How to Clean Water Stains From a Mattress

Last Updated On April 18th, 2024
How to Clean Water Stains From a Mattress

Key Takeaways

  • Act Promptly: When dealing with water stains on your mattress, it is essential to act quickly. Blot the affected area to absorb as much moisture as possible and use appropriate cleaning solutions promptly to prevent the stains from setting in.
  • Preventive Measures: Invest in a stain-proof mattress protector to create a barrier between your mattress and potential spills. Adopting good habits, such as avoiding consuming food or liquids in bed and regularly cleaning your bedding, can help prevent the occurrence of water stains on your mattress.
  • Proper Drying Technique: After cleaning the water stains, ensure that you allow your mattress to air dry thoroughly. Avoid using heat sources like hairdryers, as they can damage the material and cause shrinkage. Proper drying is crucial in preventing mold and mildew growth and ensuring a deep clean of your mattress stains.

Water stains on a mattress can be unsightly and can even pose a risk to your health if left untreated. However, removing water stains is a relatively simple task that can be done using common household items. 

In this article, we‘ll explore techniques for removing water stains from your mattress and share some helpful mattress cleaning tips to ensure a thorough clean. Read on for our step-by-step guide to mattress cleaning techniques.

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Causes of Water Stains on Mattresses

Water stains on mattresses can be a real headache to remove, but how do they even happen? Well, they occur when moisture seeps into the mattress and causes discoloration, leaving an unsightly mark behind.

There are several causes of water stains on mattresses. The most common cause is sweat, which can cause moisture to seep into the mattress and leave yellow mattress sweat stains to clean.

Other causes include spilling water or other liquids on the bed or leaving a window open near the bed during a rainstorm. Perhaps you did so to cool down your bedroom without air conditioning, but now you have a water-logged mattress to deal with.

If you don’t remove water stains promptly, mold and mildew can grow inside the mattress, causing health hazards.

Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning Water Stains on a Mattress

Removing water stains from a mattress can seem daunting, but with the right techniques and materials, it can be easily achieved. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you clean water stains out of your mattress:

Step 1: Blot the Stain

The first step is to blot the water stain with a dry towel or paper towel. Be gentle and avoid rubbing the stain, as this can spread it further.

Step 2: Vacuum the Mattress

Next, vacuum the entire mattress to remove any remaining moisture or dirt. Use the upholstery attachment and go over the mattress in a slow, methodical manner.

Step 3: Apply the Cleaning Solution

Choose a cleaning solution that is safe for your mattress material. For example, a mixture of equal parts water and vinegar can be used for most mattresses. Apply the solution to the water-stained area using a spray bottle or a clean cloth.

Step 4: Let it Sit

Allow the cleaning solution to sit for at least 10-15 minutes. This will give it enough time to penetrate the stain and break it down.

Step 5: Blot Again

Using a clean towel or paper towel, blot the area again to remove the cleaning solution and any remaining moisture.

Step 6: Air Dry the Mattress

Finally, allow the mattress to air dry completely. Open the windows or turn on a fan to speed up the process. Avoid using a hairdryer or other heat source to dry the mattress, as this can damage the material and cause shrinkage.

By following these mattress cleaning techniques, you can effectively remove water stains from your mattress and enjoy a clean and comfortable sleeping space once again.

DIY Mattress Stain Remover Recipes

If you prefer natural and DIY solutions, here are some simple yet effective mattress stain remover recipes you can make using common household ingredients:

Vinegar and Baking Soda Solution

A mixture of vinegar and baking soda can work wonders on water stains. Here’s what you need:

  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 1 cup warm water
  • A spray bottle


  1. Mix the white vinegar, baking soda, and warm water in a bowl until they form a paste.
  2. Pour the paste into a spray bottle and shake well.
  3. Spray the solution onto the water stains and let it sit for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Using a clean cloth or sponge, gently scrub the stains in a circular motion.
  5. Rinse the area with a clean damp cloth and blot dry with a dry towel.

