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Why Does My Mattress Smell?

Mattress Resources
Read Time: 7 minutes

  • Moisture buildup from sweat, spills, or high humidity can lead to bacteria, mold, and mildew growth in mattresses, causing unpleasant odors and potential health issues.
  • Vinegar solution is an effective natural remedy for removing mold and mildew from mattresses, as it disinfects and eliminates odors.
  • Baking soda is a versatile deodorizer that can help absorb various types of odors, including pet smells, urine odors, smoke, and cigarette odors from mattresses.
  • Effective odor removal techniques include using vinegar solution for mold and mildew, baking soda for pet and urine odors, sunlight exposure, and activated charcoal for smoke and cigarette odors. Regular cleaning, ventilation, and the use of mattress protectors also help prevent odor buildup.

A comfortable and clean mattress is vital for a good night’s sleep. However, it can be quite distressing to find that your mattress has an unpleasant odor. The question that often arises is, “Why does my mattress smell?” This article will dive into the common causes of mattress odor and provide effective solutions to eliminate these unpleasant smells.

Common Causes of Mattress Odor in Detail

Several factors can contribute to a smelly mattress. One common cause is the accumulation of moisture. When you sleep, your body perspires; this moisture can penetrate your mattress over time. Spills and accidents can also introduce moisture to the mattress, creating an ideal environment for odor-causing bacteria and mold to thrive.

Another common cause of mattress odor is the presence of mold and mildew. These fungi can develop in damp and dark environments, such as moist mattresses. Not only do they create a bad smell, but they can also be harmful to health, especially for people with allergies or breathing problems. Identifying and promptly addressing mold and mildew is important to prevent further damage to your mattress and potential health issues.

The Role of Moisture in Mattress Odor

Moisture plays an important role in the development of mattress odor. As mentioned earlier, sweat and spills can introduce moisture to your mattress. If not properly addressed, this moisture can seep into the layers of the mattress, creating a breeding ground for bacteria, mold, and mildew. Additionally, high humidity levels in the bedroom can exacerbate the problem, as it promotes the growth of these odor-causing microorganisms.

In order to prevent excessive moisture buildup in your mattress, it is important to invest in a mattress protector. This waterproof cover is a barrier, preventing liquids from seeping into the mattress. It is also advisable to wash your bed sheets regularly and allow your mattress to air out by removing the bedding periodically. These simple practices can go a long way in reducing moisture and preventing mattress odor.

Identifying and Addressing Mold and Mildew on Your Mattress

Mold and mildew are issues that can cause a foul smell on your mattress. To identify mold or mildew, look for visible signs such as black or dark green spots on the surface of the mattress. You may also notice a musty odor, especially when lying on the mattress.

If you suspect mold or mildew growth, it is vital to take immediate action to avoid further damage. Start by removing all bedding and exposing the mattress to fresh air and sunlight, as sunlight helps kill mold spores. Use a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment to remove any loose particles from the surface.

Mix water and white vinegar equally to make a solution. Dampen a clean cloth with this mix and gently dab the areas of the mattress that are affected. The vinegar naturally disinfects, killing mold and removing smells. Ensure that the mattress is completely air-dried before placing any covers on it.

Dealing with Pet Odors on Your Mattress

If you have pets, it’s not uncommon for their odors to linger on your mattress. To tackle pet odors effectively, start by vacuuming your mattress regularly to remove any pet hair and dander that may have accumulated. Ensure that you utilize a vacuum cleaner equipped with a HEPA filter to trap allergens and prevent them from dispersing into the air.

Next, sprinkle baking soda generously over the surface of the mattress. Baking soda is excellent at absorbing odors. Leave it on for several hours or overnight to allow it to work its magic. Next, vacuum up the baking soda from the mattress, and you’ll notice a big decrease in pet smells.

For stubborn pet odors, you can also try using a pet odor neutralizer spray specifically designed for mattresses. These sprays have enzymes that break down molecules causing odors, getting rid of the smell.

How to Get Rid of Urine Smell on Your Mattress

Accidents happen, and if you’re dealing with a urine odor on your mattress, it’s essential to act quickly to avoid the smell from setting in. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you eliminate urine smell effectively:

  1. Start by soaking up as much urine as you can using a paper towel. Don’t rub the stain, which can push the urine further into the mattress.
  2. Mix together one part hydrogen peroxide with two parts water to make a solution. Test this solution on a small, inconspicuous area of the mattress first to ensure it doesn’t cause any discoloration.
  3. Moisten a clean cloth with the hydrogen peroxide solution and softly dab the area stained with urine. Allow the solution to sit for a few minutes to break down the urine molecules.
  4. Next, use a clean, damp cloth to blot the area and remove any remaining solution gently. Then, use a dry cloth to absorb as much moisture as possible.
  5. Sprinkle baking soda generously over the urine-stained area. Baking soda will assist in absorbing any remaining odor. Leave it on for several hours overnight, then vacuum it off.

