How to Dry a Mattress [Comprehensive Guide]

It can be tough to dry a wet mattress after a flood, bedwetting, or any other accident. Maybe the water damage has already been done and your mattress is soaked through. In this article, I will talk about how to dry a mattress with three different methods to save the wet mattresses.

Why you should trust this guide

To make this article as informative as possible, I consulted with three IIC certified house cleaning technicians who added valuable recommendations. These people successfully served more than 5000 households in total and their expertise is invaluable. Methods, tactics, and suggestions in this guide are based on studies by American Cleaning Institute, Cleaning Industry Research Institute, and other high-authority sources with a proven reputation.

And finally, at least 50 people already tried these methods and sent us testimonials. People trust us and there is a very high probability that you will find the answers to any of your mattress drying questions in this comprehensive guide.

Reading this guide you can be sure that you have found the best way to dry a mattress fast and safely.

A notice on why you should act fast

Even clean water can seriously damage your mattress because moisture causes the fibers in your mattress to swell up and cause permanent damage and it significantly increases the chances of your mattress getting infested by mites.[1]House-dust mites and mattresses https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12028120/

Another important reason to act fast is mold. Excess moisture helps mold to grow. Mold should be handled with care as it can cause asthma, allergies, skin reactions, chronic bronchitis, and hypersensitivity pneumonitis [2]Indoor dampness and mold health effects – ongoing questions on microbial exposures and allergic versus nonallergic mechanisms https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4667360/

And finally, the water can damage the metal springs inside the spring mattress. The metal springs are how the mattress will be able to bounce back. The springs can rust or get corroded, which means they won’t work as well to keep your spine in alignment while you sleep. This will significantly shorten the lifespan of your mattress and make it sag faster.

All these factors make it clear that you should act fast and get your mattress dried out as soon as possible to avoid any serious long-term damage. This article will empower you with strategies and tactics on how to dry a mattress fast.

How to dry a mattress step by step:

Step 1 – Detach a mattress topper

If you have a mattress topper, please remove the bedding and detach it from the mattress and try to pour out excess water from it. Do not spend too much time on this step. You can wash and dry your mattress topper in a dryer. If your mattress topper is waterproof, then you are lucky because your mattress is likely to stay completely dry.

Step 2 – Remove the moisture on the surface of a mattress

If you spilled water on a mattress (or any other liquids), you should do all you can to prevent it from getting absorbed by the mattress as soon as possible.

The best way to do this is to absorb the water by materials that have a higher moisture-absorbing capacity[3]Moisture Absorption Capacity https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/moisture-absorption-capacity. You can bloat that moisture with a paper towel. Paper is hygroscopic, being made of organic fibers[4]Hygroscopic behavior of paper and books https://orbit.dtu.dk/files/3495361/Postprint%202007-Hygroscopic%20behavior%20of%20paper%20and%20books.pdf and will absorb moisture faster than your mattress.

Alternatively, you can use cotton towels, but make sure to bloat without applying too much pressure because this may lead to the opposite outcome.

Step 3 – Apply the absorbents

Paper and cotton towels can help you remove the visible water. After the active phase of removing the liquid on the surface, you should use absorbents to pull out as much moisture from the mattress as possible. Absorbents are an integral part of any spill response. They help to absorb the liquid and prevent it from spilling onto the mattress environment.

The most common absorbents are:

  • Soda. Soda is a common household item that you can use to absorb moisture. The main benefit of soda is that it is a natural product that will not leave behind any residue.
  • Clay-based absorbents. Most people know about clay-based absorbent powder. Especially if you’ve ever seen how cat litter is used to clean up a spill, you can see how it absorbs liquids. All you have to do is to soak up the liquid with the drying substance and dispose of it. Clay absorbents are among the most common types of dry oaks due to their low costs. It should be noted, though they have the lowest absorption efficiency of all mattress drying methods. They can create large dust clouds and are labor-intensive to dispose of. I recommend using kitty litter only if you have a wet dry vacuum.
  • Oil Absorbents. Oil absorbents should be used when the liquid is oily. Cooking oils, motor oil, and salad dressing all have a high content of fat that can be absorbed by an absorbent like this. One way to dry a wet mattress is with absorbent mat rolls made from multiple layers of polypropylene (similar to super-absorbent paper towels).
  • Vermiculite. Vermiculite is a mineral that’s mined for its many uses including absorbent production. Many people are familiar with the use of sawdust as a soil additive in gardening, however, it can also be used to dry a wet mattress. 

