A foam mattress pad provides an extra layer of comfort on a hard or thin bed mattress. However, because it’s used on a daily basis, it needs to be cleaned from time to time to rid it of the dust mites, bacteria, and allergens that build up.
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 (either plain ones or those encased in fabric) in a washing machine. Even a large front-loading machine, known for being gentle on fabrics, is a bad idea. The spinning and agitation are too much for the delicate structure of the foam, and you will end up with hundreds of little pieces.
|How to Wash Foam Mattress Pads|
|Cycle Type||Do not machine wash|
|Drying Cycle Type||Do not machine dry|
|Special Treatments||Hand-wash only|
|Iron Settings||Do not iron|
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.
Working time: 30 minutes
Total time: 24 hours (mostly for drying time)
Skill level: Intermediate
What You’ll Need
- Gentle fabric cleaner
- Cool water
- Vacuum cleaner with a soft brush attachment
- Spray bottle
Remove the Mattress From the Bed
Place the mattress pad flat on the floor, preferably outside near a water hose. If you’re cleaning it on a carpet, place a tarp under the mattress to protect the floor.
Vacuum the Foam Pad
Begin by vacuuming the topper well on both sides. If possible, use a powerful handheld vacuum with a soft brush attachment. If not available, use a standard vacuum's upholstery brush tool and work in a circular motion to dislodge dust and dust mites that have accumulated on the surface. For foam pads with eggshell-style crevices, dig into the notches to get out of the debris.
If the foam pad has stains, treat them with laundry borax/boric acid or, in the case of bloodstains, hydrogen peroxide. You can add an oxygen-based bleach (like 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.
Spritz With a Detergent/Water Solution
Fill a spray bottle with one part liquid laundry detergent (preferably HE detergent, which will produce fewer suds) to two parts water. Lightly spray this solution over the surface of the pad and allow it to sit for at least 45 minutes.
Treat Strong Odors
Cigarette smoke, urine, and other odors tend to linger on foam mattress pads. To get rid of them, sprinkle the pad with baking soda and let it sit for at least 8 hours or overnight. Vacuum up the excess powder.
Air-Dry the Foam Pad
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.
Treating Stains on Foam Mattress Pads
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 bloodstains, dampen a sponge or clean white cloth with 2 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. 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.
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 airflow around all surfaces. Drying time may need to be extended if the stain removal was extensive.
Tips for Washing Foam Mattress Toppers
- A commercial odor removal spray, like Febreze or Ozium, can help refresh a foam topper.
- Every six months, flip and rotate the mattress pad top to bottom to create even use and wear.
- Change bed sheets and mattress covers often, especially during summer months, to prevent moisture from remaining in and on the topper.
- Vacuum the mattress topper regularly, about once per month to remove dust mites.