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How To Prevent Mold From Forming Under An RV Mattress

(Camp Addict does NOT accept payment from any company to review or endorse their products.)

Kelly Headshot

By Kelly Beasley

Mold growth is a common issue faced by many RVers.

The confined spaces of a camper, such as under a mattress, can often be a breeding ground for mold spores due to the lack of airflow and the presence of moisture.

If left unchecked, this can result in moldy mattresses with musty odors that ruin your RV experience and cause health problems like respiratory issues and allergic reactions.

Hipster couple sitting on ground in front of van

Here we provide you with various RV mattress moisture control tips and ventilation solutions to help prevent this problem.

We also share what to do if you find mold on your recreational vehicle mattress.

Understanding Mold Growth in Your RV

Mold is a type of fungus that thrives in warm, humid conditions, and its spores can easily find their way into your RV.

Once there, they latch onto any available organic material and begin to grow, often flourishing in areas with poor air circulation and high humidity levels.

East Coast recreational vehicles are especially prone to mold problems.

If you live on the East Coast, be incredibly diligent in keeping your mattress protected.

Perhaps the biggest issue with mold in your RV is this:

"Molds have the potential to cause health problems. Molds produce allergens (substances that can cause allergic reactions), irritants, and in some cases, potentially toxic substances (mycotoxins)." - EPA

Mold grows where moisture, warmth, and nutrients are in high supply.

If you want to prevent mold growth, control the humidity. Understanding this principle is the first step in mold prevention.

The Issue of Moisture in RV Mattresses

An RV mattress can become a hotspot for mold growth due to moisture accumulation.

This can come from various sources, such as condensation due to temperature differences, body heat, and even accidental spills of liquids.

A common scenario is when warm air, often generated by body heat, meets the cold surface of the RV's floor or walls, causing condensation.

The lack of ventilation and air flowing beneath the mattress means this moisture has nowhere to go, creating an ideal environment for mold and mildew to thrive under your camper mattress.

Couple on Avocado green mattress

What Does Mattress Mold Look Like?

Lifting your mattress periodically to look for mold is a great idea.

You need eyes on it because mold can have zero detectable smell. Many RV mattresses are set on a solid surface and have no airflow.

If this is the case with yours, it's even more essential to look with your eyes.

Mold growing under a mattress might look like almost any colored spots growing on the plywood underneath, on the mattress itself, or on both.

Colors are usually black and brown and can have other colors in it, too, like white or orange. If you see any round spot under or on your mattress, it's probably mold.

Get rid of the mattress!

You can try to clean it, but it's usually a lost cause. Most often, cleaners don't kill all the mold, or they can't get to it all.

What To Do If You Find Mold In Your Mattress

First, put on gloves and a mask.

You'll want to protect your eyes and lungs from the spores that will be stirred up from moving it. Move the mattress with as little disturbance as possible.

Take it outside and prop it up against a wall. Use a tarp or blanket underneath if you are going to try to save it.

Spray the area down with vinegar.

This is proven more effective than bleach in killing mold in a mattress. Let it sit for an hour or more, then wipe it down with a damp towel.

Couple sitting on top of Winnebago Class A in Monument Valley, Utah

Don't soak the mattress.

This only fuels the mold to keep reproducing.

Finally, find a mold spray that prevents the growth of future mold. Spray according to directions.

Honestly, though, because you cannot see how deep the mold goes into the mattress, we suggest trashing any mattress you have with mold on it.

There's a good chance you won't get it all, and it's not worth the health risk to keep it.

RV Mattress Moisture Control Tips

So, how can you prevent your RV mattress from becoming a mold breeding ground? Here are some useful strategies:

  • Use a Mattress Underlay or Pad: A mattress underlay or pad acts as a moisture barrier, preventing condensation from reaching your mattress. Consider products like the Hypervent Aire-Flow, a polymer material that promotes air circulation by creating a layer of air between your mattress and the bed frame.
  • Installation of Slats or a Wooden Platform: Installing slats or a wooden platform under your mattress can help promote airflow and prevent condensation buildup. If slats or a platform are not an option, even a layer of plywood, clothing or blankets (think secret storage), or cardboard can provide some insulation against cold surfaces.
  • Opt for a Mattress Topper: An RV mattress topper, especially those made from natural latex or memory foam, helps regulate temperature and reduce the amount of body heat reaching the mattress itself, thus reducing the risk of condensation. It might be a stretch, but mattress temperature is likely a factor if you have a thin mattress, especially one next to an outer wall.
  • Invest in a Dehumidifier: Dehumidifiers can help maintain lower humidity levels within your RV, making it less conducive to mold growth. Or you can get moisture-absorbing bags such as Damp Rid and put them around your motorhome or travel trailer.

