yellow stain on a mattress
Care Tips

What Causes Yellow Stains On My Mattress?

    Last Updated
    September 16, 2022
    min read

    Have you seen yellow stains on your mattress? Unsightly and unhygienic, they’re more common than you think – especially if you’ve had a mattress for many years. Even the best mattresses get yellow stains over time if they aren’t protected and regularly cleaned.

    What causes yellow stains on a mattress, and how can you remove them? Read on to find out how to clean ugly stains out and when it’s time to replace your old, stained mattress.

    What Are The Yellow Stains On My Mattress?

    The yellow stains on your mattress may be caused by several things. Oxidation from old age is the usual suspect and will eventually happen to any mattress, but there may be another culprit behind your mattress’ unsightly stains. 

    These are the most common causes of yellow stains on a mattress:

    Natural Oxidation

    As your mattress gets older, it starts to decay. The main reason for this decay is oxidation, which is caused by exposure to the oxygen in the air. This gradually gives your aging mattress a yellowish tinge. Yellow stains from oxidation don’t have a smell and persist despite regular cleaning.

    Oxidation is natural and will eventually happen to any mattress, especially memory foam ones. However, you can slow oxidation down by keeping your mattress away from moisture and out of direct sunlight. If you air your mattress out to get rid of dust mites, do this in a warm, shaded area.


    Human and pet urine can cause smelly yellow stains to form on your mattress. Fresh urine should be cleaned up as soon as possible to prevent it from seeping deeper into the mattress. Once it’s dried, it’s very difficult to remove both the stains and the odors. Uncleaned urine stains can also lead to mold and mites, further degrading your mattress.

    Sweat And Body Oil

    Everyone sweats and releases natural body oils as they sleep. Sweat stains won’t show up immediately, but, over time, your sweat and oils will accumulate and form unsightly stains.

    Accumulated sweat also forms the perfect environment for bacteria to grow, causing strange odors on top of the staining. These smelly sweat stains are difficult to remove, so it’s best to regularly wash and change your bedding to keep them from forming.


    As with urine, vomit from humans and pets can cause smelly yellow stains if it isn’t cleaned up quickly. Clear away as much as you can before dabbing the area to remove excess moisture. Disinfect it with rubbing alcohol and remove any nasty odors with a few drops of essential oil.


    Water and sweat may reach the coils of your spring or hybrid mattress, causing the springs to rust. Rust stains are easy to distinguish from other yellow stains because they’re darker and have an orange tinge. They may also smell faintly metallic.

    Water Stains

    If you spill water on your mattress and don’t clean it up right away, light yellow-beige stains may form. These stains don’t smell, but they can eventually lead to mold and create more yellow stains.

    How To Prevent Yellow Stains On Your Mattress

    If you want to keep your mattress clean and prevent yellow stains from forming, here are some simple tips you can follow.

    • Use a mattress protector: Mattress protectors provide a barrier against liquids, mites, and debris. These protectors are removable, and some are even waterproof — the perfect defense against spills.

    Purple has a five-sided dual layer defense mattress protector that does its job without taking away from the comfort of your mattress, The protector is also stain resistant while being machine washable.

    • Regularly wash your sheets and pillowcases: Your bedding can trap body oils that seep into your mattress and cause yellow stains, so wash your pillows, pillowcases, and sheets regularly.
    • Avoid eating and drinking on your bed: Breakfast in bed sounds cozy, but you run the risk of spilling things on your mattress.
    • Avoid letting your pet sleep on your mattress: If you sleep next to your fur baby, there’s a chance they’ll have a little accident and pee on your bed. Their urine causes yellow stains, so keep your pet on a separate pet bed in your room instead.
    • Clean up all accidental spills immediately: This prevents them from seeping into your mattress and forming yellow stains.

    How To Remove Yellow Stains From Your Mattress

    Got stubborn yellow stains on your mattress? Here’s a quick guide to removing them in different ways.

    DIY Solution With Household Supplies

    1. Remove bedding and any mattress toppers or protectors. 
    2. Vacuum your mattress thoroughly.
    3. Mix three tablespoons of baking soda with one cup of hydrogen peroxide in a bowl until the soda dissolves.
    4. Add three to five drops of dish soap and mix this all together, then put the mixture in a clean, empty spray bottle.
    5. Spray this solution directly on the stain. Do not rub the solution into the stain.
    6. Wait approximately 15 minutes to let the solution set. The stain and its odor should disappear or fade.

    Natural Stain Removal

    1. Remove bedding and any mattress toppers or protectors.
    2. Vacuum your mattress thoroughly.
    3. Mix baking soda, water, and salt in a bowl. No exact measurements are needed – you just need the mixture to have the consistency of paste. Add these ingredients gradually until you get the right consistency.
    4. Dab the paste directly on the stain and wait for half an hour to let it set.
    5. After half an hour, wipe the paste away from the stain with a damp cloth. Dry any excess moisture.

    Urine Stain Removal

    1. Remove bedding and any mattress toppers or protectors. 
    2. Vacuum your mattress thoroughly.
    3. Get an empty spray bottle and pour equal parts vinegar and water into it. Generously spray the stain with this DIY solution.
    4. Absorb any excess liquid from the spray with a clean, dry cloth. Let this solution settle for ten minutes.
    5. After the solution has set, sprinkle baking soda on the stain and let it sit for eight hours.
    6. When the eight hours are done, vacuum any loose baking soda. The stain and any odor should have faded or disappeared completely.

    Is It Safe To Sleep On A Mattress With Yellow Stains?

    No, it isn’t safe to sleep on a mattress with yellow stains. Yellow stains may form naturally over time, but if your mattress is starting to smell strange or has several patchy stains, it may be bad for your health to sleep on it.

    If you’re experiencing allergic reactions like sneezing, coughing, or itching while sleeping, this is a strong indicator that your stained mattress is the culprit. Mold could be growing on those stains and settling into your mattress. There could also be dust mites thriving on the sweat or bacteria in your mattress.

    Both of these things can trigger mild to severe allergic reactions, lung inflammation, and asthma attacks. If your mattress has stubborn stains and your allergies won’t go away, your mattress isn’t safe to sleep on anymore.

    When It’s Time To Replace Your Mattress

    Yellow stains caused by oxidation are natural and won’t harm you, but staining can be caused by other factors that can lead to serious health problems. If your mattress stains won’t budge, or you’ve had the same mattress for several years, it’s time to ditch your old mattress and get a new one.

    Sleep has a significant impact on your physical and mental wellbeing. Consider replacing your mattress if:

    • There are permanent dips in your mattress.
    • You’ve had the mattress for seven years or longer.
    • You regularly wake up with aching muscles.
    • You haven’t cleaned your mattress for a long time.
    • You have breathing issues while you sleep.

    Yellow Stains Are A Sign To Change Mattresses

    While some yellow stains can be cleaned out, others are there to stay. Cleaning can only do so much to refresh and prolong the life of a tired, stained old mattress. If your mattress has stubborn yellow stains despite your best efforts, it’s time to replace it with a new one.

    A good replacement mattress will support your body and give you a good night’s sleep. Talk to your preferred mattress manufacturer to find out which type of mattress is best for your sleeping needs!

    Purple offers  different mattresses to fit peoples needs. Purple Mattresses feature the GelGlex Grid which provides comfort without sacrificing support. Check out the Purple Grid in action.

    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.