Have you seen ugly yellow stains on your mattress? Although unsightly, especially when they start to turn brown, yellow stains on a mattress are quite common. This is certainly true if you've had your mattress for a number of years, and luckily there are ways to make the most of it out of the way.

There are many reasons mattresses turn yellow, and even the best mattresses will stain over time if not properly protected.

To understand why this happens, we asked Yordan Yordanov, upholstery and mattress cleaning expert at Fantastic Services (opens in a new tab), to walk us through the four main causes of yellow stains on mattresses, how to remove them (if is that they can), and how to know if they are safe to sleep. It turns out that only one of them is safe.

Yellow stains on mattresses: the four main causes

  • 1. Mattress age (these stains cannot be removed)
  • 2. Sweat and body oils (can be removed)
  • 3. Urine (can be removed)
  • 4. Vomit (can be removed)

1. Aged mattresses and natural deterioration

Like most things in life, as your mattress ages it is subject to natural decay. "The main reason for this is oxidation," says Yordanov. “It is a natural process facilitated by exposure to the effects of the sun.”

This yellowing is not harmful… And oxidation can be stopped with a mattress protector

Yordan Yordanov, cleaning expert

This natural process cannot be stopped completely. However, you can slow down the passage of time by limiting the mattress's direct exposure to sunlight. "If you're airing your mattress outdoors, it's best to choose a shady but warm spot," Yordanov advises.

“The good news is that this type of yellowing is not harmful in any way. The bad news is that it cannot be removed. However, oxidation can be stopped with a good mattress protector, but you should make sure you have one that covers the entire mattress.

2. Urine (human and animal)

Whether it comes from a human or a pet, urine can quickly spread yellow stains on a mattress if left untreated. But here's the good news: According to Yordanov, fresh, dried urine stains on a mattress can be removed.

(Image credit: Getty)

How to remove yellow stains from mattresses caused by urine

"To remove fresh stains, it's best to treat them as soon as you notice them," Yordanov tells us. “First, blot the excess urine with a dry cloth, but be careful not to rub, as that will surely set it. Next, mix equal parts water and white vinegar and generously spray the area.

“Finally, sprinkle baking soda on top and let sit overnight (or at least eight hours). Once dry, vacuum up the residue and inspect the stain and repeat the procedure if you are not satisfied with the result. .

Dried urine stains are more difficult to remove. "Here, you'll need to create a solution of 8 oz of hydrogen peroxide, 3 tablespoons of baking soda, and two to three drops of liquid dish soap," explains Yordanov. “Spray the stained area and wait for it to dry before vacuuming up the residue. You may want to do this several times depending on the severity of the dry spot.

3. Sweat and body oils secreted every night.

Sweating and the excretion of body oils are a normal bodily function, and these two fluids are also among the main causes of pillow yellowing.

When sweat and body oils build up over time, they can cause yellow stains on your mattress. Although difficult to clean, this type of stain can be removed. In fact, Yordanov says there are two "really good methods" to try, and these often come up during tutorials on how to clean a mattress.

The longer you leave the baking soda in, the better. You should do this for several hours, and for a really stained mattress, leave it overnight.

Yordan Yordanov

How to remove yellow stains on mattresses caused by sweat

For the first method, take baking soda and a bristle brush. "The advantage of baking soda is that it absorbs moisture and unpleasant odors, which makes it effective in cleaning the mattress," says Yordanov.

“Sprinkle the entire mattress. Once this is done, gently rub it on the mattress with a bristle brush. The longer you leave the baking soda in, the better. You should do this for several hours, and for a really stained and dirty mattress, leave it overnight. Vacuum up the debris when you're done.

For the second method, Yordanov recommends the following:

  • Create a solution using a cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • One cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • Two to three tablespoons of baking soda
  • A few drops of mild dishwashing detergent
  • Stir the mixture until the soda dissolves completely.
  • Spray the entire stained area
  • Let the solution soak
  • Air dry the mattress for at least an hour.
  • Speed ​​up the drying process by using a fan or hair dryer on cool

A woman in a white t-shirt and night shorts clutches her stomach as she feels nauseous in bed.

(Image credit: Getty)

4. Vomiting also causes yellow and brown spots

If you vomited in bed, your mattress can turn yellow very quickly. Fortunately, you can get rid of these spots, but you'll need a strong stomach to get started.

How to remove yellow stains from the mattress caused by vomit

“First, pick up the vomit from the bed. Then take out all the bedding and wash it on high heat to kill germs.

"Then," says Yordanov, "take an old rag or paper towel and wipe the stain. Mix warm water and a mild detergent and clean the area. After that, mix three parts of white vinegar with one part of vinegar. water and sponge the stain with the solution. This will not only clean the stain, but also disinfect and deodorize it.

For next-level sanitizing and deodorizing, follow Yordanov's latest advice, but check your mattress care instructions first to make sure it can handle the following products...

"To fully disinfect, spray the area with rubbing alcohol (and add essential oils if you want to reduce the strong odor). To remove any lingering odor, sprinkle with baking soda, which will absorb the odor. Don't remember to vacuum up the debris. once it has dissipated.

Are yellow stains on mattresses safe to sleep on?

According to experts, the answer to this question depends on the cause of the yellowing. “If the yellowing is due to oxidation alone and good hygiene has been observed, then you are completely safe,” Yordanov reassures us.

But in all other cases, a thorough cleaning is recommended to be on the safe side. “If you notice itching, coughing or allergic reactions, it could be a sign of mold. It is a significant health hazard and should be treated immediately because it grows rapidly, is difficult to clean, and is particularly dangerous for people with asthma.

A large yellow mattress stain on a white mattress

(Image credit: Getty)

“Mites feed on dead skin cells, sweat and bacteria, and their droppings also cause allergies in some people. To help combat these side effects, bedding should be changed weekly and the mattress cleaned and vacuumed every two to three months.

Wondering how often you need to replace a mattress? The average lifespan of a mattress is six to ten years, depending on its composition, so if you've had yours longer and it's showing signs of sagging and wear, including yellow stains, it's time to replace it.

There is a higher turnover of pillows, and experts recommend changing them every one to two years. Do you need a new one? Then check out our guide to this year's best pillows for all sleeping positions.

How to avoid yellow spots

The best way to avoid yellow stains on a mattress is to protect yourself from them from day one. A good mattress protector is your friend here, and we've rounded up some of our favorites below. Depending on the type you buy, they can protect against bed bugs and bacteria, as well as vomiting, urine, and sweat.

According to Yordanov, a thorough cleaning of your mattress also helps keep it stain-free for longer. “The mattress itself should be steam cleaned or dry cleaned per label requirements once a year. In between, you can either vacuum it regularly to prevent the buildup of dirt, dust, and dead skin cells, or thoroughly clean it of stains, which will disinfect it.

Your mattress cover may also have developed yellow stains, and in many cases you can use the tips above to get rid of them. If you decide your mattress topper has seen better days, check out our guide to the best mattress toppers for a more comfortable and healthier sleep.

Today's best prices on popular mattress protectors

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