We can all agree that mold is a nightmare, regardless if you are a homeowner or a tenant. Not only is it disgusting, but mold can also cause all sorts of health issues for you and your family. And while we are used to hearing about mold in the bathroom, kitchen, or attic, it can also grow inside your bedroom, more specifically, your mattress. In fact, there’s a chance that your mattress is developing mold right as we speak, but you haven’t noticed it yet.

However, in order to get rid of mold and prevent it from coming back, you need to understand its causes and symptoms. So, let’s take a look and find out what mold on a mattress looks like and how you can deal with it.

What Is Mold?

Generally speaking, mold is a type of fungus that is found in most homes and grows in moist environments. However, when it comes to mattresses, mildew is far more common than mold. Yet, people still refer to it as mold since they don’t understand the difference between the two.

To put it simply, mold tends to grow deep into surfaces, making it harder to find and remove. In contrast, mildew has a flat growth, meaning that it remains on the surface of your mattress, so it’s easier to spot and remove. Additionally, mildew can easily be identified due to its look, as it appears as spread out black dots. On the other hand, mold has a fuzzy look similar to what you see on old food.

What Causes Mold on Mattresses?

Usually, mold needs a dark and wet environment where it can grow without being disturbed. As a result, the underneath of your mattress is perfect for mold and mildew, since it protects them from sunlight and transfers body moisture during the night when you sweat. That allows mold to grow quickly and take over every inch of your mattress, inside and outside.

Symptoms That Your Mattress Has Mold

Since both mold and mildew are microscopic organisms, it can be difficult to spot them early on. In fact, you might not even notice anything out of the ordinary before mold starts to grow visible to the eye. Fortunately, there are a few telltale signs that could help you find mold as soon as possible.


As previously mentioned, mold and mildew have a unique appearance which allows you to find them pretty easily. More specifically, if you find any tiny black spots on the underside of your mattress, you are most likely dealing with mildew. And, if left unchecked, it will spread and eventually cover the whole mattress. Not only that but it will also release spores which will cause health problems.

When it comes to mold infestations, you may notice a fuzzy layer covering large areas of your mattress. It usually has a black or white color and is deeply grown within the mattress. As a result, you can’t just wipe it off like mildew, and instead, you might have to throw the mattress away.


The spores generated by mold and mildew have a specific, strong, and persistent odor that, weirdly enough, is not associated with mold. In fact, most people believe that mold smells rancid, just like rotten food. However, the spores on your mattress have a damp and musty smell, similar to wet wood or stale water.

So, if you start to smell anything like that, you need to search and find the mold spores. Remember to check every nook and cranny of your bedroom, especially the backside of your mattress and bed. With some luck, you might be able to find the infestation before it spreads too deep inside your mattress.

Health Problems

Continuous spore exposure can trigger severe health problems, mainly for people already suffering from allergies. The mold on a mattress is particularly dangerous because most people spend considerable amounts of time on their bed, which increases the exposure time.

Fortunately, you can use the symptoms of mold exposure to figure out if you have an infestation. So, be on the lookout for allergy-like symptoms, such as itchy eyes, headaches, exhaustion, and congestion. You will usually notice those symptoms shortly after you wake up or when you lie down on your mattress. Luckily, you will feel better once you leave the infested area, meaning that those symptoms are temporary.

What to Do If Your Mattress Develops Mold?

Getting rid of mold and mildew should be your number one priority, especially if you have kids or pets. And while mildew can easily be removed with a few scrubs, mold is harder to deal with. But even the most stubborn mold infestations can be handled with one of the following methods.

Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol has always been a great way to deal with mold grown on fabric. First, you need to vacuum both sides of the mattress to remove spores and dirt. Then, prepare a solution by mixing equal parts of warm water and rubbing alcohol.

Proceed by dipping a clean cloth into the solution and using it to scrub the mold stain in a circular pattern. Afterward, use a clean cloth dipped in warm water to rinse the area. Repeat the procedure until you can’t notice any signs of mold anymore. And finally, place the mattress in the sun, so it can dry out and remove any bad odors.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Similar to rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide is an effective tool you can use to fight against mold. However, before you can start, check out the mattresses’ label, as hydrogen peroxide is a bleaching agent and can damage your mattress. But, unless the manufacturer specifically forbids the use of hydrogen peroxide or bleach, you can safely give this method a try.

Start by vacuuming the mattress in order to remove any dirt or dust. Proceed by making a one-part hydrogen peroxide and three-part warm water solution. Use a nylon brush dipped in the solution to scrub off the mold, and then, place the mattress out in the sunlight. Once it’s dry, repeat the procedure to eliminate any leftover bacteria and spores. Then voilà, your mattress should be completely mold-free.

Commercial Mattress Cleaners

If none of the above methods work, you can try a commercial mattress cleaner. But first, make sure that it is specially designed for upholstery or mattresses. And remember to always follow the instructions and test the product on a small part of your mattress.

How to Prevent Mold From Coming Back?

At the end of the day, getting rid of mold is useless if you can’t prevent it from coming back. But since it’s impossible to remove mold spores completely from your house, you need to create an environment that makes it difficult for mold to grow. Here’s how you can do that:

  • Tweak the humidity of the room: If your bedroom is damp, you can use a dehumidifier to reduce the humidity and moisture.
  • Don’t place the mattress directly on the floor: The floor surface limits air circulation, which promotes mold growth. That’s why you need to use a bed frame or plywood sheets and minimize the contact between the floor and your mattress.
  • Regularly vacuum and clean the mattress: Vacuuming the mattress is a great way to remove mold spores before they can attach to its surface. It also allows for air to circulate and prevent moisture.
  • Use a mattress protector: Waterproof protectors can prevent moisture from reaching the inside of your mattress and protect it from mold infestations.

Final Thoughts

Overall, we all want to keep our homes safe and mold-free. Unfortunately, sometimes, mold will take over the places that we love the most, including our bedroom. But with a bit of effort and care, you can get rid of it in a matter of hours. And, by following a few easy steps, you can prevent further infestations and protect both your home and your family.

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