Yellow Mattress Stains: The Ultimate 2020 Guide

Yellow Mattress Stains: The Ultimate 2020 Guide

yellow mattress stains

So I took off my cover for washing the other day and noticed numerous small and large yellow mattress stains and wanted to learn more about how they got there and what I could do about it.

After committing to some research, I found that there isn’t reason to be alarmed. In most cases, yellow mattress stains can be a normal form of wear-and-tear. They are specifically called protein stains and are caused by our bodies. Protein stains consist of bodily fluids including sweat, drool, oil, urine, blood, vomit, breast milk, and other more exciting stains that result from intercourse.

In this article we are focusing on where yellow mattress stains come from, how to remove yellow mattress stains, and how to prevent them in the future.

Where Do yellow Mattress Stains Come From

Sweat, Drool, and Oil

Sweat and drool are the primary cause of mattress stains. When our bodies enter the REM or Rapid Eye Movement cycle we no longer regulate body temperature. This means that your sleep temperature equals the sum of your body temperature, room temperature, and mattress temperature.

Therefore things like your nighttime routine, sleep apparel, mattress, sheets, geographical location, and heating and cooling all factor into your body temperature. If things are set just right, chances are you find yourself sleeping too hot or too cold but most people have more trouble staying cool.

As a result, your body produces sweat to cool you off and that sweat seeps into your mattress causing yellow discoloration.

Drool can also have a similar effect on your mattress, assuming that it bypasses the pillow, but if you sleep with pets, there may be no pillow to prevent this.

Excess body oil in the form of sebum is less abundant than sweat or drool but will still leave stains over time. Sebum comes from the sebaceous glands and it keeps skin healthy by lubricating and preventing infection. Your pillow and sheets will absorb the bulk of this oil but if your sheets and pillow case aren’t changed often enough, the remainder will make it to your mattress.

Urine and Water

Bedwetting also known as enuresis is most commonly found in children and even higher in children with ADHD. It is also common in women during pregnancy and even in normal adults caused by other etiologic factors.

Surprisingly, urine isn’t at the top of our list of reasons for yellow mattress stains.

Although bedwetting is less likely to occur than your body’s natural byproducts, it is more serious depending on the volume of liquid released from the bladder. 

While sweat, drool, and oil needs to be cleaned occasionally, nocturnal accidents should be cleaned immediately. It is much better to protect your mattress from absorbing urine then it is to clean after each accident. The process is time consuming and will take a full day to clean properly.

Avoid other large spills such as from drinking water in bed or even sleeping with wet hair. Although these spills have less odor, they can damage your mattress over time by attracting mold, mildew, and dust mites.

Breast milk

Breast milk may not be as common as other sweat or urine but can lead to serious stains and some odor. Many breastfeeding moms can attest to the struggle of feeding their babies throughout the night. They can also relate to waking up to a soaked bed where the baby was feeding. 

The let-down reflex is what allows milk to be released and can easily trigger during normal sleep, sometimes outside of regular feedings. When a mother is relaxed, warm, or applies pressure to the breast accidentally or intentionally, it creates an opportunity for the let-down reflex to activate. It is also triggered anytime the mother sees, hears, or thinks about the baby. 

Needless to say, breastfeeding moms should take extra precaution to protect their mattresses. If you have a breastfeeding partner, remember to thank them for going the extra mile. My wife breast feeds and it is a lot of extra work.


The last and least common but infinitely more interesting way of staining your bed. I won’t get into the nitty and gritty but know that there are additional colors coming from these stains. Yellow mattress stains from sex are often white or clear at first and change over time. It is best to prevent these stains from reaching your mattress by using a special pair of sheets for those magic moments.

