remove the mattress from your home as soon as possible, you can consider using mattress bags that are specifically designed for moving mattresses. These bags provide an additional layer of protection and containment.

Cleaning Up Around the Mattress

After successfully containing the mattress, it’s time to focus on the surrounding area. Begin by using a lint roller on the space around the bed. Glass fibers from the mattress may have traveled to nearby areas. The lint roller is a handy tool for removing these fibers from various surfaces like mattress coverings and clothing.

Next, we recommend thoroughly vacuum the area. Make sure to use a vacuum cleaner equipped with a HEPA filter. This will help effectively sweep up any remaining particles, unlike a basic vacuum cleaner that can’t suck up tiny particles.

Being meticulous is essential when dealing with fiberglass particles. Aim to be as thorough as possible during the vacuuming process.

Disposing of the Mattress

Once a mattress has a fiberglass leak, it’s not safe to use anymore. Even if the point of escape is thoroughly covered by a leakproof, waterproof mattress protector, your best option is to get rid of the mattress.

When it comes to disposing of a mattress, there are a few options to consider. First, check the regulations in your area to understand the proper methods for disposal. You can contact your local waste management or recycling facility for guidance on the rules you need to follow.

One option is to look for mattress recycling centers near you. These centers specialize in taking apart mattresses and recycling their parts. They might have specific instructions for drop-off or collection and could charge a fee for their services. Recycling centers may also refuse to take a fiberglass mattress that’s sprung a leak, so make sure to mention that as you inquire.

In some areas, waste management services offer bulk pickup for large items like mattresses. You can inquire about scheduling a pickup with your local waste management agency. They will provide you with instructions and let you know if any fees apply.

Lastly, as you look to purchase a new mattress without fiberglass, some retailers may offer a pickup service for your old one. You can ask the store where you’re buying the new mattress if they provide this service.

What Is Fiberglass?

Fiberglass is a special kind of material that is made up of two different things: reinforced plastic and glass. It’s not only great at preventing fires, but it’s also really strong, light, and easy to shape into any form you want.

One way fiberglass is used is in home insulation. You may have seen that fluffy stuff that looks like cotton candy on the walls of attics. That’s fiberglass insulation! It helps keep the heat in or out of a building and makes it more energy efficient. Another interesting use of fiberglass is in mattresses.

Some mattress manufacturers use fiberglass on the inside cover of a mattress because it’s a fantastic fire blocker. It’s also less expensive than many other materials that can serve the same purpose. However, it’s important to remember that while it has its benefits, fiberglass does come with some health risks that we need to be aware of.

How Dangerous is Fiberglass?

Fiberglass can pose a danger to our health, even in small amounts. Fiberglass particles contain tiny glass fibers that can easily escape through even the tiniest of leaks, such as a tear in a mattress cover. These glass fibers are incredibly small and lightweight, which means they can become airborne and be inhaled or come into contact with our eyes, ears, and mouth.

When fiberglass fibers come into contact with our skin, they can cause irritation and discomfort. Irritation of the eyes and upper respiratory tract is also common when exposed to larger fiberglass fibers. In some cases, these tiny fibers can even make their way deep into our lungs, causing serious problems with our respiratory system. There have been instances where surgical procedures were required to remove larger glass fibers to prevent more severe health risks.

However, it is important to note that not all fiberglass mattresses tear easily, and sleeping on a fiberglass fire barrier within a mattress is generally considered safe as long as it remains intact. It is essential to be aware of the potential risks associated with fiberglass exposure, but we should not be overly alarmed.

The health consequences of being exposed to fiberglass can vary depending on the size of the fibers and the type of exposure. Large fiberglass fibers can irritate the eyes, skin, and upper respiratory tract, leading to redness, inflammation, and rashes. Swallowing fiberglass fibers may cause temporary stomach discomfort, and inhalation of airborne fiberglass can worsen conditions like bronchitis 1 Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. See the source and asthma 2 Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. See the source .

There is limited information available about the health impacts of tiny fiberglass fibers. However, after inhaling fiberglass, smaller fibers can reach the lower sections of the lungs, increasing the risk of more severe health issues. Individuals who work with fiberglass or have worn-out AC ducting lined with fiberglass in their homes or workplaces may be exposed to it for prolonged periods.

While a 1994 study conducted on rats 3 Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. See the source suggested a higher risk of cancer when fiberglass fibers were implanted in lung tissue, the results of this study are controversial due to the method used. Currently, there is no evidence to prove that fiberglass causes cancer in humans.

Still, it is important to take precautions to minimize exposure to fiberglass, such as ensuring that fiberglass-containing materials are intact and not easily damaged. However, it is crucial to understand that not all fiberglass products pose the same level of risk, and the potential health consequences can vary depending on the size of the fibers and the nature of exposure.

