There are many free, low cost, and more expensive options that can be utilized individually or combined to increase effectiveness for new and used mattresses.
Smelly mattress solutions include disinfecting in the sun for a day or two, then baking soda and activated carbon, then spraying both sides with an evaporating disinfectant, then cover in powder odor absorbers for two days on each side. Additional options include jumping and odor eliminator sprays.
Free Sun Treatment
This solution involves a little effort to move your mattress outside on a sunny day. If you just received a new bed-in-a-box then this is a lot easier and you can just roll it to the back of the house.
Sunlight is a great disinfectant and the longer you can leave each side in the sun the better.
For best results, those of you who have lots of energy and a spare bedroom can combine this with baking soda and activated carbon treatment.
Just do the sun solution first so the sun does not have to penetrate the remaining powder.
And using the sun treatment first should also reduce the amount of baking soda and activated carbon required to do their job, so the sun can save money.
There are many cheap solutions you may consider on latex mattresses. To improve the likelihood of success try this method after the suntan treatment.
Spray one side (top or bottom) at a time and allow it to dry before flipping to do the other side. Liquid disinfectants should be diluted with equal parts water to prevent damage.
What Can I Spray On Mattress To Disinfect
- Distilled white vinegar at 50% solution mixed with water.
- Household cleaners such as Lysol.
- Rubbing alcohol: I see many people online who have asked “can I spray my mattress with alcohol”. You can at 50% solution and if you have bed bugs then try spraying 91% solution. If you are worried about staining then test it first on a hard-to-see area.
- Hydrogen peroxide: I have also seen my ask “can I use hydrogen peroxide” and you can as it is a very fast evaporating disinfectant. And cheap too.
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Baking Soda and Activated Carbon
You can buy a 4lb box of Arm and Hammer pure baking soda from Amazon for about $10 see (options here). Follow these steps as a guideline:
- Remove the bedding
- liberally sprinkle baking soda.
- Leave it alone for two or three days with the bedroom door closed.
- Use a shop-vac to remove the baking soda.
- Flip to bottom side
- Repeat steps 2 through 4.
- If the edges are smelly too then fill a sock with baking soda and rub the edges like you are sanding a boat (I have wanted a sailboat for as long as I can remember, so you know where my mind wants to be while I write this article :).
- You can sprinkle some on the side of the mattress that you are sleeping on and cover it with a waterproof protector. This option may not be for everyone.
If the mattress is new the smell will likely dissipate eventually. Until then you can also place bowls of baking soda and activated carbon throughout the room.
TIP: Use both baking soda and activated carbon (about $25 for 3 lb here) to increase the chance of success following the steps above. If possible do this in a small room to increase the efficiency of odor removal.
The smaller the room the more effective the treatment. You can try wrapping it in plastic or a tarp too with the carbon and baking soda inside with the mattress.
Sure, this solution is expensive but so is a new mattress.
Free Foot Treatment
This only works for new mattresses. The items for this solution are two lightweight children with a lot of energy. Recommended fuel: Candy and soda.
Let the kids cut loose with jumping on each side of the bed for as long as they have energy. If they get bored then simply toss a couple of light pillows into the ring.
This solution can literally kick the stink out of a new mattress much faster than during normal use. Hmm, late-night adult “wrestling” would work too and it is a great fat burner.
Mattress Odor Eliminator
You can apply odor-absorbing liquids the same as the above disinfectants. These products do not kill what is causing the smells but rather absorb the odors. Watch out for products that only mask the smells with their own odors.
The best odor eliminators include:
- Fresh Wave IAQ commercial odor eliminator available at Amazon here. It has a super high rating with no rating lower than 4 (although there are only 39 reviews at this time). It is made of natural products too.
- Zero Odor Pro: This product is more expensive and more effective per gallon, but I would suggest starting with a smaller bottle to see if that works. You can get a 32oz bottle at Amazon here for about $27.
- Check out the commercial products in the housewares section of your local hardware or chemical supply store. The chemical supply store will have knowledgeable staff that can likely help you make an informed decision for your exact situation.