Small things like a toppled-over glass of orange juice to a night’s accident can be the reason for a wet mattress. Maybe you tripped on your way to breakfast on bed, or you left the window open during a storm. Be unlucky enough, and you might even manage to get your bed floating in a flood.

In this article, I’ll tell you how to dry your mattress, whether it’s a simple drink splash, a nightmare’s result, or an unfortunate pipe burst. Read on to learn more.

Eliminate the Source of Moisture

Before getting started, be sure to eliminate the source of moisture by following these steps:

  1. Put away the spilled glass, close the overflowing faucet, or close the window to the storm.
  2. Put away all the items that might be on the bed, including the pillows and sheets, and get the mattress somewhere dry.
  3. Remove the bedding. It’s the first layer against the liquid and has most likely absorbed most of it.
  4. Scoop off and dry off any excess water with a towel, pressing it down and drying it.
  5. Discard the liquid in a bucket.

Repeat the process until there are no pools of water and the mattress is relatively dry to the touch or until a clean cloth doesn’t absorb any more water.

Ways to Dry a Wet Mattress

Then, it’s time to do something about the moisture in the inner layers. Here are a few options:

1. Apply Heat With a Hair Dryer

A hair dryer is excellent for small spills on the bed. If possible, prop the mattress up with some space behind it. Hold the hairdryer some distance from the bed and move it around for even drying. Do this for at least 15 minutes or even a couple of hours if necessary.

When using a hairdryer, there are two points to keep in mind:

  • Keep the hair dryer on low heat. Memory foam mattresses tend to have a more sensitive texture, so a continuous blast of hot air can damage their structure. Keep the hair dryer on low heat or even cold air. Cold air has a generally higher pressure and helps push out the moisture rather than evaporate it. You can push up the power if you’re in a hurry.
  • Keep your distance. Keeping the hair dryer too close to the mattress can damage the texture. It can also cause uneven drying since it locks the wind range on the bed. So for more even drying and minimal damage, keep at least a 10 to 12 inch (25 to 30 cm) distance from the mattress.

Before checking if your mattress is dry, make sure it has cooled down. Higher heat can give a false sense of dryness while the area is still quite wet. Similarly, coldness might provide a fake feeling of moisture.

2. Use Kitty Litter

Kitty litter will absorb moisture from deeper layers. Cover the wet area with a generous sprinkle of clean kitty litter and cover it with another towel for extra efficiency. Apply some pressure to push the litter down and absorb more moisture. Let it sit for up to 24 hours and vacuum the moist litter with either a wet-dry or regular vacuum.

3. Use Baking Soda

Baking soda is an excellent adsorbent that can suck up excess moisture from the deeper layers of the mattress. It also reduces unpleasant smells.

It works quite the same as the kitty litter but is more appropriate for smaller areas and spills. Cover the wet spot with baking soda, wait a few hours, and vacuum it up.

4. Use a Fan

If your mattress is wet throughout and the moisture has reached the opposite side, drying with a fan can be the best option.

To do this, prop your mattress up with a 3-foot (1 meter) distance from the wall or closed space to enable more airflow.

Direct the fan toward your mattress and set it on high. Even if your fan has automatic rotation, it’s best to keep at least 5 feet (1.5 meters) away, depending on the size and power of your fan. Move the fan around to make sure you get all the spots.

Don’t flip the mattress or put the fan behind it because it pushes the moisture out. So, changing the wind direction will push the water back in, which is counterproductive.

The drying process might take a couple of hours to days. So, be patient until all the moisture disappears.

Sometimes, you only have access to a ceiling fan. Although the situation isn’t ideal, not all hope is lost. In this case, you have to make sure the mattress is propped up. That means having it up from the ground at least 1.5 feet (0.5 meters). Make sure the bottom part isn’t covered as much as possible.

5. Put the Wet Mattress Under Sunlight

Drying your mattress in the sun is the traditional way of doing things, whether in the fresh air or just propped up against a chair in front of the window.

Although you won’t have the wind power of fans and hairdryers, the sun has natural disinfecting properties. It’s recommended to leave mattresses to air out in the sun as much as possible.

The location and season have a significant effect on how much sunlight you’ll have, which will also affect your drying time. As mentioned earlier, don’t forget to let the mattress cool down before checking the dryness.

How Long Does It Take for the Mattress to Dry?

The amount and type of liquid and how long the mattress has been exposed affect the drying time. If you’re dealing with a small spill of water, your bed can be ready to use in less than half a day. On the other hand, a soaked mattress can take up to a whole week to dry completely.

In most cases, you can clean up a child’s accident in a day, a night’s storm in a few days, and a dripping pipe burst in a week.

That said, if the exposure is considerable and you haven’t taken measures to fix the issue, the best approach is probably to throw the mattress away. Why?

