Why are people spraying alcohol on their beds and is it safe for your mattress?

Image shows black mold on a white mattress being cleaned with alcohol, brushes and sponges
(Image credit: Getty Images)

When it comes to cleaning your mattress, there are plenty of ‘experts’ shouting their cleaning hacks from all corners of the internet. If you’ve watched an online tutorial where someone has cleaned their mattress with alcohol, you might be wondering if you can do the same. Well, the answer isn't entirely straightforward. 

Whether you should clean your mattress with alcohol largely depends on the material of your mattress, the type of alcohol you’re using, plus the cleaning method you’re following. This is especially important if you have invested in the the best mattress for your sleep and body, which can be a significant cost so you need to look after it.

Here, we’ll walk you through how to establish whether it’s safe or not to use alcohol to clean your mattress, plus we'll provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to do it safely. If after reading this you decide that your mattress is beyond cleaning, the forthcoming Memorial Day mattress sales are a good time to buy a new bed for less.

The 3 key benefits of spraying alcohol on your bed during cleaning

Keeping your mattress clean can have a positive effect on your sleep quality and your health. And whilst there are a plethora of products on the shelves that can help you clean your mattress, rubbing alcohol is an incredibly effective disinfectant 

Rubbing alcohol is different from what you’ll find in your liquor cabinet. Alcohol like vodka contains ethanol and that’s intended for human consumption, whereas rubbing alcohol contains isopropanol which shouldn’t be consumed. 

A person wearing pink disposable gloves cleans yellow stains from a white pillow

(Image credit: Getty Images)

There are three key benefits to spraying your mattress with alcohol when cleaning it. Alcohol works as a disinfectant and works to kill bacteria and viruses on the surface of your mattress. It also can help fight against stains as rubbing alcohol will help to dissolve them, making them easier to remove. 

Rubbing alcohol can also help to neutralize odors. This is because alcohol evaporates quickly so it’s ideal to use if you want to spot clean an area where perhaps there’s a strong smell of body odor or urine.

Worried about bed bug? Whilst alcohol isn’t the solution for an infestation, the strong odor could help deter them from entering your mattress. The main benefits of cleaning your mattress with alcohol are:

  • It's a good disinfectant
  • Alcohol evaporates quickly
  • It eliminate odors

When you shouldn’t spray alcohol on your bed

Whilst you may know the benefits of using alcohol as a cleaning solution, it doesn’t mean that it’s suitable for all occasions. One of the main things to think about before you use alcohol to clean your mattress is the type of material your mattress is made from. 

Memory foam and latex, which are some of the most common mattresses on the market are particularly sensitive to harsh chemicals like alcohol. If you use it on a mattress made from these materials then overtime the mattress will breakdown these materials cause the mattress to break down and eventually come apart. 

Image shows a person wearing blue disposable cleaning gloves scrubbing black mold off a white mattress

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Also, whilst alcohol can help with new stains, it’s not effective against set-in stains and for jobs that require deep cleaning. Alcohol could even make these stains worse. If you’re looking to remove stains and freshen your mattress then an alternative and more natural solution is to use baking soda. Baking soda will break down acids and absorb moisture and odors for a fresher feeling sleep surface. 

You also need good ventilation if you’re going to clean your mattress with alcohol. Rubbing alcohol fumes are super strong and can be irritating. If your bedroom doesn’t have proper ventilation then it could be potentially harmful to breathe in. 

Proceed with caution when using rubbing alcohol to clean your mattress if:

  • Your mattress is made from memory foam or latex
  • You don’t have proper ventilation in your room
  • You have stubborn, ground-in stains or odors 

How to clean your mattress with alcohol: A step by step guide

Before you undertake any cleaning routine with your mattress it’s really important to check the care instructions. Every mattress manufacturer has different advice on how best to care for your mattress and doing something they don’t recommend could void your warranty so it’s always best to double check. 

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Rubbing alcohol (at least 70% concentration)
  • Spray bottle
  • Clean white cloth or sponge
  • Vacuum cleaner with upholstery attachment
  • Baking soda 

Step 1. Do a patch test

Before applying alcohol to your mattress, perform a patch test in a small area to make sure that it doesn't damage or discolor the fabric. 

Step 2. Prepare your area

Open all windows and doors to get some good air circulation around the area. Rubbing alcohol can be strong and you should avoid breathing in the fumes. It’s also advisable to wear gloves whilst working with it, especially if you have sensitive skin. 

Step 3. Vacuum the mattress

Woman wearing beige shorts vacuuming her white mattress to get rid of bed bugs

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Once you’ve removed all the bedding from the mattress then take the upholstery attachment on your vacuum cleaner and thoroughly vacuum the entire surface of your mattress. Make sure that you go right in to  the seams and corners to help get rid of all the dirt and debris on the surface. 

Step 4. Fill your spray bottle

Use a rubbing alcohol of at least 70% concentration. It’s best to add this to a spray bottle so that it’s easier to apply. You should never saturate your mattress so using a spray bottle means that you can just apply a light mist rather than over-saturating. 

Step 5. Blot the area

Using a clean cloth gently blot the area that has been sprayed applying gentle pressure. Do this until your cloth comes back dry. 

Step 6. Leave to air dry

Let the mattress completely air dry before putting the bedding back on. This could take a couple of hours depending on your environment so when you decide to do this, make sure you set aside plenty of time. 

It’s really important not to put your bedding back on whilst the area is still damp, this can lead to musty smells and the growth of mold on your mattress. Do not under any circumstance apply any heat to your bed after spraying alcohol on the surface. Not only can the heat damage your mattress but it also becomes a fire hazard due to the flammable nature of the alcohol. 

Step 7. Sprinkle some baking soda 

A spoonful of baking soda next to a spilled jar and a cork lid

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

This is optional but if your mattress has lingering odors or deep set in stains, it’s a good idea to sprinkle baking soda over the surface of the mattress and leave for at least two hours, ideally longer and the longer it’s on, the more it gets to work. 

Step 8. Vacuum again

Once your mattress is dry and your baking soda has been left for the amount of time you desire, it’s time to vacuum your mattress again. Make sure you get deep in to the areas and don’t leave any baking soda behind as it will absorb moisture and you don’t want it to absorb any body oils or sweat when you sleep. 

Step 9. Replace your bedding

Once you’ve dried and vacuumed your mattress and made sure it’s fully dry, it’s time to replace your bedding. It’s not recommended that you use alcohol on your bedding, instead, place your sheets on a hot wash (after checking care instructions) to kill any bacteria or dust mites that may be present. 

Rachael Penn

Rachael is a freelance journalist based in South Wales who writes about lifestyle, travel, home and technology. She also reviews a variety of products for various publications including Tom’s Guide, CreativeBloq, IdealHome and Woman&Home. When she’s not writing and reviewing products she can be found walking her Sealyham and West Highland terrier dogs or catching up on some cringe-worthy reality tv.