How to Clean a Mattress: A Complete Guide

someone following the vacuum steps of how to clean a mattress

How to Clean a Mattress: A Complete Guide

Deep cleaning bedrooms is a large undertaking, especially when you get into the deep dark corners of the closet and beneath the bed. Still, there’s one item that is often missed when cleaning bedrooms: the mattress. While you may feel clean when you go to bed, your mattress comes into contact with a lot of sweat and oils from your skin and hair. Use this complete guide to learn how to clean a mattress.

Why Do I Need To Clean My Mattress?

Even when you’ve just showered and you’re wearing soft, clean pajamas, your mattress is exposed to dust mites, allergens, sweat, drool, and other contaminants.

Routinely washing your bedclothes isn’t enough to remove allergens, pet dander, indoor air pollutants, odors, and stains. Cleaning your mattress twice a year — or before and after putting a mattress in storage — will help keep it clean and fresh.

Learning how to clean a mattress properly can even extend its lifespan. Your mattress is an expensive purchase, as well as an important part of your physical and mental health. Learning how to clean a mattress can help alleviate certain allergy symptoms and promote better sleep for a healthier you.

Mattress Cleaning Tools and Supplies

Before you get started learning how to clean a mattress, it’s important to know the supplies you’ll need for the job. While cleaning a mattress is a considerable job, you may be surprised to find you already have many of the supplies you need. Use this checklist to gather all the supplies you’ll need to clean your mattress.

Supplies

  • Baking soda
  • Dish soap
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • White vinegar
  • Lavender oil
  • Gentle stain removers

Tools

  • Vacuum cleaner with furniture attachment
  • Toothbrush
  • Scrub brush
  • Rubber gloves
  • Clean towels or cloths

Pro Tip:

It’s a good idea to avoid harsh chemicals and strong-smelling cleaners on your mattress. Strong smells and chemicals can be potentially irritating and allergenic over time.

How To Clean a Mattress: A Step-by-Step Guide

Cleaning your mattress might take a bit of elbow grease and some time. But it’s well worth the effort and can lead to a better night’s sleep. Take these steps to learn how to clean a mattress and freshen your bedroom.

1. Strip the Bed

Remove all pillows, sheets, and blankets from your bed. Remove the dust ruffle, too, and throw it all in the wash. Washing your bedding in very hot water will kill dust mites.

2. Vacuum the Top of Your Mattress

Your mattress top may not look like it has dust or other particles on it. But dust mites and pet dander are invisible to the naked eye — not to mention all the other crumbs, dirt, or other particles that can easily be tracked into bed.

Use your vacuum’s furniture attachment to thoroughly vacuum the top and the sides of the mattress. Also, vacuum underneath the bed. Have a cleaning buddy help you lift the mattress and vacuum between the mattress and box springs.

Pro Tip:

You’ll be using the vacuum cleaner again. For the best results, empty the dust canister after every use.

3. Sprinkle Baking Soda Over the Mattress

Baking soda naturally absorbs odors and works to clean set-in stains. This makes it an excellent choice to gently clean and deodorize almost any fabric surface. Lavender essential oil provides a pleasant fragrance and can be a calming sleep aid.

If you enjoy the smell of lavender or your little one has difficulty drifting off, you can mix a few drops of this useful oil with your baking soda. Sprinkle baking soda liberally over the entire surface of your mattress. Use a sifter to distribute the baking soda evenly.

4. Rub It In

Use a toothbrush or vacuum cleaner brush to rub baking soda into the mattress. This can help you get rid of odors deep in your mattress fibers. Since baking soda helps absorb moisture and odors, it’s best to let it set. You can treat stains while the baking soda does its job.

5. Treat Stains

Create a paste with baking soda and water to rub onto mattress stains or dark spots.

6. Let It Set

Leave the baking soda to do its magic for at least an hour. The longer the baking soda is allowed to set, the more odors can be absorbed. Additionally, allowing the baking soda paste to dry completely allows for easier cleanup.

6. Remove Excess Residue

Use a damp cloth to scrub away paste and remove those difficult stains. If some stains still remain, there are more powerful methods available later in this guide.

Pro Tip:

Dark stains like coffee or older stains may not disappear completely. This is normal and doesn’t indicate your mattress is still dirty.

