How to Dry a Wet Mattress After Water Damage

By Geoff McKinnen Certified Sleep Coach

Last Updated On December 22nd, 2023
How to Dry a Wet Mattress After Water Damage

Key Takeaways

  • Prevention is Key: Taking precautions to prevent water damage to your mattress is crucial. Using waterproof mattress protectors, limiting the consumption of drinks in bed, and maintaining a controlled bedroom humidity level can help minimize the risk of water damage.
  • Act Promptly: If your mattress does get wet, it is important to act quickly to remove excess moisture and prevent the growth of mold and mildew. Using dry towels, avoiding heat sources, and keeping the mattress elevated off the ground can aid in the drying process.
  • Consider Replacement: In some cases, the extent of water damage may be severe enough that it is necessary to replace the mattress. Visible stains, mold growth, unpleasant odors, and the loss of shape or support are indications that the mattress may need to be replaced to avoid potential health risks.

Water damage is one of the most common and destructive issues that can affect household items, including mattresses. Whether it’s due to a leaky roof, a burst pipe, or a spill, water damage can quickly ruin a mattress, causing mold, mildew, and unpleasant odors.

In such cases, the question arises: should you restore or replace the damaged mattress? While restoring a mattress can save you money, it’s important to understand the extent of the damage and the potential health risks associated with mold and mildew growth.

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In this article, we’ll explore the different causes of water damage, the signs of damage to look for, and the options available for restoring or replacing a water-damaged mattress.

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How to Dry a Water-Damaged Mattress

Drying a water-damaged mattress by yourself can be a tricky process, but there are steps you can take to help restore the mattress to its original condition. It requires patience and care and is important to act quickly to prevent further damage. Here are some tips for drying a water-damaged mattress.

Evaluate Water Damage

Before you begin, it’s important to see if it’s worth the effort to try and save your mattress with DIY methods. A mattress submerged for extended periods will need more care when drying it than a mattress wet underneath from a newly spring leak, in our experience. Consider the cause of water damage, as well. For example, floodwaters from a hurricane or other storm can leave bacteria and toxins inside your mattress.

If needed, you may need to consult a restoration professional and decide if it’s worth investing in your current mattress or replacing it with a new model. Sometimes it’s better to know when to ‘wash your hands’ of a ruined mattress, disposing of it or sending it off to a mattress recycling program.

Remove Any Excess Moisture

Start by removing any excess moisture from the mattress. You can use towels, rags or a wet-dry vacuum to soak up as much water as possible.

First, dab dry towels to sop up moisture, pressing down hard into the surface of the mattress. However, you must avoid rubbing with the towel, as you can push the moisture further into the mattress. Exchange wet towels with dry ones as they become saturated. Repeat until you’ve removed as much water as possible.

Sprinkle baking soda over the surface to absorb extra moisture, or press cat litter upon the surface if the mattress is still quite wet. Leave them alone for a few hours and vacuum them up.

Then, as this will likely not be enough to handle all residual moisture, use a wet/dry shop vacuum designed to extract liquids. If you don’t have one, most home improvement stores offer rentals. Keep working until you get your mattress as dry as you can.

Avoid Heat Sources

It’s tempting to take something warm to the bed and speed up the drying process. However, it is important to avoid using heat sources to dry a water-damaged mattress. Heat can cause the foam and other materials inside the mattress to warp or become misshapen. So, avoid using hair dryers or space heaters to dry the mattress.

Cleaning experts are mixed on whether this ban on heat sources includes sunlight, as our team discovered. On the one hand, sunlight is a natural sanitizer and can provide a more gentle sort of heat. On the other hand, direct sunlight may cause the mattress materials to break down and warp, exactly what you’re trying to avoid by air drying the mattress.

Sunlight can also cause discoloration and fading of the mattress fabric. We suggest erring on the side of caution and drying your mattress either indoors or outdoors but out of the way of direct sunlight.

Inside, use a fan to circulate air around the mattress. You can also use a dehumidifier to help remove excess moisture from the air. Make sure to keep the fan on for several hours or even overnight to ensure that the mattress is completely dry.

Keep it Elevated

It is important to keep the mattress elevated off the ground during the drying process. This can help air circulate around the mattress and prevent mold or mildew growth. It also helps to prevent any remaining water from seeping further into the mattress, which can make the damage worse, and limit any potential damage to the floor or carpet underneath.

