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How to Deodorize a Mattress: Six Methods to Eliminate Foul Smells

How to Deodorize a Mattress

Getting a good night’s sleep is essential, but a smelly mattress can ruin it. Unfortunately, it’s common for a mattress to develop unpleasant odors, but it’s not always easy to eliminate them. The good news is that there are various ways to freshen up a stinky mattress. What’s even better is that it’s possible to prevent the occurrence of foul odors in the first place.

Why Mattresses Become Stinky

Mattress foam, including latex and memory foam, is highly porous. As a result, mattresses can absorb various elements from the environment around them, such as humidity, dust, pollen, mold spores, and other microbes present in the air. These elements can penetrate the woven cover fibers and settle into the mattress foam, leading to unpleasant odors.

Additionally, sleeping on a mattress can also contribute to its smell. Body oils, sweat, and other bodily fluids can accumulate in the mattress over time, resulting in an unpleasant odor. Eating or drinking in bed can also lead to a smelly mattress, as stains and crumbs can decay and produce odors.

Ways to Freshen a Mattress That Already Smells

The method used to treat odors should depend on their cause. Before treating the mattress, remember to remove all sheets and bedding.

Method One: Baking Soda 

If the mattress has moisture issues or an unpleasant odor, baking soda can be a good option. If the smell is not caused by noticeable stains, it is better to treat the entire mattress instead of trying to spot clean.

To clean your mattress using baking soda, follow these steps:

  1. Use the upholstery attachment to vacuum any dirt and debris off the sleep surface.
  2. Sprinkle baking soda all over the mattress. You will likely need a whole box to cover the entire surface.
  3. Rub the baking soda all over the mattress to create an even coating.
  4. Let the baking soda sit for at least one hour and up to 24 hours. The longer it sits, the better it deodorizes.
  5. Use the vacuum again to remove all the baking soda off the mattress. 

Method Two: White Vinegar 

White vinegar is an efficient solution for cleaning and deodorizing mattresses with stains or unpleasant odors. Its acidic composition effectively dissolves stains and neutralizes odors. Use it to spot-clean stained areas or freshen up the entire mattress.

To use white vinegar for cleaning and deodorizing your mattress, follow these simple steps:

  1. Mix equal parts distilled white vinegar and water in a spray bottle.
  2. For spot-cleaning stains, spray the affected areas until damp but not soaked. Allow the solution to sit for 30 minutes, then blot with a wet cloth to remove the stain.
  3. To deodorize the whole mattress, vacuum the surface first, then lightly spray the solution over the entire mattress.
  4. Let the mattress air dry completely before replacing the sheets. The vinegar smell will dissipate as it dries.

Method Three: Gentle Laundry Detergent 

A gentle detergent is a solid option for spot-cleaning a smelly mattress due to stains. Before using this method, the user should read the mattress tag to determine which types of detergents are acceptable and whether or not they can contain bleach. Doing so will ensure that the mattress is not damaged and that any warranties are not violated.

After choosing the appropriate detergent for the job, follow these steps:

  1. Mix the detergent with baking soda to create a paste with a consistency similar to toothpaste. 
  2. Apply the paste over each stain and let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour.
  3. Once the paste has dried, scrape off the mattress with a dry towel or spoon. 

Method Four: Cornstarch 

Cornstarch could be the solution for those struggling with persistent sweat odor. Due to its unique properties, cornstarch can effectively absorb sweat oils while simultaneously neutralizing any resulting odor. 

To clean the mattress using the cornstarch method, follow these steps: 

  1. Start by vacuuming the surface of the mattress to get rid of any dirt and debris.
  2. Mix cornstarch with baking soda and spread the mixture evenly over the entire mattress.
  3. Allow the mixture to sit for at least an hour or up to 24 hours for best results.
  4. Once the time is up, vacuum the cornstarch and baking soda from the mattress, removing the mixture from the sleep surface.  

Method Five: Airing Out

One solution to combat any unpleasant odors emanating from a mattress due to moisture is to air it out and allow it to dry. 

