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How to Clean a Mattress After Bedwetting

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Last Updated: 11/09/20
Read Time: 3.5 minutes

If your child had a bedwetting incident that left their mattress wet, you probably took the first step after getting them cleaned up: pulling the sheets off and tossing them in the washing machine (or setting them aside for a trip to the laundromat). Now you’re probably wondering how to clean urine from a mattress effectively. Read on for some tips on cleaning up urine stains and smells — and some ideas for keeping your child’s mattress dry next time.

Before you start cleaning, it’s important to understand just what bedwetting means. It’s actually a medical condition called nocturnal enuresis. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are no definitive causes, but factors including a hormone imbalance, a small bladder or the ability to recognize a full bladder may play a role.

Bedwetting is much more common than most people think. In fact, more than 1 in 4 kids age 4-6 experience nocturnal enuresis. For children ages 4–12, the occurrence is about 1 in 6. That’s important information for any parent with a child who wets the bed to know for one big reason: It can help them understand that bedwetting isn’t their child’s fault.

If your child is experiencing regular bedwetting, be sure to check with their healthcare provider. The condition can last a while, and sometimes medical issues can be the cause. And whatever the reason, know that your child isn’t wetting the bed on purpose — and they are probably as frustrated as you are. So, let them know you aren’t upset or disappointed even if you must clean their mattress.

Know How to Clean Urine from a Mattress

OK, now that you know lots of love and patience are key to getting through these tough nights together, it’s time to get that mattress cleaned up. While urine is about 95% water, that remaining portion is urea — a waste made in the liver. It adds a yellow color and an odor.

Here’s a simple process for how to clean a mattress after bedwetting and how to remove urine odor from a mattress. These three steps make it easy with everyday household ingredients:

  1. Blot the urine spot. Using a dry towel, press down repeatedly to soak up the urine. Be sure you blot instead of wiping. Wiping will just push the urine deeper into the mattress — and that will make clean up a lot tougher. Some people who have a wet/dry vacuum use it to suck out the moisture as well.
  2. Mix up a simple cleaning solution. You can skip the fancy cleaning products and find what you need right in your kitchen: white vinegar and warm water. Mix it up 50/50 and use a spray bottle to apply it to your mattress. Then blot the mattress again with a towel. You might have to repeat this process for a bigger (or smellier!) spot. Of course, vinegar has a strong smell too, so opening a window or turning on a ceiling fan can be a smart idea.
  3. Neutralize the urine smell. Once you’ve cleaned up the spot, sprinkle on some baking soda. Leave it there overnight as the mattress finishes drying (the longer the better – aim for about 10 hours!). Then, vacuum the baking soda up the next day. This should eliminate any urine smell from your child’s mattress. If you can still smell the urea after one treatment, repeat the process.

While some people may try using a scented product, keep in mind that perfumes only cover up the urine smell for a short time. They won’t make it go away. So, while the recommended cleaning process takes some time, following the above steps is a better solution for getting rid of a pee smell.

Learn How to Clean a Serious Stain

If you must clean a urine stain on a mattress — one that has been there for a while — try a different cleaning solution. Mix up 8 oz. hydrogen peroxide, 3 T baking soda, and 2-3 drops of dishwashing liquid (the kind for your sink, not a dishwasher). Use a spray bottle to apply a generous amount to the stain, and then wait until the mixture dries. You’ll see the baking soda dried on top when it’s ready. Then simply vacuum it off.

Plan Ahead: Protect a Mattress from Bedwetting

Mattress all clean? High five! You’re great at this parenting stuff. Now, after you relax for a bit (or get back to sleep if this was a nighttime clean up!), consider these tools that can help keep your child’s mattress dry next time:

  • GoodNites® nighttime underwear. Designed for nighttime, these youth pants can make your child feel more secure and make clean up much easier for you. They also offer odor absorbency for more discretion than regular training pants.
  • Waterproof mattress pads. Often backed with vinyl, waterproof mattress mats are designed to absorb moisture, so your child’s mattress won’t get wet. They can be washed after use and reused.
  • Disposable bed underpads. GoodNites® disposable bed mats are a great way to make clean up quick and easy in the morning — or in the middle of the night if your child wakes up wet. They are designed to absorb moisture and keep the mattress dry. Simply toss them in the trash after use.

While having your child wake up wet at night — or discovering a bedwetting incident before you’ve even finished your first cup of coffee — is never going to be pleasant, there are ways to make it easier. And with a quick trip to the store, you can reduce your chances of needing to clean the mattress next time your child wets the bed too.

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