How to Dry a Wet Mattress: Know When to Clean or Toss a Mattress After a Flood or Water Damage
Mattresses are one of the most difficult pieces of furniture to dry after a flood or water event. Before you can begin to dry a wet mattress, you need to consider the source of the water. You can dry a wet mattress contaminated with groundwater or sewage. However, it’s virtually impossible to kill the mold, bacteria, and parasites.
How to Know When It’s Safe to Dry a Wet Mattress
Groundwater and sewage contain bacteria and parasites that can lead to a number of illnesses. They also contain mold that can cause allergy symptoms, asthma, and fungal infections. If the water is from a contaminated source, it’s best to dispose of a wet mattress.
You only attempt to dry a wet mattress if the water is from a clean water source and has not sat longer than 48 hours. Additionally, you should dispose of a wet mattress that is completely saturated with water. In this case, it will take too long to dry. This increases the chances of mold and bacteria developing.
Clean Water Sources: Water supply lines, packaged or bottled water, and overflowing sinks or bathtubs as long as they contain only water and soap and were not a result of a drain clog.
Contaminated Water Sources: All other sources including toilet overflows, leaky roofs, sewage backups, and groundwater flooding.
How to Dry a Wet Mattress
1. Stop the Flow of Water
The first step to drying a wet mattress is to stop the flow of water. In most cases, you can turn off the supply valve to that area of your house. In some instances, you may need to turn off the main water shutoff valve.
2. Clear Debris and Remove the Bedding
Once the water is off, begin clearing the bed. If there is debris, such as plaster or drywall, use heavy-duty plastic bags to dispose of it. Then strip the bedding from the mattress. If possible, wash the bedding immediately to prevent mold. If you shut off all the water in the house, hang the bedding outside to dry until you can wash it.
3. Move the Mattress Outside
Drying a wet mattress can be messy, so move it outside where it won’t matter if areas get wet. If it’s raining, snowing, or extremely cold, you can use your garage or an unfinished basement with tile floor. Keep your wet mattress down flat, but prop it up above the ground to improve airflow around it.
4. Soak Up Excess Water
Press towels, sheets, or other fabric into the mattress to absorb as much water as possible. This will also help squeeze water out the bottom and sides too.
5. Suck Out Water with a Wet/Dry Vacuum
Use a wet/dry vacuum to suck water out of a wet mattress. Work in rows and make sure you get every inch of the mattress. This includes the top and bottom, as well as all the sides. Continue to vacuum the mattress until water is no longer coming out.
6. Dry It With Fans and Dehumidifiers
The next step in drying a wet mattress is to use fans and dehumidifiers to remove the remaining water. Make sure the mattress is still propped off the ground so that air can move through it. Use as many fans as possible and consider renting commercial fans and blowers from your local equipment rental supply store. It may take several hours or even days to dry a wet mattress. If your mattress unzips to provide access to the internal structure, remove the cover during drying. Wash the cover following the manufacturers’ instructions.
7. Allow Your Mattress to Dry in the Sun
Your mattress can hold on to a significant amount of moisture. Even after days of running fans, it can remain wet deep inside. Placing your mattress outside in the sun with help evaporate the remaining moisture. Keep it propped up off the ground and flip it regularly to decrease drying time. As an added benefit, it will also help remove musty odors too. You can dry a mattress in the sun regardless of the temperature. In fact, our mattress may actually dry faster when the air is cold and dry.
8. Disinfect Your Mattress with Alcohol
To disinfect your mattress after water damage, use a solution of equal parts sterile 70% isopropyl alcohol and water. Isopropyl alcohol is better known as rubbing alcohol and is available at most stores. For larger quantities, check hardware or janitorial supply stores. Mix the alcohol solution in a spray bottle and spray it evenly across the entire mattress. Make sure you get underneath rivets and in between seams. As an alternative to the spray bottle, you can soak a rag in the alcohol solution and wipe down the surface of the mattress.
9. Check For Odors and Watch for Signs of Mold
Once your mattress is completely dry, check for musty odors and discolorations that could indicate a mold problem. If it doesn’t smell or look right, it’s safest to dispose of it. If it passes the smell test, continue to check it regularly for signs of mold. Remember to strip off the bedding and flip the mattress regularly to look for stains or discolorations that could indicate mold grow deep inside.
Deal With Wet Box Springs
If your mattress is wet, chances are your box springs are wet too. The process for drying a wet box spring is very similar to drying a wet mattress. Thankfully, the box spring is often much easier to dry. However, the box spring contains wood which can rot if not dried completely.
While you are focusing on drying your mattress, allow a wet box spring to air dry in the sunlight. Once you are done using the fans and dehumidifiers on your mattress, turn them on your box springs. Allow them to run longer than you think is necessary to ensure the wood is completely dry. As with your mattress, spray the box spring down with a solution of equal parts isopropyl alcohol and water.
Call for Water Damage Restoration Services
While you might be able to dry a wet mattress, you may still have other water damage issues. As the largest network of restoration contractors, Restoration Local will connect you with a water damage restoration company in your area to extract water and make repairs.
Find a local water damage company or call 1-888-443-3110 now to talk with our on-call emergency restoration contractor. When you call our on-call emergency line, we’ll connect you with a verified, licensed water damage company in your area. Our on-call companies will always provide 24-hour emergency services, 30-minute response time, and a free estimate on water damage services.