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How to Identify and Deal with Mold on Mattress

Mattress Resources
Read Time: 6 minutes

  • Signs of Mold: Mold on mattress appears as black, green, or white fuzzy spots on the top, sides, or bottom. Musty smells, stains, or respiratory issues may indicate mold presence, even if not visible.
  • Causes of Mold: Mold thrives in humid and moist conditions with inadequate airflow. To prevent mold, maintain a dry sleep environment, use a dehumidifier, wash bedding regularly, employ mattress protectors, and avoid eating in bed.
  • Cleaning Methods: Effective cleaning methods include using vinegar, rubbing alcohol, or hydrogen peroxide. Thoroughly vacuum the mattress, apply the cleaning solution, and let it dry completely before reapplying with the bedding. Seek professional help for severe mold cases or health concerns.
  • Replacement Consideration: In some cases, complete mold removal may be challenging, necessitating mattress replacement, especially if someone in the household has respiratory problems or allergies.

Mold growth on a mattress can not only affect the quality of your sleep but also pose a risk to your health. Mold can cause respiratory problems, allergies, and various health issues, underscoring the importance of addressing the problem promptly. This comprehensive guide will discuss how to spot mold on a mattress and what steps you can take to address it effectively.

Signs of Mold on a Mattress

Mold on a mattress looks like black, green, or white fuzzy spots that you can see on the top, sides, or bottom. To find it, take off all bedding and carefully check the mattress surface, especially the corners and edges where mold likes to grow. Don’t forget to look under the mattress cover and between the layers, as mold can hide there.

Apart from seeing mold, watch out for other signs. A musty smell or stains on the mattress can mean there’s mold. Even if you can’t see it, mold might still affect your health. You can recognize invisible mold by its musty smell or if you start sneezing and coughing. If you notice any of these signs, act quickly to stop mold from spreading further.

The Difference Between Mold and Mildew

Before delving into mold on mattresses, it’s essential to distinguish between mold and mildew. Although they may look similar, they exhibit different characteristics and impact health differently. Mildew is a surface fungus that grows on moist surfaces, typically presenting itself in white or gray with a powdery texture. It is generally less harmful than mold and can be eliminated with a basic cleaning solution.

In contrast, mold is a type of fungus capable of penetrating deeper into surfaces and forming colonies. Mold can manifest in various colors, like green, black, brown, or white. It poses serious health risks and should be promptly removed.

What Causes Mold on a Mattress?

Mold can develop on a mattress due to factors like humidity, moisture, and insufficient airflow. Accumulated moisture creates an ideal environment for mold spores, and inadequate airflow hinders the mattress from drying out, contributing to mold growth.

To minimize the risk of mold on your mattress, maintain a dry and well-ventilated sleep space. Use a dehumidifier to control humidity, keep the room cool, regularly wash bedding, employ hypoallergenic mattress protectors, and avoid eating in bed. These practices help in preventing mold growth.

How to Remove Mold From a Mattress

If you believe there is mold growing on your mattress, it’s crucial to act promptly and remove it. Allowing mold to go untreated can lead to severe health issues and additional harm to your mattress. Here are a few methods you can use to clean mold from your mattress:

Method 1: Vinegar

  1. Take off all bedding and launder it in hot water with detergent and a cup of vinegar to eliminate any mold spores on the fabric. 
  2. Thoroughly vacuum the mattress to remove loose mold spores. 
  3. Create a solution by mixing equal parts white vinegar and water, then spray it onto the affected mattress areas. Let it sit for an hour to eradicate any remaining mold spores. 
  4. Use a clean towel to absorb any excess moisture from the mattress. 
  5. Allow the mattress to completely air dry in a well-ventilated space before reapplying the bedding.

Method 2: Rubbing Alcohol

  1. Mix rubbing alcohol (with a concentration of at least 70%) and warm water in a 1:1 ratio, then pour the blend into a spray bottle or soak a clean cloth in the solution.
  2. Directly spray the solution onto the areas affected by mold, ensuring thorough saturation.
  3. Allow the solution to remain on the mold for 10 to 15 minutes to penetrate and eradicate the spores.
  4. Carefully scrub the moldy areas with a clean cloth or sponge, ensuring that it does not harm the fabric or push the mold deeper into the mattress.
  5. Let the mattress air dry entirely before covering it with fresh sheets.

Method 3: Hydrogen Peroxide

  1. Combine one part hydrogen peroxide with three parts water in a spray bottle or dip a cleaning brush into the solution. 
  2. Spray the solution or apply it to the mold-affected areas of the mattress, ensuring thorough saturation.
  3. Allow the solution to sit on the mold for 10 to 15 minutes, ensuring it penetrates and eliminates the spores.
  4. Carefully scrub the moldy areas with a clean cloth or sponge, being cautious not to damage the fabric or push the mold deeper into the mattress.
  5. Let the mattress dry completely before covering it with clean sheets.

