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Old 16-09-2013, 04:56   #1
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Seawater in Mattresses?

Had a very good, hard sail yesterday -- across the English Channel from Cherbourg in what turned into a F8 gale. 86 miles door to door.

It was on a broad reach and so we had waves almost on the beam. At one point, gale-force winds were blowing against the ebb tide, so we had a wind over tide situation, with waves breaking and a lot of water on deck.

Unfortunately, I had stupidly left the hatch in one of the cabins in the "ventilation" position -- locked, and impervious to rain, but with a crack that green water could get into. As I result, I have two mattresses that have gotten partially soaked in sea water.

What to do??? Throw them away?? Salt is extremely hydroscopic, which means, I think, that they will never again be completely dry.

Can I use a carpet/upholstery cleaning machine on them, perhaps? I'm thinking of renting one anyway to clean the upholstery in my salon.

I'm sure that I am by far not the first person to have ever faced this problem -- anyone have any useful advice?
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Old 16-09-2013, 05:03   #2
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Re: Seawater in Mattresses?

Are they spring filled or foam mattresses ??
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Old 16-09-2013, 05:09   #3
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Re: Seawater in Mattresses?

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Originally Posted by robert sailor View Post
Are they spring filled or foam mattresses ??
No springs -- just foam.
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Old 16-09-2013, 05:17   #4
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pirate Re: Seawater in Mattresses?

I remove the covers then stand them on their side and run fresh water along the top edge for a while then let it drain down and repeat over a couple of days then leave to drain dry.
The salt gradually washes down and out satisfactorily..
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Old 16-09-2013, 05:22   #5
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Re: Seawater in Mattresses?

Strip the coverings and launder these. The upholstery cleaner will not do an adequate job removing salt.

I would suggest simply throwing the foam. Unless you can soak it in fresh water replacing the water a couple of times, you will not get all the salt out and it will be perpetually damp and will get musty (and that is just horrible when your face is right next to that). The washing is only half the battle - drying foam afterwards is a big job (it can easily take a week even with hot weather).

Save yourself the hassle and dampness and smell and just change them. It is not too expensive if you use a domestic not a marine supplier and give them a template to cut and reuse your old covers .
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Old 16-09-2013, 05:35   #6
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Re: Seawater in Mattresses?

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Originally Posted by Seaworthy Lass View Post
Strip the coverings and launder these. The upholstery cleaner will not do an adequate job removing salt.

I would suggest simply throwing the foam. Unless you can soak it in fresh water replacing the water a couple of times, you will not get all the salt out and it will be perpetually damp and will get musty (and that is just horrible when your face is right next to that). The washing is only half the battle - drying foam afterwards is a big job (it can easily take a week even with hot weather).

Save yourself the hassle and dampness and smell and just change them. It is not too expensive if you use a domestic not a marine supplier and give them a template to cut and reuse your old covers .
Thanks, although that wasn't what I wanted to hear! These are from my pullman cabin with extra long, odd-shaped berths. I can't imagine it's going to be very cheap or easy to replace them. A huge PITA doing it, in any case, by dinghy from my non-walk-on mooring

I already have the covers in the washing machine. I wonder if I could try the upholstery machine on the mattresses themselves? These vacuum the water out leaving whatever it is fairly dry, don't they?

My mattresses are covered in some kind of gauze -- I suppose that will distintegrate

Bleh . . .
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Old 16-09-2013, 05:40   #7
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Re: Seawater in Mattresses?

I washed my foam mattresses, not because they were salty but because they were permeated with 25 years of accumulated boat smell. Did it more or less like boatman61 recommends.

First laid them flat on my back patio, wet them good then squirted liberally with liquid detergent. Then did an imitation of stomping grapes on the mattress for a while, then rinse & soak & rinse & soak until all the detergent was rinsed out then stood the mattresses on end to drain and dry.

Did a great job and it got out all the smell. However it took many days for all the water to drain and the mattress to totally dry.
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Old 16-09-2013, 05:42   #8
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Re: Seawater in Mattresses?

I refused the kind offer from a local foam supplier and found a 6" medium density foam mattress for a very good price from one of the smaller bed shops.

A few minutes with an electric bread knife (wedding present from oh so long ago) and we were back to sleeping comfortably.