7. Vacuum the Mattress One Final Time

Get out your trusty vacuum for the final time. Thoroughly vacuum all traces of baking soda from your mattress. If the mattress isn’t completely dry, allow it to air dry before you start replacing the bedding.

Should I air out my mattress?

Airing out your mattress is an essential step in how to clean a mattress. It can help eliminate mold and get rid of odors.

You can air out your mattress during the cleaning process or on a sunny day when you have a few hours to leave your mattress outdoors in the fresh air. For the best results, vacuum your mattress and leave it outdoors in direct sunlight for 3 to 4 hours. Alternatively, you can place the mattress near an open window for a few hours. If possible, allow both sides to get sunlight.

How to Deep Clean Your Mattress

someone wearing gloves and vacuuming the side of a mattress

If you’ve never learned how to clean a mattress, you’re not alone. If you’ve had the mattress for more than a couple of years, you might want to go for a deeper cleaning method. It takes a little more time, but if you’re willing to spend a night on the couch for the bliss of a completely refreshed mattress, then you simply need to add a few extra steps in the middle of the cleaning process. Follow these steps for a deeper clean.

Follow Steps 1 Through 4 of How to Clean a Mattress

You’ll be adding steps in the middle, so begin by following steps one through four in the step-by-step section above.

5. Vacuum the Mattress Again

After allowing the baking soda to set for at least 10 minutes, get the vacuum cleaner back out. Vacuum the entire mattress to remove all baking soda. Your machine’s bin will likely fill with baking soda during this step, so remember to empty it afterward.

6. Mix Your Cleaning Solution

In your spray bottle, mix one cup of hydrogen peroxide, one cup of cold water, and a couple of squirts of clear dish soap to make a DIY mattress cleaning solution. Put the lid on and shake the bottle to ensure the contents are thoroughly mixed.

7. Spray the Mattress

Start at one corner, and work your way across and down the mattress, spraying evenly to completely cover the mattress with the solution. Use your hands to check for dry spots until the entire surface is dampened.

8. Sprinkle More Baking Soda

Sprinkle baking soda over the damp mattress, making sure to completely cover stains and dark spots. Use a white rag to rub the baking soda into the damp mattress top. You’ll notice the baking soda and cleaning solution creates a firm paste.

9. Let It Set

For the best results, you want to allow the paste to set as long as possible. It’s a great idea to spend a night on the couch or clean your mattress when you have an overnight trip planned. If waiting a full night isn’t an option, leave the paste to dry for at least 8 hours.

Pro Tip:

To speed up drying time, use a fan to provide an indirect air source to your mattress.

10. Scrub the Mattress

Use your scrub brush, vacuum cleaner brush, or a toothbrush to break up the residue. A vacuum cleaner brush or stiff-bristled cleaning brush will likely produce the best results.

11. Vacuum a Final Time

Drag the vacuum out for a final cleaning. Vacuum the surface of your mattress thoroughly to lift away as much baking soda as possible. Then beat the mattress with a clean towel to dislodge any remaining particles and vacuum a final time.

Can I use a carpet cleaner with an upholstery tool to clean my mattress?

It’s possible to use a carpet cleaner on some types of mattresses. However, we recommend that you check the manufacturer’s label and ensure that the cleaning products are non-toxic.

Carpet cleaners are safe to use on innerspring mattresses, but they are not recommended for memory foam or goose down mattresses. If you use a carpet cleaner on your mattress, take care to avoid getting the mattress very wet. That encourages mold growth and can rust the coils over time.

How to Clean a Mattress With Tough Stains

It’s common for mattresses to compile a variety of stains over the years. While it’s understandable to wish to forget about the gross stains that can accumulate over the years, using the proper methods to remove them is well worth your time.

These are some of the most common stains that can be tough to remove from your mattress:

Blood Stains:

While it’s best to treat blood stains immediately, this method can lighten older stains, too. Fill a spray bottle with 3% hydrogen peroxide. Spray the stain, then start blotting (do not rub!) the area with a clean towel. Keep repeating the spray/blot process until the stain is lifted. If the towel becomes too soiled, replace it with a clean towel to complete the process.

