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Bed-wetting is a normal part of growing up, but it can wreak havoc on your family's sleep – and your sheets. Being prepared for dealing with a wet bed will help you clean up quickly at night and with a minimum of fuss. Making the situation less stressful will help reduce any embarrassment your child may feel and take some pressure off both of you.
Mattresses are expensive, and they're difficult to clean once they get wet. So whether she wets the bed regularly, or just once in a while, it makes sense to invest in a few essentials.
Waterproof mattress protectors
A waterproof mattress pad is placed over a mattress and under the bottom sheet. You can buy fitted versions, which are secured with an elasticized skirt, or flat ones, which anchor with elastic loops on each corner.
Mattress pads usually have an absorbent fabric layer on top, so they look and feel like a normal mattress cover. Underneath, there is a waterproof layer, usually made from polyurethane. Despite being waterproof, polyurethane is breathable, so it won't make your child hot at night.
If a waterproof mattress pad gets wet it can go into the washing machine, along with sheets. Thicker, more absorbent pads will take longer to dry.
A vinyl mattress cover is a cheaper, lightweight option. It encloses the entire mattress and usually has a zipper. If it gets wet, you can simply wipe it clean. Although a vinyl cover is effective at keeping a mattress dry, it can be hot and noisy to sleep on. However, it's good to have one on hand for traveling with child who wets the bed.
Disposable or washable underpads are waterproof pads that have a soft, absorbent top layer with a waterproof backing.
You can put an underpad on top or underneath the bottom sheet. Some tuck in on either side of the mattress. If your child moves around a lot in his sleep, he may miss the part of the bed covered by the underpad, so it's still a good idea to use a waterproof mattress pad, too.
Using an underpad makes nighttime bed changes easier because you don't have to remake the whole bed. It's quick and easy to swap out a wet underpad, or even an underpad and a bottom sheet.
Underpads are also portable, so you may want to keep some handy, for example, if your child comes to sleep in your bed or for travel.
Instead of using a bulky comforter that's difficult to wash, consider tucking your child in under less-bulky blankets that are easier to wash and faster to dry. You can still have a comforter for decoration and just fold it back when you tuck her in.
A waterproof duvet cover, which is also less bulky to wash, can be used either on its own or under a decorative duvet cover.
You can buy a waterproof top sheet that can go between your child and her comforter. Today's waterproof sheets look very similar to ordinary sheets. The waterproof membrane is hidden between a layer of soft cotton or polyester. Although waterproof sheets are thicker and slightly heavier than normal sheets, they sound and feel almost the same.
How should I wash wet bedding?
As soon as you can, wash wet bedding. Note that some waterproof bedding should not be washed in bleach.
If you're changing wet bedding in the middle of the night, throwing it into the bathtub until you are ready to deal with it in the morning will prevent getting urine on anything else. If you have time, give it a quick rinse first.
How can I clean my child's mattress?
No matter how hard you try to protect it, it’s likely that your child's mattress will get wet occasionally. Do your best to tackle wet patches on the mattress when they happen, rather than leaving them until later. Once urine has soaked through to the middle of the mattress, it's very difficult to neutralize the smell, so sponge it up with a cloth as soon as you can.
Urine’s lingering smell is the result of acid crystals that form as it dries, so regular household cleaners might not work. For this specific issue, you may need to buy an enzyme-based cleaner specially formulated for cleaning up urine. It will help with the yellow patches, too.
Before cleaning a mattress, think about how much time you have before your child will need to use it again. Unless it's a warm day, and you're able to take the mattress outside to dry, try to avoid getting it too wet.
A steam cleaner can be useful for cleaning the surface of the mattress without soaking it. Vacuum the mattress first.