Mould is very insidious and spreads quickly. Mould spores are in the air all the time, and they will thrive and grow on warm damp surfaces. By the time you can actually see visible evidence of mould on a mattress (pink or black spots or stains) it can already be a very entrenched problem.
In Singapore, mould is the single most prevalent problem in indoor air quality1, due to the warm humid climate. Even if you keep the cleanest possible household, you can still get mould. This is because mould spores require humidity and warmth to thrive, and this is simply unavoidable in Singapore. Mould can become a big problem in the case of mattresses, where there is perspiration causing extra moisture.
Another complication is that the surface of your mattress is not something you see on a daily basis, since it is usually covered by sheets. It's only when you are changing the sheets and laundering them that you will notice the surface of your mattress. So a mould problem may lie undetected for several days at a time before it is first noticed.
The good news is that is quite possible to remove mould from a mattress, although it involves some work.
Step by step mould removal from your mattress:
Here is a straightforward step by step guide for how to remove mould from a mattress2,3:
- Vacuum both sides of the mattress. Immediately afterward, clean out your vacuum cleaner's dust catcher thoroughly to avoid spreading mould spores.
- Mix equal amounts of rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) and warm water in a disposable container. Dip a cloth into it, wring it out, and use this wet cloth to scrub the mouldy area of the mattress. Use a circular motion when scrubbing, and go well beyond the area of visible mould.
- Rinse this area with a cloth wrung out in warm water. Be careful - you do not want to have the cloth too wet that you are adding too much extra moisture to your mattress, or you will only encourage more mould.
- Sparingly and evenly spray on a disinfectant suitable for upholstery usage. Do this over the surface of the mattress.
- Then take your mattress outside into direct sunshine. This will dry out your mattress while inhibiting more mould from growing during this process (sunlight is harmful to the growth of mould).
Ways to prevent mould from recurring in your mattress:
As we saw above, it is a lot of work to remove mould from a mattress, but it has to be done otherwise it will only spread further. Therefore, after removing mould from your mattress you should immediately take steps to prevent this problem from recurring. Here are some different ways to deal with this problem4,5:
- Use a dehumidifier in the bedroom. Mould thrives in the damp, so use a dehumidifier to keep the humidity level to a much lower amount.
- Use an air purifier in your bedroom. Air purifiers help circulate and filter the air. When you use the appropriate type, an air purifier can remove mould spores from the air. Although this will not kill existing mould on surfaces, it will help decrease the level of airborne mould spores in your bedroom. This will thereby help prevent future mould outbreaks on your mattress.
- Let the air circulate even if you are going to be away. All too often, people tend to turn their air conditioners, fans or air purifiers off while they are away from their home. In Singapore, this is a big mistake because the conditions then become ideal for mould to grow again. Expatriates in particular tend to make this mistake as they can be unfamiliar with the climate, and/or are traveling frequently. Leave your air conditioner or air circulating device on, with time-controlled switch or plug, while you are away, if you can do so safely.
- Keep good airflow on the underside of the mattress. To help prevent mould, air has to circulate properly on both sides of the mattress - not just one side. Therefore, invest in a slatted bed base. Because the slats are spaced out, the air will flow freely on the underside of the mattress, unlike standard flat top bases. You can find a good quality sprung slatted bed base at European Bedding Singapore. The technology is very advanced and the level of springiness can be adjusted for your comfort, making for a wonderfully relaxing experience. The high quality beech wood lends a tone of natural elegance and luxury to your bedroom.
- Get a mould resistant mattress. A latex mattress is naturally resistant to mould, as it does not provide a suitable surface for them to live upon. This way, you will not need to go through all the cleaning steps listed in the first part of this article. Latex mattresses are also known to feel amazingly good to sleep on because they promote proper spinal alignment, so you'll benefit in more than one way when you get a latex mattress. The latex mattresses sold at European Bedding Singapore all come with aluxuriously comfortable all-around cover that can be removed and cleaned, as an extra layer of hygiene.
If you have visible signs of mould on your mattress then you need to take the above steps to clean it. This is hard work, but must be done. To prevent future recurrence, make changes to your indoor airflow and air quality described above.
Or, as a much easier solution, purchase a new latex mattress and slatted bed base. Latex is naturally mould resistant, and very comfortable for your body as recommended by osteopaths and chiropractors. This way, you won't have to deal with mould on your mattress again. This could be a great excuse for you to invest in a new luxurious latex mattress!
1. The Straits Times "Clearing the Air on Mould Woes" in Spring Singapore, December 2011.
2. "How to Clean a Mattress" in WikiHow.
3. Jennifer Pinto "How to Kill Mildew on a Mattress" in SFGate Home Guides.
4. Patrice Lesco "How to Remove Mould from a Mattress" in eHow.
5. "How to Prevent Mattress Mould" in Randominator, March 2013.