Accidents happen all the time, and your mattress is no exception to this. You could find spilled water on your or a family member’s mattress, a pet or child could urinate on it, there could be rain exposure from an open window, there could even be flooding which causes your mattress to get wet.
Regardless of how it happens, the liquid will weaken the integrity of the mattress’ material. Ultimately, the key to salvaging a water damaged mattress is speed. So, you must start drying the mattress out as soon as possible. Acting quickly is the only way to prevent mold and mildew from forming inside the mattress. If either of these starts to develop they will produce a musky odor and pose an eventual health risk making it impossible to salvage.
Most people do not want to throw away a mattress simply because of a little damage caused by liquid. Well, guess what? You don’t have to! Mattresses are expensive and should last 5 to 7 years before you have to start considering replacing it. So before throwing a mattress away, you should at least try and see if it is salvageable.
Our 7 Step Guide
If the spill is extremely small you may be able to get away with using a hairdryer but when that simply won’t cut it, believe me, you’ll know. Here is an easy 7 step guide for you to follow on the best way to dry a wet bed fast:
1. How damaged is the mattress?
First, you will need to determine the amount of damage that has occurred. If the mattress is wet from a spill or urine and you can act within a maximum of 24 hours, the quicker the better, then proceed to step 2. If the mattress has been wet for more than 24 hours, has been completely soaked in a flood, or has been contaminated with sewage water it should immediately be considered trash.
Do not try to dry or clean a mattress that falls into one of these categories. Even if the mattress looks good on the outside it can still be filled with mold on the inside causing a potential health risk. If you really don’t want to part with your mattress because it is new, you can consult a professional restoration company to determine whether or not they can help dry and sanitize it quickly enough for you to keep it.
2. Absorb the liquid.
For heavier spills use a shop vac to suck liquid out of the interior of the mattress. For lighter spills, or after using the shop vac, blot the surface with dry towels or paper towels to absorb as much of the initial moisture as possible. Continue repeating this process until you notice the towels are no longer absorbing liquid. Using a lot of pressure is best and will help to extract liquid from the inner layers where it is most prone to growing mold. Placing heavy objects such as weights or stacks of books on the towels for a few moments can help achieve this. You could also try standing on and walking around on the towels to apply a significant amount of pressure to reach the inner layers of your damaged mattress.
3. Kill the bacteria.
If water caused your damage, you can skip ahead to step 4. If your wet mattress is because of urine or another type of liquid that contains bacteria it is vital that you prevent bacteria from forming in the lining. Industrial strength urine removers can be purchased at pet or grocery stores, but often a natural remedy like hydrogen peroxide or vinegar will work just as well. This will also prevent you from having to make a trip to the store if you already have them available. Whichever liquid you choose, spray the damaged area thoroughly and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Repeat if you feel necessary then repeat step 2 before proceeding to step 4.
4. Apply a moisture absorbing substance.
Baking soda, kitty litter, or salt can be used to help suck most of the remaining moisture out of your mattress. Use whatever you have readily available, but baking soda or kitty litter is preferred over salt.
Kitty litter is best for more significant spills. Cover the damaged area with one of these substances and rub it into the material using a toothbrush or pressing it in with your hands. This ensures that the inside layers will dry out quickly, not just the surface area.
Let sit for up to 12 hours for maximum absorption before proceeding to the next step. The substance should become clumpy as it absorbs moisture letting you know that it’s working.
5. Vacuum up the remaining liquid.
Using a wet/dry shop vac thoroughly vacuum up the baking soda or kitty litter from the mattress surface. Avoid using your regular household vacuum because the moisture can damage it internally. In some cases, the moisture can even cause you to receive a small electrical shock. Repeat steps 4 and 5 as many times as needed for larger spills, once is often enough for smaller spills.
6. Prevent mold from forming.
Make a mixture of rubbing alcohol and water using equal parts. Soak an absorbent towel in the mixture and wring it out very well. Wipe the towel over the entire affected area. Repeat this process several times with a fresh section of the towel. The alcohol helps to sanitize and prevent mattress mold, mildew, or a musky smell from developing. The alcohol will also evaporate quickly which helps to keep the drying phase moving forward as fast as possible.
Some people recommend also adding a few drops of dish soap to the mixture. This does not contribute to the sanitation of the mattress but does add a pleasant smell to the finished product. Use at your discretion.
7. Rapid drying with maximum air circulation.
The final step is to take the drying mattress outside and set it in the sun, weather permitting. If this is not an option, you can leave it inside with a bed fan, dehumidifier, a space heater, or some other type of large fan. During this phase, it is important to encourage maximum exposure to air circulation so make sure you place the mattress on the ground standing up with the most surface area exposed. Placing it on top of saw horses or cinder blocks can also help to expose the most surface area possible.
Let it dry for up to 24 hours and move it inside during the night to prevent further exposure to moisture from dew or unexpected weather. Lastly, be patient and do not sleep on or use the mattress until you are certain it is completely dry throughout. Premature use can slow down the drying process defeating all your work.
After you have completed all of the steps, you should once more assess whether or not it is still worth keeping, or if it is time to throw away. Even with all your hard work, it may be best to throw it out if you cannot rid it of a musky smell or other odor. It is unhealthy to sleep on a musty mattress and breathe in air that circulates over the mold.
Simply spraying perfume or deodorizer will only mask the real problem, which is mold in the interior of your mattress. An antibacterial spray or Febreze may prove useful at giving it a pleasant smell, but only if you are confident there is no mold on the inside of the mattress.
Ultimately you will have to make the final call, but most of the time this 7-step process will prove more than sufficient, allowing you to successfully salvage your water-damaged mattress and save you a lot of money in the process. Good luck!