Where is Fiberglass Inside a Mattress?

Fiberglass is not found on the outside of the mattress where we might directly touch it. Instead, it is used within the mattress’s inner cover. Often the fiberglass shards are woven into a fire sock that covers the cushioning and supportive materials inside.

And the fiberglass is there for an important reason. You see, fiberglass helps prevent the mattress from catching fire, placed as a protective layer beneath the outer covering of the mattress.

If a fire were to start, especially if the mattress is made of synthetic poly-foams, it could quickly spread and become dangerous. That’s why fiberglass is commonly used in many memory foam mattresses. It acts as a barrier to slow down or prevent the fire from spreading, providing an added layer of protection for us while we sleep.

Do Mattresses Need to be Fire Resistant?

In short, yes they do, at least if they’re a mattress made in the USA. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) made a rule that requires all mattress manufacturers to ensure their mattresses pass flammability tests before they can be sold to the public.

To comply with the regulations, mattresses have to go through rigorous testing processes. If they pass these tests, they must have labels stating that they meet all the federal flammability requirements.

In the past, mattresses used to contain chemical fire retardants like benzene and antimony. However, the CPSC determined that these compounds could be harmful to human health. As a result, chemical flame retardants are no longer considered safe.

Instead, fiberglass has become a more affordable option to meet the flammability testing guidelines. When fiberglass is used in mattresses, it creates a protective layer that helps prevent them from catching fire. You may find mattresses with fiberglass woven into an inner mattress cover, with an outer cover that does not contain fiberglass and is safe to sleep on.

Washing Fiberglass From Bedsheets

Removing fiberglass from any type of bed sheets can be challenging due to the tiny, sharp particles that can embed themselves in the fabric. Here are some steps we found in our investigation that you can take to remove fiberglass particles and avoid tossing otherwise good bedding.

First, put on protective clothing. Use disposable gloves, long sleeves, and pants to minimize direct contact with the fibers. We learned that you should also handle the sheets with care. Avoid vigorous shaking or folding, as this can release more fiberglass particles into the air.

Wash the contaminated sheets separately from other laundry items. Use warm water and a gentle cycle with an extra rinse to help remove the fiberglass, regardless of how you usually wash the sheets or what water temperature the laundry care symbols recommend. Avoid overloading the washing machine to ensure thorough cleaning of the sheets.

After washing the contaminated sheets, run an empty cycle with hot water and detergent to eliminate any remaining fiberglass particles from the machine. Then, dry the sheets carefully. Use a low-heat setting or air-dry the sheets to prevent excessive agitation and minimize fiber release.

As an extra precaution, our team suggests wiping down surfaces in the laundry area to remove any loose fiberglass particles. Please note that while these steps can help reduce fiberglass contamination, in our experience it may be challenging to completely eliminate all fibers. If the sheets remain contaminated or the fiberglass presence is significant, we suggest replacing them to ensure your safety and comfort.

How to Get Rid of Fiberglass in Your Home

If fiberglass has escaped your mattress, it can potentially move beyond the bedroom and into other areas of your home. Once you’ve taken care of a fiberglass leak in your bedroom, we suggest the following steps to make sure you’ve handled all loose fiberglass particles.

Step 1: Begin by carefully examining all the rooms in your home for any signs of fiberglass particles. Wear a mask to protect your nose and mouth, as well as gloves for your hands. Turn off the lights and use a flashlight to look for glimmering strands of dust, which could indicate the presence of fiberglass contamination.

Step 2: Identify and isolate the source of the contamination. If you find fiberglass in one or two rooms, it suggests that individual heating and cooling systems are affected. However, if fiberglass is present throughout the entire home, it indicates that the central HVAC system is likely the cause. Turn off any system that appears to be circulating broken fiberglass.

Step 3: If professional repair is not possible, consider replacing the problematic HVAC systems with new ones that are free of fiberglass. It’s best to hire a professional to remove the old system and install the new one correctly.

Step 4: Take preventive measures by wrapping plastic wrap around HVAC vents and other potential sources of contamination. Increase natural ventilation and airflow by opening windows whenever possible.

Step 5: Clean every room in your house, discarding any items you no longer want to keep. Store saved and clean belongings in dry plastic containers. Use a vacuum cleaner to thoroughly clean each area, including window coverings and fabric-covered furniture. Remove any fiberglass fibers, strip bedsheets, clothes, and washable linens, and wash them according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 6: Clean all the vents in your home and replace the air filters. When removing the filters, be sure to place them in a plastic bag to prevent any fiberglass particles from spilling on the floor during the removal and replacement process.

