RV Mattress Mold Prevention Tips

RV and camper owners, let’s be honest. When is the last time you looked under your bed? More specifically, under your mattress?  If you’ve not done so lately, there just may be monsters lurking under your bed! But not the kind your 4 year old is frantic about. What we’re referring to is mold growing on your mattress! And with that, grows concern for your health!

So, let’s jump right in to learn how you can prevent mold from growing on your mattress in your motorhome or camper and mitigate any mold growth that’s already occurring.

How to Prevent Mold from Growing on Mattress - Always On Liberty

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How to Prevent MOLD from Growing on Your Mattress in Your RV

RV Mattress Mold

Mattress mold is a common problem in RVs, campers, and even camper vans. Moldy mattresses are disgustingly gross and unsanitary. More so, black mold, especially where you sleep, is extremely toxic and unhealthy to you, your family and pets. But, how can you protect your bedding in your motorhome or camper from potential mold growth? And, can or even should you salvage a moldy mattress? 

Why is mold growing under your RV mattress?

According to Mold Remediation,

“An ideal temperature for mold growth is between 77-80° Fahrenheit, especially when there is a lot of humidity in the air. Temperatures have to rise above one hundred degrees or below freezing to effectively kill mold spores.”

As we discussed in a previous article, How to Stop Condensation in Your RV, mold and mildew occurs when moisture is trapped in dark places where there’s little to no ventilation or air movement.

That’s why RVs are prime targets for mold growth because there is little air exchange in places like corners in your closet, behind cabinets and of course, under your mattress.

Your RV bedroom is even more susceptible to mold because when you sleep, your body heat increases the temperature of the mattress. At the same time, your body emits moisture through breathing and perspiration.

And where does that moisture go? Yep, you guessed it. All that warm moisture radiates all the way through your mattress!

Another explanation of why mattresses mold in RVs and campers is misunderstood. In a nutshell, if the surface your RV mattress sets on is colder than the mattress itself, the temperature difference will cause condensation to form.  

And since that condensation is trapped and can’t evaporate, it will lead to mold or mildew buildup on or inside your mattress.

What does mattress mold look like?

What mattress mold looks like

On a visual note, Black mold is just as it implies. Toxic mold appears as round black, dark brown or dark green spots. And, it can have a furry appearance.  Sometimes, it may present flecks of orange, yellow or white in it. 

Another huge tell-tale sign is if you and/or your travel companions experience sneezing, coughing, throat or lung irritation after prolonged exposure to black mold spores.

Be aware that people who are at higher risk, like infants or family members with existing respiratory issues, could experience long-term health consequences.

If you ignore these indications, you increase toxicity by exposing yourself and your companions.

Now, if you see any kind of mold growing on your mattress, do not touch it or disturb it with your bare hands. But we’ll get to that later in this article.

Why is mattress mold so dangerous?

Sick in Bed from mattress mold

As one who suffers health issues originating from toxic mold poisoning, I’m living proof of why you need to take mold very seriously.

There are over 100 varying symptoms that occur when humans and even your pets are exposed to mold. Just to name a few:

      • Migraines
      • Severe headaches
      • Dizziness
      • Fatigue
      • Burning and/or watery eyes
      • Head and chest congestion
      • Rashes
      • Respiratory issues
      • Lung damage
      • Anaphylaxis
      • Fibromyalgia
      • Sleep apnea
      • Kidney and bladder dysfunction
      • Neuroinflammation and neuropathy
      • Bowel dysfunction

So, these are reasons enough to keep an eye on and under your mattress. If you, your family members and even your pets show symptoms of toxic mold poisoning, get to the doctor asap!

Can you remove mold from your RV mattress yourself?

While I’m not a professional mold mitigation specialist, I can tell you what doesn’t work to remove mold from any surface. Many believe you can remove mold by using simple antibacterial household cleaners.

However, those cleaners do not have mold inhibitors that actually kill and remove the mold.

