15 Steps to Clean Up Fiberglass Contamination from a Mattress

How to Clean Fiberglass Contamination

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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 clean up fiberglass particles and stop them from spreading throughout 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.

Note: Remember to take lots of photographs for future reference, including submission of complaints and legal reasons. Photos should include fiberglass leaking from the mattress, the mattress tags, as well as the extent of the fiberglass contamination.

Fiberglass Cleanup Preparation

1. Identify Mattress Fiberglass Contamination

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.

2. Protect Yourself from Fiberglass Strands

Protecting yourself from fiberglass induced health effects is crucial during clean up. Make sure to wear thick rubber gloves to protect your hands from fiberglass 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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3. Prevent HVAC Fiberglass Contamination

Do NOT run your HVAC system without replacing your HVAC filter with one that is rated MERV 8 or better. 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. The most common sizes of air return filters are 10″x20″, 10″x14″, and 20″x20″, but you will need to check your current filter to know which size to buy.

Running your HVAC system without a filter that’s at least MERV 8 will most certainly lead to your ductwork being contaminated with fiberglass. Once your ducts are contaminated with fiberglass, running your HVAC system will spread fiberglass throughout your entire home, contaminating rooms that weren’t even touched by the initial contamination by the fiberglass mattress.

If the contaminated room has an air return vent that the HVAC system pulls air in through, you should definitely take some extra precautions to limit further contamination of the home. It’s recommended to put air register filters in the rest of the air register vents around the home. Take note of any fiberglass in the vents when installing filters in each vent, you should clean any rooms where the vents seem to have blown fiberglass around.

It’s also recommended to close the air vent in the main contaminated room to limit how much the fiberglass gets spread around while trying to clean.

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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.

4. Stop the Spread of Fiberglass throughout your Home

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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5. Contain the Fiberglass within the Mattress

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.

Don’t get one of the waterproof cloth covers marketed for bedbugs, the fiberglass strands wil easily poke through a cloth bedbug cover. To contain the fiberglass, a thick plastic cover with a zipper is needed. Usually these mattress covers are known as “mattress bags” for moving.

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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Initial Fiberglass Cleanup

6. Capture Fiberglass with Lint Rollers

Lint rollers work great for picking up loose fiberglass particles. Use lint rollers on any possessions that are covered in fiberglass, as well as the bed frame, windows, window sills, furniture, curtains, and even window blinds. The oversized lint rollers for picking up pet hair are a better choice for using on floors, walls, and even ceiling as long as they don’t have texture/popcorn that the could be damaged. Don’t forget your close if it’s also been contaminated!

You should put as much effort into capturing loose fiberglass strands with lint rollers before using a vacuum. The reason for this is that vacuums blow air out of their exhaust vent while operating, which will spread loose fiberglass around even more.

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7. 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 ONLY a sealed HEPA style vacuum. If you use a standard vacuum, or even a non-sealed HEPA vacuum, you will blow fine fiberglass particles all over the area and into the air. HEPA vacuums are usually marketed for pet owners and those with severe allergies – but they are absolutely necessary for cleaning up fiberglass.

One of the best HEPA Vacuums to use for cleaning up fiberglass mattress contamination is the commercial Prolux 9000. It has a sealed HEPA filtration system with hospital grade HEPA bags, but that’s not where it shines. The biggest argument for using the Prolux 9000 is the fact that it’s a by-pass vacuum – what this means is that the air and debris being sucked into the vaccums do not go through the motor and get chewed up into smaller particles. Whatever the brush and suction pick up bypasses the motor and gets deposited directly into the HEPA filter bag and sealed away forever!

Some of the best consumer HEPA vacuums are made by Miele and Sebo, even though neither of those brands market their vacuums with the “HEPA” buzzword. The problem with Miele and Sebo vacuums is that they are expensive. There are a few budget brand vacuums like Bissell that are sealed HEPA systems, but be mindful to check the reviews. Shark, Panasonic, Eureka, and Dyson are some of the name brands that should be avoided along with off-brands – you would be better off buying a Miele vacuum from the 1990s and installing HEPA filters than using one of those.

Bagged HEPA Vacuums are better than Bagless HEPA Vacuums because once the bag is full, you just seal it and throw it in the garbage. With bagless HEPA vacuums, you must empty the collection bin which could lead to fiberglass irritation, and even the spread of the fiberglass contamination.

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.

