Cleaning a Memory Foam mattress can be an awkward and time-consuming task. Even worse, the foam is so thick that it can take a very long time to dry. The more firm the memory foam, the more dense it is and the longer it will take to dry. If your memory foam is not very dirty, spot cleaning it only is the best course of action. To freshen it up a bit, lay it out in the sun for a few hours to air it out and kill any surface bacteria. However, if it is very soiled and must be washed, follow the steps below.
Cleaning Memory Foam
This process is designed to clean a Memory Foam Mattress, and can be easily adapted to use on mattress toppers and pillows.
What you will need:
- Hand vacuum or regular vacuum with soft brush attachment
- Woolite fabric cleaner
- Rubber gloves
- Spray bottle
- Spray attachment for hose (if doing the task outdoors)
- Detachable shower head (if doing the task in the tub)
- Distilled white vinegar
- Hair dryer or electric fan
The Cleaning Process:
- Vacuum the foam thoroughly with a hand vac or regular size vacuum using the soft brush attachment.
- Place mattress/topper/pillow in the bathtub or outside, near an outdoor water supply (if outdoors, make sure to place the mattress on a clean tarp or other clean platform to avoid getting it muddy or dirty).
- In the spray bottle, mix 1 part Woolite with 2 parts water and shake well.
- Standing the foam on end, spray entire piece(s), front and back, with Woolite solution. If cleaning the mattress, the job will be much easier with two people, one to hold the mattress, and one to spray.
- Allow Woolite solution to stay on for 30 minutes.
- Rinse with clean water, using detachable shower head if in the tub, or spray nozzle on hose, if outdoors.
- Gently squeeze out excess water by folding the foam and pressing down. DO NOT twist or wring the foam as this will cause damage. Be sure to wear rubber gloves for this part as memory foam is treated with a variety of chemicals to make it less flammable.
- Empty Woolite solution and refill bottle with 1 part vinegar to 4 parts water.
- Spray down entire piece again with vinegar solution.
- Rinse again with shower head or spray nozzle and gently press out excess water as in step # 7.
- A hair dryer set on its lowest setting can be used to aid in drying; being careful not to hold the hair dryer too close or it will damage the foam.
- In the alternative, the mattress can air dry, using an electric fan to aid in drying.
- Make sure the foam is completely dry before replacing on bed.
Removing Stains from Memory Foam
The cleaning process above should remove most stains. For more stubborn stains, these methods may help:
- Dampen the stain with plain water and sprinkle with dry boric acid (20 Mule Team Borax, usually found in the laundry aisle of the grocery store), and blot the stain with a sponge or cloth in circular motion until it disappears. Blot dry and vacuum with hand vac or soft brush attachment to remove residue.
- Dampen a sponge or cloth with hydrogen peroxide and blot the stain in a circular motion (NOTE: hydrogen peroxide WILL DISCOLOR THE FOAM while eliminating the stain!
- Spray the stain with an enzymatic pet stain remover (such as Petzyme, available at most pet stores), and let sit for 15 minutes. Blot the area with a damp cloth and vacuum when dry.
- If these methods fail, you may consider contacting a mattress cleaning professional. Also, check with your mattress retailer as they may carry products specifically designed to assist with stain removal for your particular mattress.
NOTE: For stains that have soaked into the mattress padding, for health and sanitary reasons (i.e. bacteria can continue to grow inside the padding even after the surface stain is gone), it may be necessary to replace to mattress.
Removing Odors from Memory Foam
Odors from stains (especially urine or vomit) and from the air (such as cigarette smoke) can linger in foam. To remove odors, try any one (or more) of the following methods:
- Sprinkle the entire mattress/topper/pillow with baking soda and allow to sit overnight. Vacuum thoroughly with hand vac or soft brush attachment.
- Using a citrus-based cleaning product, spray the foam piece(s) lightly, and allow to dry. Vacuum thoroughly.
- Try a commercially available product such as Febreze (Proctor & Gamble) or FreshCare (Clorox), which are often effective at eliminating or reducing odors.
Additional Hints and Tips
- To extend the life of your mattress, it should be flipped and rotated (bottom to top) every six months.
- To prevent stains and keep your foam mattress/topper/pillows clean and fresh longer, change your sheets often and vacuum your Memory Foam regularly (using a hand vac or soft brush attachment).
- Before cleaning, always check the manufacturer’s tags on your Memory Foam pieces for additional cleaning tips, and make sure to follow all warnings and cautions on the tag to avoid damage.
- Always clean a stain as soon as possible for easier removal and to avoid having it soak into the mattress padding.
