person deodorizing mattress
Care Tips

5 Easy DIY Ways To Deodorize A Mattress

    Last Updated
    November 30, 2022
    min read

    Is your mattress starting to smell a bit funky? Don't worry, you're not alone. 

    Humans spend about a third of their lives in bed sleeping. We spread dead skin cells, oil, and sweat all over our mattresses, and bring in all sorts of dirt, debris, and liquids. As a result, mattresses can easily become breeding grounds for bacteria and, in turn, funky odors.

    Fortunately, there are quick and easy ways to deodorize a mattress. Read on to find out how you can get your mattress to smell fresh and clean again.

    What Causes Mattresses To Smell?

    Before you start deodorizing your mattress, it’s important to know what causes foul smells to build up in the first place. 

    Bodily Fluids

    Our skin is covered with millions of microscopic bacteria, viruses, and fungi. While mostly harmless, these microorganisms cause an odor when mixed with our sweat. 

    Some people – particularly those who are more prone to sweating – end up producing mustier smells than others. If you’re a hot sleeper who frequently experiences night sweats, this could be one of the main reasons why your mattress has developed a stench.

    Urine is another major cause of foul smells in mattresses, especially for those who live with pets and young children who are still in the process of potty training. If you don’t clean pee off a mattress right away, mold can form in your mattress and create an even stronger, funkier smell. Urine also produces an ammonia-like odor, which can irritate your nose, throat, and lungs when breathed in.


    Our pets can get into all sorts of adventures – collecting dirt, bacteria, and eventually funny odors on their fur and paws. Dogs, in particular, also have a certain yeasty smell thanks to the glands in their ears. Pet parents who like to cuddle with their babies will have to make an extra effort to deodorize their mattresses (and bathe their pets) to keep smells at bay. 

    Trapped Moisture

    Some mattresses, like memory foam mattresses that are designed to conform to the shape of their users’ bodies, are more prone to trapping moisture than others. Similarly, if you're storing your mattress, you may find that it smells musty when you retrieve it. That's because, when left unattended, trapped moisture can encourage the growth of mold and mildew, which can emit foul odors. 


    If you recently bought a new mattress and noticed a weird, chemical smell upon removing it from its packaging, you might be experiencing off-gassing. This is described as the process in which volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are let out into the air. 

    VOCs are chemicals that are used in the manufacturing and packaging of home products such as furniture, carpets, and mattresses. Memory foam and polyfoam mattresses are more likely to off-gas than innerspring and hybrid mattresses.

    The good news is that off-gassing isn’t particularly harmful, though it can trigger headaches, allergies, and asthma in some people. These effects, and the “new mattress smell”, usually dissipate in a few hours. 

    Deodorizing A Mattress: 5 Steps

    Just because a mattress has developed a certain smell, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to kick it to the curb. Before you think about replacing your old mattress, try the following home remedies to get rid of that funky odor.

    supplies needed to deodorize a mattress

    1. Baking Soda

    steps to deodorize mattress with baking soda

    Baking soda is a time-tested natural deodorizer that reduces unpleasant odors in everything from litter boxes to trash cans to refrigerators. Some deodorant brands even use baking soda as their main ingredient. 

    Here’s how you can use baking soda to deodorize your mattress:

    • Using a flour sifter, sprinkle a layer of baking soda over your mattress. 
    • Let it sit for about 30 minutes to two hours. For really strong odors, keep it on overnight. 
    • Vacuum the baking soda. Make sure to use the upholstery brush on the vacuum cleaner.

    For stinky stains, follow these steps:

    • Make a paste using baking soda, a bit of water, and laundry detergent. 
    • Spread the paste over the stain and let it sit for 30 minutes, then scrape it all off with a dry rag. 
    • Vacuum the remaining debris up. 

    Another great way to remove foul-smelling stains is by sprinkling baking soda over the spot and then spraying vinegar on top. The combination will lift the stain out of the fabric. Then, blot it with a dry cloth rag or paper towels, and repeat until dry. 

    Be careful when handling baking soda though, as some people can be allergic to the substance. Always wear gloves when deodorizing your mattress, and make sure you’ve vacuumed all traces of baking soda before putting your beddings on.

    2. Cornstarch

    Cornstarch is an excellent home remedy for grease and oil stains, as it does a pretty good job of absorbing moisture and smells. 

