How to Get Rid of the Smell on a Futon

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Although a well-maintained futon can go years without problems, certain conditions can cause unpleasant odors. Over time, a buildup of dust and body oils can create a stale smell. This is particularly true if you don’t use a futon cover. Damp conditions and poor air circulation around the futon can lead to smelly mildew. If anyone smokes in the bedroom, the futon is likely to pick up the odor. Fortunately, a gentle cleaning can remove most of these smells.

Things You'll Need

  • Vacuum with hose and brush attachments
  • Baking soda
  • Upholstery shampoo
  • Upholstery brush
  • Denatured alcohol
  • White cloths

Hook up your vacuum cleaner’s hose attachment. Insert the brush attachment into the end of the hose attachment. Vacuum the futon’s surface, slowly going over one area at a time. This removes the majority of dust, hair and dander that may have accumulated on the futon.

Take the futon into the open air and shake it. One way is to hang it over a balcony rail and shake it as you would a rug. Alternatively, take it outdoors and, with one person holding each end, shake the futon. This helps loosen and remove remaining debris the vacuum didn’t pick up.

Remove mild smoke smell by sprinkling a generous amount of baking soda on the futon. Let this sit for 24 hours, and then vacuum it off. Turn the mattress over, and repeat the process on the other side. For strong smoke odors, clean the futon by brushing upholstery shampoo onto the surface with an upholstery brush according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Remove mildew smells and spots with denatured alcohol. Mix 1 cup denatured alcohol and 1 cup water. Dampen a white cloth in the mixture. Wipe the mildew spots just enough to dampen them without soaking the futon. Commercial spray-on fungicide is another option for mildew odors.

Hang the futon outdoors in a sunny, breezy location to let it air dry. If outdoor drying isn’t possible, hang the futon in a warm room. Let the futon air out for at least 24 hours to ensure it’s completely dry.

Tips & Warnings

  • After you clean your futon, fluff it up by dropping it flat on the floor from a height of 3 or 4 feet. The impact pushes air into the futon and puffs it up.
  • Never pick up the futon by the casing. Always hold the full thickness of the futon.
  • Don’t use colored cloths to apply denatured alcohol or other cleaners. Cleaning agents may cause some dyes to bleed onto the futon.

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