Lemon and Salt Solution

This solution uses the natural cleaning power of lemon and the abrasive action of salt to lift water stains. Here’s what you need:

  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • A spray bottle


  1. Mix the lemon juice and salt in a bowl until they form a paste.
  2. Pour the paste into a spray bottle and shake well.
  3. Spray the solution onto the water stains and let it sit for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Using a clean cloth or sponge, gently scrub the stains in a circular motion.
  5. Rinse the area with a clean damp cloth and blot dry with a dry towel.

Using these DIY solutions is an easy and cost-effective way to eliminate water stains from your mattress. Remember to always test the solution on a small, inconspicuous area of your mattress before applying it to larger stains.

Drying Your Mattress Properly

After applying the cleaning solution and successfully removing the water stains, it’s important to allow your mattress to dry properly. This step is crucial in preventing mold and mildew growth and ensuring a deep clean of your mattress stains.

Taking the time to allow your mattress to air dry or using a fan can ultimately prolong the lifespan of your mattress and ensure a deep clean of any water stains or other stains you may encounter.

Air Drying

The best way to dry your mattress is to allow it to air dry naturally. This means removing all bedding and leaving the mattress in a well-ventilated room, preferably with a fan or open windows. Make sure to prop up your mattress with pillows or other items to allow for proper air circulation.

For deep clean mattress stains, it may take several hours or even days for the mattress to fully dry. Be patient and wait until the mattress is completely dry before re-dressing it with bedding.

Turning on a fan for sleeping or opening a window can speed up the drying process and help avoid musty odors.

Using a Hair Dryer

If you need to speed up the drying process, you can use a hairdryer on the cool setting to help dry the affected area. However, keep the hairdryer several inches away from the mattress and constantly move the dryer back and forth to avoid damaging the mattress. This method should be used with caution and only on small areas.

Preventing Water Stains on Your Mattress

No one wants to deal with the hassle of cleaning water stains out of their mattress. To avoid this, try these simple mattress cleaning hacks to prevent water stains from occurring in the first place.

Use a Stain-Proof Mattress Protector

Invest in a high-quality mattress protector that is specifically designed to resist stains and spills. A good mattress protector will create a barrier between your mattress and any potential spills, preventing water stains and other damage to your mattress. Without a mattress protector, you may need to consult one of these guides:

Adopt Good Habits

Make it a habit to avoid consuming food or liquids in bed, and always use a coaster for drinks. This will minimize the risk of spills and stains on your mattress. Additionally, try to discourage pets from jumping on the bed as they may carry dirt and moisture on their paws.

(In fact, as a rule of thumb, you want no one jumping on the bed as it can damage its support.)

Regularly Clean Your Bedding

Wash your sheets, pillowcases, and blankets regularly to prevent sweat, oils, and other bodily fluids from seeping into your mattress. This will also help maintain a clean and fresh sleeping environment.

Avoid Excessive Moisture

When cleaning your mattress, be cautious of using too much water. Excessive moisture can seep into the mattress and cause water stains or even mold growth. Use a damp cloth or sponge to clean the affected area, and allow your mattress to air dry completely before covering it with bedding.

By following these tips, you can prevent water stains on your mattress and maintain a clean and comfortable sleeping space. However, accidents can still happen, so it’s important to know how to effectively clean water stains out of your mattress.

Determining if a Water-Damaged Mattress Is Unsafe

If your mattress gets soaked by a spill, leak, or flood, how can you tell if it’s still safe to sleep on? In some cases, water damage may be too extensive for the mattress to recover. Signs that a water-damaged mattress is beyond saving include:

  • Visible mattress mold growth. If you see fuzzy mold patches or black mildew spots, the mattress is undoubtedly contaminated. Mold spores can cause respiratory issues.
  • A strong musty odor that doesn’t fade after drying. Lingering odors indicate mold or mildew may be growing inside the mattress, even if not visible.
  • Inability to fully dry. If sections of the mattress remain damp or moist after ample drying time (48 hours or more), excess water likely remains trapped deep inside.
  • Noticeable mattress sagging, lumpiness, or misshaping. Extreme saturation can cause fill materials to shift and compress. A deformed mattress with sagging and permanent impressions lacks proper support.
  • Presence of insects or bugs. An extremely wet mattress can attract insects that feed on moisture and fabric. Bug infestations are difficult to exterminate.
  • Previous water damage. Repeated water exposure shortens a mattress’s lifespan. An older mattress with prior water stains may not withstand another flooding.