    To refresh your mattress with cornstarch, simply sprinkle some over the top of the mattress. Make sure to pour a little extra over damp areas that have started to smell. Let it sit for about an hour, then vacuum it all up with the upholstery attachment on your cleaner.

    For extra tough stains and smells, mix cornstarch and baking soda, then sprinkle the mixture over your soiled mattress. 

    3. Vinegar

    Pouring white vinegar onto your mattress may seem counterintuitive, but the substance has long been used as an all-around odor neutralizer. This is because distilled white vinegar contains about 5% acetic acid, which can inhibit the growth of odor-causing bacteria. 

    To use vinegar as a mattress deodorizer, you’ll want to: 

    • Mix equal parts of distilled white vinegar and water into a spray bottle and spritz the solution onto your mattress. You don’t want to make the mattress wet – just spray enough to cover the surface or the smelly spot.
    • Let the vinegar air dry. You can also use a fan or a blow dryer to speed up the process.
    • Sprinkle some baking soda on top for good measure. 
    • Let the baking soda sit for a few minutes, then vacuum it all up. 

    4. Essential Oils

    If you have essential oils lying around, add about 15 to 20 drops into a box of baking soda and sift the mixture over your mattress. This will not only neutralize any odors but also freshen up your mattress with a delightful scent.

    Some of the best essential oils for sleep, relaxation, and stress relief are:

    • Lavender
    • Chamomile
    • Bergamot
    • Sandalwood
    • Cedarwood
    • Peppermint

    5. Sunlight

    Sunlight is a natural, no-cost solution for killing odor-causing bacteria and lightening discoloration. If possible, bring your smelly mattress out onto your porch or deck on a bright and sunny day, and let it soak up the sunlight for a few hours. 

    If you don’t have the time or space to do that, simply opening a window and letting the sun into your bedroom can freshen up the mattress and your space. 

    How To Keep Your Mattress From Smelling 

    If the aforementioned solutions sound like a lot of work, you can prevent having to do them by simply keeping your mattress fresh and clean in the first place. Here are four simple tips you can follow:

    1. Clean Your Mattress Regularly

    Something as simple as vacuuming your mattress at least once a month can keep it from smelling musty and dusty. When cleaning your mattress, make sure to vacuum the bed base/platform/box spring as well. 

    2. Flip Or Rotate Your Mattress

    Check with your manufacturer if you can flip or rotate your mattress. Flipping/rotating mattresses will keep them from sagging prematurely. Dirt, debris, and moisture can pool in the indents of a mattress – all of which can hasten the build-up of bacteria and odor. 

    3. Use A Mattress Protector Or Mattress Topper

    Mattress protectors are water-resistant covers that go between the top of the mattress and the fitted sheet. They act as a protective barrier, keeping dirt, debris, dust mites, and liquids out of your mattress. 

    A mattress topper, on the other hand, is an additional layer of foam (usually two to four inches thick) that is placed on top of a bed to:

    While not designed to protect your mattress from foreign objects and spills, a mattress topper can double as a protective barrier as well. 

    4. Make Sure Your Room Is Well-Ventilated

    A dark, stuffy room is the ideal place for mold, mildew, and bad smells to develop on a mattress. To prevent this, open your windows and let air and sunlight into your bedroom regularly. Turning on a fan helps, too. 

    If possible, prop your mattress up against a wall so that both sides can dry. 

    5. Clean Your Beddings Regularly

    Wash bedsheets, duvet covers, pillowcases, and blankets at least once a week to get rid of foul smells, dust, dead skin cells, sweat, etc. Pillows should be washed every three to four months. Mattresses should be washed every six months. 

    Stay Fresh With These Tips

    If your mattress starts to smell, don’t wait – take care of the problem as soon as possible. By following these simple home remedies, you can easily keep your mattress smelling fresh for years to come


    About the authors

    April Seifert

    April has nearly a decade of writing experience, with 3+ years specializing in sleep content. Her work has been covered by sites like BuzzFeed, Entrepreneur, and Money Under 30. She has an M.A. in Magazine, Newspaper, and Online Journalism from Syracuse University and a B.A. in Communication Studies. As a self-proclaimed expert in all things cozy, she sleeps better at night, knowing her writing helps others sleep in comfort, too.