How to Clean a Futon Mattress

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Written by: Alex Savy
Read 10 minLast updated April 8, 2021

Is your old trusty futon mattress starting to look a little “tired”?

Then it’s probably time to spruce it up a little and give it a good clean.

But if you want satisfying results, you need to know how to clean a futon mattress properly. That’s what we are going to look at today (plus, a few helpful tricks that you might use in different scenarios). Let’s dive right in!

Tips for (Proper) Regular Cleaning

So, you have finally bought the best futon mattress. However, with time, it might start losing its attractive appearance. And that’s not the end of the world, as you can easily fix it

Just make sure you give your futon mattress a decent clean once in a while. Here are the steps you might want to follow:

  • Vacuum the mattress. It’s the best (and the easiest) way to get rid of the accumulated dust and potential allergens. Make sure you vacuum all of the mattress sides. And try to keep it moving and not stop in one spot for too long to prevent it from damaging the futon material. If your vacuum cleaner allows for it, adjust the suction power to a medium or even low. Using a nozzle can come in handy when you need to get the gaps, but you can also remove the debris by hand and then use the vacuum to get rid of them.
  • Sport-clean the needed areas. Ideally, this should be done without a cover (if it’s removable). While you wash the cover separately, check your futon mattress for any dirty spots, old and fresh. Now, in terms of detergent, you have plenty of options. Soapy water can go a long way if those spots aren’t too stubborn. Some users also like combining rubbing alcohol or vinegar with water (with the ratio being around 1:4). Lemon juice might also come in handy if you need to get rid of old dirt, but make sure you add enough water to prevent damaging the material (the lemon juice to water ratio should be at least 1:3).
  • Let it dry. You can either leave your clean futon mattress in a well-ventilated room or take it outside if it’s warm and sunny. Either way, you need to give it enough time to dry, as moisture can cause mold growth. Some users try to speed the process up by using a hairdryer, but I don’t personally find it effective. It’s much better to leave the mattress in the sun (which can act as a disinfectant) (1) or at least near the window.

How to Disinfect a Futon Mattress

If you (or your housemates) are prone to allergies, you might have to do a bit more than just clean your futon mattress. If you wish to get rid of potential contaminants or bacteria, you will have to disinfect the mattress.

Now, before you start, you should open the windows or take the mattress outside. The thing is, most disinfecting solutions can be rather harsh, so it’s not the best idea to breathe all that stuff in while cleaning your mattress in a poorly-ventilated room.

Bleach is the most common option for disinfection, plus it’s cheap and widely available. Of course, you will need to mix it with water (around half a cup of bleach and a gallon of water). As an alternative, you can buy a special disinfectant liquid for furniture. The choice is yours.

Put some rubber gloves on, transfer the liquid into a spray bottle, and wear a mask before you start to disinfect your futon mattress. Bleach is quite irritating, so wearing protective glasses might not be the worst idea (if you have them). 

Next, spray the mattress with the solution. Make sure you cover all the sides and make your futon a bit damp. Next, get rid of the excess moisture by wiping the surface with paper towels and leave the mattress to dry. Taking it outdoors would be beneficial, as bleach has a harsh smell and might make your room unbearable to stay in. If you can’t move the futon outside, open the windows and move it closer to one of them to promote extra aeration.

Keep in mind that bleach can remove the color from the fabric or other materials it’s used on. So, you need to be careful with your futon mattress if it’s not white (unless you don’t mind the bleached stains).

Another way to disinfect a futon mattress is by using a steam cleaner. If you want, you can invest in a small handheld model and use it from time to time to get rid of potential allergens.

How to Get Rid of Urine or Blood

If you have pets, you probably have to deal with more serious stains. Don’t worry though: you can still clean a futon mattress even if there are stubborn urine or blood stains on it. 

Now, if the stain is still “fresh” (read, wet), you need to blot it as much as possible using paper towels or cloth. The next step would be getting rid of the smell by using baking soda. Simply sprinkle the area generously and leave it there for a minute or two. You can also spray a bit of vinegar on top of that and leave the mixture for 5 minutes. You don’t have to mix vinegar with water in this case. However, you may still dilute the vinegar with water if the smell is too strong for you. 

After a few minutes, get rid of the excess moisture using paper towels. If baking soda turns into mush and doesn’t want to come off, use a damp cloth to wipe it off. After you are done washing your futon mattress, leave it to dry (you remember the rules: outside or in a well-ventilated room).

A quick tip: if urine stains appear frequently on your mattress (after all, some pets can’t hold it in), it might be a good idea to invest in an enzyme cleaner and a special pet odor remover.

