Do It Yourself Mold Removal: Can mold be removed from a mattress?

When it comes to do it yourself mold removal and whether or not you can remove mold yourself from behind the refrigerator, in the bathroom, or in the crawl space, the short answer is: possibly. When it comes to do it yourself mold removal and whether or not you can remove mold yourself from your mattress, the even shorter answer here is: no. And it comes with a kicker: get rid of your mattress immediately.

Why is there mold in your mattress?

Before looking into do it yourself mold removal, chances are you found mold. Unfortunately, finding mold in or under your mattress is not uncommon - it can happen in any type of mattress, whether it's an organic natural mattress or a memory foam mattress. This can be disconcerting because mold in your mattress can be very hazardous to your health. Sleeping in a mattress with mold can lead to a variety of health issues.

What makes your mattress a natural choice for mold growth is that mold needs darkness, warmth, and moisture to grow ... that really describes most sleeping environments. In simple terms, the moisture comes from your sweat. Everyone sweats in their sleep - some up to a pint during the course of an evening. The moisture accumulates in or under the mattress and provides a breeding ground for mold.

California-based bedding manufacturer Nest Bedding recently published an article that explains, "If your mattress is on the floor, on a solid, non-breathable base, or the slats are too plentiful or too wide, or simply too close together, the mattress cannot breathe properly and you accumulate moisture and eventually mold."

Nest continues, "If you are sleeping hot, consider replacing your bedding with natural, synthetic-free bedding. If you use down and feather comforters, consider switching to wool as it's better at temperature regulation. If you are sleeping hot and have a memory foam mattress, consider adding a wool topper or switching to an all-natural organic mattress comprised of natural cottons and wools, which breathe much better."

Why can't mattresses be saved from mold once infested?

Mold is a spore-forming organism. It's the spores' job to become airborne, potentially ending up in your lungs, which can cause anything from breathing issues to severe health challenges. And a mattress with any type of foam (most mattresses have some type of foam), whether it is latex foam or memory foam, is the perfect host to grow mold. The mold colonizes in the millions-upon-millions of open cells or air pockets in the foam, making it impossible to eradicate.

Needless to say, when you find mold in or under your mattress, there is a great likelihood that it has spread into the foam and cannot be seen. Unfortunately, there really is no way to safely and thoroughly eradicate it.

The mistake most people make is cleaning off the mold on the surface and continuing to use the mattress. That mistake can lead to further mold growth and increased exposure to mold toxicity.

One of the most important things you should do when you find mold in or under your mattress, after getting rid of it, is to discover why you got mold in or under your mattress.

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How to prevent mattress mold growth?

As previously mentioned, the most common source is moisture from your body, or sweat. Using a breathable but waterproof cover is a great first step - this will prevent your sweat from traveling through and into the foam and providing the breeding environment for the mold. All latex mattresses and organic mattresses, despite what you may read in their marketing, are susceptible to mold. It is not just a memory foam issue.

Another issue can be the platform you are using for your mattress. A solid board or solid box spring will prevent moisture from dissipating and evaporating.

I have seen a mattress that was near a leaky and drafty window that molded from the moisture coming in from the window.

The bottom line: Don't continue to sleep on a moldy mattress! It is a health risk and should be disposed of as a hazardous waste immediately.

What about other porous materials?

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), absorbent or porous materials may need to be thrown away if they become moldy because - like mattresses - mold can grow on or fill in the empty spaces and crevices of porous materials, making the mold difficult or impossible to completely remove. Porous materials that are likely culprits for harboring mold include carpeting, wallboard, ceiling tiles, wallpaper, fabric, and upholstered furniture.

Is do it yourself mold removal effective on other porous materials?

Let's go back to our short answers. Can do it yourself mold removal be effective when it comes to clothes, furniture, and area rugs? The short answer: probably not. When it comes to mold, we would all rather be safe than sorry. Instead of risking your health and the health of your loved ones with do it yourself mold removal methods, consider contacting a professional.

What to do if you find mold on porous materials:

  • Schedule a mold inspection with a NADCA-certified mold remediation specialist to assess possible further damage. (Mold on your mattress might be indicative of a bigger problem.)
  • Identify the type of material that has been affected. While semi-porous, hardwoods can likely be saved through the use of an antimicrobial scrub.
  • Wearing proper personal protective equipment (PPE), clean salvageable moldy materials outside. Items such as clothes, furniture, area rugs, and mattresses may need to be discarded.

More info? For more information on where mold comes from, read our post: Identify Mold and Mildew in Your Home.

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