Step 7: Re-inspect your home to ensure there is no remaining fiberglass residue. Use gloves and a flashlight to carefully examine and clean any surfaces that require attention. Once you have completely removed the contamination, your house can be used normally again.

By following these steps, you can effectively get rid of fiberglass in your home and create a safer and healthier living environment.

Does My Mattress Have Fiberglass?

When it comes to the most comfortable mattresses, it’s important to know if they have fiberglass inside. Some mattresses that have a cover that can’t be removed and have an unclear construction might have a fiberglass fire barrier. If the mattress company doesn’t give clear information, it’s best to be careful and choose a brand that is more open about what they use.

Even though not all memory foam mattresses have fiberglass, cautious shoppers may want to look at mattresses without memory foam. If you are considering memory foam mattresses, make sure to find out what they use to protect against fires.

There are also certain mattress brands and online stores that people have started questioning because of concerns about fiberglass.

Signs of Fiberglass in a Mattress

When buying a fiberglass-free mattress, it’s essential to make an informed choice, especially if you’ve had a negative experience with fiberglass mattresses in the past. However, identifying whether a mattress has fiberglass can be challenging since it’s not easily visible to the naked eye.

So, how can you figure out if a mattress contains fiberglass? One way is to carefully read product labels, descriptions, and customer reviews to gather information about the mattress’s composition.

Watch for “Made in China” Labels

We’ve observed that many companies rely on China’s manufacturing industry, including mattress makers. However, our investigations have found that overseas manufacturing standards can be less stringent, potentially resulting in health hazards for consumers.

Even if a mattress isn’t made overseas, it’s crucial to be cautious with brands and mattress companies that are not transparent about their production processes and the materials used in their mattresses.

Consider Mattresses Made of Polyfoam

While memory foam is a type of polyfoam, not all polyfoam mattresses are memory foam. Polyfoam is a cheaper material that may not dissipate heat as effectively as memory foam. To cut costs, some mattress manufacturers may use polyfoam combined with fiberglass and other less expensive materials, particularly in more budget-friendly mattresses. Therefore, it’s important to be aware of the materials used in the construction of the mattress.

Beware of Low-Priced Mattresses

We’ve noticed that in general, mattresses priced at $500 or less are more likely to contain fiberglass. Some lower-priced mattresses may use cost-cutting measures that compromise quality and potentially include hazardous materials.

Affordability doesn’t necessarily mean a mattress is of poor quality. But based on our firsthand experience it’s wise to be cautious of deals that seem too good to be true.

Pay Attention to “Don’t Remove the Cover” Warnings

We’ve found that if a mattress label warns against removing the mattress cover, it could indicate that doing so risks exposure to fiberglass. Remember, fiberglass exposure 4 Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. See the source can have serious health implications, so in our experience, it’s important to take such warnings seriously.

Be Wary of Greenwashing Terms

Greenwashing 5 Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. See the source occurs when a manufacturer or seller tries to make their product appear more environmentally friendly than it actually is. Based on our observations, terms like “natural” and “green” are not strictly regulated, unlike the term “organic.”

What does that have to do with fiberglass-free mattresses? Some mattress manufacturers may use terms like “glass wool” and “glass fibers” to deceive customers and avoid disclosing the presence of fiberglass. If you come across such terms, particularly in cheaper all-foam mattresses, consider it a warning sign and exercise caution.

By being attentive to these factors and conducting thorough research, you can make a more informed decision and choose a mattress that aligns with your preferences and safety concerns.

Should I Get Rid of a Mattress with Fiberglass?

The question of whether to get rid of a mattress with fiberglass can be a tough one. It’s disappointing to let go of your old mattress, especially if you can’t afford a new one right away. However, it’s important to understand that there’s no surefire way to completely remove fiberglass from your mattress.

Still, if you take good care of your mattress and follow some precautions, you may be able to keep using it. Avoid placing anything sharp on or near the mattress, use it only for sleeping and always use a mattress protector.

But if you have children or spend a lot of time in bed, such as using the mattress for sitting up during the day, it’s better to invest in a mattress without fiberglass. If you do decide to upgrade, make sure to dispose of your old mattress responsibly.

If fiberglass has already come out of the mattress, it can spread and contaminate other parts of your home. The glass fibers will keep escaping as long as the worn cover is in place. You might think about patching up the mattress cover with duct tape or using a lint roller to clean up the fibers. But finding fiberglass in your bed is a sign that it’s time to consider getting rid of the mattress.

It’s not worth the risk, especially if you start finding glass pieces on top of the cover. While you may try using a new mattress protector, these solutions may not last long and could lead to the same problem again.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can you remove fiberglass from bed sheets?

Removing fiberglass particles from bed sheets can be challenging due to their tiny size. The best way to eliminate them is to wash the sheets thoroughly using hot water and a high-quality detergent. It’s also essential to rinse the sheets thoroughly and avoid shaking them or using a dryer as this can cause the fibers to become airborne and spread throughout the room.

