How to Clean a Mattress in 7 Easy Steps

Cleaning a mattress can seem like a complicated ordeal. It’s not like you can chuck it in the washing machine and then a tumble dryer. Most mattresses (especially memory foam mattresses) cannot get wet at all, as it would ruin the bed’s materials. So how do you clean a mattress without ruining it? Well, it’s not as difficult as it may seem.  

Clean your mattress with these tips

Mattress cleaning is easy and should be done at least twice a year. This will reduce the allergens inside the mattress, ensuring you sleep in a clean and hygienic environment.  

Set aside some time twice a year to deep clean your bed—a deep clean in the fall and another in the spring is a good way to break it up. Regardless of when you decide to clean your bed, you’ll need to gather the basic cleaning supplies before you get started. 

What you’ll need:

  • A vacuum cleaner with clean attachments (handheld vacuum cleaner if you got one)
  • Big brush attachment and upholstery attachment
  • Laundry detergent
  • Enzyme cleaner 
  • Baking soda
  • Warm Water
  • A few clean cloths

Step one: Strip the mattress completely

Take the bedding, pillows, and sheets off of your mattress and make sure there is enough space for you to work without obstructions.

Put all of the linen in the wash so that you’re able to use fresh sheets on your clean mattress. If your mattress cover and cushion covers are washing machine washable, put them in too. 

This is also a good time to place your bare pillows in the sunlight near an open window (if it’s not raining outside, of course). This will allow them to air out and feel fresher. 

Step two: Vacuum the mattress thoroughly

Once the mattress is stripped bare, get your vacuum cleaner. Ensure you have the wide brush and upholstery attachment ready. 

Use the wide brush to vacuum the top of the mattress. This will remove all hair, dust, dead skin and dirt. Then, grab your upholstery attachment and get in all of the seams, crevices and other hard-to-get-into places. Make sure to vacuum the sides of the mattress too to ensure thorough cleanliness. 

Step three: Stain removal

Now that the mattress is free of any debris, it’s time to tackle the mattress stains. 

For most stains, a mix of laundry detergent or dish soap and lukewarm water will do the trick. Combine them in a bowl with a ratio of 50/50. Whisk the mixture well to create foam on top. Take this foam, place it on top of the stains, and ensure they’re completely covered. Let it sit there for 15-30 minutes. Then, take a damp cloth, and blot the stains until they lift. For more stubborn staining, try a gentle rub instead. 

For biological stains, such as sweat and urine, it’s best to use an enzyme cleaner. It is designed to break down organic enzymes and lift stains that would otherwise be impossible to clean. Spray some enzyme cleaner onto a clean cloth and blot the stain to saturate it. Leave it there for about 15 minutes (30 minutes if the stain is old). Then take a clean cloth, dampen it with clean water, and blot the stains until they’re gone.

NOTE: make sure not to wet the mattress too much. The aim is to only saturate the cover so that the inside of the mattress doesn’t get damaged. If you accidentally put too much cleaning solution on the mattress, blot it right away with a clean cloth to absorb the excess moisture.

Step four: Clean and deodorize the mattress

When the stains are taken care of, it’s time to clean and deodorize the mattress.

Take baking soda and sprinkle a generous amount on the entire mattress. Leave it to sit for a few hours—the longer the better. If it’s possible, put the mattress outside in the sunshine and fresh air. If not, leave the windows open for some air circulation. 

Baking soda will freshen up the surface of the mattress and get rid of any smells it may have. It will also absorb any liquids leftover from the stain cleaning.

Step five: Vacuum the mattress thoroughly

Once the baking soda is done doing its job, take the vacuum cleaner and vacuum the entire surface. Be sure to get all of the excess baking soda, ensure there isn’t any of it left in the seams and cracks.

Step six: Let the mattress air out

Now that the mattress is clean, leave it either outside or in a well-ventilated room to dry. 

It’s best to leave the mattress like that for at least a few hours before covering it again. This ensures the freshness will last longer. While the mattress is airing out, it is a good opportunity to clean your bed frame as well. Go over it with a damp cloth to remove stains. Then, go over it with a dry cloth to dry it off. You can also use a spray bottle with a mixture of water and white vinegar or bleach to get rid of bacteria that live on the surface. 

Step seven: Protect the mattress 

When the mattress is done airing, it’s time to protect it from future spills, sweats, and dust mite invasions.

If you have a flippable mattress, now is the perfect time to flip it and sleep on the other side. If your mattress is not flippable, rotate it so that it doesn’t wear out too quickly. Once that is done, use a waterproof mattress protector. You’ll be surprised how big of a help they can be when keeping your mattress clean.

Why you should clean your mattress

A surprising amount of people believe cleaning a mattress on a regular basis is not necessary. Some don’t do it at all. They say why bother when you only sleep on your bed sheets, which you change weekly?

Well, keeping your mattress clean and hygienic will not only be healthier for you, but it will also make the mattress last a lot longer. And if you have a good mattress, it means you made a financial investment. A lot of issues that can ruin the mattress before its time are not always visible to the naked eye. Let’s have a look at a few examples.