Caution:

The natural mineral vermiculite is safe when they contain only pure minerals. Unfortunately, 75% of it came from Libby, Montana where it usually contains toxic amphibole asbestos. The main cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos and also it can lead to cancer [5]New Tool Determines If Vermiculite Insulation Contains Asbestos https://www.asbestos.com/news/2018/04/24/tool-vermiculite-asbestos/. This is why you should only use vermiculite if you know for sure that it contains only pure minerals and if it is not produced in Libby, Montana.

You can either pick one of the suggested absorbents or use several: one after another. Make sure that you allow it to sit for at least 30 minutes before removing an absorbent from the mattress.

Step 4 – Remove the absorbent

To remove baking soda or clay-based absorbents like, for example, cat litter, you can use a powerful vacuum cleaner. Be careful not to shake or tip over your mattress as this may cause it to burst open at the seams. It is highly recommended to use a separate vacuum nozzle that is used exclusively for your betting. A certified house cleaning technician Maria Threambula gave a piece of very valuable advice:

“A standard vacuum nozzle contacts with numerous sources of bacteria such as the floor, toilet, or carpets. If you do not have a specialized nozzle, you should clean a standard nozzle by rubbing alcohol into it. Also, a wet dry vacuum is significantly more effective for removing the kitty litter out of your bed. ” [6]From a phone interview with a certified house cleaning technician Maria Threambula August 7, 2021

You can easily make your own disinfectant by combining one part of alcohol with one part of the water in a spray bottle. Please, avoid using dish soap for this purpose because it won’t be able to kill all the bacteria.

Tip 1

After you remove the absorbents, there still can be a lot of dust in the room. It is a good idea to open the windows and turn on a purifier with a HEPA filter to maximize the air circulation.

Tip 2

If you have kids or pets, it’s best to prevent them from moving around the mattress or even entering that room because they can easily come in contact with chemicals that are harmful if ingested.

Oil absorbents are just sheets that can be removed manually.

Step 5 – Use a hairdryer

A blow-dryer can become a useful tool to remove extra moisture from the mattress. Its effectiveness depends on the type of mattress and the power of a blow-dryer.

The best type of mattresses to dry with a blow-dryer is pocket spring and hybrid because the air can effectively circulate. Pocket springs are made of steel and the steel has a thermal conductivity of 45 W/(mK). Pocket springs will warm up fast and the moisture will begin to evaporate.

The best type of blow-dryer to use is a ceramic hair dryer, which will not overheat and it has enough power to force the moisture out. To effectively dry a wet mattress, you should place the mattress vertically. One side should be towards the window while another side is being dried out with a blow-dryer. This will maximize the airflow and will keep the mattress from becoming too warm with just a blow-drier.

Tip:

You can actually use more than one fan to push moisture out of the mattress. The downside to using fans is that they require electricity, which might not be available in certain situations such as power outages after storms.

Caution:

Please, pay attention to the maximum working time of your blow-dryer. If the maximum time is up, the dryer will get too hot and it can permanently damage the device. Also please, do not press the blow-dryer into the mattress because it can damage the mattress surface and even lead to ignition.

Step 6 – Control the air humidity

I have noticed that almost all the guides on the internet miss this essential step. Did you know that humidity directly impacts the speed of the drying process? [7]Humidity effects in solids drying processes https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/002029400704000901. The following table will show you how humidity impacts the drying time of the same amount of water in the same mattress:

Humidity, %Drying time
255
266
307
328
3411
3612
3814
Table that shows the link between humidity and mattress drying time

To speed up the process of drying a mattress you should dehumidify the air in the room. You can decrease the humidity in several ways:

  • Use your air-conditioner. Your A/C will decrease the air humidity. Here’s how it works. The evaporator coil condenses water vapor in the air and releases it like water droplets. The unit blasts warm air over a cool evaporator coil to let it dry out. The cool metal coil pulls the moisture from your home via a condensate drain.
  • Use a dehumidifier. A dehumidifier is a  machine that removes water vapor from the air. It does this by drawing in dry, heated air and releasing it as “warm” moist air with a lower humidity level through its coils.
  • Dry the laundry outside. If you are drying the laundry in the same room as your mattress, the moisture will evaporate from both the mattress and laundry. This will result in very high humidity that will take a long time to dry by preventing further evaporation.
  • Keep the windows open as much as possible and use fans for added circulation in your home. Please, notice that this will work only if the air humidity is lower outside than in your room. So first you should check this using a hygrometer.