Eliminating Smoke and Cigarette Odors from Your Mattress

If you are a smoker or have had guests who smoke in your bedroom, you may be dealing with the challenge of smoke and cigarette odors on your mattress. These odors can be particularly stubborn and require specific techniques for removal.

Start by placing the mattress in direct sunlight for a few hours to eliminate smoke and cigarette odors. Sunlight can help naturally freshen and deodorize the mattress. Also, sprinkle baking soda over the mattress surface and let it sit for a few hours before vacuuming it up. You may need to repeat this process a few times for the best results. Another effective method is using activated charcoal. Place a bowl of activated charcoal near the mattress or use activated charcoal sachets to absorb the odors.

Tips for Preventing and Reducing Mattress Odor

Prevention is key when it comes to mattress odor. Implementing a few simple practices can significantly reduce the chances of your mattress developing unpleasant smells.

  • Use mattress protectors: Investing in a waterproof mattress protector can help prevent spills and accidents from seeping into the mattress.
  • Wash bed sheets regularly: Regularly washing your bed sheets can help eliminate sweat, dirt, and oils contributing to mattress odor.
  • Vacuum your mattress: Vacuuming your mattress helps remove dust, allergens, and any loose particles that can contribute to odors.
  • Allow your mattress to air out: Remove the bedding periodically and allow your mattress to air out. This can aid in decreasing moisture accumulation and thwarting the proliferation of odor-causing microorganisms.
  • Keep the bedroom well-ventilated: Proper airflow in the bedroom can help reduce humidity levels, minimizing the conditions best for the growth of mold and mildew.

Cleaning and Maintenance Practices to Keep Your Mattress Smelling Fresh

Alongside the preventive steps outlined earlier, consistent cleaning and upkeep are vital for maintaining a fresh scent in your mattress. Here are some practices you can follow:

  1. Spot clean stains: Upon spotting a stain on your mattress, promptly perform spot cleaning using a mixture of mild detergent and water. Use a fresh cloth to dab the stain, ensuring not to oversaturate the mattress with excessive liquid.
  2. Vacuum regularly: Make sure to vacuum your mattress at least once monthly to eliminate dust, allergens, and loose debris.
  3. Deodorize with baking soda: Every few months, spread baking soda evenly across the surface of your mattress and let it sit for several hours or overnight. This will aid in absorbing any remaining odors. Then, Afterwards, use a vacuum cleaner to remove the baking soda from the mattress.
  4. Use a fabric freshener: Consider using a fabric freshener specifically designed for mattresses. These sprays help neutralize odors and leave a pleasant scent.


Can I use fabric fresheners or sprays to eliminate mattress odor?

While fabric fresheners or sprays may provide a temporary solution, it is important to address the root lead of the odor rather than simply masking it. Additionally, some sprays may contain chemicals that can be harmful to your health. Opting for natural deodorizing methods and focusing on proper cleaning and maintenance practices is advisable.

How often should I clean my mattress?

It’s advisable to clean your mattress every three to six months, based on its usage and any particular circumstances (such as spills, accidents, or pets). Regular vacuuming and spot cleaning can assist in maintaining your mattress’ freshness between thorough cleanings.

Why does my new mattress have a chemical smell?

New mattress smells often emit a chemical odor due to the off-gassing process of materials like polyurethane foam. This smell typically dissipates over time but can be bothersome initially.

How can I eliminate odors from my mattress?

Sprinkling baking soda on the mattress surface and allowing it to sit for a few hours before vacuuming can help absorb odors. Additionally, airing out the mattress by leaving it in a well-ventilated room can aid in reducing smells.

Why does my mattress have a strong chemical odor after purchase?

The presence of volatile organic compounds in memory foam or other mattress materials can contribute to a strong chemical smell. This off-gassing phenomenon is common in newly purchased mattresses but typically diminishes with time and proper ventilation.

What can I do if the bad smell persists despite efforts to eliminate it?

If unpleasant odors persist, consider using a cleaning solution of distilled white vinegar and water to spot-clean the affected areas. Additionally, placing a mattress cover or pad over the mattress surface can help contain and reduce lingering smells.

Is it normal for a mattress to emit odors over time?

While mattresses may develop odors over time, particularly from body oils and sweat, consistent cleaning and maintenance can help mitigate these smells. Regularly airing out the mattress and using essential oils on the bed’s surface can also help keep it fresh.


A clean and odor-free mattress is crucial for a restful sleep. Understanding the common causes of mattress odor and following proper cleaning and maintenance practices can help eliminate unpleasant smells and keep your mattress fresh. You can maintain the cleanliness and welcoming ambiance of your mattress by tackling concerns like sweat and body odor, moisture, pet odors, urine smells, and smoke odors. Don’t forget to employ preventive tactics like using a mattress protector, washing your bedding frequently, and vacuuming your mattress to uphold its freshness.

With these tips, you can enjoy an odor-free and clean mattress, providing you with the perfect environment for a rejuvenating and peaceful night’s sleep. Invest in a high-quality mattress protector today to keep your mattress clean and odor-free. Shop now and experience the difference in your sleep quality.

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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