If the mold on your mattress is severe or if you have any health concerns such as allergies or asthma, it is recommended that you seek assistance from a professional mold remediation service for proper cleaning and removal.

Should You Replace a Moldy Mattress?

In some instances, fully eliminating all mold from a mattress may not be feasible, especially if it has deeply penetrated the material. In such cases, replacing the mattress with a new one is the recommended course of action, especially if someone in your household has respiratory problems or allergies.

It’s crucial to be aware that opening the mattress cover for cleaning or inspecting it for mold can release fiberglass particles, which are another respiratory irritant. Fiberglass is commonly found in many mattresses; you might not know its presence. Even if you can take off the cover to inspect the mattress materials for mold, it may still present a health risk. Hence, it’s advisable to sleep on a mattress without fiberglass.

If you have to get rid of a mattress with mold, contact your local waste management company to inquire about pick-up or disposal services for mattresses. They might have specific guidelines for preparing the mattress, such as wrapping it in plastic. Note that mattress recycling centers might not accept moldy mattresses due to the potential hazards of mold spores and hidden mold. Therefore, it’s best to consult with your local center before recycling a mold mattress.

See Also: Do Zinus Mattresses Have Fiberglass?

How to Prevent Mold on Mattresses

Preventing mold on your mattress is crucial for a clean and healthy sleep space. Here are tips to help you avoid mold growth:

  1. Use a hypoallergenic mattress protector to keep moisture away and hinder mold.
  2. Wash your sheets and bedding routinely in hot water to eliminate mold spores.
  3. Refrain from eating or drinking in bed to prevent spills and moisture buildup.
  4. Avoid sleeping with wet hair, as moisture can seep into your pillow and mattress.
  5. Keep your bedroom well-ventilated by using a fan or opening windows during the day to promote air circulation.
  6. Regularly vacuum your mattress to avoid dust and debris that could encourage the growth of mold.
  7. Clean up spills or stains on the mattress immediately to prevent moisture buildup.
  8. Enhance your bedroom’s air quality by using an air purifier or dehumidifier to lower humidity levels. 
  9. Regularly check your mattress for indications of mold, such as musty odors, stains, or discoloration. This is especially important in a basement bedroom. If you find mold, act quickly.
  10. Don’t stack mattresses on one another, as it limits airflow and increases mold growth risk.
  11. Be cautious with plants in the bedroom and around the home, as they can raise humidity levels and enable mold growth if overwatered.
  12. Consider replacing your mattress every 8 to 10 years to avoid mold accumulation and other allergens.

By taking these preventive steps, you can minimize the chances of mold developing on your mattress and ensure a healthy sleep environment.

FAQs about Mold on Mattress

Can you sleep on a mattress with mold?

No, it’s not safe to sleep on a moldy mattress because it can pose health risks. Mold can release tiny particles that may irritate your breathing and cause allergies. For a healthful sleep environment, it’s advisable to either thoroughly clean or replace bedding that is free from mold.

How do I know if my mattress has mold?

Look for visible signs like black, green, or white spots on the mattress, but mold can be present without being seen. Check for musty smells, discoloration, or stains. If you notice any of these signs, clean or replace the mattress.

How can I stop mold from growing on my mattress?

Regularly maintaining your mattress helps prevent mold. Use a mattress protector to keep out moisture, keep the bedroom well-ventilated, and use devices like dehumidifiers and air purifiers. Monthly cleaning can also deter mold growth.

Can I remove mold from my mattress or buy a new one?

Removing mold completely is tricky, especially if it’s deep in the mattress. While some cleaning methods can work on surface mold, monitoring for a return is wise. Consider replacing the mattress with a new, mold-resistant, and hypoallergenic model for a healthier sleeping space.


Mold growth on a mattress significantly threatens your health and sleep quality. Learn to identify mold on your mattress, immediately eliminate it, and adopt preventive measures for a clean and healthy sleep space. Regularly inspect your mattress, employ protective covers, ensure good ventilation, and replace the mattress when needed. Your sleep and overall well-being will benefit from these actions.

Christine Lapp is a full-time graduate student and part-time freelancer for Sleep Junkie. Since she was a little girl on the soccer field, Christine has had a love for sports, and she believes everybody should get up and get moving once a day. Now, she incorporates her love for exercise into her studies, pursuing a degree in exercise physiology. Christine understands that what you do during your waking hours has a direct impact on your night’s sleep. In our better sleep guides, she offers advice for developing healthy daytime habits to nurture a more peaceful slumber.

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