How To Remove Yellow Mattress Stains

Routine Cleaning

Yellow Mattress Stain Removal Infographic


  • Vacuum; Use A Clean, Upholstery Attachment
  • 2 Cloths 
  • Small Bowl
  • Fine Mesh Strainer
  • Baking Soda
  • Essential Oil
  • Fan

Step By Step Guide

STEP 0 – Remove mattress accessories and bedding

STEP 1 – Vacuum top mattress

STEP 2 – Add baking soda to strainer as needed, optional add 5 drops of essential oil (use lavender if you can’t make up your mind), then sift over the top of your mattress 

STEP 3 – WAIT 30 minutes

STEP 4 – Repeat STEP 1 

STEP 5 – Fill small bowl with cool water and add one of the cloths

STEP 6 – Keep dry cloth handy

STEP 7 – Using a pressing motion rather than a circular one, blot up stains with your cool, wet cloth

STEP 8 – Remove excess moisture with your dry cloth

STEP 9 – Allow mattress to dry completely before use; fans will speed up the process

STEP 10 – Add mattress accessories and bedding

STEP 11 – Enjoy! 

Fresh Stains


  • Water
  • Baking Soda
  • Salt
  • Hand Vac or Brush
  • Cool, Damp Cloth
  • Fan

Step By Step Guide

STEP 0 – Remove mattress accessories and bedding

STEP 1 – Create your DIY cleaning paste using 1-part Water, 1-part Baking Soda, and 1-part Salt; use between 1 Tablespoon to ¼ Cup of each depending on the size of your stain or spill

STEP 2 – Rub the mixture onto the mattress using just enough to cover the affected area

STEP 3 – WAIT 30 minutes 

STEP 4 – Brush off or vacuum the residual paste

STEP 5 – Use cool water on a damp cloth to remove any excess

STEP 6 – Allow mattress to dry completely before use; fans will speed up the process 

STEP 7 – Add mattress accessories and bedding

STEP 8 – Enjoy!

Tough Stains


  • Cool, Damp Cloth 
  • Toothbrush
  • Small Bowls
    • For mixing your DIY cleaning solution
    • For holding damp cloth
  • Spray Bottle 
  • Funnel
  • Wet/Dry Vac (For Deeper Extraction And Reduced Dry Time) 
  • Fan (To Speed Up Drying Process)

Step By Step Guide

STEP 0 – Pick up where STEP 9 left off from “Routine Cleaning” or STEP 6 from “New Stains”

STEP 1 – Create your hardcore DIY solution by adding 2-parts hydrogen peroxide and 1-part dish soap to a small bowl then mix

STEP 2 – Add solution to a spray bottle using a funnel to keep things tidy, or a small bowl if unavailable

STEP 3 – Apply to affected area conservatively then gently brush with your toothbrush either circular or back and forth

STEP 4 – WAIT 5 minutes 

STEP 5 – Wipe up with a cool, damp cloth

STEP 6 – Repeat as necessary

STEP 7 – For deeper extraction use wet/dry vac on affected area

STEP 8 – Allow mattress to dry completely before use; fans will speed up the process

STEP 9 – Add mattress accessories and bedding

STEP 10 – Enjoy!

Preventing Yellow Mattress Stains

Use Protection

The most important thing to remember is that taking simple steps for prevention will add life to your mattress, reduce possible health risks, and save you time in the long run. 

Investing in a pad, topper, or cover will lower the chance of staining your mattress and make it easier to wash and maintain regularly. Protectors are often recommended by mattress manufacturers because stains usually void warranties so it is best to prevent this from happening.

Turn and/or flip your mattress every 3 months for even wear, if your mattress calls for it. This is especially important if you sleep with others of varying size and shape because it is guaranteed to wear faster in certain areas depending on the relationship between bed and body type. Low density foam paired with a heavy sleeper is destined for trouble.

Avoid Doing These Things!

  • Having water or other liquids on or around your mattress. This becomes especially important with memory foam because it cannot handle liquids at all. They become trapped in the cellular structure of the foam and have nowhere to go. This can kill your mattress and result in an unwanted and organic nightmare as things begin to grow.
  • Getting your memory foam wet. Be extra cautious when spot cleaning with liquid solutions and blot like crazy! You will definitely want extra fans to assist in drying the foam as quickly as possible. Supplement with a wet/dry vac to extract as much moisture as possible.
  • Sleeping on a damp or wet mattress or even damp or wet sheets. This will create a breeding ground for germs, bacteria, and dust mites.
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