Caution:

Keep the kids and senior people out of the room because low air humidity can lead to respiratory diseases and infections. [8]Low ambient humidity impairs barrier function and innate resistance against influenza infection https://www.pnas.org/content/116/22/10905. An optimal level of air humidity is 25-30%. On the one hand, you should decrease the air humidity and on the other hand, you should not make it too low to avoid the diseases.

Step 7 – Make a mold prevention

Even if you think that the mattress is completely dry, there still can be some moisture left. This moisture may become a reason for mold in the future.

So how to prevent mold growth?

Hydrogen peroxide is a safe, ready-to-use antifungal medicine. Pour a 1% concentration of hydrogen peroxide into a spray bottle and apply it to a mattress surface that got wet. Wipe the wet areas and then wipe dry those parts of the mattress that are still moist. Repeat this process if necessary to make sure there is no mold on your mattress in the future.

Lemon juice. Natural cleaning products can be difficult to find, but luckily for us, we have lemon juice that is available in every shop. Lemons make a great cleaner for mattresses as they contain high amounts of acid that break down mold. All you have to do is prepare 200 ml of lemon juice and mix it with 800 ml of water. Apply the solution to the area of the mattress that got wet and let it dry.

How to dry a mattress from urine

Please, pay attention that it is not possible to directly dry out the urine from the mattress. This task includes two stages:

Stage 1: Clean out the urine

Cleaning urine from a mattress can be done by removing the bedding, washing it in intense mode with apple cider vinegar and lemon juice. You should use a paper towel to absorb the pee on the surface of your mattress.

Mixing 400 ml of water, 150 ml of white vinegar, 50 ml of apple cider vinegar and 25mls detergent create a highly effective cleaning substance for pee stains on beds.

After spraying a surface with cleaner, wait 15 minutes and blot off the excess liquid. Sprinkle baking soda on top of the area to help eliminate any remaining bacteria. Vacuum the baking soda powder off of the mattress to remove any urine.

Stage 2: Dry a wet mattress

To dry a mattress you should follow the instructions above. Here is a short recap with general steps:

To prevent water from getting absorbed by the mattress, you should use materials that have a higher moisture-absorbing capacity asap. Paper and cotton towels can help to remove the visible liquid on a mattress, but then you should use absorbents to pull out as much moisture from it. To remove baking soda or clay-based absorbents like, for example, cat litter from a mattress you can use a vacuum cleaner. A blow-dryer can be used to remove extra moisture from a mattress. The process of drying a wet mattress can be sped up by using an air conditioner or a dehumidifier.

How to prevent moisture and mold inside the mattress

One of the most common reasons why condensation develops under a mattress is that everything is too stuffy.

Using a slatted base instead of a solid base will help to circulate air and prevent a damp mattress.  If you are not ready to invest in a slatted base, you can apply an absorbent pad that will suck up moisture from the mattress.

Another way to prevent condensation inside a mattress is by getting rid of excess heat sources such as carpets, curtains, and bed skirts. Your bedroom should be kept cool at night with air conditioning or open windows for circulation during warmer months. You can use natural airflow to circulate the air in your home by opening windows, or you can use a fan. A dehumidifier is a machine that gets rid of high moisture in the home. You can use it to avoid a moldy mattress, which can be harmful to your health.

How to dry an RV mattress?

RV mattresses need to be dried quickly and you may have a limited space problem if the weather outside is bad.

If it is sunny outside, I recommend you take the mattress outside an RV and place it under the direct sunlight. Windy weather is also very useful. In the best-case scenario, the wind will push out the moisture while the sun will evaporate it from the mattress surface.

If the weather is bad outside (rainy), I recommend using air conditioning or a large dehumidifier to dry your mattress more quickly. The only downside of this method is that these appliances consume a lot of power and if you don’t have a generator, the AC will not work. I recommend using an air conditioner with at least 12 000 BTU to get fast results in bad weather conditions.