Urine Stains:

Mix together one cup of hydrogen peroxide, three tablespoons of baking soda, and a few drops of dishwashing soap, stirring until baking soda is dissolved. Pour mixture into a spray bottle. Spray the stained area thoroughly and let the solution soak into the mark. Bonus: This solution is useful for stubborn sweat stains, too!

Allow the mattress to air dry, and repeat the process if any odor still remains. You can also purchase an enzyme cleaner, which chemically breaks down stains and compounds like uric acid.

Vomit Stains:

If possible, always clean up vomit immediately and launder bed linens in hot water to kill germs. To clean the mattress, mix a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray the stained area of the mattress, then blot with a clean towel. An enzyme cleaner can also help deodorize and decontaminate the stain.

Repeat the spray/blot process until the stain is gone. Sprinkle baking soda over the area, and allow it to set for at least an hour. Vacuum away the baking soda, and let the mattress air dry completely before putting on clean sheets.

How to Clean a Memory Foam Mattress

Memory foam provides a supportive but soft surface that moves with the contours of your body. This unique surface can absorb liquids like a sponge and make cleaning more difficult. Additionally, special cleaning techniques must be observed to avoid damaging the foam material.

Cleaning your memory foam mattress routinely is an important part of maintaining its integrity and lifespan. Use these steps to clean your memory foam mattress. You can also use these steps to refresh your memory foam mattress pad.

1. Vacuum the Surface

When using a vacuum on a memory foam mattress, it’s important to use a handheld vacuum or upholstery attachment. Anything larger could rip the fabric of the mattress. Vacuum the top of the mattress, paying special attention to seams, buttons, and other crevices. Vacuum the sides of the mattress, as well.

2. Remove Stains

Mix a solution of one part mild laundry detergent and two parts water in a spray bottle. Lightly spray stained areas only enough to make the fabric surface lather slightly. Use a clean white cloth to lightly rub the stain in circular motions. Avoid applying pressure that could drive the solution into the foam and damage the material.

When the stain is gone, repeat circular motions with a clean cloth to remove the remaining solution. If the mattress is still damp, press a clean, dry towel to the spot to remove excess moisture.

Tough Stains:

To remove difficult or dark stains, mix one part vinegar and three parts warm water in a bowl. Dip a clean cloth into the solution and gently scrub away the stain.

Cleaning Liquid Stains Upon Occurrence:

Use paper towels to absorb as much liquid as possible immediately. Keep applying paper towels until no more liquid is being absorbed. Pour white vinegar into a spray bottle and mist the area.

Absorb the liquid again with a paper towel. Then, sprinkle the wet spot with baking soda and let it set for 8 to 10 hours. Finish by vacuuming the baking soda residue.

3. Dry Thoroughly

Allow the mattress to dry completely under a fan or in direct sunlight. Once the foam is dry, place clean sheets on the mattress.

Pro Tip:

Harsh chemicals like bleach and ammonia will damage foam materials. Only use gentle cleaners on your memory foam mattress.

How to Clean a Mattress with Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are small brown insects that feed on blood. While they don’t spread disease, they can leave unpleasant bites all over the skin. It’s also worth mentioning that bed bugs aren’t only located in unsanitary environments. As long as they have a host to feed on, they’ll take up residence in your bed.

Typically, changing your sheets or general mattress cleaning will alert you to the first signs of bed bugs. Watch for spots of blood on your sheets or brown spots on the mattress where bugs have defecated. You may see bed bugs scuttling to hide near the mattress piping. They are about the size of an apple seed and either flat or balloon-shaped, depending on how recently they’ve fed.

These steps will walk you through how to clean a mattress with bed bugs:

1. Immediately Launder Your Bed Linens

Remove all bedding from the mattress directly into double plastic bags to avoid spreading bugs to another room. Wash the linens for at least 30 minutes in hot water. Follow with 30 minutes in the dryer at a high temperature. After placing bedding in the washer, seal the inner plastic bag and discard it immediately.

2. Vacuum the Mattress

Vacuum the mattress to remove as many bed bugs as possible. Pay special attention to mattress piping and crevices. Dispose of the vacuum cleaner’s contents outside into a sealable plastic bag.

3. Spray the Frame

Using a pesticide for bed bugs, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to spray the bed frame. This can help eliminate any bugs that escaped when you removed the mattress.

