How to Clean Up After Bedwetting

by Lara Alspaugh

When your child wets the bed, it's not just a problem for them, it's a problem for parents as well. The child feels embarrassed and ashamed--it can lead to problems with self-esteem and your child's relationships with others. Parents get interrupted sleep and can feel irritated from the extra workload. They can also feel anxious about the possible causes and effects. Getting the mess cleaned up easily will help ease the load on everyone.

Step 1

The first order of business is to strip the sheets and mattress pad for immediately washing. Running them through a wash cycle on your washing machine--or at a Laundromat--will work just fine. Be sure to include any soaked jammies and favorite stuffed animals while you're at it. You may not want to wash these urine-soaked items with anything that was not soaked in the accident.
Do not punish your child for wetting the bed. The vast majority of kids are not wetting the bed on purpose and embarrassing or shaming them for something they can not control is hurtful at best. If your child is old enough, have them take responsibility for stripping the sheets and collecting soiled clothing. Be sure to give your son or daughter specific directions for how you want the dirty linens handled--instruct them to leave them in the laundry room on the floor, or in a basket, not just on the carpet where the flooring will eventually be soaked as well.

Step 2

If your child's urine has soaked through to the mattress and it was not covered by a protective vinyl mattress pad you'll need to clean the mattress. Start by taking a dry rag/towel and press it into the mattress in efforts to soak up any excess urine that is still there. Continue that process, using clean towels as they become soiled until the mattress does not give up any more urine.
Mattresses come with specific cleaning instructions and you'll want to follow them. Pillow tops, memory foam and standard mattresses all have different cleaning strategies. Most mattresses do not do well when saturated, so you'll want to spot clean and keep the moisture limited. If you're unsure about how to clean your particular mattress, call the company and they'll be able to give you directions.
If you had a vinyl cover on the mattress, you're in luck! Wipe the mattress clean with bleach-based cleaner and a clean rag/towel. Spray the liner down with a germ-killing spray for hard surfaces and let it dry before you remake the bed.

Step 3

Part of the cleaning process can be to involve your child in the stripping of sheets and the remaking of beds. This should be done in a way that does not embarrass or shame the child--keeping in mind that bed wetting is no one's fault, and parents should maintain a low-key attitude. Doing the work of cleaning the mattress, sheets and clothing should not be punishment for wetting the bed, but part of the process of being a family.

Step 4

After you have the soiled mattress and sheets clean, purchase a vinyl mattress cover if you aren't using one already. They come in several styles and with a variety of prices--some are simply vinyl fitted sheets, others are zipper-enclosed and cover the entire mattress, and a third kind is a combination of heavier plastic and cloth. With a mattress cover in place, your cleaning load decreases the next time your son or daughter has a nighttime accident.

Step 5

If the bed wetting continues you may want to hire a carpet and upholstery cleaning company to steam clean your mattresses on a regular basis. Compare prices and methods of cleaning, keeping in mind that it is recommended that most mattresses should not be saturated--with water or urine!

About the Author

Lara Alspaugh is a registered nurse with a Bachelor of Science in nursing from Michigan State University. She is a faculty member at Lansing Community College in the nursing department. Her work can be found on ModernMom.com and SmarterBaby.com as well as many print magazines and newspapers.