If the mattress remains on the floor or another flat surface, it can trap moisture and create an ideal environment for mold and mildew growth, which can be harmful to your health and cause long-term damage to the mattress. This same logic is why it’s not recommended to keep your mattress on the floor permanently, instead investing in a frame or other bed base.

To elevate a wet mattress, you can use a few sturdy objects such as wooden blocks, bricks or cinder blocks, and other DIY bed risers. Place them underneath the mattress at even intervals. This will create a stable base for the mattress to rest on while allowing air to circulate freely around it.

You can also stand the mattress on its side, leaning against the wall and supported on blocks or bricks.

Deter Mold Growth

Mattress mold is one of the most dangerous consequences of water damage. Even if you take immediate action to address absorbed moisture, mold may already be flourishing.

To prevent mold growth, you can create a cleaning solution by mixing one cup of rubbing alcohol with one cup of water. Dip a clean cloth into the mixture, wring it out, and use it to wipe down the entire surface of the mattress, allowing the alcohol to work its magic in preventing mold. Ensure that the mattress dries completely after cleaning.

In addition, using an air purifier can help to remove mold spores and other allergens from the air. HEPA filters, in particular, are very effective at capturing airborne mold spores and preventing them from spreading throughout your home, including ones that might settle on your bed.

How Long Does It Take a Wet Mattress to Dry?

The time it takes for a wet mattress to dry depends on several factors, including the amount of moisture in the mattress, the humidity and temperature of the room, and the amount of air circulation. With these variables, it can take anywhere from several hours to a few days for a wet mattress to dry completely.

In general, a mattress that is only slightly damp may dry in a few hours with good air circulation, while a mattress that is very wet may take a day or more to dry completely. It’s important to be patient and allow the mattress to dry completely before using it again to avoid further damage or mold growth. If you don’t let the mattress dry fully, then placing your bedding and such on it can trap moisture.

How to Find a Professional Cleaning Service to Dry a Mattress

If you need to dry a heavily water-damaged mattress and don’t want to risk the likelihood of a DIY solution not working, you may want to consider a professional cleaning service. These companies possess the necessary equipment, specialized techniques, and expertise to thoroughly assess your mattress. Then, they can recommend the safest and most effective drying method to restore the mattress to its original condition.

Find a Profesional Restoration Service

Finding a professional restoration company can be a crucial step in restoring your property after damage from water or another disaster like fire, earthquakes, and mold. It’s best to rely on certified professionals who have years of experience in water damage restoration.

Look for a restoration company that is certified by reputable industry organizations such as the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) or the Restoration Industry Association (RIA). These organizations ensure that the company meets high standards of professionalism and expertise.

You can also ask the company for references from previous clients, and contact these past clients to ask about their experience with the company. Of course, you can also look at what past online reviews have to say as well about the service.

Let them Inspect the Mattress

Upon scheduling an appointment, the cleaning service will dispatch a technician to your home for an inspection of the damage. Using specialized equipment, the technician will assess the extent of the damage to your mattress and inform you whether or not it can be salvaged. If it can be saved, they will ask you if you want to authorize the mattress restoration process.

Once you have agreed to the restoration, the professional may request your insurance information to assist with seeking reimbursement from your provider, if applicable. If you live in a region prone to natural disasters like hurricanes or floods, it’s recommended to review your flood insurance policy to determine if your mattress is covered in such an event. If it is, you may receive enough to replace the mattress and bypass a restoration.

You may also want to ask what the restoration specialist will do if hidden mold or similar is found during the cleaning process. Such a finding can lead to a re-evaluation of restoring the mattress, after all, and it’s wise to know what you will be on the hook for paying, etc.

Cleaning & Drying the Mattress

The cleaning service will likely first use a high-powered vacuum to remove any dirt, dust, or debris from the mattress surface. If there are any stains or odors on the mattress, the cleaning service may apply a spot treatment solution to remove them.

Then, the cleaner specialist will use industrial-grade fans and dehumidifiers to dry the mattress. The fans will circulate the air, and the dehumidifiers will remove any excess moisture from the air.

Antimicrobial and disinfectant sprays may also be used on the mattress, with a commercial-grade vacuum cleaner to suck up cleaning solutions to keep them from lingering in the bed. As the specialist works to clean and dry the mattress, they will likely take photos of the process for documentation purposes, along with other notes.

How Can Water Damage to a Mattress Happen?

Water damage to a mattress can occur in a variety of ways. When it happens, a mattress can be harmful to your health, as it can lead to the growth of mold and mildew, which can cause respiratory issues and allergies.

Here are some of the most common causes of water damage to mattresses.