If the stain was already dry when you noticed it, you will have to use a tougher solution. In most cases, the mixture of baking soda (3 tablespoons), hydrogen peroxide, and a few drops of dishwashing detergent works great with dry stains. Concerning the hydrogen peroxide, a small bottle should be enough, but you can add more over the stain if it doesn’t disappear before the mattress dries. 

You need to dab the mixture into the stain and rub it well (you can use a sponge but try not to be too harsh). Leave it to dry and vacuum the futon afterward if you notice any remains of baking soda. Some users also prefer adding a mixture of laundry powder and water, but I find it too messy. If you do test this method, you might have to wash the futon with clean water afterward to get rid of the mixture.

Just like bleach, hydrogen peroxide might stain the materials it’s used on (although it’s not that harsh). So, you need to either wash it off quite well after you’ve cleaned the stains or avoid using it on colored materials.

How to Get Rid of Odors

There are two common ways to get rid of odors without washing your futon mattress. The first one is fairly simple: you just need to air it out. Take it outside and leave it in the fresh air for a few hours. You can also open a window and a door to create a draft, put your mattress closer to the window, and leave it there (make sure you don’t sit in the draft though). In most cases, this can make your futon mattress smell fresh (if the odor wasn’t too strong).

Another method you can try is using baking soda. It absorbs odors very well, so you just need to sprinkle it all over your mattress (dry) and let it sit there for an hour or two. After that, simply vacuum the baking soda. And you’re done!

If these two tricks didn’t help, you might want to wash your futon mattress to get rid of strong odors and potential allergens that might be accumulating inside.

How to Clean a Moldy Mattress

If you wish to clean a futon mattress that has developed moldy spots, you need to take it outside first (to prevent small mold particles from spreading over your room).

Next, vacuum the mattress to get rid of dust. Mix rubbing alcohol and water (equal parts), damp a cloth in the solution, and scrub the affected areas. You don’t have to be too vigorous, however, to prevent tearing the material. Once you are done, use clean water to wipe the remains of alcohol off your futon mattress. You can use paper towels to soak up any excess moisture and then let your mattress dry. Leaving it in the sun would be the best option in this case (as I’ve mentioned before, sun rays can act as a disinfectant).

A quick note: you probably know that mold can be quite bad for your health. Therefore, if you have noticed that your current mattress has too many spots (or you simply can’t get rid of them), do not hesitate to get a new futon mattress. There are plenty of affordable, quality Japanese futon mattresses, for example, so this little investment shouldn’t hurt your budget too much (but can potentially help you stay healthier).

How to Wash a Futon Mattress

If your mattress is suited for a machine wash (check the tag!), the cleaning process should be much easier. However, there are some recommendations you might want to follow:

  • Always read the tag first. It should mention the recommended temperature, washing cycle type, and drying options suitable for your specific mattress type (unless you aren’t afraid of damaging your futon mattress and don’t mind buying a new one).
  • Vacuum the mattress before washing it. Get rid of small debris first to achieve a more thorough wash.
  • Make sure that your washing machine is big enough to accommodate your mattress. Futon mattress sizes typically include Twin, Full, Queen, and King, and some of them might not fit into a regular washing machine. In this case, you can try going to the laundromat, as they typically have larger washers. Also, make sure that the mattress doesn’t fit too snuggly in there. It needs some space to get a proper wash.
  • Wash your mattress either on a sunny day or if you have a dryer that could work with it. Again, commercial-grade dryers you can find at laundromats are typically bigger.
  • Wash the cover separately if it’s removable. In most cases, covers and futon mattresses require different temperature and washing settings for a proper clean.

F.A.Q.

What can I spray on my futon mattress to clean it?

You can use a mixture of vinegar and water, rubbing alcohol, lemon juice and water, soapy water, etc.

How can I clean a futon from dog pee?

First, get rid of as much moisture as you can using paper towels. Next, sprinkle the spot with baking soda to get rid of the smell. You can also rub the area with a damp cloth and a mild detergent, spray it with vinegar, or even rub it with hydrogen peroxide mixed with water.

How do you dry a futon mattress?

The best (and the easiest) way to dry a futon mattress is by leaving it in the sun for a few hours.

Wrapping Up

If your old futon mattress doesn’t look that great, you don’t have to get rid of it.

Perhaps, simply freshening it up can give the mattress a new life.

And now you know how to do that. Plus, it won’t hurt to protect your futon mattress in the future, so think about adding an encasement (preferably waterproof) to extend its lifespan.

How old is your futon mattress? And what methods have you already tried to clean it? Were they effective? Let us know in the comments!

References:

  1. Boaz Amichai, Marcelo H. Grunwald, Batya Davidovici, Avner Shemer (July 2014). “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants”*: the efficacy of sun exposure for reducing fungal contamination in used clothes. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25167689/

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