Others believe using chlorine bleach will get rid of mold. In all actuality, using bleach on any mold releases mycotoxins which is like a gas that hovers and keeps you sick.

Besides, bleach only kills surface mold, not the membrane underneath. According to ServiceMaster, “That means the mold will grow back. In fact, recognizing the bleach as a ‘threat,’ the mold will grow back even stronger.” 

As many have sought into seeing of vinegar will kill mold, according to Family Handyman,

“Vinegar truly is better than bleach at killing mold. The EPA does not recommend using bleach to kill or remove mold, except in special circumstances. In most cases, “a background level of mold spores will remain” after the application of bleach.”

High-proof vodka or Everclear may be more beneficial to clean your moldy mattress (or any surface).

Also, therapeutic tea tree oil (Melaleuca Alterniforia) is a great natural mold inhibitor out there. It smells very strong. But I must be forthright in warning you to never use tea tree oil around cats and dogs!

You must air out your home and make sure they do not have contact with it. Please understand though, I am absolutely not advocating killing mold with those methods. While it works, it still leaves mycotoxins.

Removal by killing it is the best way to solve a mold issue. Even baby wipes to wipe it off followed by cleaning with tea tree then a preventive layer. It lasts as a preventive for a minimum of a year.

How to tell if mold is growing on your mattress?

Cats on Bed in RV - Always On Liberty
Photo by Always On Liberty©

Without even lifting your mattress, you may suspect presence of mold through its’ distinct mildew odor.

The smell of mold is unpleasant and rather foul. The pungent odor grows stronger over time as the mold starts to spread and sporulate. 

Have you ever had the pleasure of smelling days old wet socks or decaying wood? Those are similar to what mold smells like. Most describe mildew odor as earthy, musty, and stale.

If you can smell mold, it means the mold is already  airborne and you and your family, including your pets, are being exposed to toxic mold.

Mold spores can attach to any surface it lands on; from walls, carpets, countertops, pillows and your bedding. It can even hitchhike on your clothing.

But even if you can’t smell it, doesn’t mean mold isn’t present. It may be that the mold infestation has just started.

Mold Prevention and Mold Removal Products for Mattresses and Upholstery

There are commercial mold prevention and mold removal products out on the market that may work on mattresses as well as your bed platform and headboard.

Best Mold Preventative

Mold Armor Rapid Clean Remediation for mattress mold

Mold Armor Rapid Clean Remediation


Inhibits the growth of new spores on a wide range of solid surfaces   in and out of your RV.



Best Natural Mold Inhibitor


Benefect Botanical Decon 30 Disinfectant Cleaner - Mattress Cleaner

Benefect Botanical Decon 30 Disinfectant Cleaner

Natural mold inhibitor products that avoids chemicals that can cause irritation and require ventilation by picking a plant-based mold remover, like this Thymol formula.


Best for Wood Bed Platforms and Headboards

Wet and Forget Mold and Mildew Stain Remover for Mattresses

Wet and Forget Mold and Mildew Stain Remover 


Penetrates wood surfaces to kill mold and mildew, without requiring any scrubbing or rinsing after application


Best for Mattress and Fabric Covered Padded Headboards

Concrobium Mold Control Aerosol for Mattress Mold

Concrobium Mold Control Aerosol

The mist of this mold remover allows you to evenly cover soft surfaces without the worry of damaging fabrics with bleach products.


Best Overall

RMR Brands RMR-141 Disinfectant for mattresses

RMR Brands RMR-141 Disinfectant


Works on nearly any surface, including wood, fiberglass, concrete, and tile.


Can you still use a mattress that had mold on it?

Is your mattress that had mold on it still salvageable? Well, the answer is yes and no.

Not seeing the level of mold on your mattress, it would difficult to answer that question. If you were to ask me personally if I would salvage my own mattress that has mold on it, I would first measure the degree of mold infestation.

Just something to keep in mind, is your mattress worth more than your health? We get it, mattresses aren’t cheap these days as they can cost upwards to the mid thousands of dollars.

