Yellow stains on a mattress are a normal part of life. Even though it's tempting to just cover up those mattress stains with a sheet and think "out of sight, out of mind," cleaning them is easy and beneficial. Reduce odors, prolong the life of your mattress and prevent any awkward queries from guests by preparing DIY cleaning solutions that are perfect for all kinds of mattress stains.
What Causes Yellow Mattress Stains?
Any mattress will start to turn yellow over time as the material slowly reacts with oxygen. This trend is especially noticeable in memory foam mattresses or in those left to air out in the sun.
Other leading causes of yellow stains on a mattress include sweat and body oil. You can identify this type of mattress stain because the discoloration only appears where you sleep and not along the edges. An accumulation of sweat also leaves a lingering sour smell on the mattress.
Yellow mattress stains may also be caused by:
- Urine (it will smell).
- Vomit (it will also smell).
- Blood (it takes on a yellow/brown appearance if insufficiently cleaned).
- Mold or mildew (it looks like small yellow spots).
- Food or drink (may feel sticky or smell).
- Dust mites and dead skin (will tinge the entire mattress yellow).
How to Get Yellow Stains Out of a Mattress
All fresh spills should be handled the same way: Blot the liquid with a dry towel (do not rub). Wet a dishcloth in cold water and wring it out over the area just enough to saturate it. Immediately blot the cold water with another dry towel. Then, choose the best cleaning methods based on what has spilled and what you have on hand. If you've noticed a dried stain, remove any dried debris and skip the blotting steps.
Use Baking Soda, Salt and Water Paste
This mixture creates an all-purpose, stain-fighting solution.
- In a bowl, mix 1/4 cup of water with 2 tablespoons of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of salt. Add water a teaspoon at a time and stir. Stop adding water when the mixture turns into a paste.
- Rub the paste directly into the mattress stain using a circular motion. The salt and baking soda have a slightly basic pH, allowing it to neutralize and deodorize acidic stains.
- Allow the paste to remain on the mattress for about 30 minutes.
The paste will physically lift the stain as it dries.
- Use a damp cloth to wipe up the dried paste. You can also vacuum it off the mattress if desired.
Use Baking Soda and Dish Soap
Combine the neutralizing power of baking soda with the oil-lifting ability of dish soap to remove sweat stains and food stains.
- Add 2 tablespoons of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of dish soap to 1 cup of warm or hot water. Mix these cleaning products well.
- Dip a towel into the cleaning solution and rub it onto the stain. Allow it to sit for 30 minutes.
- Blot the area with a damp towel. Follow up by blotting with a dry towel.
Use Dish Soap and Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide easily reacts with other molecules through oxidation. The dish soap suds trap the resulting oxygen gas, intensifying the reaction. This DIY stain remover is especially useful for tackling blood and urine stains since it's also a disinfectant.
- Mix one part dish soap with two parts hydrogen peroxide (i.e., 1/4 cup of dish soap with 1/2 cup of hydrogen peroxide) in a clean spray bottle. Do not mix this solution until you're ready to use it because hydrogen peroxide quickly converts to water.
- Liberally spray the solution over the stain, being sure to overlap the edges. Allow it to rest for 10 minutes.
- Use a dry cloth to blot the excess solution.
- Use a hair dryer to dry the mattress and even more of the stain will disappear. Repeat until the stain completely disappears.
Use OxiClean, Water and White Vinegar
This mixture works especially well for blood stains on mattresses.
- Measure 16 ounces of warm tap water. Fill the OxiClean scoop to line one and stir it into the water.
- Do not pour the solution directly on the mattress. Instead, dip a rag into the solution and wring it out so that it's damp.
- Using the damp rag, blot the stain. Regularly rinse the towel before dipping it back into the solution and continuing to blot.
- After the stain has vanished, blot it again with a rag dampened with clean water.
- Dry the mattress with a towel, a hair dryer on low or by letting it air dry.
- If the mattress continues to smell, dip a paper towel into a small amount of white vinegar and dab it on the affected area. Allow it to air dry. The vinegar reacts with the odorous gases being emitted by the stain, converting them into solids that can no longer waft toward your nose. You can also add a drop of essential oil to improve the smell of the mattress.
Use Vinegar, Water and Baking Soda
Vinegar and baking soda bubble when mixed together. This reaction helps to lift a variety of stains from mattresses, including urine stains.
- In a clean spray bottle, mix equal parts vinegar and water (i.e., 1 cup of vinegar with 1 cup of water).
- Saturate the entire stained area with the vinegar and water mixture.
- Immediately sprinkle baking soda (as much as necessary) over the saturated area.
- Allow the vinegar and baking soda to react for 15 minutes.
- Using a damp cloth, wipe up any lingering baking soda and vinegar from the mattress. Allow the mattress to air dry.
Preventing Yellow Stains
To prevent the appearance of additional yellow stains on your mattress, use a mattress pad. Many have plush pillow tops that contain absorbent polyester fibers. In the event of a spill or accident, this can slow the spread of liquid and give you just enough time to remove the pad before the mattress is affected. If you're facing a recurring problem, like bed-wetting, go the extra mile and purchase a waterproof mattress protector for total peace of mind.
Whether you use a mattress cover or not, clean all spills immediately to reduce the appearance of the stain. To prevent mold, allow the mattress to dry thoroughly before placing sheets on it again. Wash sheets on a regular basis to prevent sweat and oil from penetrating to the mattress. If you have heavy periods and often leak through a pad at night, try wearing absorbent underwear, like Thinx, for an extra layer of protection.
- Better Homes & Gardens: How to Clean Almost Every Surface of Your Home With Vinegar
- Insider: Hydrogen Peroxide Kills Most Viruses and Bacteria — Here's How to Use It Effectively
- Quick and Dirty Tips: Hydrogen Peroxide and Dishwashing Liquid? How to Make and Use This Miracle Cleaner
- OxiClean: How to Remove Blood from Sheets & Mattresses
- Clean Care: What Causes Yellow Stains on the Mattress & How to Clean Them