In the following table, you can see how the power of an A/C unit impacts the speed of drying a mattress with 1 L of water spilled on it.

A/C PowerTime to dry out 1L of distilled water
9000 BTU3 hours 40 minutes
10000 BTU3 hours 7 minutes
11000 BTU2 hours 20 minutes
12000 BTU1 hour 30 minutes
14000 BTU1 hour 10 minutes
A table showing that 12000 BTU A/C is optimal to dry an RV mattress

Caution:

Please, do not sit on the mattress. Your weight will press against the moist foam or spring system. This potentially could damage the mattress and make it sag.

How to prevent moisture under an RV mattress

Moisture is a big issue in RVs, and many forget to consider the mattress. Sleeping on an RV mattress can cause condensation between the surface it’s laying on and the surface of the mattress. This may occur even when you just sit on it.

First, you should put the mattress on a base that guarantees the best possible airflow. An anti-condensation ventilation mattress underlay is a good way to help prevent moisture buildup and mold growth. This mat can be used for many purposes, such as in RV’s, tents, boats, and more. Also, you can use pallets, step stools, or any other heavy object that is lying around in your RV to hold the mattress up.

What type of mattress is the easiest to dry?

The mattress construction, materials, and thickness are the main factors that determine how fast the mattress will dry.

Drying the memory foam mattresses

Memory foam mattresses have a structure that is similar to a sponge. They soak up moisture easily and take a long time to dry. Memory foam mattresses are difficult to ventilate. However, they do not have any elements that can go rusty.

Drying the latex mattresses

Latex mattresses are denser and heavier than memory foam, but they dry out faster. A higher density of latex prevents the liquids from entering the deeper layers of the mattress.

Drying the innerspring mattresses

Innerspring mattresses are also heavy and difficult to dry out quickly, but they can be more successfully dried than a latex or memory foam mattress because they have air vents that allow for airflow which aids in drying time. The only downside is how easily rust will form on metal components such as springs. However, there is a number of manufacturers that produce mattresses with stainless steel or plastic springs that are rust-resistant.

Drying the hybrid mattresses

On the one hand, hybrid mattresses contain a memory foam that prevents airflow and extends the dry time. They contain metal coils that are prone to rust which can cause them to warp or break down over time when exposed to moisture. On the other hand, they are easier to ventilate than 100% foam or latex mattresses.

Mattress typeDrying capability, out of 10
Foam mattress5
Latex mattress6
Hybrid mattress8
Spring mattress10

How to prevent the mattress from getting wet

There are many ways to keep someone from wetting themselves, and prevention is key. It is much easier to prevent liquids from getting on the mattress than it is to dry one.

1. Use a vinyl waterproof mattress cover. 

This mattress cover will prevent moisture from getting on the mattress and will also protect it against spills. A vinyl cover is a good first line of defense if there are children or people with incontinence in your house. It will protect the mattress against the spilled water as well. The best part is that vinyl waterproof mattress covers are noiseless and breathable. This will guarantee a good night’s sleep and the longevity of your mattress.

2. Use waterproof underpads.

When you’re dealing with a wet mattress, there are a couple of options at your disposal. You can either use an underpad or cover the top and bottom sheets instead. Some people even choose to tuck them in on either side of the bed near where their child sleeps.

How to extend the life of a mattress by drying it

A mattress that is not affected by moisture will last longer. This is why it’s important to always use waterproofing products and take preventive measures that ensure the mattress does not get wet in the first place.

You already know how to dry a wet mattress. But even if you do not spill any water or other liquids on the mattress, it still can become too moist as a result of humidity. Sleeping on a mattress, especially for an extended period of time, can cause condensation between the surface it’s lying on and the surface of the mattress. By regularly drying the mattress you will prevent mold and destruction of the materials that lead to sagging, allergies, and other unwanted outcomes.

Here is how you can do it:

1. Flip the mattress every two weeks.

Flipping a mattress will not only prevent it from sagging but also will help the wetness on the lower side to evaporate.

2. Use an air dehumidifier.

A dehumidifier will suck the moisture out of the air. It will help in drying a mattress and keep it dry for an extended period of time. Note that you should clean the filter once every two weeks to prevent mold from forming inside your dehumidifier.