How can I know whether my mattress has fiberglass?

It can be difficult to determine whether a mattress contains fiberglass or not, as it’s usually hidden within the mattress’s layers and can’t be seen without cutting the cover open. However, if your mattress has an unclear construction and a non-removable cover, it’s likely that it contains fiberglass.

If the manufacturer doesn’t provide clear information on the flame barrier used, it’s best to opt for a mattress brand that prioritizes transparency or one that openly uses alternative flame retardant materials.

How can I find the best mattress without fiberglass?

Finding a mattress without fiberglass requires careful research and consideration. Start by researching mattress materials and look for mattresses that explicitly advertise themselves as fiberglass-free. Latex mattresses are the least likely to have any fiberglass within their construction, but you can find any type of mattress in a fiberglass-free model.

Don’t hesitate to reach out directly to manufacturers for more information about their mattress materials, ensuring transparency and addressing any concerns you may have. Reading customer reviews can provide additional insights into the overall quality and composition of a mattress. Look for reviews that mention fiberglass or related concerns.

It’s also helpful to check for certifications from independent third-party organizations like CertiPUR-US or Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). These certifications indicate that the mattress has been tested for harmful substances and meets specific safety and quality standards. Pay close attention to product descriptions and mattress labels, seeking terms like “fiberglass-free,” “non-toxic,” or “safe for sensitive individuals.”

Can an air purifier remove fiberglass dust from my home?

While the benefits of air purifiers involve filtering out many airborne particles, including dust, they may not be able to entirely remove fiberglass dust from your home. Fiberglass particles are extremely tiny and lightweight, making them difficult to capture with standard air purifier filters.

However, using an air purifier with a HEPA filter can help reduce the overall concentration of fiberglass particles in the air. HEPA filters are designed to capture particles as small as 0.3 microns, which includes some fiberglass fibers. Although it may not eliminate all fiberglass dust, it can contribute to improving indoor air quality and reducing potential exposure.

Can anything dissolve fiberglass particles?

Some may wonder if standard household items that are acidic, like white vinegar, can get rid of fiberglass. While vinegar is a common household cleaner, it is not effective in dissolving fiberglass. Our invesigations concluded that attempting to use vinegar can lead to skin and lung irritation since the sharp edges of fiberglass may still be present even if partially dissolved.

Using strong acids, such as hydrochloric acid or sulfuric acid, can dissolve fiberglass particles. However, we cannot recommend you use these by yourself at home. If you were to use them, you would need to seek professional assistance due to the potential hazards involved with handling these acids. But we must note that applying acid to your mattress will further damage it, making it an unsuitable solution anyway.

Is fiberglass present in all mattresses?

No, fiberglass is not present in all mattresses. The presence of fiberglass depends on the specific construction and materials used by the mattress manufacturer. Some mattresses incorporate fiberglass as a fire barrier. Others use alternative flame-retardant materials.

Drawing on our experience, it’s important to check the product information or contact the manufacturer to determine if a mattress contains fiberglass.

Is it possible to vacuum fiberglass?

Vacuuming fiberglass can be challenging due to its small size and lightweight nature. Fiberglass particles are extremely fine and can pass through standard vacuum filters, potentially damaging the vacuum cleaner and dispersing the fibers into the air.

We recommend you avoid vacuuming fiberglass. In our experience, the only exception is using a specialized vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter designed to capture such small particles.

How long does fiberglass linger in the air?

Fiberglass particles can linger in the air for varying periods, depending on factors such as air circulation, ventilation, and cleanup measures taken. In our investigations, we found that fiberglass can remain airborne for extended periods. Our team discovered that is because the lightweight fibers can easily disperse and be carried by air currents.

We suggest taking prompt action to clean and contain any fiberglass release to minimize its presence in the air and reduce potential exposure.


Removing fiberglass that has escaped from a mattress can be a real hassle, as our investigations showed. But with the right approach, our team found that you can efficiently eliminate those tiny particles from your home.

However, it’s important to note that most of the solutions we mentioned earlier only provide temporary relief. In our firsthand experience, as long as you continue to keep a mattress containing fiberglass in your home, there will always be a risk of exposure. Replacing the mattress is always the final step after you’ve cleaned up.

Drawing from our observations and risk assessments, we highly recommend choosing a new mattress as soon as possible and properly disposing of the old one to ensure complete safety.

Harrison Wall is Sleep Junkie’s business strategist and sleep analyst. He also authors posts on bedding and mattress accessories. Harrison regularly coordinates with new mattress companies and tests their products to determine what really helps you get better rest and have brighter mornings.

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