- Martha Stewart’s Homekeeping Handbook by Martha Stewart
- Easy Green Living by Renee Loux
Just an addition to the entry on how to wash memory foam…
Keeping a team of footballers on hand to help handle the foam once it’s soaked with water is of utmost necessity. This stuff holds water like the sponge it is, and a large piece of sodden foam can weigh more than the person trying to wrestle it about. My neighbor, who witnessed the fun, is still laughing.
Best of luck. You’ll need it! 🙂
Lol. You said it…but I was thinkin it! Pretty entertaining thought, some poor newlyweds, in their apartment shower, with their soaked queen sized mattress. Hahaha! Hilarious! ????✌
Once you’ve cleaned your mattress, as best you can, you can sanitize it with a steam cleaner and then use a UV light to further kill any germs or bacteria that may remain in and on the mattress. Steam and UV light will kill any and most germs and bacteria.
I tried cleaning a memory foam and hurt my back trying to lift. I was washing out a cat urine stain, using the bathtub. I tried to pick up enough to turn and strained my back. I ended up herniating a disc as a result. 🙁 Don’t lift unless you have a partner to help (!!) especially when its wet!
How do I store a memory foam topper? I have a good one that I am not using, as I got a new bed and want to put it away until I can give it away to someone. Do I roll it up, fold it or what?
So I take it I can’t just run it through one of those huge commercial washers and dry it in a dryer? This is gonna suck!
Last year I washed my memory foam pillow. I put it in a big utility sink and submerged it in a weak solution of laundry soap. It came out fresh as a daisy, but I had to wait almost a month before I could sleep on it! The task of getting all the soap and excess water out of it left me aching for two days. Then, on a rack, under a screen, under a blistering summer sun, it took nearly three weeks ’til it was fully dry in the center (luckily no mildewing, though).
Now I keep it in double pillow cases hoping I won’t have to do that again any time soon. Good luck!
My daughter insisted on having a memory foam mattress when she moved to her apartment during her senior year of college. The best way to transport it back home after school was to place it in a space bag. Now that she is living at home again, we decided to just keep it stored in the space bag. Think about it. When she received the mattress in the mail, it was shipped in something like a space bag. Why not store it like the manufacturer does.
“Space Bag” is the brand name of a line of plastic bags designed for storage. They have an opening in the side where you can connect a vacuum hose and suck the air out. That flattens the items inside and makes them store in a much smaller space. You can buy them at a lot of places – Walmart, Amazon.com, Target, probably just about anywhere.
I recently helped a friend back to my apartment after they drank a little too much at a party. After helping them in bed and and going to bed downstairs, I find the next morning the bed is soaked with a large urine spot. That morning, I used mild hand soap to spread around as I could, hoping it could help and let the mattress dry for the rest of the day after rinsing the spot with clean water. The surface dried and so I thought it was fine to sleep on it that night and did so. The next morning, I feel under the covers and find the spot to be damp again. A little disgusting… I’ve tried to follow the above directions, but feel as if I couldn’t get enough water out afterward/use enough Woolite mixture/use enough or not enough of both mixtures. Also, I’ve begun this process at night time and am worried that leaving this outside overnight will not aid in the drying process as the temperature is only 48* outside. This is the best I can do in my current situation and am wondering if it is even helping…
I have a 3″ topper removed it sent it to landfill, not worth all the problems!!
Where do you get space bags from? Do you roll the topper or fold it to put it in the bag?
My daughter has chronic diarrhea. This morning she slipped in my bed and made a terrible mess. I searched the internet for how to clean this up, as I didn’t want to mess up my mattress and I didn’t want to have a poopy bed either. The method above seems like it must be for a pillow, ’cause there is no way I can do this by myself and I live in an apt. So, knowing that more wet wasn’t gonna hurt it, I set out to cleaning.
My favorite to clean up her “mess” is Clorox Oxi Magic and a ShamWow. I usually pour it in a measuring cup and wring the sham wow back into there to make sure I have gotten the liquid almost out, if not all out.
So I applied this method to the mattress (its cover is in the wash) and I agitated it with my fingers and waited the 5 minutes. Sham wowed it and I must say the only draw back was that spot was cleaner than the rest of the mattress. I will have to do the whole thing in the summer on a hot day so it can air out.
It is still slightly damp to the touch, but paper towels fixed that.
Just like to know what a “ShamWow” is?
Is the “Clorox Oxi Magic” a spot stain remover?
Many thanks all, most useful.
ShamWow is a product that I believe is made in Germany and is advertised on paid programming. It is a useful product, you can just about use it on anything. You can probably Google it and find a way to buy one. They will probably have a product guide so you can see what it is and how to use it also.