Accidental Spills

Accidental spills of drinking liquids such as water, coffee, or juice can seep into the mattress and cause water damage. Similarly, urine or blood can cause liquid damage to your mattress. Prevent accidents where you can by limiting drinks in bed, and use a waterproof protector to establish a barrier against other liquids.

See also:

Floods or Leaks

Natural disasters, like floods from rainstorms or hurricanes, or leaks from burst pipes or damaged roofs can cause water damage to mattresses, along with other areas of the home.  When a mattress is exposed to water or even submerged entirely for an extended period from these events, it can become waterlogged.

This absorbed water causes the materials to break down and deteriorate. The internal components, such as the springs or foam, can become damaged or weakened, which can affect the overall support and comfort of the mattress.

The moisture can also promote the growth of mold in the bedroom, leading to funky smells and various health problems. Floodwater can also contain dirt, mud, and other debris that can leave stains on a mattress. If the stains are not treated promptly and properly, they can become permanent. It’s also crucial to note that floodwaters can contain toxins and sewage that seep into your mattress and cause sickness.

For all these reasons, FEMA recommends tossing out your old mattress after a natural flood. Searching professional restoration services for one that can revive a completely soaked and near-ruined mattress is effort and money that is better spent on finding a new mattress.

High Humidity

High humidity levels can also damage a mattress over time, although the damage may be less severe than that caused by floods. Humidity is the amount of moisture in the air, and when the humidity levels are high, the air is saturated with moisture.

Excessive levels of moisture can promote the growth of mold and mildew on a mattress, which can cause health problems and unpleasant odors. Mold and mildew can also weaken the structure of a mattress, along with the absorbed moisture, and cause it to break down more quickly.

High humidity also causes odors to become trapped in a mattress and allow allergens such as dust mites to flourish.

Improper Cleaning

Using too much water or harsh cleaning products when cleaning a mattress can cause water damage. Ideally, it’s best to freshen up and deodorize a mattress using dry methods like baking soda if you can.

However, cleaning a mattress with liquid cleaners may be necessary for stains and such. If that’s the case, it’s important to blot or lightly spray cleaning solution over the affected area, to minimize any liquid seepage.


Sweating while sleeping can cause moisture to build up in the mattress, which can lead to mold and mildew growth over time. While sweating is to an extent inevitable, you can take steps to minimize how much you sweat at night.

Naturally, a cooling mattress that deters hot sleeping is one of the best ways to keep sweating down. Opt also for bedding made from natural fibers like cotton, bamboo, or linen, as these materials are more breathable and can help wick away moisture. Make sure your sleep clothes are also loose-fitting, breathable clothing materials with natural fibers to complete the effect.

If needed, we’ve found that a cooling mattress topper can help regulate your body temperature and prevent sweating as you sleep until you can replace your mattress with a model that retains less body heat.

Keep your bedroom temperature cool and comfortable, ideally between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit, to establish a comfy temperature for sleep and to help prevent sweating. During the day, also make sure you drink plenty of water to help your body self-regulate its temperature.

Sleeping with a fan on at night can also circulate air in your bedroom can help keep you cool and prevent sweating.

Wet Bedding

Wet bedding that is not properly dried can seep into the mattress and cause water damage. This is why it’s important to never place damp bedding on your mattress and to change and wash sheets and such if and when an accident occurs.

What If I Spill Water on My Mattress?

If you spill water on your mattress, the first thing you should do is act quickly and remove any excess water using a dry towel or clean cloth. First, remove any bedding on the mattress, whether it’s wet or dry, to give you easy access to the surface of the mattress.

Then, press down hard with the cloth or towel to mop up the water. Swap out wet towels with dry ones as needed. This will help to prevent the water from seeping deeper into the mattress.

If the spilled drink was something other than water, such as coffee or tea, you may need to use a specialized cleaning solution or contact a professional restoration company or mattress cleaning service to prevent stains and odors.

However, sprinkling baking soda over the damp area should help deodorize the mattress, along with absorbing any remaining moisture. For a very wet mattress, you can also try cat litter to soak up lingering water droplets, if you have it, but it may not neutralize smells the way baking soda does. If you use litter, press it into the surface to absorb moisture.

Leave the baking soda or cat litter alone for several hours, overnight if possible. Then, use a vacuum cleaner’s upholstery attachment to suck up the baking soda or cat litter. After the entire mattress is dry, you can make the bed with your sheets and pillows and such again.

Should I Take the Cover Off of a Wet Mattress?

