All-Natural Mattress Cleaner – How to Clean Odors and Stains from Your Mattress

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If stains and odors are taking over the mattress in your child’s room, this simple method to remove those nasty urine odors and stains will quickly become your best friend. This is kind of a gross topic to discuss on the blog, but it’s a real life issue that we deal with on a weekly basis. When I talked about my son’s bedwetting issues last year, I had a lot of feedback from moms dealing with the same thing so I figured maybe you could use some cleaning tips like this as well. Follow these easy tips for how to clean your mattress with my easy, all-natural mattress cleaner.


I have broken this post up into a few pages to make is easier to read since there is a lot of text. Be sure to read my favorite comments and tips from readers at the end of this post. You won’t believe #5!

*DISCLAIMER – My son loves to help and asked to help with this cleaning project. Since the products I used are completely safe, I said yes. He loves to be my model! 🙂

How to Clean Odors and Stains from a Mattress (or carpet!)


My son has always had a nighttime issue with wetting the bed. Even as an infant/young toddler I would have to buy the Huggies extra absorbent nighttime diapers (the Pampers brand never worked as well for us), and at times he would even leak through those. I have spent more time cleaning his bedding then I care to count and even now at six years old, it’s still a very prominent issue.

How to Clean Urine Stains from a Mattress

His poor mattress is riddled with stains because he doesn’t always tell me that the sheets were wet, and by the evening, they are dry. Despite using mattress protectors, the urine would soak through even that. I would clean it as best I could but nothing worked. Febreze and other cleaners simply masked the urine odors, and some cleaning solutions that I’d found online would remove the odor but didn’t work well on the stains.

So I decided to create my own method with a mattress cleaner based on items in my pantry, and it’s been working great! This method of removing odors from your mattress is really simple and doesn’t require any fancy scented oils or kitchen utensils. I also like that the products I use aren’t harmful and my son can help with the clean-up.

Getting urine stains and smells out of a mattress


  • A roll of paper towels (or lots of rags that you don’t mind washing)
  • Baking Soda
  • Distilled White Vinegar
  • An empty spray bottle


  1. Saturate that mattress (or the stains at least) with vinegar. You can use a spray bottle or just gently drizzle it right on. (*note – I have only tried with a spray bottle. I don’t recommend the pouring method because it can over-saturate the mattress). Let the vinegar sit for 5-10 minutes. If you have a ceiling fan, turn it on, or run a stand alone fan if you can. At the very least open the windows. The increased air flow helps to speed up the process. (If the stain is brand new, and still wet, be sure to blot it as much as possible before using the vinegar – just don’t press into the mattress as it could send the liquid even deeper). I’ve seen a lot of methods that call for diluting the vinegar but that just didn’t seem to work as well. The straight vinegar is very strong and really helps to pull out that nasty urine odor.
  2. Using paper towels or rags, soak up the vinegar. Press several layers of paper towels into the mattress for this step.
  3. Sprinkle baking soda all over the mattress. You can get real fancy and use a sieve or a sifter for this step, but I don’t think it’s necessary. If there are a lot of clumps just break them up with your fingers. We’re going for simple and quick with this mattress cleaner. Let the baking soda sit for several hours. The longer the better, but I’ve gone from two to five hours and both times it worked perfectly. After a couple of hours, you’ll begin to see the baking soda caking as it soaks up the vinegar (and takes that nasty odor with it!).
  4. Vacuum up the baking soda from the mattress. Make sure to go over the crevices several times. It makes me kinda happy making those lines in the powder with the vacuum cleaner.

That’s it! If you have some really difficult stains, rub the vinegar into them with your fingers or even use an old toothbrush to really rub it in.

Cleaning Urine from a Mattress Step 1

Cleaning Urine from a Mattress Step 2

How to Clean Urine Stains from a Mattress Step 3

Cleaning Urine from a Mattress Step 4

As you can see the stains are pretty much gone. Simple and quick and no elbow grease required!

Now if I could just get him to make the bed…

Getting urine stains and smells out of a mattress Final


Click below to read our most frequently asked questions and some fabulous tips from readers!

Can I use other types of vinegar?

I recommend Distilled White Vinegar. I keep it on hand in the gallon bottles because it is amazing with so many different household cleaning tasks like this mattress cleaner, and it’s super cheap. Other vinegars are for cooking and are more expensive, and really just won’t work as well. However I did have a reader mention that she used apple cider vinegar and it worked great. The vinegar is just a strong acid that breaks down the odor causing proteins.

Why don’t you just use a waterproof mattress cover?

We do – I actually have 3 of THIS ONE. It works really well, except for that time you are so tired that you forget to put it on, or it rips and you didn’t know, or your son makes his own bed and forgets to put it on, or it slips off the corner because he thrashes around too much at night, or he just doesn’t like the sound/feel of it so he takes it off without telling you, or he wets more than once in a night and you don’t have a back-up, or sometimes, they just fail. It’s not for lack of trying, believe me. Sometimes these accidents just happen and are totally random and it’s always good to have a great mattress cleaner method ready to go.



Here are some tips from readers who have tried this method.

Set your mattress in the sun.

Jim says, “Vinegar and baking soda do an excellent job for cleaning a mattress. It has always worked for me. If there is too much odor, you may have to put the mattress out in the sun.” (editor’s note – this is great for freshening pillows, too!).

Works on pet stains and odors, too.