Try to avoid the kids/overnight guest mattresses as they don't last.

Your mattress may have been coming up for replacement anyway.
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Old 16-09-2013, 05:50   #9
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Re: Seawater in Mattresses?

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
Thanks, although that wasn't what I wanted to hear! These are from my pullman cabin with extra long, odd-shaped berths. I can't imagine it's going to be very cheap or easy to replace them. A huge PITA doing it, in any case, by dinghy from my non-walk-on mooring

I already have the covers in the washing machine. I wonder if I could try the upholstery machine on the mattresses themselves? These vacuum the water out leaving whatever it is fairly dry, don't they?

My mattresses are covered in some kind of gauze -- I suppose that will distintegrate

Bleh . . .
I had the experience of washing salty foam once and I must say "never again". I used a combination of soaking sections and standing the foam on its side as Boatie suggested and hosing. As this was done at home I had the luxury of copious water and I think I got the salt out well.

The problem was then the drying. I had almost 2 weeks before our next trip and it was out in temperate sunny conditions each day and indoors in the garage with a fan running each night. It felt nice and dry until halfway through the first night of sleeping on it LOL. After a week it started to smell woofy. I sourced a cheap rectangular bit of foam to use in the v-berth for the rest of the month of our trip, as sleeping on it was plain horrid.

Dinghy transport is no problem as the mattress can be rolled and secured with twine and wrapped in plastic. Buy a plain bit of foam and take a paper template or the dimensions and have them cut it out, or use an electric carving knife and cut it yourself. The fitted covers would be the dearest and most difficult bit to replace and simply washing these will work well.

I replaced our queen size odd shaped mattress in Crete this winter and transported it on my own via dinghy. Not expensive and not too difficult.

Far better to replace it than sleeping on something even faintly smelly.
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Old 16-09-2013, 06:30   #10
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Re: Seawater in Mattresses?

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Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
I remove the covers then stand them on their side and run fresh water along the top edge for a while then let it drain down and repeat over a couple of days then leave to drain dry.
The salt gradually washes down and out satisfactorily..
Same.
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Old 16-09-2013, 06:36   #11
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pirate Re: Seawater in Mattresses?

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Same.
Cruising on a tight budget...
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Old 16-09-2013, 06:47   #12
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Re: Seawater in Mattresses?

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Cruising on a tight budget...
OK, so my budget is not really tight, but I somehow don't think Dockhead's is either .

Cruising full time I put up with lots on board, but sleeping on something even faintly smelly is not one thing I would want to learn to tolerate, particularly given the problem can be fixed relatively easy and without too much expense.
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Old 16-09-2013, 06:48   #13
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Re: Seawater in Mattresses?

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Cruising on a tight budget...
Well hell it's just cruising, right? It's not like every place you sail to has 3"-4" foam just hanging out waiting to be cut.

Gotta make do sometimes.
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Old 16-09-2013, 07:20   #14
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Re: Seawater in Mattresses?

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Originally Posted by Seaworthy Lass View Post
OK, so my budget is not really tight, but I somehow don't think Dockhead's is either .

Cruising full time I put up with lots on board, but sleeping on something even faintly smelly is not one thing I would want to learn to tolerate, particularly given the problem can be fixed relatively easy and without too much expense.
I spend a LOT of money on my boat, but the list is long and demands many, so I certainly can't afford to throw unlimited money at every single problem.

I agree with SWL about smelliness. I am lucky that the humidity is relatively low here (hard to believe -- rainy old England, right? -- but the humidity is much lower than in the subtropical climates where I grew up, rarely over 60%, currenty 53% at the top of my mast despite rains this morning), and my boat has copious natural ventilation through six big dorade vents. But with a keel-stepped mast I have inherently damp bilges and am always fighting with smells.

I will certainly replace the mattresses if I can't get them to be non-smelly. I have washed and bleached the covers and stood the mattresses in the sun. They don't seem wet or smelly at all. Perhaps I will try the carpet machine before I willy-nilly replace the matresses. I just got back the first quote -- 960 pounds, which is almost $1500, for two custom-made, odd-shaped, two-meter long mattresses Bleh.
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Old 16-09-2013, 07:34   #15
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Re: Seawater in Mattresses?

mine are 6 inch foam--as that is not available everywhere, what boatman said..and lass...
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