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How To Remove Sweat Stains From A Mattress


Written by Daniella

Last Updated: 1st January, 2022

Why We Sweat

Sweating is the natural way in which the body cools itself down✓. When the bodies core temperature starts to rise, our brain (a structure called the hypothalamus) tells our sweat glands to produce sweat. Sweat then needs to evaporate off the body - and this requires energy. This energy is heat, and our bodies use our excess heat to convert the droplets of sweat into water vapour which results in us cooling down. Sweating, therefore, plays a vital role in thermoregulation.

Why We Sweat

Did you know?
On a humid day, the air is full of moisture, and sweat has difficulty evaporating into the air and sits on our skin✓. As a result, the body continues trying to cool itself, producing more sweat, resulting in that hot and sticky feeling.

Sweat Glands Explained

We have three different types of sweat glands, namely eccrine, apocrine, and apoeccrine✓. The differences between eccrine and apocrine sweat glands are tabulated below - apoeccrine sweat glands share properties with both.

Did you know?
A person can secrete up to 4 litres of eccrine sweat✓ in an hour.

CharacteristicEccrine sweat glandsApocrine sweat glands
Structure☐ Small glands with ducts that open directly to the skin surface○ Larger glands that secrete sweat into the canal of the hair follicle
Distribution☐ Distributed across nearly the entire body surface (highest density on the palms and soles✓)○ Located primarily in the armpits, face, scalp, and groin (areas abundant in hair follicles)
Quantity☐ Most numerous○ Fewer in number
Function☐ Several roles including thermoregulation○ Unclear, however no significant role in thermoregulation
Sweat composition☐ Mainly water that contains electrolytes○ Thicker, lipid-rich sweat, which is also comprised of proteins, sugars, and ammonia
Sweat volume☐ Highest volume○ Smaller volume
Activation☐ Functional at 2-3 years of age○ Activated during puberty

Interesting to know...
There are several theories as to why humans have apocrine glands (some studies✓ suggest they were necessary during hunter-gatherer times); however, they are known to be responsible for scent production and important in sexual attraction✓in other mammals.

Night Sweating

There are many different reasons people may wake up hot and sweaty during the night. Causes of 'night sweats'✓ may include menopause symptoms ('hot flushes'), anxiety, medicines, low blood sugar, alcohol or drug use, or hyperhidrosis (a harmless condition where you sweat a lot). Many people tend to be 'hot sleepers' without underlying pathologies or apparent reasons. The causes of night sweats in some individuals are unexplained. Some people find bedding products catered specifically to hot sleepers, like cooling mattresses, cooling mattress toppers, or cooling pillows, offer some relief.

Night Sweating

However, it is not only 'hot sleepers', people with underlying pathologies or those individuals taking certain medications who may experience sweating at night. There may be nights when the room or our sleepwear is just too warm or when we are not well and have a fever. Ultimately, we are all likely to sweat at night for one reason or another, at some point, and sweaty bedding is the inevitable result.

Strange fact!
Eccrine chromhidrosis✓ is a rare condition where a person secretes coloured sweat - this can be caused by a number of things including colouring or flavouring agents in food.

Sweat Stains And Cleaning Agents Explained

There are several reasons why your mattress may have stains, one of which is sweat. Over time, together with your natural body oils (and possibly any products you've used on your skin), sweat can leave a yellowish colour on your mattress, as well as your pillows.

Unlike clothing and linen, mattresses can be tricky to clean as it's not possible to soak a mattress or put it in the washing machine. In addition, unlike many other stains, sweat stains won't usually show up immediately - they take time to accumulate, so unless you are stripping your bed down to the mattress regularly, you may not notice them for a long time. Nevertheless, it's important to know what to use to clean them and always good to know why!

