How to Wash a Mattress Protector?

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Written by: Alex Savy
Read 7 minLast updated March 26, 2021

Mattress protectors do an immense job of warding off stains, spills, and dust from your mattress. But they, too, can get dirty, as time passes. Or you might need to wash a mattress protector after an accident.

So how do you do that?

This article will guide you through a step-by-step process of washing your mattress protector to keep it clean, fresh, and functional for longer!

#1 Preparation

Remove mattress protector from the bed. If you’re using an encasement-type mattress protector, carefully unzip it and fold it before putting it into a washer. With a fitted sheet, it’s even easier: just remove it from the bed, fold it, and place it inside a washing machine. 

And if your mattress protector has some detachable layers, such as memory foam core or fiberfill layer, detach them and wash separately (or, in case of a memory foam layer, vacuum them).

However, sometimes before laundering your mattress protector, you need to perform some extra steps.

Inspect the Seams

Even the best waterproof mattress protectors wear out from active use. 

So, if your model is several years old, be sure to check the seams and zippers before you wash it. These parts tend to get weaker as the mattress protector wears out and a powerful water flow inside the washing machine might tear them apart. So be sure to thoroughly inspect the seams and give them a few stitches if needed.

Pre-treat the Stains

Also, before washing a mattress protector, you might pre-treat some heavy stains so that the washing machine removes them more effectively. Here are some quick fixes for the most common mattress stains:

  • Urine. Mix one quart of lukewarm water, one tablespoon of dish soap, and ½ tablespoons of ammonia. Soak the stain for 15 minutes, then rub it a bit to loosen, and soak again for 15 more minutes. Then place the mattress protector in the washer.
  • Blood. Ice-cold and salty water works best for bloodstains. Mix one cup of cold water with 2 tablespoons of salt and soak the stain in. Then blot it with a sponge — don’t rub! — and place the protector in the washer.
  • Coffee and tea. The best way to remove dark stains from coffee or tea is to use an enzyme or oxygen spray cleaner (1). Spray a generous amount of the cleaner on the stained area and a few inches around, wait until it sets and scrub it with a damp cloth or sponge. Repeat if needed.
  • Unknown stains. If you aren’t sure about the origin of the stains, pre-treat them with an enzyme cleaner or a mixture of baking soda and water(go for the paste consistency). These cleaning agents are mild and versatile, so there’s a good chance they actually help you.

#2 Washing

Now after you’ve done all the preparations, it’s time to wash a mattress protector!

Here are some of our recommendations that will help you do it without causing damage.

  • Always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions. Yes, this is the most obvious piece of advice, and yet most people seem to ignore it. Manufacturer instructions contain everything about a preferred washing cycle, recommendations on which detergent to use, and how to properly dry your mattress protector.
  • Set a gentle cycle. If you don’t have manufacturer instructions, then your best bet would be setting a gentle cycle with the maximum temperature of 40C. That’s because the waterproof membrane of your mattress protector is made of synthetic fiber, which is basically thin plastic threads. Hot water can easily melt them, thus making the membrane useless from stopping liquid from getting into your mattress.
  • Use a mild detergent. Again, just like high temperatures, some compounds in laundry detergents can damage the membrane of your mattress protector. Choose liquid detergents, eco-friendly washing pods, or enzyme cleaners.

#3 Drying

Finally, after you wash a mattress protector, you need to let it completely dry. If a mattress protector, especially an encasement type, will have some moisture in it by the time you put it on, this will create a potential environment for the bacteria and mildew to grow into your mattress.

The thing is, most manufacturers advise against drying a mattress protector inside the tumble dryer because even the lowest setting can damage the membrane.

Instead, let it dry out in the indirect sunlight or air it out on a balcony or porch in the hanging state.

How to Wash a Mattress Protector Without a Washing Machine?

Sometimes, you may not have a washing machine nearby, and still have to deal with the stains. In these cases, you can spot clean your mattress protector, or wash it manually.

Here’s how:

  • Pre-soak your mattress encasement. For treating heavy stains or for a more effective washing, soak the mattress protector in the mixture of water, laundry detergent — you can use mild dish soap instead — for at least an hour. This will help loosen the dirt, so you will spend less effort cleaning it.
  • Use lukewarm water. 30-40C is the maximum temperature for most mattress protectors, so be sure to use water that feels comfortably warm for your hands.
  • Don’t twist the encasement to remove water. The washing machine uses a centrifugal spin, which isn’t harsh on fabric threads, to remove excess water. If you plan to do it manually, fold the mattress protector, place it on a flat surface, and press it with your palms to remove water. Then unfold it and hang to dry away from direct sunlight.

Other Tips You Should Know

  • Washing frequency. This largely depends on the brand of your mattress protector, but generally, washing it every two months is fine. However, if you allow your pets to sleep on the bed, live with kids, or suffer from allergies, then it’s preferable to wash your mattress protector every month.
  • Disinfection. We already spoke about the temperature settings for washing your mattress protector. The thing is, 30-40 degrees isn’t enough to thoroughly disinfect your mattress protector and remove all the bacteria that could hide inside. Some brands make mattress protectors with more durable materials that can withstand washing at 60 degrees, but these are rare to find. So, if you feel like you need additional disinfection after you have washed your mattress protector, you can spray it with Lysol and air it out for some time.
  • Ironing. Don’t. Just don’t. Aside from the fact that ironing will destroy the waterproof membrane in your mattress protector, modern encasements just don’t need it, as they are made of soft and wrinkle-proof fabric.

F.A.Q.

Can frequent washes damage the waterproof lining of a mattress protector?

As long as you follow the manufacturer’s instructions and use gentle washing cycles, your mattress protector will be fine and maintain its waterproof properties.

Can I wash the mattress protector in hot water?

No, most mattress protectors shouldn’t be washed in hot water, otherwise, it will damage a waterproof membrane. The optimal temperature for washing them is 30-40C.

Should I wash a mattress protector with a fabric softener?

Adding a fabric softener isn’t recommended, as they can make the fibers in the mattress protector membrane smoother, which decreases its absorbing ability.

Conclusion

And this is how you wash a mattress protector! Follow these steps, and you can enjoy the freshness of your bed and all the waterproof benefits of the mattress encasement for a longer time.

Have you ever washed a mattress protector? Do you have some special tips? Share them below!

References:

  1. Corey M. Mackenzie (n.d.). How to Remove Coffee Stains From Mattresses? Retrieved from https://www.hunker.com/13422979/how-to-remove-coffee-stains-from-mattresses

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