How to Wash a Foam Mattress Pad

Mattress Foam, sponge
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Many people, especially students in dorm rooms, use a foam pad or thin mattress topper for a better night's rest or as a yoga or exercise mat. And as with anything that gets used on a nearly daily basis, it's going to need to be cleaned.

Washing a large foam pad can be a bit awkward and time-consuming, but it can be done. Just remember to NEVER put foam pads, plain ones or those encased in fabric, in a clothes washer; even a large front loading machine which is more gentle on fabrics. The spinning and agitation are too much for the delicate structure of the foam and you will end up with hundreds of little pieces. The pads should also never be put in a dryer even on air dry.

How to Remove Stains from a Foam Mattress Pad

The key to keeping a foam mattress topper in great shape is to spot clean and remove stains as soon as possible when they happen. This will make a thorough cleaning less difficult and needed less frequently.

  • For any wet spills or stains, use a spatula or spoon to lift away any solids from the surface. Next, use white paper towels to blot up as much moisture as possible. If the spill is large, remove the topper from the mattress to prevent soak through. Move it to a nonporous floor area (tile, vinyl, or sealed concrete) to clean.
  • Once you have removed as much moisture as possible, dampen the stain with plain water and sprinkle with laundry borax. Working from the outside edge of the stain toward the center, work the borax into the stain with a sponge or clean cloth until it is absorbed. Allow the borax to sit for at least 15 minutes. Then, use a handheld vacuum or the brush attachment on a standard vacuum to remove the residue. Repeat if necessary.
  • For blood stains, dampen a sponge or clean white cloth with two percent hydrogen peroxide. Blot the stain from the edges toward the center to prevent spreading. Keep moving to a clean area of the cloth as the stain is transferred. NOTE: Hydrogen peroxide may cause the foam to yellow and discolor but will remove the blood without crumbling the foam.
  • For tough odors from urine or vomit, clean the area with laundry borax then sprinkle the entire surface of the stain with baking soda. Allow the baking soda to sit on the mattress for 24 hours and then vacuum away. This will also help with cigarette smoke odors.
  • A commercial odor removal spray, like Febreze or Ozium, can also help refresh a foam topper.
  • After any stain removal process, allow the topper to air dry at least 24 hours before placing it back onto a mattress. If possible, stand the topper on its edge or elevate it on risers so there is air flow around all surfaces. Drying time may need to be extended if the stain removal was extensive.

How to Thoroughly Clean a Foam Mattress Pad

  • Begin by vacuuming the topper well on both sides. Use the vacuum's upholstery brush tool and work in a circular motion to dislodge dust and dust mites that have accumulated on the surface.
  • Depending on the size of the topper, you can choose to wash it in the bathtub or on a plastic tarp outside. If you work outside, you will need to be near a water hose.
  • Treat any specific stains.
  • Fill a spray bottle with one part liquid laundry detergent (preferably HE detergent which will produce fewer suds) to two parts water. Spray this solution over the surface of the pad and allow it to work for at least 45 minutes.
  • You can add an oxygen-based bleach (brand names are: OxiClean, Nellie's All Natural Oxygen Brightener or OXO Brite) to the cleaning solution to help lighten stains. If using a powdered formula, make sure it is dissolved completely in warm water before adding to the cleaning solution.
  • After the detergent solution has worked for 45 minutes, use the hose or a handheld showerhead attachment to rinse the surface. Try to saturate the foam to flush out the cleaning solution. Squeeze out excess water but do not wring the foam.
  • Allow the topper to dry flat for several days on a waterproof surface. Keep it away from direct sunlight which may break down the foam. An electric fan will help circulate air and speed drying.
  • Turn the topper a couple of times each day to help it dry more evenly. Never place the pad back on the bed until you are certain it is completely dry.

Tips to Make a Foam Mattress Pad Last Longer

  1. Every six months, flip and rotate the mattress pad top to bottom to create even use and wear.
  2. Change bed sheets and mattress covers often, especially during summer months, to prevent moisture from remaining in and on the topper.
  3. Vacuum the mattress topper regularly, about once per month to remove dust mites.