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How to get rid of a musty odour in a bed

According to research by Discover Magazine, you'll spend more than 6 years of your life dreaming by the time you die. A musty and smelly bed can prevent you from enjoying your dreams. If caused by mildew, a musty smell can even result in respiratory problems. Take steps to clean and freshen your bed's upholstery and mattress to get rid of the musty odour and enjoy hours of blissful dreams.

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  1. Wash your blankets, sheets, pillow cases, pillows and other upholstery on the bed. Dust, dead skin cells, body oil and other debris can collect within the fibres of the upholstery and create a bad smell. Dry the upholstery thoroughly to remove moisture -- another common cause of musty odours.

  2. Clean the outside of the mattress; most musty bed smells come from the mattress. Spray with a citrus-based spray cleaner, which cuts through built-up dirt and grime while also neutralising smells. Wipe down thoroughly with a rag or paper towels.

  3. Dust the outside of the mattress with a layer of baking soda, which will help dry the surface fibres while also absorbing odours, quickly freshening the mattress. Let the baking soda sit on the mattress for 30 minutes. Vacuum the powder away using a standard vacuum cleaner.

  4. Place the mattress in the sun for 6 to 8 hours. Ultraviolet rays have a natural sterilising effect. The sun will also dry out the mattress. Moisture sometimes lurks deep within the mattress, and a prolonged session of sunshine can help dry out the mattress's core.

  5. Remove mildew, the most common source of musty smells. Use a commercial mildewcide, available in the household department of most general retailers. Follow the product's specific guidelines for cleaning, as chemical potency varies by manufacturer.

  6. Tip

    Run a dehumidifier in the bedroom. The appliance will dry out the air and ensure the dryness of the bed. This prevents mildew, dries out and kills existing mildew spores and helps ensure a fresh-smelling bed.


    Mattresses heavily covered in mildew may be impossible to clean because the mould spores have penetrated the entire bed. Discard such mattresses for safety reasons.

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Things You'll Need

  • Citrus-based cleaner spray
  • Rag
  • Baking soda
  • Vacuum
  • Mildewcide
  • Dehumidifier (optional)

About the Author

Joshua Duvauchelle is a certified personal trainer and health journalist, relationships expert and gardening specialist. His articles and advice have appeared in dozens of magazines, including exercise workouts in Shape, relationship guides for Alive and lifestyle tips for Lifehacker. In his spare time, he enjoys yoga and urban patio gardening.

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