Hadley says, “This method works wonderfully on urine odor and stains from pets, too! Last weekend, my sister’s dog had an accident on the end of my bed, and there was a large, yellow urine stain. I was going to purchase some fancy expensive pet stain remover, but I found your web site, and read about your method, instead. Ingenious! I saturated the stain with distilled white vinegar, let it set for about ten minutes, blotted the vinegar with some paper towels, sprinkled a generous amount of baking soda on the stain. I let the baking soda sit for about three hours, and I literally just finished vacuuming the baking soda up, and the stain and smell is completely gone! Thank you so much for telling folks about this method! Your mattress cleaner saved me time and money!”

Bridget says, “I just had to tell you I wish I could give you the biggest hug! I have a tempurpedic mattress and my cat decided to pee on it! I almost had it out my door to throw away and I was so angry that I knew I would NEVER get that smell out! Yes it had ALL the appropriate waterproof covers too! Still soaked through! Well something told me google it before you throw it. I did and I saw this. Well I did it and oh my god! It worked!!! No smell at all!!!! Thank you!”

Add vinegar to really smelly laundry.

Cassie says, “Thank you! I am going to try this! Why didn’t I think of vinegar before? It’s the best to use on any odors, and I’ve even used to get odors out of clothes and bedding. I tried the baking soda [but] didn’t try vinegar! Genius – I will be doing this today. FYI, they do make vinegar for laundry [too].”

Worried about the strong smell of vinegar? Add scented oils.

Katie says, “I have found that adding a few drops of essential oil (lemon works well) to the vinegar in the spray bottle works wonders to mask the strong smell of the vinegar.”

Don’t have vinegar? Try…vodka?

Sheridan says, “I also have another remedy that is great for getting rid of smells… Vodka! I tried it once to get mildew smell out of a hat and have used it for smelly fabric issues ever since. Same principle, put it in a spray bottle, spray the fabric object down with it until it’s pretty moist to the touch, but for best results put it in a warm sunny spot to evaporate. You can’t really do that with a mattress but alcohol evaporates fairly quickly anyway, and using a fan helps. It doesn’t do much for stains, but works wonders on smells, including mildew!”

*Editor’s note: Basic rubbing alcohol would work the same way, similar to how hand sanitizer works.

Works on vomit, too.

Laura says, “I tried it today on vomit as my son got sick on my bed this morning. It worked great, and luckily there weren’t any stains. I also used a hot iron and damp cloth to get the stains up (to soak up the vinegar & stain), before the baking soda. It’s not great on the iron, but the stains come up so much easier. It’s the same trick used to get (pet) urine stains out of carpet.”

How to Clean Urine Stains from a Mattress

Before you go, check out these great recipes:

For a complete list of recipes on the site, go here.

Kristin Maxwell

Kristin Maxwell is the creator and main recipe developer, writer, and photographer of Yellow Bliss Road. A self-taught cook and self-appointed foodie, she specializes in easy, flavorful and approachable recipes for any home cook.

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  1. Would this work for carpet as well ? We have a one bathroom and if someone is in there my daughter doesn’t say anything and has twice now just went and peed in her room. I’ve cleaned it but I still smell it help me.

  2. Can I use this method on my couch? My puppy has had accidents on it and I cannot get the stains or smell to go away.

  3. I sprayed my mattress and put the baking soda on it yesterday but it’s still not dry. I don’t know what to do.

  4. I’ve left the baking soda for 4 hours now and as I was vacuuming the mattress still appears to be wet/ damp, what can I do to fix this ?

  5. Hello! Thanks for the step by step. I tried this method but the vinegar itself seems to leave a yellow stain… I know it’s the mixture because the more I try to cover those yellow lines with vinegar, the farther the line extends! Any tips?

    1. Unfortunately this method won’t remove every but of stain, but it does greatly reduce it. I don’t worry about it personally because I just cover the mattress anyway. I’m more concerned with the smell, and this method totally removes it.

  6. My son has really strong body odoour, I do this method with his bed and will put mattress out over night in really cold frost or if summer In the sun. both work miracles

  7. Kristin, my daughter had the same issue as your son. When she was 8 I took her to a urologist to chase it checked out. Her uretha tube was really small. It was stretched and clipped a bit. Just an overnight stay in hospital. She had a few accidents after that, but eventually it stopped.

  8. Thanks for the reassurance! Vinegar works well. I am thankful that it is so simple Going from project to project it easy to forget how I started this journey. I appreciate you and the article.

  9. I’ve tried this today on my mattress as my little ones have a had a few accidents in our bed and I just seem to get the smell out – followed all the steps and left all day but hoovered it up and got into bed and my bed smells terrible ! It’s like sitting in a pack of salt and vinegar crisps! What did I do wrong?!?

  10. hi, my son has saturated his mattress, the smell is coming through from the underside as well. Any ideas how to sort this? He has a wooden frame so seems to have soaked into the slants as well. He doesnt tell us he has done it even though I have always said I wouldnt be mad.

  11. help!! I tried this with apple cider vinegar as the post had mentioned it could be used as a substitute, but it’s left a huge yellow stain that I can’t get rid of, what can I do?

    1. Hi, I’m sorry you ended up with a stain. I mentioned in the post that a reader had tried it out and it worked for them, but it’s not something I recommended. I would try the distilled vinegar and baking soda method on the stain.

      1. I use peroxide on my mattress protector when my kiddo has an accident and it takes away yellowing and smell every time. Mine is white tho so maybe colour test a spot first if yours is not. I liberally put it on a cloth and wipe.

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