My Mattress Is Mouldy - How to Clean A Mouldy Mattress (and How to Prevent It)

 

Your bed is where you want to feel comfy, snug, and safe from the world. A warm, clean bed is a refuge after a difficult day and the reward after a great day. How many days haven’t you dreamt for the evening to arrive, when you can finally slip under the covers and close your eyes? You’re not alone! No matter how we choose to spend our days, what we all have in common is that at the end of that day, we need to sleep, and we need a safe and comfortable place to do so. So what happens when we notice that something is awry? Perhaps there’s an unmistakably damp or musty smell. Perhaps you’ve been waking up itchy-eyed, runny-nosed, or coughing. 

So you peel back your covers and mattress protector to investigate, and horrified, you spot it. Mould. Perhaps you see flecks or even patches of mould on the cotton, polyester, or wool mattress cover. Perhaps it’s still invisible to the human eye, but the smell is unmistakable. Like wet socks, or rotten wood. How could this happen to me, you may ask. What did I do to deserve this? How do mattresses even go mouldy? Well, it could be the result of several avoidable factors, and this blog will discuss them all. Learn what causes a mouldy mattress, what you can do to prevent mould and mildew, and how you can make sure your mattress goes the distance! 

The most mould resilient mattresses 

While some harmful and strong chemicals can be sprayed on mattresses to increase the mould resistance of a fabric, generally the advice is to go natural to avoid mould. Pure, natural latex (like ours) is famed for its antimicrobial (and thus anti-mould) properties, but there are other all-natural materials that also do well in the fight against mould. All-natural latex, wool, and rubberised coconut fibres are preferred when it comes to resisting mould. If the mattresses don’t have breathable structures like our natural latex mattresses do, coils and springs also help by increasing breathability.

 

 

The image shows a white, young woman sleeping on a bare mattress on a bed.

How latex mattresses repel mould, mildew, dust, and mites

The two reasons for the antimicrobial properties of latex foam are 1) the material and 2) the construction of the mattress. Natural latex foam is a naturally antimicrobial material, meaning it cannot grow mould. Combine that with the unique construction (formed during the curing process of the latex foam) of hundreds of holes piercing the foam, you have an incredibly breathable material that dries quickly and stays naturally cool. That’s bad for mould and great for you. 

 

Wait, I thought latex mattresses were mould resistant? 

That’s right, pure latex mattresses are naturally antimicrobial and mould resistant. That said, resistant doesn’t mean impervious. With the right (or wrong) set of circumstances, mould can form quickly even on latex mattresses (especially in the non-latex fabric casing around the latex core). 

What causes mould in your mattress and bedroom? 

Mould plays an essential role in our planet’s ecosystems as it breaks down dead organic materials and turns them into nutrients. Mould grows best in moist and poorly ventilated environments and mattress mould, in particular, is the love child of bacteria and moisture. Mould is a friend in general, but not in our beds or our food (unless we’re talking blue cheese). It’s also important to know that mattress mould isn’t an unavoidable and random part of life that can strike at any moment. Mould on a mattress is generally a sign that proper care hasn’t been taken, or an accident has occurred. 

 

  1. Mould is caused by moisture

This may seem like an obvious one, but we’ve seen some mattresses returned to us due to spills and accidents, and often the unlucky party had no idea how bad moisture is for a mattress. Mould can form quickly in the bedroom if there is moisture, such as from leaks in the roof, windows, or pipes, or spills, accidents, or simply high air moisture levels. 

You must keep your mattress in a dry environment because mould can form on a mattress within 24-48 hours if water is spilled and not dried, and a mattress can grow mould if it is exposed to a moist environment for a prolonged time. So deal with spills quickly, invest in waterproofing for accident-prone children, pets, or adults, and avoid liquids in or near your bed altogether (or proceed with great caution). If you live in a tropical or high-moisture environment, monitor for moisture regularly and consider investing in a dehumidifier to keep mould at bay. Not only your mattress is susceptible to mould: your walls, carpets, clothes, and furniture are too. Becoming a mould-management expert is a worthwhile investment of  your time.

  1. Mould is caused by insufficient airflow
As previously mentioned, the construction of our latex mattresses means they’re incredibly breathable, but only as long as it’s not placed on a solid surface. An essential condition of our warranty is to place your latex mattress on a proper bed base (such as a slatted bed base) because your latex mattress needs to breathe. It is only breathable if there’s a supply of airflow for the hundreds of holes piercing the mattress from top to bottom, so please, ensure that you give your mattress the chance to breathe to prevent mould build-up. 

 

  1. Mould is caused by poor bedroom hygiene

Mould grows in organic materials and finds its way into mattresses when there’s a combination of bacteria and moisture. Poor hygiene can mean many things, but in the bedroom, it could mean inadequate sheet-changing, going to bed sweaty, rarely or never vacuuming the mattress, not protecting the mattress with a mattress protector, eating and drinking in bed, and leaving spills to settle into the mattress. 

And, no matter how clean and tidy we are, we sweat a fair amount each night, which goes through your sheets and into your mattress if you don’t watch out. A quality mattress protector goes a long way to minimise how much goes into your mattress - especially a thick, organic cotton one like ours. Just make sure to clean it regularly, too! 

So how often should you be cleaning your bedsheets? Ideally once per week. 
And what about your mattress protector? Once every two months. 