However, if you feel like you want to try to salvage your mattress that may have mold on it, that’s entirely up to you. You can try any of the mold removers or inhibitors listed above.

Important steps when dealing with mold mitigation:

      1. Always wear proper PPE (personal protective equipment).
      2. Ventilate the room properly.
      3. Minimize spread of the mold spores by closing off the room in which your mattress is located.
      4. Make certain your pets and children are removed or kept far away from mold mitigation.

If your moldy mattress has more mold on it than you want to contend with, then it’s time to discard it. However, you need to take extreme caution when doing so.

Disposing of a moldy mattress safely and properly requires a level of care and responsibility.

Something to think about, just setting out a mattress that may look fine will present health problems for someone else who may pick it up.

If you just set it out to the trash, waste management employees will be exposed to handling it. It’s a good idea to spray paint TOXIC MOLD in big letters on both sides of the mattress so they are aware. 

And to help prevent others from picking it up and using it for themselves, take a sharp knife and try to shred the mattress surface without disturbing the mold.

How can you prevent from mold from growing on your mattress in the future?

There are a few things you can do to prevent mattress mold and the bedding platform your mattress rests on. And this applies to not only RVs, campers and boats, but also your home as well.

These mold prevention tips can help mitigate mattress mildew from even starting or taking foothold.

Insulate your RV better

Insulating the exterior of your RV slideouts with foam insulation board (I recommend 1″ thick) sealed with HVAC tape can help.

And especially if your RV is parked in humid or rainy locations, insulating the belly of your travel trailer and fifth wheel may also create a moisture barrier. This helps prevent excessive moisture from the ground being absorbed up into your RV.

If your RV is parked permanently at a site, you may want to consider covering the ground under your RV. A heavy duty ground tarp laid out like a carpet under your RV may help by preventing moisture from evaporating up into your RV.

Also, using Reflectix over your windows provides an additional insulation barrier.

Protect the bed platform under your mattress

While you don’t have to do this, we found that protecting our fifth wheel’s bed platform helped mitigate and eliminate the chance of moisture intrusion from the wood platform itself.

Doing so, we stood our mattress up to expose the platform. Then, Dan installed cheap peel-n-stick vinyl floor square tiles onto the top of the wood bed platform; just the same technique as if he were tiling a floor.

This creates an added layer of insulation. Plus, it also added a moisture barrier between the mattress and the wood bed platform. While you don’t have to do this, we found at least our wood platform top didn’t mold or stain from moisture.

Run your AC

Believe it or not, your RV air conditioner removes moisture from your RV’s interior. You can see by the water dripping from your roof occasionally. By running your AC, you’re helping to eliminate unnecessary humidity from the air which helps to prevent mold growth.

Dehumidify your bedroom

The best way to prevent mattress mold growth on your bed and anywhere else in your RV is to ensure the humidity is at a healthy level.

One of which is to regulate the humidity by using a small dehumidifier. In fact, get two; one to keep in your bedroom at all times (and run it!) and one for your main living area.

Dehumidifiers are a necessity in RVs because they remove unnecessary humidity from your bedroom.

When we had our much larger fifth wheel, we kept a small portable dehumidifier running anytime we were plugged into an electric pedestal. And, we kept our closet doors open to allow ventilation.

Just make sure the humidity level in your RV stays below 50%. A good way to monitor the moisture in your RV is through a wifi-connected humidity monitor also known as a hydrometer.

✰ READ MORE   Best RV Dehumidifiers for Motorhomes and Campers (apartments, home offices and tiny homes too!)

Put a waterproof mattress protector on your mattress

Mattress Encasement Protector

Mattress protectors aren’t just for bed wetters or accidental spills from morning coffees or late night cocktails.

In fact, anytime we’ve purchased a new mattress, we’ve always put on a waterproof encasement-type mattress protector before making it up with our favorite linens. A simple mattress protector will help keep the moisture away from the mattress itself.

But hypothetically you notice mold growing on the mattress cover. You’ll need to gently and carefully (with mask, gloves and eye protection) remove the mattress protection cover; trying not to disturb or stir up the mold spores.

