After paying for a complete inspection and mold remediation treatment of your home, the last thing you want to find is fresh growth of a new infestation. Yet the idea of getting rid of a mattress you've spent hundreds or thousands of dollars on is often what causes this very scenario to take place. Determine if your mattress is hosting mold and what to do if you discover a problem.
Understanding the Problem
All mattresses are almost equally likely to harbor a hidden mold colony, regardless of whether they're made from all natural latex foam or traditional spring and padding constructions. Coil spring mattresses feature an inner cavity that has extra space for mold growth, but many types of household mold also penetrate foam with ease thanks to the tiny openings in the material. Some companies market their mattresses as being mold resistant, but these claims are often incorrect and based on no testing at all.
It's not because any of these mattress materials are a food source or attractive to mold on their own. Instead, mold loves living in mattresses because of what you contribute to the environment every time you sleep. Sweat, skin cells, and other organic material create the mix of food and moisture needed for mold growth, and you'll find the blotches of spore development nearly anywhere these conditions combine.
Finding Hidden Mold
Mold prefers to hide deep inside a mattress, so it's often overlooked during a thorough mold remediation attempt. It only takes a very small colony growing inside a wall or in furniture like mattresses to spread mold back through the rest of the house. Even if you spend hours attempting to clean the mattress from top to bottom, it's likely that you'll miss at least a little mold and end up with a larger infestation unless you're willing to dispose of the mattress.
Looking for Signs of Mildew
A mattress can harbor mildew and mold with no visible symptoms to give away the hidden problem. If you've already identified an existing mold problem elsewhere in the house, there's a good chance your mattress is compromised as well. Detectable and clear signs of mold include
- A musty or moldy odor
- Discoloration in splotches and circles, especially on the bottom of the mattress
- A fuzzy or spongy appearance to the surface
- Allergy symptoms like itchy eyes and congestion that worsen when you lay down.
Cleaning the Mattress
Since it's entirely possible for a mattress to grow mold within the first month or two of ownership, many people are understandably anxious about trying to salvage a moldy mattress. However, trying to save money on the purchase of a replacement mattress could cost you far more in serious health conditions later. Long-term and close-up exposure to mold for eight hours every night could lead to cancer and life-threatening cases of pneumonia. Even if you think the mold is limited to the surface, it's very difficult to remove every last trace from a porous surface like a mattress.
Testing for Mold
If you absolutely want to save the mattress, have it professionally cleaned by a company certified in mold remediation. Follow this up with testing every few months for the first year to ensure that no more mold is returning. Have the testing done professionally too because home mold tests aren't sensitive enough to use on an item of furniture. This kind of thorough cleaning and testing is absolutely necessary to prevent lingering mold from spreading back out into the rest of the house again. Weigh the costs of professional cleaning and the potential cost of full mold remediation against the price of a new mattress before choosing to keep one that has been exposed to mold.
If you suspect your mattress is moldy, click for more information about mold remediation.