RV Mattress Ventilation Solutions

The importance of ventilation in preventing mold growth cannot be overstated.

As the Environmental Protection Agency advises, increasing airflow will help control moisture, which is a leading cause of mold growth.

In the case of RVs, it's important to ensure that air can circulate freely, especially around and under mattresses, to avoid creating a damp environment where mold can thrive.

Here are some RV bed ventilation options to consider:

  • Ventilated Mattress: Some RV mattresses come with built-in ventilation features. These mattresses have a breathable design that allows air to flow through them, reducing the risk of mold growth.
  • The Froli Sleep System: The Froli system is a modular, adjustable bed frame designed to improve air circulation under your mattress. Each individual 'spring' element is made from a flexible, high performance plastic that can be adjusted to suit your comfort while providing a space for air to move freely beneath the mattress.
  • Strategically Placed Vents: If possible, installing vents near your bed area can help promote air circulation. Remember, the aim is consistent air flowing around and under your mattress.
  • Regularly Air Out Your Mattress: Whenever possible, take your mattress outside and put it in the sun to air and dry out. This is especially important if your recreational vehicle has been in storage or hasn't been used for a while. It's a pain but might be worth it for lengthening the lifespan of your mattress.
Couple sitting camp chairs toasting

Checking and Cleaning

Regularly check your RV mattress for signs of mold.

A musty odor is a strong indicator of mold presence.

Even if not on your mattress, if you smell a musty odor, look in other telltale places that might have condensation or moisture, such as under the sinks or inside cabinets.

Other symptoms of mold include discoloration or any unusual spots on your mattress.

Remember, if you find mold, it's not just about cleaning it up; you need to address the source of the moisture that allowed it to grow.

Mold can be cleaned using commercial mold removers, but remember that they are most effective on hard, non-porous surfaces and probably won't fully reach mold inside a mattress.

You have no idea how deep the mold goes.

If you find mold on your RV mattress, we suggest getting an impermeable cover or, even better, discarding the mattress and getting a new one.

Preventing RV Bunk Mattress Moisture Issues

If your RV features bunk beds, applying the same principles of moisture control and ventilation is essential.

Bunk beds can be more prone to issues due to their proximity to the walls of the RV, which can often be cold surfaces where condensation forms.

Using moisture barriers like mattress underlays, ensuring good airflow with a system like Froli, and maintaining a regular inspection and cleaning routine can help keep these mattresses free from mold and mildew.

For prevention, you might tape a barrier against the walls next to the beds, such as Reflectix.

Young woman lying face down on bed

RV Mattress Moisture Protection for Different RV Types

Whether you're in a travel trailer, a truck camper, or any other type of RV, the principles of mold prevention remain the same.

However, it's essential to consider the unique features of your specific RV type.

For example, truck campers may experience more temperature differences due to their construction and the materials used, requiring more attention to insulation and ventilation.


As an RVer, it's important to understand that mold growth is a common issue that can be prevented with the proper steps.

By controlling moisture, ensuring sufficient airflow and ventilation, regularly checking and cleaning your mattress, and using tools like dehumidifiers, mattress underlays, and the Froli system, you can significantly reduce the risk of mold and mildew in your RV.

Remember, maintaining a clean, mold-free environment is not just about comfort and preserving your RV; it's also crucial for your health. Happy and safe travels!

Kelly Headshot

I dedicated myself to living the full-time RV life for over 6.5 years, immersing myself in the unique quirks and joys of the boondocking lifestyle and gaining a wealth of knowledge and experience along the way. In December 2020, my business partner and I made the transition to part-time RVing, but in January 2023, we hit the road once again, this time in our trusty vans. My mission is to help others embrace the RVing lifestyle with confidence and excitement, armed with the knowledge and resources needed to make the most of their adventures. I believe that the more you know, the more you can truly appreciate and enjoy the freedom and flexibility of the open road.

  • Thanks for tips on mattress mold prevention. We also live in our RV, so preventive measures and tips are welcome.
    Dwayne & Deb

    • Hi Dwayne,

      Yep, this is an important one, glad we could help. Here’s to fun and safe travels to you and all in 2024!

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