Then, wrap it up with the mold inside and then place in a plastic bag, secure it tightly and discard in the trash. I highly recommend tagging it with a visible note “mold enclosed” so waste management employees knows what to do with it.

Air out your mattress

One thing you should do is periodically air out your mattress. By doing airing out your mattress, you’re allowing air to circulate completely around the mattress.

Simply strip off all bedding and stand your mattress up that both sides are exposed to the air. Running a dehumidifier in the bedroom will double the moisture mitigation.

If your mattress can be removed easily from your RV and you have a clean place to set it out in the bright sunshine, that can actually help your mattress. 

According to Blackmon Mooring and BMS Cat,

Ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun kills most mold and spores, which is why you don’t see it growing outside in the open. Those are the ones that need to be kept dry and free from mold food sources more than areas that get natural sunlight.”

Insert silica gel packets

Place several silica gel packets between your mattress and the bed platform your mattress rests on; about a foot apart.

Also known as Desiccant or desi packs absorb moisture which will help prevent mold from growing on your mattress and the platform it sits on.

Don’t forget to place a few where your mattress meets the headboard and in corners where mold can spontaneously grow.

That said, this method isn’t a set it and forget it. It’s wise to lift your mattress each time you change your bed linens to inspect the platform and mattress. Also, you’ll need to replace your desi packs.

The cool thing is these particular silica gel packets that we use are reusable.

So, while you are changing your linens out, take your RV mattress off the platform, take up the desi packs and microwave them for seven minutes to reactivate them.

Then, place them back on the bed platform and put your mattress back. They typically can be reused about ten or more times. 

As we have first hand account of using these dehumidifying packets, they are well worth the money than replacing your mattress or worse, getting sick from the mold.

Mattress Moisture Barrier Solutions

RV mattress on slat platform to prevent mold

As I was researching to write this article, I found a plethora of ways RVers can prevent mattress mold by either building topical platforms or simple cheap alternatives.

Some of these multipurpose items may help prevent moisture from getting between the mattress and bed platform.

Wood Slat Bed Platform

Slat Bed Platform for RV to prevent mattress mold
Photo courtesy of Todd Dupree, Builder (found in Facebook Group RV Full-time RV Living

If you have a saw, drill, wood screws and enough 1″ x 2″ wood slats, you can manufacture your own wood slat mattress platform that provides ventilation under your mattress.

However, as of late, wood may be a bit more expensive. So, if you’re on a budget, this may not be the most economical solution mattress mold prevention. But, hindsight being 20/20, ‘buy once, cry once’.

Pre-Constructed Slat Platform

Mattress Slat PlatformIf you’d rather not mess with building your own, this pre-constructed  wooden slat platform provides an excellent surface foundation for any platform beds, bunks and daybeds.

It adds support to any mattress type and will keep mattress stay in good shape thus extending the life of your mattress.

These wooden slats, made out of black spruce wood, are linked to prevent movement during use and they effortlessly extend your mattress’s life span and prevent sagging.

Hypervent Aire-Flow™ Mattress Moisture Barrier

The first mold prevention is an actual moisture barrier made specifically for mattresses. Sold by the linear foot, Mattress Insider’s Hypervent Aire-Flow is designed to prevent moisture build-up underneath mattresses, bunk pads, and cushions.

It provides unobstructed airflow by elevating the mattress off the sleeping surface. When the mattress is elevated, warm air is able to circulate under the mattress which minimizes conditions necessary for condensation. 

If condensation does occur, the Hypervent Aire-Flow material allows that moisture to evaporate.

Simply place the cellulose looking material underneath your mattress or cushions to minimize moisture buildup.

Check out their video to show how it works in your RV and mattress:

Floor tile mats

Floor Tile Mats to help prevent mattress mold

Another clever method to preventing mattress mold us to install modular interlocking floor tile mats on top of their mattress bed platform before setting their mattress on top.

