Cotton mattresses may be very thin mattresses you use in an RV or cabin bed. Or you may have a thin cotton mattress because you don’t need much padding and support, just something softer than sleeping on the floor. In some cases, the cotton mattress has suffered the same stains as other mattresses, whether due to sweat, blood, urine or spilled drinks.
If you’re dealing with a mix of solids and liquids like vomit or poop, first use paper towels to remove the solid mess before you deal with the liquid mess. This minimizes how much of it can be smeared or pressed into the mattress. Next, blot the affected area to absorb as much of the mess as possible. Biological matter is heavy in protein, and that’s hard to break up without leaving a stain.
If you have it, spray pet stain remover on the stain, even if it was a child or spouse or threw up or pooped in bed. The next best solution is meat tenderizer, since this helps break up the proteins. Note that this can be used on blood stains, as well.
If you are dealing with urine, drink or sweat stains or you’ve already applied cleaner to break up the proteins, you’ll want to use another cleaner on the mattress. One common homemade cleaner is made by mixing one tablespoon of dye-free liquid soap with two table spoons of hydrogen peroxide and a dash of salt.
A similar mix that’s more effective with urine uses hydrogen peroxide and dye-free detergent with two table spoons of baking soda. Mix until you get suds, and then apply that to the stain. Hydrogen peroxide can cause color to leak from a rag to the mattress, so only use a white rag with this cleaning mixture.
Pick up some clean towels and get them damp enough to be able to press moisture into the stained area, diluting the cleaning solution and stain. Then use clean towels or a dry sponge to absorb that mixture out of the mattress.
What if you have a cotton mattress thin enough to throw in the washing machine? You’ll still want to spot treat the stains as we described above before throwing it in the clothes washer. The next step here would be putting the mattress in the washer while making sure the weight is evenly distributed and every surface could be reached by the flowing water. Add plenty of soap.
If you’re dealing with a bad urine stain, you could add a partial cup of household ammonia, as long as it is dye-free. Set the washing machine to a gentle cycle and let it run. If the stains are bad, go ahead and set the washer for a second rinse.
If possible, put the cotton mattress in the dryer on a gentle cycle as well. If you’re afraid the batting will come out, then you’ll need to put the mattress on a clothes line or lay it out on a floor with fans blowing over it to dry it. Don’t cover the mattress in sheets or a mattress protector before it is completely dry, or you’ll be dealing with mildew smells next.