Sometimes, life gets messy. Literally.
Of course, there’s no use crying over spilled milk. (After all, it doesn’t really leave much of a stain!) But the mere thought red wine, blood, or who-knows-what-else gets onto your mattress or couch might be enough to keep you up at night. Especially if you’re not into the idea of busting out a chemical-laden cleaner to sap the spot.
Fortunately, you don’t have to. With a little know-how, getting rid of stubborn mattress stains naturally might be easier than you think. And, having awareness of how to get stains out of a mattress can prove especially helpful for banishing them quickly when they do happen.
Here’s what you should know about cleaning green—and how to get the job done, stat.
The downsides of conventional cleaners.
Sure, that jug of industrial-strength cleaner will take care of stains faster than you can say Clorox®. But all that power comes at a cost.
Conventional cleaning products usually contain harsh bleaches and brighteners that can irritate your skin, eyes, and lungs. (If you’ve ever tried to use one in a small, poorly-ventilated space, you know those fumes can be rough.) Not exactly something you want to breathe all night.
And if the stuff gets on your skin? At best, you’ll probably experience some redness and discomfort. At worst, you could end up with something scary, like a chemical burn.
Conventional cleaners also tend to contain synthetic dyes and fragrances—both of which can also irritate sensitive skin. Plus, artificial scents sometimes trigger headaches.
Even if you have no problem tolerating the chemicals in conventional cleaners, they’re still not great for the environment. Most of the products are petroleum-based. What’s more, they contain synthetic surfactants, ingredients that help cleaning products adhere to wet surfaces and break down oils. These additives can make their way into the environment after they go down the drain—which could pose a risk to fish and other wildlife. And, many mattress foams can also be damaged by harsh cleaners.
Why you should opt for green mattress stain removal instead.
Green cleaning products are everything that their conventional counterparts aren’t. Since they’re made from plant-based ingredients, they won’t leave you coughing up a lung while your eyes water like crazy.
In fact when hotel cleaning staffers switched to using green cleaners, instances of asthma, flu, respiratory problems, and headaches fell by an average of 41%, found one Carnegie Mellon review.
They’re better for the planet, too. Green cleaners don’t rely on fossil fuels. Plus, they’re made with biodegradable surfactants that won’t end up messing with some frog or fish that lives in the river near your apartment.
How to clean mattress stains and other messes with DIY solutions.
Just like how you wouldn’t use toilet bowl cleaner on your dishes (or vice versa), some eco options tackle certain messes better than others. Here, the best natural cleaning solutions for pretty much every type of stain you can think of.
Protein-based stains: Blood, sweat, and other body fluids
Start by using dry towels to soak up any residual liquid. Then, rinse or dab the affected area with warm water mixed with a few squirts of natural dish soap. When trying to get stains out of a mattress, go easy on water. You don’t want beds to get too damp since deep layers can take forever to dry, leading to mildew.
If the stain isn’t gone, sprinkle it with oxygen bleach (a natural powdered bleach made from soda crystals and hydrogen peroxide) and spray with water. When mixed with H20, oxygen bleach forms bubbles that literally lift stains off of fabrics.
Still no dice? Try applying an enzymatic cleaner, which contain plant-based enzymes that actually work to digest stains from proteins.
Oil-based stains: Candle wax, fatty foods, or sweat
Scrape off any dried wax or congealed bits. Then sprinkle the affected area with cornstarch, let sit for 20-30 minutes to soak up excess grease, and scrape up the cornstarch and vacuum upholstery.
If you still see remnants of the stain, dab the area with an equal mix of vinegar and hot water. The acid in the vinegar will help disintegrate leftover oil, while the water dilutes the vinegar to fight any potential bleaching effects.
Acid-based stains: Red wine or tomato sauce
Gently dab the stain with a kitchen towel to sop up as much liquid as possible. Sprinkle the affected area with baking soda, which will change the stain from bright red to pale gray. To finish the job, dip a kitchen towel in vinegar and gently dab until the stain fades away. (Next time, skip the nightcap and try one of these sleep-friendly recipes instead.)
If you’re dealing with a funky smell (hey, Fido!), sprinkle on some baking soda and let it sit for a few hours. It’ll absorb weird odors on your mattress, carpet, or upholstery the same way it does in your fridge. Afterward, simply vacuum the baking soda up.
Finally, remember: No matter what kind of mess you’re dealing with, use common sense! To keep mattress stains from setting, clean them as quickly as possible. Also, try to scrape or blot stains instead of rubbing them, which will only push the stain deeper into the fabric.
The #1 way to prevent mattress stains.
Messes are sometimes inevitable—but a little bit of insurance never hurt anyone. To keep stains from wrecking your mattress in the future, get a mattress protector. These waterproof covers are designed to be placed over your mattress and under your fitted sheet, so you won’t notice it’s there. If a stain soaks through your sheets, all you have to do is toss the mattress protector in the wash.
And they’re not expensive. Consider it an investment in helping your mattress live a long, healthy life.
What eco-friendly alternatives do you find most effective at banish mattress stains and other household messes? Let us know in the poll below: