How to Clean a Mattress (and Why)
Tackling this five-step chore a couple times a year can help keep things fresh in the bedroom
You spend about a third of your life on your mattress. When was the last time you gave it a good, deep clean? The seldom-used living room sofa probably feels the bristle of a vacuum brush more often than your trusty mattress. It’s time to change that. Besides promoting a more pleasant and productive night’s sleep, a clean, cared for mattress can last longer—and it might even help prevent nasty, not to mention costly, pest infestations.
Back when most mattresses could be flipped over, the conventional wisdom was that you should turn it twice a year, and take that opportunity to clean it as well. These days, a lot of mattresses, including the pillow-top variety, can’t be turned because they have a proper top and bottom. But cleaning your mattress two times a year remains a good rule of thumb. (Check the mattress label for instructions since the manufacturer might recommend rotating the mattress head to foot to ensure even wear.)
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Start the cleaning process by stripping the mattress of all sheets and bedding and tossing the items in the wash. To remove tough stains, always use a Consumer Reports top-rated laundry detergent and the hottest water setting on your washing machine; dry on high heat as well to zap any surviving critters.
Next, vacuum the entire mattress surface with the upholstery attachment on your vacuum cleaner. Pay attention to seams and crevices, where dirt, dust, dead skin, and other icky stuff collect; switching to your vacuum’s crevice attachment can help get in deep.
Our tests have found that a normal vacuum cleaner provides capable cleaning, but if you’re fastidious, consider investing in the Dyson V6 Mattress Handheld Vacuum, a $250 device designed specifically for the job. In a Consumer Reports at-home mattress test, we cleaned half of a foam Tempur-Pedic mattress with a top-rated canister vacuum and half with the Dyson handheld. The Dyson sucked up 3 grams of material, including dead skin cells that dust mites like to nosh on, compared with the 1 gram that our regular vacuum removed.
Once you’re finished vacuuming, check for stains and spot treat them with an appropriate cleaner. An upholstery cleaner or enzyme-based pet-odor remover can do the job on many bodily fluids. You can also try a simple solution of 1 teaspoon mild dish detergent and 1 cup of warm water.
Next, deodorize the mattress by sprinkling baking soda over the entire surface. Especially if this is your first cleaning, don’t be afraid to empty an entire 1-pound box onto the mattress. For best results, leave the baking soda there for 24 hours. That means you might need to plan the project around an overnight trip—or be willing to sleep elsewhere in your home. If you can place the mattress near a window, the sunlight will add its sanitizing power.
After the baking soda has had a chance to tackle odors, go back over the mattress with your vacuum’s upholstery attachment. If you don’t already own a mattress cover, we recommend buying one. And adding a mattress pad between the cover and bottom sheet will help absorb moisture. Along with the periodic deep cleaning described here, these extra layers of protection will help prevent mites, fleas, and other pests from sharing your bed. That should really help you sleep tight.
How to Wash a Mattress Protector and Topper
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When it comes to protecting our mattress, using a mattress protector is a must. However, do you know how to wash a mattress protector and how often you need to?
Can You Wash a Mattress Protector?
First of all yes, you can definitely wash a mattress protector like you would your new set of sheets. That is the main reason for having one, since you are unable to wash your mattress.
While sleeping, we lose fluid, skin cells and any dirt on our bodies will rub off in the sheets. These tiny particles will push tough the fibers as we toss and turn, eventually making their way down and into the mattress.
Once inside of the mattress, it is almost impossible to pull it all back out, even with spot cleaning and vacuuming the top of your mattress.
Instead of having to worry about what’s falling through the cracks of your mattress and degrading its lifespan, opt to own and use a mattress protector.
A mattress protector is a thin fitted sheet that goes on your bare mattress and sits underneath your fitted and flat sheets. Most of the top rated mattress protectors are 100% waterproof and can hold more than a liter of liquid before you need to change it.
They are also engineered to be breathable through a cotton/terry blend that absorbs yet allows air to flow through so that you are not sweating due to the extra layer underneath you.
How to Wash a Mattress Protector
Whether you need to spot clean or completely launder your mattress protector then follow these steps to take care of spills, stains and regular refreshing.
If you catch spills or accidents in time, you can spot clean your mattress protector instead of having to wash it between scheduled washes.
The best way to be able to spot clean is to do it as soon as the accident occurs or as soon as you notice it. Putting off spot cleaning may result in set in stains or permanent yellowing of your mattress protector and needing to wash it instead.
- Use a paper towel to blot up the excess moisture. (A paper towel will pull most of the liquid out)
- Do not rub the area, this can damage the mattress protector fibers and spread the stain further.
- Mix a little mild detergent with water to make it thinner and pour it in a spray bottle. (always use a spray bottle for spot cleaning since it controls the flow and keeps you from over soaking a spot)
- Agitate the detergent a little with your fingers to help awaken it. (Again, don’t scrub or rub)
- Use a clean cloth dipped in water to blot up the detergent
- Dip the soapy cloth in clean water and squeeze out the excess and repeat until there is no more soap on the mattress protector.
- Follow up with using paper towels to blot out any excess moisture to help your mattress protector dry faster.
- Allow it to air dry by hanging it up.
- Once fully dried replace and continue to use
It is important to control how much water you are using to spot clean. You don’t want to over soak the area with detergent or water, this won’t clean it any better and will take a longer amount of time to dry.
Less is better, because you can always work up to using more if needed. You cannot work backwards from over soaking the area or adding too much soap.
Also spraying too much detergent or not watering it down a little can cause too much soap residue to get into the fibers and be difficult to remove it all. More soap does not mean cleaner, it just equals out to more work needed to rinse it.
You should strive to wash your mattress protector once a month. You can stretch it to once every two months if your sheets are changed regularly and you don’t have many spills or accidents.
Your mattress protector needs to be laundered regularly due to the buildup of dirt, dead skin cells, dust mites and odors. Washing your mattress protector will also restore the freshness of it to keep allergens under control.
- Set your washer to the cold water and gentle/delicate cycle.
- Add in a bleach free laundry detergent or a natural one you can create at home. (Bleach can damage the waterproof backing)
- Place your mattress protector in the washer with your sheets or alone.
- Let the washer run through the entire cycle and skip the fabric softener, this will reduce the absorbency of the mattress protector.
- For the best drying results hang up your mattress protector to dry. If you need it quicker then you can place it in the dry on a no heat or low heat setting. (place damp towels in with it to help dry and fluff it up.)
The best thing you need to remember about washing your mattress protector is that you need to avoid high heat settings. Similar to washing wool, and other sensitive materials, washing or drying with heat can damage the waterproof backing, shrink it and reduce it’s ability to protect your mattress.
Can You Wash a Mattress Topper?
If you have a mattress topper, it is a little different from a mattress protector. A mattress topper, sometimes referred to as a pad, is a padded cushion that fits on your mattress like a fitted sheet would.
The main difference between the two is that a topper is used to add a layer of cushion to your mattress where as a mattress protector adds little to no cushion and offers waterproof protection.
A good mattress pad will make your night’s sleep a lot better. It doesn’t provide any protection for your mattress though.
You can wash most mattress toppers. Cotton and polyester blends are able to washed and dried following the same instructions as above. Since it is a thicker version of a mattress protector it may need to be dried a little longer.
If you have a memory foam or egg crate mattress topper then you may not be able to wash it as easily. You can vacuum the top to pull out any debris or dust and spot clean as needed
Now that you know more about how to wash a mattress protector and the best schedule for taking care of it, you can begin to work it into your cleaning routine. Keeping your mattress protector clean and functioning will help extend the life of your mattress underneath since it is catch all of the daily wear and tear.
How to Wash and Care For a Mattress Cover and Pad
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You are keeping your mattress clean by using a protective cover, but how often do you need to wash a mattress cover? This guide will help you learn how to wash a mattress cover and show you how often you need to clean it for the best results.
Can You Wash a Mattress Cover?
Yes, you absolutely can wash a mattress cover. It is recommended you regularly launder it due to the buildup of skin cells, liquids and other allergens.
Things to Consider Before Washing a Mattress Cover
Before you toss it into the wash there are a few things you should know before you wash a mattress cover.
Consider the temperature you wash your bed cover at… do not wash it on high heat. Just like washing a mattress protector, you can clean a cover in the washing machine. However, you should only do it on lukewarm or cold temperatures.
Most people are aware that hot water can kill bacteria. But, you do not want to use any hot water on your mattress cover and pad.
The materials that compile your mattress cover can be damaged or weaken the waterproofing when you use water that is too hot. Even the best made mattress covers will break down from really hot water. This is the same for when washing new sheets.
You also should only use a mild detergent or a natural cleaner you can make at home when cleaning your mattress cover.
It may be considered really dirty when you think about everything the mattress houses over the time between washes. Using a harsh chemical cleaner such as bleach will end up ruining your mattress cover instead of cleaning it.
If you would like to add a little more oomph to your machine wash, add in a half a cup of white vinegar. Vinegar is a naturally acidic choice and gentle in the wash.
