What Causes Yellow Stains on a Mattress?

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Your mattress has a very important role to play in getting a good night’s sleep. In fact, it’s very hard to get the restorative sleep you need without a good one. You kind of really like yours, it’s comfortable and supportive and you spent quite a lot of money on it. But when changing the mattress cover you got a nasty surprise. Your mattress is stained. But how, what causes yellow stains on a mattress? (Eww)

The unfortunate fact is those yellow stains on your mattress can be caused by a number of things. Any mattress takes a lot of punishment. It’s likely to be exposed to (sorry to be a little gross for a moment) lots of sweat, droll, oils from your skin, grime, dead skin and even the residue of body care products like moisturizers and serums.  Any one of these can cause yellow staining on your mattress – even the expensive ones – over time.

Discoloration on a mattress is bound to happen eventually since you spend a third of your life sleeping on it. In this article we’ll answer some related questions and offer tips and tricks to get rid of yellow stains on your mattress.

Why Do Mattresses Turn Yellow?

We just explained what causes those nasty stains, but why yellow specifically? Why does your pristine white mattress eventually take on that rather unpleasant hue?

The yellow stains are the result of oxidation. They are often worsened by the fact that your mattress is usually covered by sheets and comforters (and maybe even a mattress pad) and never exposed to the sun. Over time, the materials used in your mattress – whatever they might be, memory foam, latex or a polyester fiber – will yellow as they mix with all those bodily fluids and grime. Nasty but true.

Why is My Mattress Pad Yellow?

Your mattress pad turns yellow due to sweat. This combined with the oils or lotions on your skin is what causes the off-white and slightly yellow stains on your mattress pad.

The stains are nothing to be alarmed about, since all mattress pads are prone to it. Most mattress pads (except memory foam) are machine-washable, so to prevent stains, it’s best to wash your mattress pad periodically and to change your bedding regularly.

How to Get Rid of Yellow Stains on Mattress Protector?

So, you have a mattress protector. Good call. But it has yellow stains too. Obviously, for it to do its job (protect your actual mattress from yellow staining) it makes sense that it would. But can you get rid of the stains in between washes or does it have to be thrown away and replaced?

There are indeed several ways to remove yellow stains on mattress protectors, but one of the most effective – and affordable – you can buy is a product like Resolve.

Resolve Multi-Fabric Cleaner and Upholstery Stain Remover

Resolve 22 fl oz Multi-Fabric Cleaner and Upholstery Stain Remover

Its formulated using safe, but effective ingredients, sprays on seconds and can then be blotted away with just a damp cloth after a 15 minute ‘soak period’. It’s safe for use on almost any mattress protector or mattress pad and even better can be used to remove nasty stains from your carpet, couch and drapes as well, making it a must-have for any cleaning supplies closet!

Buy now: Resolve Multi-Fabric Cleaner and Upholstery Stain Remover, $3.94, Amazon

What Is the Best Mattress Stain Remover?

If you want to remove yellow stains from your mattress itself but want something that is not only very effective but quick and easy to use as well, then we suggest buying yourself a bottle of Woolite INSTAclean Permanent Stain Remover.

Woolite INSTAclean Stain Remover, 1742

We like this product over some other for mattresses as it makes use of Woolite’s famed gentle cleaning power but can still power through stubborn nasty yellow staining.

To use it on your mattress as a spot cleaner – which is how it’s best used and the best way to keep yellow staining at bay in general, tackling each new one as they show up, – is easy. Simply spray it on the offending yellow stain, wait 30 minutes to an hour (or a little longer for really dark stains) and then blot it away with a damp cloth. It usually works very well and will not damage even the most delicate mattress materials, a big plus if you invested in a very expensive one.

Buy now: Woolite INSTAclean Permanent Stain Remover, $9.94, Amazon

How Do You Clean a Mattress with Oxiclean?

Lots of people now rely on Oxiclean (or a similar oxygen-based cleaning product) to get all kinds of things cleaner, from washing sheets, to everyday laundry to even their dinner dishes.

OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover Powder, 7.22 lbs

But can you use Oxiclean to get yellow stains out of a mattress, as it can’t be tossed in the washer or rinsed in the sink? You can if you choose the right Oxiclean product and a carpet and upholstery cleaning machine like the Bissel Spotclean Proheat.