If your mattress has a removable cover and your mattress is wet, you may want to try taking off the cover to help dry the mattress’s materials. Removing the cover will allow more air to circulate around the mattress, which can help it dry faster.

However, this does come with a couple of risks. Often, mattress covers are non-removable for more reasons than just the difficulty of getting a mattress cover back on.

Many mattress manufacturers rely on a material known as fiberglass for flame protection, tucking it away underneath the cover fabric. However, if the cover is removed, this material can escape and irritate a sleeper’s senses. Check if you have a mattress without fiberglass before taking off the cover.

Even if you have a fiberglass-free mattress and can remove the mattress cover without risk to yourself, we must note that this can void your mattress warranty. However, as water damage usually voids the mattress warranty anyway, many owners may decide that they have little to lose by removing the cover fabric.

Does a Mattress Warranty Protect Against Water Damage?

Mattress-Protector-SizesMost mattress warranties do not cover water damage, as it is considered to be a result of improper use or maintenance. Water damage can compromise the integrity of the mattress and affect its performance, leading to potential health and safety issues.

Therefore, it is important to take steps to prevent water damage to your mattress, such as using a waterproof mattress protector and avoiding exposing the mattress to moisture or humidity. If necessary, consider using a dehumidifier in the bedroom.

If your mattress does become water-damaged, it is important to contact the manufacturer or retailer to inquire about their warranty policies and see if there are any options for repair or replacement. However, it is unlikely that the warranty will cover water damage, so it is important to check the terms and conditions of the mattress warranty before making a claim.

How Do I Know If I Need to Replace a Water-Logged Mattress?

Water damage can compromise the integrity of a mattress and affect its performance, leading to a range of potential health and safety issues from mattress mold and unsupportive materials. If you suspect that your mattress has been water-damaged, it is important to take action to prevent further damage.

And if it is beyond repair, it is essential to replace the mattress as soon as possible to avoid potential health risks. Here are some signs that you may need to replace a water-damaged mattress.

Visible Stains or Mold Growth

If you notice visible stains or mold growth on your mattress, this is a clear sign that it has been water-damaged. Mold on a mattress can pose serious health risks, and attempting to clean a moldy mattress can spread spores and exacerbate the problem.

How do you know if there’s mold on your mattress? Look for white fuzz or green, brown, or black spots that are fuzzy or slimy. There’s not much you can do once a mattress has gone moldy, and it’s best to toss it once you spot mold and replace it with a new mold-resistant mattress.

Unpleasant Odor

A musty or sour smell coming from your mattress can indicate the presence of mold or bacteria caused by water damage. Even if the visible signs of damage are minimal, the odor can indicate a more serious issue.

Sagging or Uneven Surface

Water damage can cause a mattress to lose its shape and support, leading to sagging or an uneven surface. This can cause discomfort and sleep disturbances, and can also put you at risk for falls or injury.

Allergic Reactions or Respiratory Symptoms

Mold and mildew caused by water damage can trigger allergies and respiratory problems in sensitive individuals. If you experience symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, or difficulty breathing while sleeping on a water-damaged mattress, it is important to replace it as soon as possible.

Age of the Mattress

Even if a water-damaged mattress appears to be in good condition, it may be approaching the end of its lifespan. There’s only so long that a mattress provides comfort and support, though how long each mattress lasts depends on its materials.

Still, a mattress that is more than 8 to 10 years old is likely to have lost its support and comfort, even if it has not been damaged by water. And the health effects of an old mattress that has been damaged by water isn’t worth the effort of trying to save it. In our experience, you’re better off replacing it.

Does Mattress Type Affect Water Resistance?

Yes, some types of mattresses are more resistant to water damage than others. Mattresses with foam or latex cores, for example, tend to be more water-resistant than those with spring coils, as the foam or latex can better resist water absorption and damage.

Then again, the density of a foam or rubber mattress can keep it from drying out fast if it does become water-logged. Meanwhile, moisture-wicking air can easily flit between open coils inside a traditional spring bed.

And no matter what type they are, mattresses with water-resistant covers made of materials like polyester or nylon are also more resistant to water damage. These materials can repel water and prevent it from seeping into the mattress.

However, even mattresses with some level of water resistance may still be damaged or destroyed in the event of severe flooding or water damage. We’ve found in our experience that it’s always best to take precautions to prevent water damage whenever possible.

Memory Foam Mattresses

Memory foam mattresses are made with a dense foam material that can absorb water if it is not properly protected. However, some memory foam mattresses are made with special moisture-resistant materials or have a waterproof cover to help prevent water damage.