 

An added benefit of regularly washing and changing your sheets (beyond that dreamy and superiority-inducing fresh-sheet-feeling) is that you are more likely to catch mould or other damages quickly, rather than when it’s already too late!
 5. Mould is caused by the right (or wrong) temperature
Mould spores - like people - have a preferred temperature. Mould spores thrive in temperatures between 21 and 30 degrees Celsius, so if that's the temperature your bedroom usually sits at, be sure to crack a window to air it out often, and watch for spills and musty smells. 

 

The health effect of a mouldy mattress

Left undealt with, mould can cause serious and varying health problems in people and pets. We spend on average eight hours per night in bed, so if there’s mould present in our mattress, we can quickly become over-exposed to mould. Some of the adverse health effects of mould include respiratory issues, heart problems, joint pain, migraines, fatigue and depression, as well as itchy eyes, coughing, sneezing.

 

So how do you protect your mattress from mould?

Luckily, preventing mould from ever forming on your mattress is easy. Just keep your mattress dry, protected, and breathing! This is how you do that: 

First, protect your mattress from moisture and spills

You do this with a quality mattress protector and a mattress topper. Not only will it protect your base mattress from spilled liquids and sweat, but it will also protect it from wear and tear - meaning your mattress will last for years longer than without the extra protection. This will save you money!

If you’ve bought a natural latex mattress for a child who still occasionally bed wets, make sure you protect the mattress with a waterproof mattress protector. We, unfortunately, don’t sell these as we sell only 100% natural and organic products, and no waterproof mattress protectors are 100% natural. 

Secondly, never, ever leave your mattress on the floor

We mean it! Placing your mattress on the floor or a bed base with poor or no airflow is a recipe for mould, so make sure your bed base is suited for your mattress. When choosing your bed base, just make sure the slats are no more than 9cms (3.5 inches) apart. If in doubt, feel free to reach out to our friendly team via phone, email, or social media channels, and we can answer any questions you have. 

If you need to remove your mattress from your bed base at any point (perhaps due to a house move or a 4 am Feng Shui rejig), make sure you prop it up against the wall instead of on the floor to provide airflow. Even a day or a few with your mattress flat on the floor can create the foundation for mould to grow. 

Thirdly, keep an eye on your room’s humidity levels

Do you live in a hot and humid climate, or perhaps you just sleep hot at night? Chances are your mattress is at a higher risk of growing mould. We recommend investing in a dehumidifier to capture that excess moisture (so that your mattress doesn’t capture it instead). 

Fourthly, keep it clean

A mattress is only as clean as you make it, and dirt and spills can lead to mould and other nasties. So keep eating and drinking in bed to a minimum, and make sure you wash your sheets and vacuum your mattress regularly. We also recommend investing in an air purifier, as it can effectively remove bacteria and mould spores from the air. 

Can you remove mould from a latex foam mattress? 

But what if the damage has already occurred, what should you do? What can you do? A few things, fortunately. 

If you notice a mouldy smell or mould spots, urgency is the name of the game. Mould is fast-growing and insistent - once it’s there it doesn’t go away on its own. Remember how mould likes moist and poorly ventilated spots? Well, use this knowledge to expel it. Wash, dry, and air it well.

First, make sure you wear protective gear to prevent inhaling any mould spores while agitating the area. 

Second, assess the damage and what parts of your mattress is affected. Mould is airborne so try your best to isolate your mould-affected mattress to avoid it spreading. 

Third, vacuum both sides of the mattress thoroughly and immediately switch the vacuum bag and clean the parts that came into contact with the mould. 

 

Fourth, wash the mould-affected area thoroughly with a mild detergent and water mix or isopropyl alcohol. Don't use harsh detergents or solvents, and if you wish to try the hard stuff, we recommend spot testing first to see how your mattress reacts. Don't use bleach. When in doubt, give us a ring and we’ll talk you through it. 

Fifth, air dry the mattress thoroughly. We mean really thoroughly. You can do this by using the old setting of your hairdryer, aiming your floor fan at it, or taking it briefly outside to airdry, keeping it out of the sun. Don't leave exposed latex materials outside in direct sunlight as it can affect the integrity of the latex foam.

 

Is mould damage covered by the Peacelily mattress warranty? 

In most cases, no. If it’s found that the mattress has been placed directly on the floor (preventing airflow) or been exposed to water or other liquids, this voids the Peacelily warranty. We understand the frustration this can cause, but we ask all our customers to take the necessary care and caution with their all-natural mattresses. You take care of it, and, in turn, it will take care of you. Click here to read the Peacelily mattress warranty details. 

When is it time to buy a new mattress? 

You’ll likely know when a mouldy mattress is too far gone. Perhaps you’ve repeatedly cleaned it and the mould blossoms back, or the initial mould is just too far advanced to manage. We understand the frustration you may feel if this has happened to you. A mattress isn’t a cheap investment, but sleeping on a mould-free mattress is essential for long-term health and happiness. You spend eight hours a day on average on your mattress - that's likely the biggest chunk out of your day that you spend in one place. Making sure your bed is free from mould, mites, and dust is an important and easy investment into your own health.

 

The image shows a Peacelily latex mattress on a wooden bedframe in a scandi decorated bedroom

 

If you’ve got a mouldy mattress on your hands and you’re looking for a fresh start, feel free to browse our range of luxurious and naturally antimicrobial mattresses, mattress toppers, and mattress protectors, or get in touch.

 

 

Peacelily Mattress

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The standard for healthy sleep

Peacelily Adjustable Bed

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Peacelily Topper

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Elevate the comfort feel of your mattress

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