4. Clean the Mattress

If you do not appear to have a serious infestation of bed bugs, cleaning the mattress as mentioned above can remove spots left by bugs. However, leaving the mattress uncovered for a long period of time indoors isn’t advised, as bugs can migrate to other areas, especially in a cluttered bedroom.

5. Encase Your Mattress in a Protective Cover

There are plenty of spaces for bed bugs to hide within your mattress. Encasing the mattress and box springs in a special mattress protector designed to trap bed bugs will stop the spread. As soon as possible, zip both the mattress and box spring in encasements designed to trap bed bugs and keep them from their food source (you).

Leave bed bug encasements on for at least a year. If you encase a new mattress immediately upon purchase, you can prevent bed bugs from ever infesting the mattress.

6. Follow Up With Treatment

Bed bugs in your bed can mean they’re hiding in other places too. It’s important to conduct a thorough investigation in the room bed bugs were located. Inspect cluttered areas, cracks in walls, and the space where your walls meet the carpet.

There are products you can buy online or in stores to get rid of bed bugs. Also, you can contact a professional pest control company to determine if you have an infestation and need a complete extermination.

Pro Tip:

Avoid moving objects out of the room because you could carry bed bugs to other rooms and end up with a complete house infestation.

Keeping Your Mattress Clean

If you want to enjoy your newly clean mattress for as long as possible, a bit of prep work can help. Consider these tips to help keep your mattress cleaner and fresher between cleanings:

Invest in a Quality Mattress Cover

These covers are designed to keep out moisture, stains, and unfortunate incidents like bed bugs. Even an inexpensive mattress protector that keeps out minimal moisture will help prevent mold and mildew growth.

Launder Your Sheets at Least Once a Week

Changing your sheets regularly helps prevent dead skin cells and dust mites from building up in your mattress. For the best results, wash your bed linens in hot water or the highest washing machine settings your linens can tolerate.

Flip the Mattress Every Three Months

If you own a pillow top mattress, rotate it 180 degrees every six months. This action reduces stains and helps your mattress wear evenly over time.

Vacuum Your Mattress Once a Month

Use the crevice tool to get into tight spaces. If your mattress could use a refresh, sprinkle it with baking soda and wait 10 minutes before vacuuming.

Tackle Stains When They Occur

As soon as you know a spill occurred on your mattress, take the proper measures to remove the stain before it sets. Now that you know how to clean a mattress, it will be a lot easier to start cleaning the stain before it dries.

3 Reasons to Get a New Mattress Instead of Cleaning the Old One

close view of mildew and mold spots on a mattress

You’re reading this guide because you want to learn how to clean a mattress. Maybe it’s time to refresh it or you’re preparing for a move. But sometimes, holding onto your old mattress can actually be dangerous to your health. If your mattress has any of these issues, it’s most likely time to invest in a new one.

1. Mold in Your Mattress

This is a biggie because mold presents a serious danger to your health. Mold growth begins when you’ve left a spot wet or dirty (probably both) for too long. Mold may be black or green and typically looks more like spots than solid stains.

While you may be able to get rid of the appearance of mold on your mattress’ surface, growth could still continue deep in your mattress. Unless you can treat mold immediately, it’s likely time for a new mattress.

2. The Age of Your Mattress

Unfortunately, even the most expensive mattresses aren’t designed to last forever. A worn-out mattress can lead to neck and back pain, as well as chronic allergies. Most typical mattresses are designed to last seven to ten years. Even if you know how to clean a mattress like an expert, regular cleanings can only extend its lifespan for a short while. If your mattress is over ten years old, has severely sagging springs, or is simply too worn to provide comfort, it’s time for an upgrade.

3. Serious Bed Bug Infestation

If you catch bed bugs early, treatment is a viable option. However, a serious infestation will leave your mattress with serious blood and bug waste stains, not to mention the promise of the next generation of creepy crawlies waiting to suck more of your blood. If you replace your mattress due to a bed bug infestation, it’s vital to encase the new mattress and box spring in a protective mattress cover rated for bed bugs.

Cleaning your mattress is a big job, but it is one of the most important parts of keeping your bedroom healthy and relaxing. You actually spend about a third of your life in bed. You don’t want to share that time with dust mites and allergens or nasty odors. Learning how to clean a mattress can set you up for a lifetime of good habits and healthier sleep.

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