Latex Mattresses

Latex mattresses are made with a natural or synthetic rubber material that is naturally resistant to water. The material is also breathable and can help prevent mold and mildew growth.

Innerspring Mattresses

Innerspring mattresses are made with a core of metal coils that are usually wrapped in foam or fabric. These mattresses can be more resistant to water damage than other types of mattresses as they can dry quickly thanks to thin padding and such. However, there’s also a risk of the metal coils rusting from water exposure and losing support.

Hybrid Mattresses

Hybrid mattresses combine the support of innerspring coils with the comfort of foam or latex layers. Depending on the specific materials used, hybrid mattresses can be more or less resistant to water damage.

Air Mattresses

Airbed mattresses have an inflatable core that is usually covered in foam or fabric. While the core itself may not be affected by water, the foam or fabric covering can be susceptible to water damage, giving space for mold to flourish in damp conditions.


Waterbeds are specifically designed to hold water and are less likely to suffer from water damage than traditional mattresses. They are made with sturdy materials such as vinyl, a water-resistant material that helps to prevent water from seeping into the bed. However, waterbeds can still be susceptible to punctures or leaks which can cause water damage.

Additionally, if the waterbed is not properly maintained, mold and mildew can grow on the surface, leading to health issues. To prevent water damage, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper maintenance and to inspect the waterbed regularly for any signs of damage or leaks.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a mattress ruined if it gets wet?

Water can damage a mattress and compromise its integrity, affecting its performance and lifespan. If a mattress gets wet, it may not necessarily be ruined, but it can be difficult to restore it to its original condition. Water can cause mold and bacteria growth, which can lead to unpleasant odors and potential health risks.

If a mattress is left wet for an extended period of time, it can also lose its shape and support, making it uncomfortable for sleeping.

How can you tell if your mattress has mold?

Visible stains or mold growth on the surface of the mattress are the most obvious signs of mold. However, mold can also grow inside the mattress and may not be visible. A musty or sour smell coming from the mattress can also indicate the presence of mold or bacteria caused by water damage.

Can you save a water-damaged mattress?

In some cases, it may be possible to save a water-damaged mattress. However, it is important to act quickly to prevent further damage and potential health risks. It is recommended to contact a professional mattress cleaner or restoration service for advice on how to best restore the mattress.

Does water damage a memory foam mattress?

Water can damage a memory foam mattress by causing it to absorb moisture, which can lead to mold and bacteria growth. Memory foam mattresses may also lose their shape and support when wet, making them uncomfortable to sleep on. Depending on its material density, a memory foam mattress can also be slow to dry, worsening the water damage.

Can I still use a box spring if it gets wet?

Do not use box springs that are wet or otherwise damp until they are dry. Drying a box spring is typically easier than drying a mattress, but it’s important to ensure that the wood in the box spring is completely dry to prevent rotting.

We recommended running a fan and a dehumidifier by the box spring for an extended period to ensure thorough drying. Let these run longer than you think you need to, just to be certain the bed base is dry.

Can a wet mattress be dried?

A wet mattress can be dried, but it is important to do so properly to prevent further damage. If possible, remove the mattress from the bed frame and allow it to air dry in a well-ventilated area. Avoid using a hair dryer or other heat source to dry the mattress, as this can cause further damage.

Use dry towels to blot up as much of the moisture from the mattress as possible. Be sure to press firmly on the towels to wring out as much water as you can, and replace wet towels with dry ones as needed. But if the mattress is severely damaged or develops a persistent odor, it likely needs to be replaced.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, drying a water-damaged mattress is not an easy process, but it can be done by following some simple steps. First, it is essential to evaluate the extent of the damage to determine if it is worth restoring the mattress. Next, removing excess moisture from the mattress is necessary, followed by avoiding heat sources and keeping the mattress elevated off the ground.

It is also crucial to prevent mold growth by cleaning the mattress and using an air purifier. The drying time of a wet mattress depends on several factors, and it is important to be patient and allow the mattress to dry completely before use to prevent further damage or mold growth. By following these tips, you can try to restore your water-damaged mattress to its original condition.

About the author

Geoff McKinnen is a writer focusing mainly on the healthcare industry and has written articles on everything from foods to help you lose weight to the connection between Alzheimer’s and sleep. Geoff’s passionate about helping readers improve their well-being to lead happier lives. Outside of work, Geoff enjoys cycling and hiking and believes that by leading a healthy lifestyle, he can help others do the same.

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