Freshening a Smelly Mattress Using Sunshine Review – Does It Work?

5 out of 5 leaves

5 out of 5 leaves

It’s a fact of life: mattresses can get stinky.  We spend about a third of each day laying on them, and without a plastic cover they have the potential to absorb all kinds of body fluids and bacteria.  But what to do with a stinky mattress?  Can putting a mattress in the sun naturally deodorize it?

The Good

  • Better for you – no chemical laden cleaners needed
  • Better for the Earth – there is pretty much zero carbon footprint* to putting something in the sun
  • Saves Time – no spraying and drying time required, just set it in the backyard and forget it
  • Saves Money – sunshine is free!
  • Easy – let the sun do the work for you

*my educated guess, not actual scientific measurement

The Bad

  • You have to lug the mattress outside – the bigger the mattress, the harder this is
  • A bird might poop on your mattress

My Experience

I have a four year old kiddo who is fully potty trained, even at night.  Except for those evenings where he downs three cups of water before I realize what’s going on.  (Note to self: keep the kids well hydrated during the day and they won’t be thirsty at bedtime!)  Without fail, I will later be awakened in the night by a little voice at my bedside saying, “Mama, I accidentally had an accident…”

While we would never let a kid sleep on a mattress without a waterproof cover, somehow with all his nighttime twisting and turning our little guy managed to tear a hole in the mattress cover we had.  And of course this hole ended up right underneath him and he peed right through it, soaking the mattress.

If you’re anything like me, there’s only one thing to be done with a soaked mattress at 3AM: put a thick towel over the wet spot and get everyone back to bed ASAP.  I got to it by late morning the next day.  The wet spot had mostly dried, but was now developing a nasty stink.

Google suggested vinegar, baking soda, or sunshine to take the smell away.  I opted for sunshine.  There’s total science here: sunshine is full of UV light. UV light is often used in industrial settings to kill bacteria (for example on your hamburger meat, or sterile gauze).  It’s usually bacteria or some other kind of living microbe that makes things smell bad.  If you kill the bacteria, the smell should also go away.

So I lugged the mattress out to the backyard.  I’m fortunate to live in southern California, where (almost) every day is a sunny day.  I draped the mattress over a backyard chair to minimize contact with the ground, and let it soak up the midday sun for about 90 minutes.  When I brought it back in the smell was completely gone!

Using the sun to kill the odor worked great!  I highly recommend this method of mattress stink removal.  It’s way easier than spraying the mattress with a cleaning solution then scrubbing and waiting to dry.  I am looking forward to testing this out on other stinky objects around the house.  Stay tuned to see if I can get sunshine into the toes of some stinky shoes we have lying around…

Have you ever used sunshine to freshen up a mattress?  What other stinks might be killed using the sun?


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14 Responses to Freshening a Smelly Mattress Using Sunshine Review – Does It Work?

  1. Kissiah Aiken says:

    My grandmother used to take them all outside regularly, even when no one peed on them, and let them sit in the sunshine for a few hours. When I asked her about it, she told me that everything needed sunshine and fresh air sometimes. I don’t recall her mattresses ever smelling bad.

  2. CelloMom says:

    This works for me! In principle, I take out our mattresses at least once in the winter during a good hard day-time freeze. The sun’s UV takes out any surface bacteria and mold, and the cold does a number of the dust mites that might live inside the mattress. Also there are fewer birds around. The only trick is to start early enough, so your mattress gets good and frozen, and then to bring it back into the house early enough so you don’t have to sleep on an ice cube that night.

  3. Lisa Lynn says:

    Great idea! Found your post on Farmgirl Friday and I would love to have you share it on The Creative HomeAcre Hop today!

  4. Jen Stults says:

    Great tip! We have four-year-old twins and have had a few accidents recently, too, in spite of using mattress protectors. I’m definitely going to try this on their mattresses (and maybe ALL of the mattresses in the house)!

  5. Great idea! I used this for an expense body pillow that was in the line of fire when my daughter threw up a few months ago – worked well for that. I never thought about the mattress, though. Will definitely add this to my “spring cleaning” routine. Thanks for sharing with the Tuesday Baby Link Up Community!

  6. Hopefully BabyE will keep his waterproof cover on, but just in case I will keep this in mind! Thanks for linking up!

  7. Angela says:

    I put all kinds of things (shoes and insoles, waste baskets, blankets, bags etc…) in the sun to freshen up. It is my go to for stinkies. But, I wouldn’t have thought about putting a mattress out in the sun to freshen up, great idea!
    Thank you for sharing on Natural Living Monday!

  8. good info. Thanks so much for sharing with Adorned From Above’s Blog Hop 55. We can’t wait to see what you have for us this week. This weeks party is live.
    Have a great week.
    Debi and Charly @ Adorned From Above

  9. Lisa Lynn says:

    I had two mattresses that got a bit damp in the basement and I tried the same thing…worked wonders! Thanks for sharing on Wildcrafting Wednesday!

  10. Irene says:

    I don’t make my bed. I open the mini-blinds and throw the covers back (neat and tidy like of course) and while I’m at work all day, my bed is in direct sunlight getting fresh and killing germs. I’m sure everyone else is harboring germs and yuckies when they make theirs. Something to think about. 🙂

  11. The sunlight could make miracles , indeed. It remove bacteria from the mattress. My advice is to put on it some essential oil. It will make it smell even better. Best regards!

  12. Tim Schwartz says:

    When I was on active duty we would sun our mattress a few times a year

  13. Joanna says:

    My couch cushions smelled like dog. (I have three, and one has been unwell.) Took them out back, laid them out on the patio… and waited. I’d open the door every hour or two. At first, the smell was worse! (Heated dog odor. UGH!) Then it began to dissipate. Thank heavens!
    Yes, the couch will never be the same. No, I don’t care (I paid $100 for a used sectional. I knew what would happen to it!)
    I’ll be taking the cushions out back on a more regular basis! They’ll bleach in the sun, but my house will smell better!