How to Clean Up Fiberglass Contamination from a Mattress

Last Updated on August 24, 2023

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If you’re here on this page, then you’ve already determined that your mattress has been leaking fiberglass. It’s probably painfully clear that immediate action should be taken to prevent the fiberglass particles from spreading while removing them from your home. This is especially important before buying a new mattress that doesn’t have fiberglass.

Here are some suggestions for how to tackle the task yourself instead of hiring a professional cleaning crew.

Cleaning Up Fiberglass Contamination

Identify the Fiberglass

The easiest way to see where fiberglass particles have leaked is with a flashlight. Darken the room by turning off the lights and stopping light from coming in the window. Then, shine a flashlight around the room, everything sparkling is most likely shimmery fiberglass strands.

Protect Yourself from Fiberglass

First, make sure to wear thick rubber gloves to protect your hands from abrasions, as well as a respirator that has goggles to protect your mucous membranes from fiberglass irritation. The tiny strands of glass fibers that comprise fiberglass can irritate your nose, eyes, mouth, and throat.

You may even want a full-body hazmat suit if a lot of fiberglass particles have leaked from your mattress. Otherwise, some pants and a long-sleeved shirt you don’t mind throwing away afterward will be fine.

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Contain the Fiberglass in the Mattress

Second, you should contain the rest of the fiberglass in the mattress with a thick plastic cover, even if it’s just to get rid of it. The last thing you want to do is drag the mattress through your home while it’s still leaking fiberglass everywhere.

I recommend leaving the covered mattress in the room while it’s being cleaned, but remove it from the bed frame and lean it against a wall.

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Stop the Spread of Fiberglass throughout your Home

Third, close any air vents in the room to limit how much the fiberglass gets spread around. Do NOT remove anything from the contaminated area including furniture, curtains, window blinds, clothing, toys, etc.

If the contaminated room has an air return vent that the HVAC system pulls air in from, you should definitely not run your HVAC system unless you have a decent micron-rated filter installed. The filter should be rated at least MERV 8, FPR 6, or MPR 600, but an even higher rating would be more effective until the fiberglass is fully cleaned up. The perimeter of the filter should be taped to the vent so that no fiberglass sneaks by the edges.

If the return air for your HVAC is in the same room where fiberglass contamination occurred, you should probably take some extra precautions to limit further contamination of the home. I recommend putting air register HEPA filters in the rest of the air vents around the home to be extra safe in case fiberglass has already made its way into the air ducts.

Another good precaution to take would be hanging plastic on the other side of the contaminated room’s door. If the contaminated room’s door leads to a hallway, hang plastic drop cloths from the ceiling to the floor and use painter’s tape to affix the plastic to the walls. This way, any fiberglass escaping the room is limited to just that area of the hallway that can be cleaned up later.

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A note of caution: Some HVAC systems aren’t designed to push/pull through high micron-rated filters for long periods of time, so go back to normally rated filters once the fiberglass is cleaned up so that you don’t burn up your HVAC’s motor.

Capture Fiberglass on Flat Surfaces with Lint Rollers

Lint rollers work great for picking up loose fiberglass particles. There are large lint rollers, meant for picking up pet hair, that make a much better choice than the small rollers meant for clothing.

Use the lint rollers on the bed frame, floors, walls, window glass, window sills, furniture, curtains, window blinds, and even the ceiling as long as it doesn’t have texture/popcorn that the lint roller could possibly damage. Don’t forget the closet! You should try to capture a good deal of loose fiberglass strands this way before using a vacuum. Vacuums blow air out of their exhaust vent while operating, which will spread loose fiberglass around even more.

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Capture Fiberglass with a HEPA Filter Vacuum

Once you’ve picked up as much fiberglass as possible from all the flat areas where a lint roller works, it’s time to vacuum. Use a vacuum that supports HEPA filters and start sucking up all the fiberglass particles that lint rollers couldn’t reach. Construction-style vacuums like the Shop-Vac brand usually support HEPA filters, but some household-style vacuums geared for pet owners also support HEPA filters as well.

Don’t move your furniture around, aside from the bed frame, since the fiberglass most likely isn’t underneath the other furniture. Start with the hose attachment and suck up fiberglass from every nook and cranny that you can see, along with any crevices and grooves along the furniture. Vacuum everything that you can possibly use the vacuum hose attachment on, including your clothing, curtains, ceiling fans, lights, and of course any possessions lying around the room. If you weren’t able to lint roll the ceiling, make sure to be thorough with the vacuum hose. Once you’ve used the vacuum hose on everything possible, vacuum the entire floor.

Now is a good time to put all of your clothing into bags to be dealt with later. The same goes for curtains and window blinds, remove them and put them into large trash bags.

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Wipe the Entire Area with Washcloths

Now that all the loose fiberglass strands have been captured on sticky lint rollers and captured in HEPA-filtered vacuums, the end is in sight!

Use slightly damp washcloths to clean the entire room and remove any lingering fiberglass strands. Start with the walls, baseboards, door trim, windows, and light fixtures. Then move on to furniture and possessions. Don’t use your good washcloths, as these will be thrown in the trash once they are used!

As you clean the small items lying around the room, place them into a bag. Once the entire room has been wiped clean, all the small items are in bags, and the furniture has been cleaned, you should wipe down the plastic-covered mattress.

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Remove Clean Objects from the Contaminated Area

Do not remove anything from the room that isn’t absolutely spotless first. Start by wiping down the bags that all the small items were placed in and remove them from the room. Wipe down the bags of clothing and remove those from the room to be disposed of if the fiberglass isn’t removable.

Give the small furniture like lamps, tables, chairs, and entertainment centers another quick wiping and then move them to another area. Next, thoroughly wipe down the bed frame and remove it from the contaminated area.

Last up, wipe down the covered mattress and remove it from the room to be disposed of. Do not remove the mattress cover, just throw it away along with the mattress that’s leaking the fiberglass strands.

Clean the Empty Room Again!

Now that the contaminated room is completely empty, it should be cleaned again to make sure any missed fiberglass is captured. Especially any fiberglass particles that were hidden by furniture or shed by possessions being wiped down for removal.

Empty the vacuum, put in fresh filters, wipe it down thoroughly inside and out, then vacuum the entire room again! Once that’s done, use NEW washcloths to wipe down all the walls and hard surfaces one more time.

Clean Adjacent Areas

While cleaning the contaminated room, some fiberglass particles will have undoubtedly escaped into the nearby areas. Make sure to give the adjacent areas some attention with the lint rollers, vacuum, and washcloths.

Dealing with Items Removed while Cleaning

Most of the furniture that was wiped down and removed from the room should be fine, along with any personal possessions that were wiped with washcloths. Window blinds can be placed in a bathtub and cleaned with water to remove any lingering fiberglass.

The worse part of cleaning up fiberglass contamination is fabrics. It’s not that big of a deal if your curtains have a strand or two of fiberglass that gets missed, but even a single strand of fiberglass left on stuffed animals or clothing could be a nuisance in the future. It will be up to your best judgment if those items can be saved or not. Make sure to thoroughly lint roll all of the clothing and vacuum it before checking with a flashlight for shimmery fiberglass that still remains.

You do not want to wear clothes that have fiberglass strands stuck in them, which would also lead to your clothes washing machine being contaminated with fiberglass.

You may have to bite the bullet and just get rid of some of your clothing to be safe.

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