To get rid of the musty smell from the mattress, follow these steps:

  1. Open the windows in the bedroom on a cool, dry day.
  2. Turn on a large fan on high to circulate air around the room. 
  3. Remove all bedding and lean the mattress against the wall in a bright, sunny spot.
  4. Leave it for at least three to four hours.
  5. Repeat this process once or twice a week until the moisture smell is gone.

Method Six: Essential Oils

It’s important to note that essential oils do not neutralize odors but mask them by adding pleasant fragrances. Therefore, it’s recommended to use these oils along with the cleaning and deodorizing methods suggested earlier to maintain a fresh and pleasant scent on the mattress for a longer duration.

An effective method of using essential oils to deodorize the mattress is to combine them with baking soda to maintain a pleasant smell. Add 15 to 20 drops of the preferred essential oil to a box of baking soda and sprinkle it onto the bed to keep the mattress smelling fresh for a more extended period.

Use an essential oil spray to give the mattress a light fragrance! Here’s how to make it:

  1. Mix one cup of water and vinegar in a spray bottle. 
  2. Add drops of essential oil until the scent reaches the desired strength. Be careful not to add too much that alters the mixture’s color.
  3. Shake the bottle well and spray the solution onto the bare, vacuumed mattress. 
  4. Allow the mattress to air dry completely before putting on any bedding.

It is important to note that some individuals may be sensitive to essential oils, so a patch test is recommended before using the oil mixture on the mattress. Apply a small amount of the oil to a small area of the skin, wait 48 hours to observe irritation, and avoid using the oil product if any irritation occurs.

Ways to Prevent a Mattress from Becoming Smelly

The best way to prevent odors on the mattress is by taking proactive measures. Here are some tips to keep your mattress smelling fresh:

Use Mattress Protector

A mattress protector is the best way to prevent odors from seeping into the mattress. There are two main types of protectors: fitted and fully encased. Fitted protectors work like a fitted sheet, using an elastic band to stay in place. Fully encased protectors envelop the whole mattress like a mattress cover. Both protectors can protect the mattress from moisture, stains, spills, dust mites, bed bugs, and more.

When it comes to preventing odors, both protector types are effective. However, fully encased protectors can also help trap humidity and airborne particles that may come up from underneath the mattress, making them a better choice for platform beds.

A quality mattress protector keeps the mattress odor-free and protects it from fluids and particles. Moreover, it is easily washable, making cleaning allergens and dirt effortless.

Wash Bedding Accessories Frequently

It’s essential to wash sheets weekly and clean comforters, protectors, and duvets every two to three months. Pillows should also be washed according to their care instructions to prevent the accumulation of sweat, oils, and dirt.

Freshen the Mattress with Air Circulation

Allow air circulation under and around the mattress to prevent musty odors. Air it out regularly with fans or by opening windows on dry days, and use a breathable mattress foundation.

Vacuum and Rotate the Mattress

Use the upholstery attachment that comes with the vacuum to clean the mattress every three to six months. Rotate the mattress regularly to keep odors and allergens distributed and prevent uneven wear.

Clean the Bed Frame and Base

Dust and vacuum the bed frame, box spring, and area under the bed frequently. Don’t allow dust and debris to accumulate.

Use a Moisture-Wicking Mattress Pad

A mattress pad can add extra cushioning and provide better support while absorbing sweat, oils, and moisture that would otherwise sink into the mattress. Opting for a breathable, moisture-wicking pad under the sheets can help maintain a comfortable sleeping environment.

Taking proactive measures upon getting a new mattress can prevent odors from developing. It is easier to prevent smells than to remove them later on.


Getting a good night’s sleep is vital for physical and mental well-being, yet a smelly mattress can ruin it. A mattress can easily absorb dust, pollen, and humidity and accumulate bodily fluids that lead to foul smells. Although there are different methods to eliminate unpleasant smells from a mattress, they are often less practical than preventing odors from penetrating the mattress in the first place. That’s why adding a high-quality mattress protector is the most effective way to safeguard your mattress from odors. Choosing the appropriate cleaning method and incorporating a mattress protector can ensure a fresh and comfortable sleeping environment, promoting better sleep quality and overall well-being.

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