The high acidity levels in vinegar are able to kill and remove various odors, bacteria, and even some stains. It’s even good for cleaning carpet and flooring.
Finally, create a schedule for washing your mattress cover. Since you use sheets on top of it, you don’t need to wash the mattress cover as regularly as you do your sheets.
Instead, opting to wash your mattress cover once every two months is a more practical approach. You will want to wash it to clean any residue which has soaked into it and also to deter your mattress cover from yellowing due to sweating or potential bacteria growth.
Now that you know the basics of washing a mattress cover you can clean your mattress pad without worry. If you ever have a question about laundering your mattress cover, let it tell you what it needs by reading the fabric care tag.
How to Clean a Mattress Cover
Not all mattress covers are made with the same material. While most of them can be easily washed, there are a few that might not make the washing machine cut. That doesn’t mean you can’t still wash them. It just means you will have to wash them another way.
Materials that Can Be Washed
Cotton, vinyl, and down mattress covers are almost always able to be cleaned in the washing machine. Always make sure to read the fabric care label to make sure your bed pad is okay to machine wash. Follow all the required settings, such as cold water only and low heat to dry.
Foam Based Covers
More complex mattress covers are those made from foam (the egg-crate variety). You don’t want to wash foam based mattress covers in a washing machine.
This is because a washing machine can agitate them and cause the foam to tear. All is not lost though. There is still a way to keep these more comfortable and cushioned mattress covers clean.
Steps for Cleaning Your Mattress Cover
- First, remove any dust and dander by vacuuming the foam pad. It is easier to use a vacuum attachment or a handheld smaller vacuum, so you can better control and direct it.
- Next, if there are any stains, spot clean them. Use a mild detergent or an enzyme based cleaner to penetrate any stains and clear them. Another great option is to make your own cleaner with vinegar. Spot cleaning is an essential step prior to cleaning to make sure you don’t go to hard on the entire cover for a small problematic spot. This goes the same for cleaning all other materials, including carpet.
- Let the solution sit for about ten to twenty minutes and rinse it by blotting up the cleaner with a sponge filled with clean water. You don’t want to squeeze and soak the foam. Instead, lightly apply a blotting with the sponge so a little water is worked into the stained area.
- Finally, get up as much water as you can by blotting the area with a clean and lightly colored towel. Using a dark towel can sometimes cause dye bleeding into your foam mattress cover.
Make sure the spot is fully dry before you place it back on your bed and cover it up with a sheet. If left wet or damp, it can grow mold or bacteria.
How to Wash a Mattress Topper
If you are trying to find out if you can wash a memory foam mattress topper, you will be pleased to know you can. Since it is memory foam, it may not be able to be traditionally washed in a machine as easily as a cotton-based mattress topper.
Make sure you read the care label to see if there are any special instructions or guidelines before you begin the next step.
The best way to wash a memory foam mattress topper is to do it by hand. You can use a mild detergent or use baking soda.
Using Baking Soda
This cleaning method takes the least amount of time since you do not need to get the mattress topper wet. The baking soda will penetrate into the fibers and cling to any dirt or dander and help pull it up when you vacuum up the baking soda.
Baking soda will also neutralize any lingering odors. Just make sure you leave the baking soda sitting on the mattress topper for at least fifteen minutes to make sure it is able to work.
For a powerful one-two punch, spray vinegar onto the mattress cover before applying the baking soda.
Baking soda can also clean a whole multitude of things, that includes cleaning showers, drains, and also materials like wool.
Using a Detergent to Clean
Similar to the spot cleaning, if you need to wash your entire mattress topper, you will want to follow the instructions for spot cleaning. The easiest way to accomplish this task is to put your cleaning solution into a spray bottle and lightly spray the mattress.
You do not want to soak the mattress topper, because then it will take longer to rinse and dry.
Also, to make it a less daunting task, split your mattress into sections such as quarters and work on cleaning each section before moving onto the next.
Since you now have the entire foam mattress wet or damp, you will need to allow it to dry for a few days. Using forced air such as a blow dryer can ruin its shape and damage the foam. It is best to put it in a well-ventilated area to dry.
Flip it onto the other side multiple times a day if it is soaked all the way through.
Now that you know the ins and outs of washing a mattress cover, you can keep your bed clean and your mattress protected for many years of good night sleeps.
Can You Wash A Mattress Topper – A Complete Cleaning Guide
There are so many different types of material you can get inside a mattress topper that as usual, it depends.
You can easily wash some mattress topper in the washing machine but other not so much.
Your first port of call is checking the label to see what it says, aside from that I’ve broken this article down into the different materials so you can find out the best way to wash your topper.