If your mattress shows these signs of extensive water damage, it’s best to replace the mattress. Sleeping on a wet, moldy mattress can make you sick. When in doubt, be cautious and invest in a new, undamaged mattress.

More Bedding Cleaning Guides

For pillows:

For sheets:

For blankets, quilt, comforters, etc:

For other bedding items:


How do you get liquid stains out of a mattress?

To remove liquid stains from a mattress, start by blotting the affected area with a dry cloth to absorb as much liquid as possible. Avoid rubbing the stain, as it can spread and set it further. Then, create a cleaning solution by mixing mild detergent with water and gently dab it onto the stain using a clean cloth.

You can also use a mixture of vinegar and water or a baking soda paste for tougher stains. After treating the stain, let the mattress air-dry thoroughly before using it again.

Why does my mattress look stained?

Mattresses can appear stained due to various factors, including spills, body oils, sweat, or accidents. These substances can seep into the mattress fabric and leave behind visible marks over time. Additionally, dust, dirt, and dead skin cells can accumulate on the surface, leading to discoloration and the appearance of stains.

Are water stains permanent?

Water stains can be challenging to remove, but they are not necessarily permanent. With prompt and proper treatment, you can often eliminate water stains from various surfaces, including mattresses. Using appropriate cleaning techniques and products, such as mild detergents, vinegar solutions, or baking soda paste, can help lift and lighten water stains.

Why does water leave water stains?

Water can leave stains on surfaces due to the presence of minerals or impurities in the water itself. When water evaporates, the minerals can remain behind and form visible marks on the surface. Additionally, if the water remains on the surface for an extended period, it can seep into the material, leading to discoloration that leaves obvious stains.

Can water stains spread?

Water stains can spread if the water penetrates deeper into the material, causing the discoloration to expand beyond the original affected area. It is essential to address water stains promptly and thoroughly to prevent them from spreading further.

Using proper cleaning techniques and allowing the affected area to dry completely can help mitigate the risk of spreading water stains.


We hope that this guide has been helpful in teaching you how to clean water stains out of your mattress. Remember that prevention is key, so make sure to use a stain-proof mattress protector and adopt good habits to avoid future stains.

If you do find water stains on your mattress, don’t panic! Follow our step-by-step guide to effectively remove the stains using cleaning techniques and materials that we’ve recommended. You can also try some of our DIY mattress stain remover recipes, which are simple and affordable to make using ingredients you already have at home.

It’s important to ensure that your mattress dries thoroughly after cleaning to avoid the risk of mold and mildew growth. Finally, don’t forget to maintain a regular cleaning routine and spot-clean any new stains as soon as possible to keep your mattress looking and smelling fresh.

Thank you for reading and we hope that you enjoy a clean and comfortable sleeping environment! If you found our tips helpful, please feel free to share them with your family and friends.

About the author

April Mayer is a sleep expert and writer with a degree in exercise physiology. She has dedicated her career to exploring the relationship between sleep and productivity. Her insightful articles, such as "The Surprising Way Your Mood Might Be Messing With Your Productivity" and "Wake Up to More Productive Mornings," have been featured in reputable publications like Forbes, Greatist, Real Homes, Thrillist, Tom's Guide, and Eat This, Not That. With a passion for helping others lead more productive lives through restful sleep, April offers valuable expertise on foods and vitamins for better sleep. As a trusted member of the Early Bird team since March 2020, she continues to provide informative and well-researched content.

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