They do sell waterproof mattress covers – especially for memory foam beds; they are rubber on the bottom and terrycloth on the top, They cost about $30 on Overstock, and are WELL worth the extra investment – an ounce of prevention is worth a pound (or 300 pounds!) of cure.
I want to do this, but can’t find what Woolite to buy in the UK. Is this Woolite the washing detergent or the carpet cleaner foam? Has anyone else used another product successfully?
Tesco has the Woolite for Delicates Non Bio (750ml) if that would be OK?
Hi, I had a Memory Foam pillow and used it for 5 months. Every morning, I woke up with burning, red eyes. I did not know what it was at the time, but after four months, I developed a bad disease. I have since found out that the compounds used to make memory foam are not stable enough in this form, and they will emit poisonous fumes for you to breathe while you sleep. Tell everyone you love, tell the whole world: these products are not safe!
My topper was left outside to air in the sun for three days. Is it damaged? It looks alright.
It is possible that your topper is fine; the sun could have killed any surface bacteria (on the top side) and provided enough heat to prevent any moisture from entering the foam. Foam is extremely porous and if any moisture got into the foam, it could foster the growth of mold or mildew spores. Consider spraying the mattress with a vinegar solution to prevent mold growth or wash the foam again as a precaution. Since you posted a while ago, I’m sure you know whether or not any mold or mildew grew from the episode by now though.
I have an almost new memory foam mattress topper. It says on the tag not to wash it in a machine or dry clean it. I don’t know what to do, because it says spot clean only. Well, spot cleaning is out of the question. Some relatives came to stay a while with me and ruined my topper. It’s filthy! I can’t stand it! It really does need washing in a commercial washer, but because of what the tag says, I’m afraid to do it. I want to keep it, because it cost so much and I like it, but I don’t want to use it because it’s so dirty. Can someone please help with a solution to this problem?
Thanks for the help in cleaning memory foam-my dog thinks it’s a wee pad! Can I use ordinary fabric softener instead of this Woolite? Never heard of the stuff.
Woolite is a mild laundry detergent often used for delicates, not a fabric softener.
You can use a pet enzyme cleaner as mentioned in the stain section to clean the urine first (and remove the smell so that your dog might stop using it to potty). After that, follow with a full cleaning if needed and use a gentle laundry detergent. If you can’t find a detergent for delicates, one made for babies would probably be alright.
I just purchased a new memory foam mattress from Walmart. It has a nauseating smell. Most users say they have to leave it to air out for a few days. I still find that I get dizzy from the fumes that it emits. Is there any way to deodorize it?
I was wondering if you can put the mattress in a large capacity washer and dryer? Mine is a twin mattress I have had for about 2 years and it really needs to be cleaned. I have severe back problems and this is the only thing I have found that lets me sleep, so I can’t do without it! Please help me find a way to clean it because I won’t be able to do it the way you have suggested.
It is generally not recommended to put memory foam in a commercial washer because that can easily tear the foam.
A good option might be sunlight as it is an effective antibacterial, so you could just leave it in the sun for a couple hours. That would eliminate the need for drying it as well.
Another option is to use a vinegar solution. Vinegar is also an effective antibacterial. Mix it with an equal amount of water, then just mist the surface of the foam. That will kill almost all bacteria on the surface, as well as remove any odors. Then you can flip it over to do the back as well, and that should give it a good all-over clean. If needed, simply mist it again the next day as well to get it even more clean. Misting the foam rather than soaking it would help cut down on the drying time.
You can also try using the enzyme pet stain remover idea in the Removing Stains from Memory Foam section – that should also clean the surface well. However, keep in mind that many of them recommend that you vacuum the area once it is dry, so you may want to consider if that’s something you could do.
Another idea is heat. Bacteria can be killed at 158 degrees Fahrenheit. So a good option might be to leave the mattress in a car on a hot day, since the internal temperature of a car in the sun in summer can reach above 150 degrees.
Source: Royal Society of Chemistry – Solar power kills bacteria in water.
Source: Quora – Why can’t I machine wash memory foam?
Source: Care2 – Vinegar Kills Bacteria, Mold and Germs
Source: International Livestock Research Institute – Microbiology
Source: KTEN – Car Interior Temps Can Exceed 150 Degrees
I’m thinking of trying placing 20 crates together, saturating it with vinegar or bleach and water, then rolling over it to strain it out. Then, putting a contruction power blast heater by it. Do y’all think this will work?
Hahahaha! This article is pure comedy!