Bacteria and mold begin to form a few hours into the accident, and by the second day, they’ve already spread to most parts of the mattress. As I’ll explain later, sleeping on a mold-infested mattress is dangerous and may lead to various health problems, including breathing difficulty, snoring, nasal congestion, insomnia, and blurred vision. 

Can Mold Grow on Wet Mattresses?

Mold can grow on wet mattresses the same way it grows in all moist environments and rotten food. Other than mold, you should also beware of mildew, which is far more common.

Mildew is a surface-type fungus, meaning it doesn’t have deep roots. This makes it easy to remove with just a simple wipe. Mold, however, creeps into the mattress and spreads. It has a more fuzzy appearance, and removing it is far more complicated.

Other than having an unpleasant dank smell, mold spores can cause breathing problems and allergies. Headaches, exhaustion, and itchy eyes are also common symptoms. If these symptoms disappear a short while after you leave them, you should seek out the source since molding has already started.

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How to Disinfect a Wet Mattress

Baking soda, sun drying, and wet-and-dry vacuum cleaning have disinfecting properties. But if you still feel the mattress needs more cleaning, here are a few tips:

  • Use an anti-bacterial aerosol or disinfectant spray. Make sure it doesn’t contain bleach since it damages the fabric.
  • Spray it on, let it sink a little, and give it time to dry. Don’t forget to get the corners, too.
  • To use a liquid disinfectant instead of a spray-on, use a rag and wipe it all over.
  • You can also make a DIY disinfectant spray using vinegar and baking soda.

These methods are best for surface-level disinfecting. If you’re suspicious of mold in the deeper levels of your mattress, either leave it to a professional or dispose of your mattress.

How to Dispose of Your Mattress

Sometimes, the damage is too much, and the mattress can’t be saved — whether it’s mold, a dense smell, or an over stubborn stain. You can dispose of, donate, or recycle your mattress in these situations.

Before you dispose of your mattress, make sure to check the warranty and the laws of your area.

Your warranty might not yet be expired, and the company may still be willing to give you a replacement mattress at a discount or cover some of your costs.

Some areas have laws against leaving large furniture or pieces of garbage outside your house, so you can contact a junk removal service to take care of your mattress for you. This usually comes with the cost of the rented workers and truck.

You can also donate your mattress. But please refrain from doing this if you think your mattress might contain mold or other types of health hazards.

Recycling a Dried Mattress

To prevent your mattress from ending up in a landfill, you can recycle it. You have two options: contacting a service or DIY.

You can find different places for recycling like the Mattress Recycling Council, finding a nearby recycling location, or asking your retailer about take-back services. Recycling usually costs far less than a junk removal service.

If you want to recycle the mattress on your own, start by taking apart the mattress and then cut the materials into smaller pieces.

Some parts might be easier to find recycling services for — like the springs, which can be reused as scrap metal, or the foam that can be converted into other by-products like carpet.

Some parts might even be usable in your household. For example, you can use the foam for a leak, the fabric as cloth, or the springs in the garage.

Other FAQs About Drying a Wet Mattress

Is a Mattress Ruined if It Gets Wet?

If a mattress gets wet, it’s not necessarily. A slightly damp mattress or a quickly dried one is still usable. However, if the mattress has been wet for more than 48 hours, mold and bacteria have already grown. In this case, keeping or drying the bed isn’t the safest approach.

If the water source was unclean, like a flood or a sewage malfunction, time doesn’t matter since the mattress is already unusable. You don’t want to sleep on such an infected mattress.

How Do You Dry a Mattress Quickly?

To quickly dry a mattress, take a towel or absorbent cloth and press it hard against the wet mattress to get as much moisture out as possible. Follow that with a hairdryer for about 15 minutes (or more if necessary) to get rid of the remaining water.

Can You Vacuum a Wet Mattress?

You can use a wet-dry vacuum to suck up more water from the deeper layers of your mattress or collect spills. Use the regular cleaning brush and vary the suction pressure until you have removed all the excess liquid.

Does Baking Soda Dry a Mattress?

Baking soda can be used to dry a mattress because it’s a highly effective absorbent. It’s especially effective when moisture has penetrated the inner layers but doesn’t work very well if the damage is extensive and the entire mattress is wet.

Key Takeaways

If your mattress gets wet, don’t panic! Grab a piece of cloth and press it against the mattress to absorb the water on the surface. Then, you can use kitty litter, baking soda, a wet-dry vacuum, or a fan to dry the moisture in the inner layers.

Don’t forget to disinfect and be careful with mold and bacteria growth since they can cause allergic reactions and other serious health issues.

As a last resort, you can always throw the mattress away or send it for recycling. However, there may be some costs involved.

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