3. Apply the baking soda every four weeks.

You can put the baking soda on the mattress and let it stay for 1-2 hours every two weeks. The baking soda will absorb the wetness and prevent your mattress from developing mold and mildew.

Preventive measureFrequency
Flip the mattressEvery 2 weeks
Use an air dehumidifierEvery day
Apply the baking sodaEvery 4 weeks
Preventive measures to extend the life of a mattress

Frequently asked questions:

How to dry a wet mattress quickly?

To dry a mattress fast, you should have a box spring mattress that is not attached to the frame. Spread it out in a room with plenty of airflow and sunlight. Turn on an air conditioner and dehumidifier and start drying it out using a blow dryer. This is the fastest and most effective active method of drying a mattress. But please, make sure that the mattress is completely dry before using it. The moisture can stay deep inside the mattress while the surface is 100% dry. This may lead to mold and mildew.

How to dry a mattress after bedwetting?

It’s not easy to remove the urine from the inside of the mattress, but it’s definitely possible. Cleaning urine from a mattress can be done by removing the bedding, washing it in intense mode with apple cider vinegar and lemon juice. After spraying a surface with cleaner, wait 15 minutes to let it soak into the dirt. Sprinkle baking soda on top of the area and vacuum up any urine particles. After this, you should use materials that have a higher moisture-absorbing capacity to dry a mattress quickly.

How to dry waterproof mattress cover?

After washing the mattress cover, tumble dry it in a low-heat setting. Avoid using a high temperature during the drying and avoid ironing the mattress cover because vinyl will melt.

How long does it take for a mattress to dry?

On average, it will take less than 24 hours. It can take from several hours to several days to dry a mattress. The answer depends on a number of factors such as: how many liters of liquid were spilled, the type of mattress, humidity, the power of the air conditioner, the power and number of blow dryers used.

How to dry out a rain-soaked mattress

When drying a rain-soaked mattress, you should understand that rainwater is not sterile and it’s highly likely that mold will develop really fast. This is why you should dry the mattress and apply the remedies that will kill and prevent the mold: lemon juice, baking soda, vinegar, or alcohol should be applied. Also, in this case, the entire mattress will get wet. You should understand that a drying process will take more than 24 hours and at least 3 liters of cleaning solution will be required.

What is the role of sunlight and wind in drying up ar mattress?

The optimal weather for drying a mattress is sunny and windy. The sun will dry out the mattress while the wind will push out the moisture out of it. But please, pay attention that humidity should be low in order for the mattress to dry fast. Otherwise, moisture will be trapped in the mattress and it won’t dry.

How to dry a wet bed?

The most difficult part of drying a wet bed is making your mattress dry. The bedding and a mattress topper can be machine washed and dried regularly. The bed platform should be dried using paper or cloth towels and an active dehumidifier.

Is it a good idea to use the services of a professional restoration company to dry a mattress?

A restoration company is a good idea if the mattress is so wet that it will not dry after 24 hours. The service has professional equipment that is more powerful and can dry your mattress without damaging it. A professional fan can blow out the water and evaporate it at a constant temperature that will prevent the mattress from sagging.

Wrapping it up

As you see, there is a number of methods to dry a mattress. You just need to pick the one that suits you.

I hope this article has been helpful and informative for how to dry a mattress, how long it takes, how much does it cost, and how many steps are required to accomplish such a task.

If you have any complaints, suggestions, or questions – please feel free to comment below.

References

References
1House-dust mites and mattresses https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12028120/
2Indoor dampness and mold health effects – ongoing questions on microbial exposures and allergic versus nonallergic mechanisms https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4667360/
3Moisture Absorption Capacity https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/moisture-absorption-capacity
4Hygroscopic behavior of paper and books https://orbit.dtu.dk/files/3495361/Postprint%202007-Hygroscopic%20behavior%20of%20paper%20and%20books.pdf
5New Tool Determines If Vermiculite Insulation Contains Asbestos https://www.asbestos.com/news/2018/04/24/tool-vermiculite-asbestos/
6From a phone interview with a certified house cleaning technician Maria Threambula August 7, 2021
7Humidity effects in solids drying processes https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/002029400704000901
8Low ambient humidity impairs barrier function and innate resistance against influenza infection https://www.pnas.org/content/116/22/10905

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