They come in different colors. And, by looking at the prices, they are much cheaper than wood and take less time and tools to install.

Landscaping paver grids

If you’re in really humid locations prone to mold growth, you’ll want to install a moisture barrier between your mattress and platform.

These allow air to circulate under the mattress; thus not allowing mold to find it’s way to even start growing.

Paver grids are great for placing between your mattress and your bed platform. While they’re really made for landscaping, you could essentially use them to provide a little breathing room between your RV’s mattress and the platform it rests on.

The grids come in different sizes. So, you’ll have to measure your mattress to ensure it fits properly. They connect to each other to create one complete system.

Pool noodles or pipe insulation

Pool noodles

Inserting pool noodles (with holes through the middle) or pipe insulation tubes along the edges of mattresses vertically keeps your mattress from touching the camper walls.

Also, laying  pool noodles or pipe insulation tubes between your mattress and platform surface will help to keep your mattress and surface dry.

Simply slice each pool noodle in half lengthwise and lay each half ‘flat side down’ about 4″ apart. Gently place your mattress on top. Once you’re happy with your mattress placement, go ahead and make your bed.

✰ READ MORE  Check out our Pool Noodle Camping Hacks for RVs and Campers

Den Dry Mattress Underlayment

Camper and RV beds can trap a significant amount of moisture underneath the mattress. Thus, a well ventilated underlay is necessary.

The cool thing about this anti-mold remedy is the Den Dry mattress underlayment is not pre-cut. They left the custom sizing and shaping to the mattress owner as most RVs have uniquely shaped and sized beds.

You can alter the mattress underlayment according to your need with ease and precision with just a pair of sturdy industrial grade scissors.

The mattress moisture barrier underlayment comes in three sizes: king, queen/full, and twin XL. Your RV mattress does not have to sit directly on the bed.

Instead, the spun polyethylene elevates the surface and provides much-needed air circulation.

Should you leave your mattress in your RV during storage?

RV Bunkhouse with mattresses

Almost wrapping up our article here, another question we get asked is “what if I have to store my RV with my mattress in it?”

Even when you put your RV into storage, your mattress can still become the ultimate breeding zone for mold spores to multiply and literally take over.

When your motorhome or camper is stored, moisture can get trapped inside the RV. Thus, helping to feed the mold growth.

Humid storage facilities or being parked even under a warm cover or tarp act like incubators which contributes to mold  growth and mildew.

This is why you should protect your mattress or remove your mattress entirely even when you’re not using your RV.


Choosing the right campground is important. It can be the difference between an RV trip and a great RV trip. RV LIFE Campgrounds is the most trusted source of campground information in the industry. Millions of RVers use and trust Campground Reviews, which also provides the vast resources available in RV LIFE Pro, the best tool for planning and navigating your RV trips.

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Final thoughts on preventing mattress mold

RV bed Mattress with Kitten

Recreational Vehicles pose atmospheric challenges that most homes don’t endure. Because of that, especially in humid climates, you need to pay attention to condensation and moisture buildup in your RV. Not only will mold damage your RV but will pose serious health consequences.

I hope this information helps to keep you, your family and your pets safe and healthy while enjoying your RV adventures.

This includes getting a restful nights sleep without worrying about getting sick down the road.

More great reads

Bunk Bed Ladder Padding Ideas – How to Make Bunk Ladders Safer

How to Stop Condensation in Your RV

RV Air Conditioner Cleaning and Maintenance

RV Air Conditioner Vents and Filters Maintenance

Hepa Filter Air Purifiers – Product Review


Choosing the right campground is important. It can be the difference between an RV trip and a great RV trip. RV LIFE Campgrounds is the most trusted source of campground information in the industry. Millions of RVers use and trust Campground Reviews, which also provides the vast resources available in RV LIFE Pro, the best tool for planning and navigating your RV trips.

Learn more by signing up for the FREE 7-Day Trial.

RV LIFE RV Trip Wizard RV Trip Planner Banner Ad

How to Prevent Mattress Mold in RV - Always On Liberty

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