Help! My Mattress has Mold Growth

APRIL 11TH, 2019
Help! My Mattress has Mold Growth

Updated on November 06, 2019.

Finding mold on a mattress is not only disconcerting, it can also be a potential hazard to your health.

Mold is a pest, it is insidious and spreads quickly; by the time you can see visible evidence of mold growth on your mattress, it might already be an entrenched problem.

Unfortunately, mold doesn’t need much to grow; even the cleanest of households could become plagued with these unwanted guests.

Are you wondering: What’s the Difference Between Mold and Mould?  

Why is there Mold Growing on My Mattress?

As discussed in our last blog post, mold simply needs darkness, warmth, and moisture to thrive. Unfortunately, this describes most sleeping environments in the average household.

Everyone sweats while they sleep, some much more than others, and this moisture can accumulate in or under your mattress, providing the perfect breeding ground for mold to thrive and reproduce in.

Most mattresses are produced using some sort of foam, from latex to memory foam; the open cells and air pockets (there can be millions in a single mattress) provide tiny places for mold to colonize.

To complicate these issues more, you rarely actually see the surface of your mattress, and far less often the underside.

As most people only see the mattress surface a few times each month when changing their sheets, a mold problem could go unnoticed for weeks. A lot of people use mattress covers as well, making them that much more unlikely to view the surface of their mattress regularly.

All these factors make the mattress a perfect host for mold growth.

mold on a mattress
Stains on a mattress fabric caused by mold growth (photo credit: Thomson Research Associates, Inc.)

What Does Mold on a Mattress Look Like?

Mattress mold will not always be immediately visible to you, especially if you don’t tend to give your mattress a thorough lookover on a regular basis.

Here are some indicators that might help you spot the problem sooner:

  • Smell: Mold and its’ spores have a persistent, musty smell. Some people compare the smell of mold to wet socks or rotting wood.
  • Health Indicators: As you should spend about 8 hours (at least) per night in your bed, this large chunk of time could result in overexposure to mold on a mattress (if you have mold, that is!). You may notice a mold problem because of the way the exposure affects your health. Usually, mold exposure will start to show symptoms such as an allergy would: headaches, congestion, exhaustion, or itchy eyes/skin. However, these symptoms will lessen if the individual leaves the infected area – to go to work or another room in the house.
  • Appearance: When the mold is visible to the human eye, you will know. Mattress mold will look different than any other stain or marking on your bed. Pink or black fluffy-looking spots will appear in growths.
Mattress mold
A worrisome example of mattress mold (photo credit: our distributor, Protective Technology in Australia).


mold on mattress pad
Mold on underside of crib mattress pad (photo credit: Thomson Research Associates, Inc.)


Mold in mattress foam
Mattress foam after testing using ASTM G21 antifungal test method (photo credit: Thomson Research Associates, Inc.)


How to Remove Mold from Mattress

Once you’ve noticed mold on your mattress, the time to act is right away! The longer you leave mold growth, the more opportunities it has to reproduce and burrow further into your mattress.

If a mold problem is left alone for too long, it can become impossible to remove the mold and your only option will be to purchase a new one.

Follow these five easy steps to remove visible mattress mold:

  1. Vacuum both sides of your mattress thoroughly. Immediately after you complete this step, clean out your vacuum’s dust catcher to avoid spreading the trapped mold spores into other areas of your house.
  2. Mix equal parts rubbing alcohol and warm water in a disposable container. Dip a clean cloth into it, wring the cloth out well, and use this damp cloth to scrub the moldy area of the mattress. Use a circular motion when scrubbing and a considerable amount of force. It is in your best interest to go well beyond the area of visible mold.
  3. Rinse the damp area using a new well-wrung-out cloth and warm water. You need to wring out these cloths well to avoid adding extra moisture to the mattress, as this encourages mold growth.
  4. Evenly spray the entire mattress with a disinfectant solution that is suitable for the material of your mattress.
  5. Take your mattress to a well-ventilated, high-sunlight area (you can take it outside if your backyard allows.) Leaving the mattress here will allow it to dry out fully while inhibiting more mold from growing during the process (sunlight is harmful to mold.)