Dead skin cells

A person sheds a shocking amount of dead skin cells every night. And if you have skin problems like eczema, psoriasis, or even skin allergies, this number only increases. Dry skin tends to flake a lot more, and rubbing into the bedsheets as you sleep means most of it falls off at night.

And while changing the bedsheets on a regular basis will help a lot, some dead skin cells will inevitably penetrate the mattress—this means a feast for dust mites. 

Dust mites

It’s estimated that a used mattress can have 100,000 to 10 million dust mites inside. They love moist and warm environments and feed on dead skin cells. These tiny creatures don’t carry diseases but can cause severe allergies. And in general, who’d feel comfortable sleeping in a bed that’s infested with tiny bugs?

It’s impossible to rid your mattress (or home) of dust mites completely. But you can take precautions to keep their number under control. That’s why cleaning your mattress at least twice a year is crucial. With regular upkeep, your mattress will stay more hygienic, which is not ideal for dust-mite reproduction.

Moisture and mold

Sleeping produces a lot of moisture. If you don’t clean your mattress regularly and let it air out, this can allow the moisture to build up causing mold and mildew issues inside your mattress.

It’s even worse if you’re a hot sleeper and tend to sweat during the night. Although bedsheets absorb a good amount of excess moisture, some of it still seeps through and absorbs into the mattress. This not only causes mold and mildew issues but also creates a perfect environment for dust mites. 

Spills and other stains

Accidents happen and sometimes you find your morning cup of coffee spilled on the bed. If not cleaned right away, the spill can seep deep into the mattress causing serious mold issues. 

The same goes for anything else organic in liquid form. If left uncleaned, it can not only cause mold but start rotting inside your mattress. If that happens, there’s no way of cleaning it—the only option you’d be left with is replacing the mattress completely.

How to keep your mattress clean

Now that you know how to clean your mattress, it’s time to discuss how to keep it clean. Here are some steps you can take to make your mattress’s freshness keep longer.

Treat stains immediately

If there’s a spill, clean it right away. Don’t leave it to absorb into the mattress, even if you have a mattress protector. Instead, grab a clean cloth and try to absorb all moisture before it seeps through. 

If a stain appears right away, clean it while it’s fresh. Dampen a cloth with clean water and start blotting until it lifts. Then, leave the damp area uncovered for at least a few hours to let it dry completely.

Use a mattress protector

As mentioned above, a mattress protector is a great help at keeping the mattress clean. There are many brands offering great mattress protectors that are breathable, liquid-resistant, and soft to the touch. Using a good-quality mattress protector can double the lifetime of your mattress. 

Change your bedsheets weekly

It is crucial to change your bed sheets weekly, even if you are not a hot sleeper or have any accidental spills. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, we shed a lot of dead skin cells when we sleep. They’re so small that they’re invisible to the naked eye. The sheets may seem clean to us, but they might contain a feast for the dust mites. Best to avoid any chance of this and wash your bedsheets once a week.

Keep your bedroom cool

If you tend to sleep hot, or get a little clammy at night, the temperature of your bedroom is incorrect. The human body naturally lowers its temperature when it drifts off to dreamland. We are made to sleep in a cooler environment, so keep your bedroom cool. Better still, open a window at night to let some fresh air in. Not only will this keep your mattress cleaner for longer, but you’ll have a better night’s sleep too.

When should you replace your mattress?

Sometimes even the most thorough deep clean can’t restore an old mattress. It’s very important to know when it is time to get rid of it and buy a new mattress instead. 

Here are the signs that you may need a new mattress.

Signs of mold

If you leave a stain for too long, it might become moldy. You can do many things to prevent that, but once mold sets in there isn’t much that can be done. Mold is a type of fungus that seeps through and grows, affecting a large area. So even if you clean the mold off the surface of the mattress, chances are that it has spread through the inside as well; this makes it a serious health hazard. 

As CDC warns, mold can cause allergic reactions, such as a blocked nose, cough, irritated eyes, and skin rash. In more serious instances, it can induce more severe reactions, like lung infections and worsening of asthma. Mold can have a huge effect on your health. If you see mold on your mattress, replacing it is the only option you have.

Bed Bugs

Unlike dust mites, bed bugs are nasty creatures that feed on human blood. They’re extremely difficult to get rid of and can make your bed a place of nightmares. 

When treating an infestation of bed bugs, you will have to get rid of your mattress. It’s their breeding hotspot and cleaning it is simply impossible. The rest of your home will have to go through an extensive bed bug extermination process, too. Only once these steps are taken will it be safe to bring in a new mattress.

Wear and tear

It is recommended that you replace your mattress every eight to ten years. This is because your mattress will inevitably get signs of wear by sagging, ripping, or simply not performing as well as it did when it was new. 

When the mattress reaches this point, there is nothing you can do to bring it back to its former glory. The only thing left is to get rid of it and buy a new mattress that will serve you for another decade.

This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.

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