4 Disasters in Bed and How to Avoid Them

When you pay good money for a new mattress, you usually expect it to last for several years. Sometimes though, common mattresses or bed disasters can make a good bed go bad. Here’s an overview of some common “bedpocalypse” scenarios, how to manage them, and how to prevent them from happening in the first place.

Bedwetting & Spills
Perhaps the most common bed disaster scenario is bedwetting. While this issue tends to be most associated with young children, incontinence can strike almost anyone at some point with causes as varied as alcohol, aging and certain medications. Pets have also been known to turn a nice bed into a bathroom. Handled improperly, urine can ruin a good mattress with odor and unsanitary conditions. These tips also generally apply to other spills, though pure water typically just needs to be towelled and left to fully air dry.

The most obvious and inescapable answer to this issue is using a waterproof mattress protector from the get-go, especially on kids’ beds. In addition to protecting against liquids, many also help reduce allergens and keep the underlying mattress in better condition longer. But, if the worst-case scenario has already happened and you are now trying to clean up the aftermath, here’s what you need to know:

Immediately strip all linens off the bed, and start using absorbent towels to soak up liquid. Use gentle pressure, so as to not force the liquid further into the bed, and continue the process until no more liquid comes out. Have someone get all affected linens in the washer and wash on high heat to sanitize (or do this after the initial mattress cleaning steps – mattress is usually priority here).

If your mattress came with cleaning instructions (often in warranty papers or on the tag) then follow their directions.

If you cannot locate manufacturer cleaning directions, here are general guidelines to follow:

  • Once all liquid is soaked up, add a couple drops of soap or generous pour of peroxide to a dish of water, and begin blotting the area with a towel wetted in the solution. Continue until all noticeable traces of urine are gone. Try not to oversaturate the mattress.
  • Again, blot the area with clean, dry towels to soak up as much liquid as possible.
  • Sprinkle a thick layer of cornstarch and/or baking soda over the affected area and allow this to sit overnight. The cornstarch helps absorb moisture and the soda helps absorb any odor. Vacuum it in the morning and spot clean if needed.
  • After cleaning, you’ll want to ensure the bed is allowed to dry out fully to avoid mold, which may take 1-2 days. Use fans or open a window to help aid the process.

Bed Bugs
Bed bugs are a growing concern in the U.S., as many cities are experience high levels of infestations. So how do you keep these creepy crawlies from invading your bed? Number one: thoroughly check out mattresses and linens for signs of bed bugs whenever staying away from home – it doesn’t matter if you are at the Trump or your Uncle Bob’s. Avoid placing suitcases on the floor and bed in hotels, instead place bags on wood furniture or luggage easels. Same goes when buying a new mattress – thoroughly inspect the new purchase before bringing it inside. And, never buy used furniture, especially mattresses, as you never what they are harboring.

If you fear you have been in an environment with bed bugs, here’s what you can do to reduce your chances:

  • Unpack luggage and bags outside and immediately transport clothing to the washer and dryer (via sealed trashbags so nothing jumps ship). Place luggage and unwashables in garbage bags and seal them off, leaving closed for a minimum of 2-4 weeks to kill any living critters. Try to leave outdoors if at all possible during this period.
  • Discard or immediately wash on highest heat any bed linens, stuffed animals or pillows you had with you. If possible, disrobe on non-carpeted surfaces so you can spot any bed bugs, and place clothing in plastic bags until they reach the washer.

If you already have bedbugs, yikes! Here’s what you can do:

  • Call a professional exterminator. There are both chemical and non-chemical treatment solutions available. Some homes may require multiple rounds of treatment especially in multi-family complexes.
  • Replace mattresses and bedding after your home is clear. Alternately, invest in top quality tempurpedic mattress and high quality foundation encasements, which completely seal the bed to prevent anything from leaving or entering.
  • Move and leave everything behind for the new bed bug tenants.

Mattress fires are a very real concern, though recent laws requiring anti-flammability measures have reduced the risk (the added chemicals have created new ones, too, but that’s another story).

Nevertheless, a mattress fire is a very serious and dangerous disaster scenario. The number one way to prevent this from happening is to never have fire near your bed. Cigarettes are a prime culprit here, so NEVER ever smoke in bed no matter what – this can’t be stressed enough. Keep candles, lighters and matches at safe distance as well. Overheating gadgets in bed should be taken care of too.

Candles should not be on nightstands or within proximity of limbs or linens, and should always be extinguished before sleeping. Don’t leave electronics on your bed while sleeping or out of the room, retire old electric blankets, and make sure all electrical cords are in good condition. Once lit, linens and mattresses tend to ignite a room fairly quickly, so your best solution at that point is swift evacuation and calling emergency services.

Water Mattress Punctures
To minimize risk of puncture with waterbed mattresses, keep shoes, pets, scissors, pens, and other shop objects off the bed. Using mattress pads or enclosed soft-sided mattresses also help reduce risk of accidental puncture. Minimize damage risk by always using a waterproof liner between the mattress and frame. When buying a waterbed mattress, make sure the vinyl is at least 20mil and look for T- or overcut seams. Always keep a patch kit on hand and in an easy to find location.

Usually small punctures (less than 1/2-inch) are relatively safe and easy to fix. Here’s what you can do:

  • Get off the mattress to reduce pressure and strip all the bedding. Small punctures don’t necessitate draining the bed.
  • If the patch kit has a file or scuffer, lightly scuff the vinyl near the puncture to help the patch adhere. Many patch kits recommend cleaning the area with alcohol to remove any traces of oils.
  • Dry the vinyl near the puncture with a towel.
  • Surround the area with adhesive, and place the vinyl patch over the area. Kepp pressure on the patch for about 10 minutes, and allow the patch sufficient to time to set before getting back on the bed (kit should have a timeframe).
  • Make sure all water the leaked on the sides or top of the bed is dried to prevent mold.

For punctures larger that 1/2”, on the bottom of the bed, or corner/seam splits:

  • Immediately get off the bed and remove bedding.
  • All of these issues necessitate draining the mattress, so begin using a hose or fill-drain kit to remove remaining water from the bed.
  • Remove the bladder from the liner and thoroughly dry the liner and frame before replacing.
  • If the side/bottom puncture is small, proceed with the patch kit the refill.
  • If the puncture is large or on a corner or seam:
  • Bed under warranty: contact the manufacturer for instructions on repair/replacement.
  • Not under warranty: contact a professional repair service, or replace mattress (especially if older than 10 years).
  • If water made it to your carpet, place fans near the area to help airflow and use a wet-vac to remove as much water as possible. If the amount of water was significant, you may need call a professional restoration company to avoid mold or floor damage.

So, you are now prepared to manage the 4 biggest mattress disasters. What have we learned? Prevention is key – yes, obvious and redundant. Use mattress protectors, know how to spot bed bugs, keep electrical items and open flames away from beds, and use waterbed liners. If you have any other mattress disaster tips, let us know!

This content is strategized by Kim Tyrone Agapito of One Mall Group, for AmeriSleep, provider of top quality memory foam mattresses.