A Few Tips for Future Prevention

To prevent unwanted mold growth from coming back in the future, here are a few more helpful tips:

  • Use a dehumidifier in your bedroom. Mold thrives in damp environments, so using a dehumidifier to keep the humidity levels in the bedroom down will help to prevent future mold growth.
  • Use an air purifier in your bedroom. An air purifier will help to circulate and filter the air in the bedroom. Using the appropriate type, an air purifier can actively remove mold spores that are in the air, preventing them from spreading further.
  • Let the air continue to circulate when you go away. People regularly shut off air conditioning, fans, dehumidifiers, or air purifiers when they are away from their home. Leaving air circulating devices on with time-controlled settings to ensure safety is a great way to aid in preventing future mold growth.
  • Ensure the underside of the mattress has access to airflow. Investing in a slatted bed base will help air circulate properly on both sides of the mattress, rather than just the top. Unlike standard box springs and flat top bases, slatted bed bases will aid in preventing mold growth from forming on the underside of your mattress.

How Ultra-Fresh Can Help Prevent Mattress Mold

Ultra-Fresh is a range of safe and effective antimicrobial treatments used to prevent odors, staining and degradation caused by the growth of bacteria, mold and mildew.

Ultra-Fresh is incorporated into products during the manufacturing process.  Materials such as mattress foam, fabric, adhesives, feather and down used to make bedding products such as duvets, mattresses, protectors, sheets, pillows, etc.; become much less appetizing food source for mold and mildew.

This inhibits microbial growth so unpleasant odors and unsightly stains don’t have an opportunity to develop.

Example of Antimicrobial Protection

The photos below demonstrate the benefit of adding antimicrobial additives to mattress foam. Under the right conditions, mold and mildew can flourish in foam, especially when moisture becomes trapped inside a mattress.

Both foam samples were tested using the AATCC Method 30, Part III. The test organism used was Aspergillus niger.

Ultra-Fresh treated mattress foam
Mattress foam treated with Ultra-Fresh
moldy mattress foam
Untreated mattress foam

The untreated mattress foam supports heavy amounts of fungal growth after the 7-day incubation period.

Alternatively, the Ultra-Fresh treated foam sample remains free from mold growth after the same amount of time.

Antimicrobial treatments keep the areas you don’t see cleaner and fresher.

In addition, Ultra-Fresh has been proven to be effective in controlling dust mite populations (see regulatory information).

Read more in our blog titled: Dust Mites: What They are and How to Prevent Them

Note: Ultra-Fresh is not intended to create a healthier environment or to mask an existing moisture issue in your home.
Antimicrobial product protection prevents odors, staining and deterioration of the product itself, leading to increased longevity of the material goods.

Our Antimicrobial Expertise

Thomson Research Associates (TRA) is a global leader in the field of antibacterial, antifungal and antimicrobial, and anti-dust mite treatments (see regulatory information), providing antimicrobial protection to finished products for over 60 years.

We are committed to helping our clients deliver fresh, durable and innovative products by providing antimicrobial additives and treatments for fabrics, polymers, foams, coatings and more.

Our ultimate goal is to satisfy our clients’ specific needs through excellence in service, science, and support. Find out how we work with you through our scientific testing laboratory, highly-qualified technical and regulatory specialists.

We offer a selection of products, including options that are US EPA registered, BPR compliant and OEKO-TEX® listed. Please refer to product label or contact us directly for region-specific approved end-uses.

Furthermore, acknowledging our social responsibility, we have partnered with bluesign® in our joint initiative for the removal of harmful substances and practices from the manufacturing process.

Learn more about us or contact us for more information.

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