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If you do not have a sealed HEPA vacuum, you are better off not even vacuuming at all because it will only make the problem worse.

Skip vacuuming and stick to lint rolling and other cleaning methods until a HEPA vacuum can be used.

8. Deal with Fiberglass on Fabrics

The worst part about mattress fiberglass contamination is dealing with clothing, bedding, and stuffed animals. Fiberglass from mattresses tends to embed itself deeply into most fabrics, making it extremely hard to remove.

Do NOT wash contaminated fabrics in your clothes washing machine! All the fiberglass most likely won’t come out of the fabric, but you will definitely contaminate your washing machine.

Extra sticky lint rollers are decent at removing fiberglass particles from certain fabrics like denim, silk, canvas, linen, polyester, and rayon. However, with other fabrics like cotton and wool, more extreme measures are required. When extra sticky lint rollers won’t work, the best option is duct tape. Place duct tape over the fiberglass and then peel it off, simple as that. When fabrics are made from of fiberglass, place them into bags to be removed from the contaminated rooms later.

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.

For any fabrics that aren’t fiberglass-free after lint rolling and duct tape, you might need to bite the bullet and just get rid of it.

Unlike what’s shared online, apple cider vinegar does NOT dissolve fiberglass. Vinegar in high enough concentrations might dissolve the polyester resin coating on fiberglass, which can help dislodge it from fabric, but the glass itself will not dissolve.

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9. Wipe the Entire Area with Cleaning Cloths

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 microfiber cleaning cloths 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 cleanup is done! Microfiber cloth works the best at trapping fiberglass strands.

If buying microfiber cloths isn’t possible, baby wipes work pretty well at picking up fiberglass strands. Also, if you have a bunch of fiberglass-contaminated wash cloths or clothing that you will have to get rid of any way, you can slightly dampen those and use them since they’re bound for the trash anyway.

As you clean the small items lying around the room, carefully place them into a bag that gets closed immediately. 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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10. Remove Clean Objects from the Area

Pick an area to place the bags of items to be removed, somewhere that could be easily decontaminated if something in the bag wasn’t cleaned thoroughly. Preferably a garage, a bathroom, or even outside if there is no other good area.

Do not remove anything from the room that isn’t absolutely spotless first. Start by wiping down the outside of all the bags that decontaminated items were placed into, and then 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.

Long-Term Fiberglass Remediation

11. Consider a HVAC Duct Cleaning

With the HVAC system turned off, check the air vents and filters of all your rooms for fiberglass strands and shimmery glass particles. If there is fiberglass in any of the room vents, then that means your HVAC air return had already sucked in fiberglass before you installed a Merv 8+ filter.

If your HVAC ducts are contaminated with fiberglass, do NOT run the HVAC system without the HEPA filters installed in ever room’s air register vents.

12. 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.

13. 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.

Hopefully the plastic drop cloths hung in strategic areas helped keep the fiberglass spread to a minimum!

14. 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 cloths.

Pro-Tip: Window blinds can be placed in a bathtub and cleaned with water to remove any lingering fiberglass!

Once you are content that the area contaminated by a fiberglass mattress is clean, you can start returning items back into the cleaned area.

15. Filter the Air with HEPA Purifiers

No matter how well, quick, and meticulously a fiberglass mattress contamination is cleaned up, there will always be lingering glass particles. Even professional cleaning crews can’t get 100% of the fiberglass cleaned up, and they will recommend air purifiers be used to scrub airborne particles.

There are many types of air purifiers, including giant purifiers, smart WiFi connected purifiers, and even UV light equipped air purifiers that eliminate pathogens and micro-organisms such as mold, bacteria and viruses. However, the most important feature to look for when buying air purifiers after a fiberglass mattress contamination is a HEPA filter, preferably an H13 or H14 grade HEPA filter. H13 and H14 HEPA filters are medical grade filters that remove 99.95 to 99.995% of .2 micron sized and larger particles.

To be efficient and economical, it’s recommended to get a multiple small HEPA air purifiers to spread around the area rather than a single big air purifier. Even though a huge air purifier may state it’s rated for the entire square footage of your home, it’s not going to be as effective in the parts of your home far away from where it’s located.

It would not be a bad idea to combine the two strategies, though. Running a large HEPA purifier in the room where the contamination was located, along with smaller purifiers spread throughout the home. A good strategy would be an air purifier placed in each room where the HVAC ducts could have potentially spread fiberglass.

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Last Updated on May 3, 2024

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