Sweat Stains And Cleaning Agents Explained

Sweat on its own is a protein-based stain (like blood, urine and dairy products), and an enzymatic stain remover (a product containing certain enzymes) would generally do the trick. Some laundry detergents have protease and lipase enzymes which break down proteins and fats, respectively. Worth noting, however, that although enzymatic cleaning agents get rid of stains and odours, they don't kill bacteria and viruses.

Sweat stains on mattresses can be a little more complicated than regular stains as the stain can be a combination of sweat, natural body oils, skin products, and the reaction of these things to the mattress fabric itself. And different stains require different stain removers.

For this reason, a combination of several products is usually recommended to get the best results - especially if the stains are old. The good news is that some of these products are usual household products that you may already have at home.

For example, vinegar✓ is often mentioned for mattress sweat stain removal. Although vinegar is not an enzymatic stain remover, it is a very efficient stain remover due to its acidic properties. Vinegar can break down the stain, deodorise the fabric, and disinfect against some household pathogens.

Like vinegar, hydrogen peroxide✓ is also not an enzymatic cleaner; however, it is an oxidiser that can break down other compounds, a mild antiseptic, and is often listed as a sweat-stain removing agent.

Bicarbonate of soda (also referred to as 'bicarb') is also a commonly seen ingredient in mattress cleaning concoctions. It is a base (alkaline) and dissolves organic compounds. It is also a natural deodoriser because it naturally absorbs moisture and, in turn, odour-causing particles (like bacteria).

Good to know!
'Bicarbonate of soda' and 'baking soda' are the same thing - 'bicarbonate of soda' is the term used in the UK and 'baking soda' in the US.

How To Remove Sweat Stains On A Mattress

Below are a few methods to remove sweat stains from your mattress. Bear in mind that a combination of agents will most likely be needed for the most effective clean - however this may also depend on the type of mattress fabric, size and age of the stain.

How to remove sweat stains on a mattress

Bicarbonate Of Soda

  1. Strip the mattress and vacuum thoroughly.
  2. Generously sprinkle bicarbonate of soda over stained areas.
  3. Gently rub in the baking soda with a bristle brush.
  4. Leave for 15 minutes.
  5. Vacuum up all the bicarbonate of soda.


  1. Mix 2 cups of warm water and 1/4 cup of vinegar in a spray bottle/bowl and shake/mix well.
  2. Spray over the stained areas.
  3. Leave for 30 minutes.
  4. Wash away with your regular laundry detergent and let dry.

Laundry Detergent

  1. Mix 3 tablespoons of dry laundry detergent with 1 tablespoon of water.
  2. Mix together to create a foam.
  3. Gently spread the mixture onto the entire stain.
  4. Leave it to sit for 30 minutes.
  5. Scrape away the dried solution with a spoon.
  6. Vacuum the treated area thoroughly.

Lemon Juice

  1. Make a paste of lemon juice and salt.
  2. Apply the mixture to the entire stain.
  3. Let it stand for 30-60 minutes.
  4. Wipe off the salt with a clean towel and let dry.

Hydrogen Peroxide

  1. Prepare a mixture of hydrogen peroxide, liquid dish soap, and bicarbonate of soda in a spray bottle.
  2. Treat the stained area genorously.
  3. Blot and/or rub with a clean rag.

Sweat stains can be stubborn, and you may need to repeat the process a few times to see the desired result. Also, always thoroughly dry out the areas cleaned before using the mattress again - mould and bacteria thrive in moist conditions. Lastly, be sure to consult with mattress cleaning instructions before you attempt any cleaning.

How To Avoid Sweat Stains On Your Mattress

The following tips may be useful as to how you can keep your mattress sweat stain-free:

  1. Use a mattress protector.
  2. Use fitted sheets or the correct sized normal sheets.
  3. Wash your bedding regularly.
  4. Wear fresh, clean sleepwear.
  5. Try not to overdo it with products like oils and creams on your skin or hair.
  6. Air your mattress regularly.
  7. Flip your mattress regularly, if possible.
  8. Use the bicarbonate of soda treatment (described above) every so often.

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