BISSELL SpotClean ProHeat Portable Spot and Stain Carpet Cleaner, 2694, Blue

These small but powerful machines make use of effective Oxiclean stain removing liquid to remove stains gently but effectively from mattresses and as they are steam powered they can be used on a mattress without leaving it soaking wet for hours (which can lead to mold and mildew.)

Buy now: OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover Powder, $12.98, Amazon

Buy now: Bissel Spotclean Proheat, $119.99, Amazon

How to Remove Stains from Your Mattress with Baking Soda and Vinegar

So, you were having a midnight snack and you spilled your hot chocolate. It soaked through the sheets and now your mattress is stained. One quick and efficient way to get the stain out fast is to make use of a very simple solution of water, baking soda and vinegar, things that almost all of us have on hand.

Vinegar is a non-toxic, natural cleaning agent that’s also eco-friendly (safe for a cleaning a kid’s mattress). But vinegar won’t be enough to get rid of the stain on its own. It will help brighten colors but when used alongside baking soda, it becomes potent.

Here’s how it’s done:

Step 1

Mix together 1 cup of white vinegar (only white, other vinegars won’t work and may damage your mattress) and a half cup of baking soda in a clean bowl.

Step 2

You also want to add a cup of lukewarm water.

Step 3

Next, gently blot the stain with a clean white cloth. Don’t scrub at the stain as you’ll spread it further and may damage your mattress.

Step 4

Leave in place for ten to fifteen minutes

Step 5

Using a new, clean damp cloth blot the vinegar and baking soda mixture away and the stain should come off with it.

How to Remove Red Wine Stains from a Mattress

A nice glass of red wine before bed is an affordable, and some say even potentially good for you, treat that’s nice to indulge in once in a while (especially if you are planning a romantic evening). But red wines stains on a mattress after an accidental spill can be a very scary sight. Everyone knows that red wine produces a very tough stain, so is there even a chance you’ll get it out?

You could try the baking soda and white vinegar trick, but sometimes the tannins in red wine – the things that make red wine stains so hard to shift – are too strong even for that. Another effective option is to make use of a product like the Wine Away Red Wine Stain Remover.

Wine Away Wine Stain Remover

Wine Away Red Wine Stain Remover, 12– oz

There’s been quite a buzz around this product – it’s been featured on Rachel Ray’s show, the Today Show and in Food & Wine Magazine and Architectural Digest – but it does actually work very well on all kinds of upholstery, including mattresses. It contains no harsh chemicals or bleaches, so won’t damage the mattress material, and after spraying it on the red wine stain you should be able to blot it away in an hour or so with a damp cloth and never be able to tell the accident happened.

Buy now: Wine Away Wine Stain Remover, $9.23, Amazon

How Often Should a Mattress Be Replaced?

Nothing lasts forever, and that’s true of even the most expensive mattress. Even if you take great care of your mattress, use a mattress protector and keep those yellow stains at bay using one of the methods we have covered here experts say that to keep getting that good night’s sleep you need – and properly supporting your body as you do – you should plan on replacing even a high-quality mattress every 8-10 years and every 6-8 years for a less expensive model.

This is one of the reasons that the same experts advise spending a little more on a mattress when you initially buy it. A higher quality mattress may involve a larger initial spend, but as they offer years more extra usefulness the return on your investment is likely to make it pretty easy to justify.

Here are other tell-tale signs it’s time to replace your mattress:

  • It’s 7-10 years old
  • There is sagging
  • You’re waking up with back pain
  • Little to no firm support
  • Allergies are worsening during the night
  • Need more weight support

Final Wrap On Stain Care

The lifespan of your mattress depends largely on its usage and care. Dealing with stains when they occur is paramount to both eliminating the stain but also to your health. Washing your sheets regularly, using a mattress protective cover and dealing with stains as they happen is key to prevent yellow stains on your mattress.

Now that you know what causes yellow stains on your mattress, and the best ways to get rid of them, as well as some other pesky stains our job here is done, and all that’s left for us to do today is wish you a good night’s sleep on a nice, clean, stain free mattress!

For more related bedding care tips and cleaning hacks, see:

How Often Should You Wash Your Bedding (Sheets, Pillows, Comforters & Quilts)

10 Ways To Get Blood Out of Sheets

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