How To Wash A Memory Foam Mattress Topper
DO NOT PUT IT IN THE WASHING MACHINE
That will completely ruin the memory foam, you might just get away with it if it’s just foam and not memory foam but still not a good idea.
You need to spot clean it or take the whole thing outside and hose that thing down if it’s soaked through with something.
For spot cleaning you want to mix some detergent and water and just hit it with a sponge, not too much liquid but enough to get it damp then just scrub it out.
How To Wash Feather And Down Mattress Toppers
Most feather and down toppers are machine washable (check the label) and if they are you want to wash them in a large size washing machine which you might need to go to a laundry for.
Add about half the amount of detergent you normally would and put it on a delicate cycle. Rinse it twice through to get all the detergent out and then hang it out to dry, You can likely tumble dry it on a low setting before hanging it out to dry it faster but check first.
You don’t want to do this too often as down is a delicate material that gets ruined with excessive washing so only do this if you really need to.
How To Wash Polyester Mattress Toppers
Polyester and microfibre toppers are much more robust, you can wash them just the same as the above feather toppers.
Consider A Deodorizer
If it’s just starting to smell a bit off and you can’t get to an oversized washing machine then you can use a spray deodorizer to get the worst of the smell out. And it can remove stains.
I recommend the Envii Bed fresh for anyone who wants to try it. Not too expensive and it’s already in a spray bottle for easy application.
Other Ways To Clean Your Mattress Topper
Plain and simple, get your vacuum cleaner up on top of the mattress topper (or put your topper on the floor first that’s probably easier) and give it a good hoover!
It’s easy enough to do and will get a lot of any possible dust out of it and other bits of hair and dead skin that find their way into your bed. And, as long as your gentle, it won’t cause any damage to the topper itself. Result!
Important note: Make sure your topper is dry before you vacuum it, this is to be done before you wash it.
Protect it first
Getting a mattress protector is always a good idea, you can get waterproof ones that don’t have that horrible plasticy feeling and will protect your topper from anything and everything.
And even a non-waterproof protector is a good idea, just something to protect, which if you’re looking to wash your topper I’m sure you now know the importance of.
What If It Can’t Be saved?
If your topper is too far gone and you need to replace it have a look at my top picks for mattress toppers here.
I have an affiliate relationship with some companies where we get a percentage of sales if you click over from our site. This is at no extra cost to you and how I pay the costs of running this site.
I’m Kieran an award-winning sleep blogger and I created The Dozy Owl, I believe that a lack of sleep is a national crisis and if we can master our sleep we can do anything.
How to Clean a Mattress in 9 Simple Steps
A mattress is a serious investment, so you want to make sure it lasts—and that means learning how to clean a mattress. Mattresses can harbor dust mites, dead skin, dirt, and other debris, which means they need to be cleaned regularly—particularly if you suffer from allergies, have pets, or are just an avid midnight snacker.
The good news is that cleaning a mattress is far easier than you might think. Read on to discover the nine simple steps that will help you keep your mattress clean and ready for years of snoozing. Thanks to expert insights from Ed Curry, president of mattress company Duxiana, and Neil Parikh, cofounder of Casper, here are some pro tips for taking good care of your mattress so you can sleep easy.
1. Gather your mattress cleaning supplies
To deep clean a mattress, you’ll need certain materials on hand. Gather up:
- a vacuum with an upholstery attachment
- an enzyme cleaner or dish soap to get stains out
- laundry detergent
- baking soda
- cleaning cloths
- cold water
2. Strip the bed and wash all the bedding
Remove sheets, pillowcases, and mattress covers and let them take a spin in the washing machine while you work on cleaning the mattress. Washing all the bedding in hot water will help get rid of any dust mites. Depending on the type of pillows you have, you may be able to wash them as well. (Double-check the care label.)
3. Vacuum the mattress
Grab your vacuum cleaner’s upholstery attachment and go over the entire surface of the mattress, including the sides. Pay special attention to seams and break out the crevice attachment to get any hidden dirt or dust.
4. Spot-clean your mattress with a stain remover
Now it’s time to focus on getting stains out of the mattress, and that means spot-cleaning. Never soak your mattress or apply water or cleaning solution directly to it. Memory foam, for example, isn’t supposed to get wet at all. For that reason, it’s important to proceed with caution and operate on the principle that less is more.
So, spot-cleaning with a stain remover it is. The stain remover you choose will depend on the type of stain and the type of mattress. For biological stains, reach for an enzyme cleaner. Spray the cleaner onto a clean white cloth, and then blot the stained area with the cloth. After that, you can apply cold water to a different clean cloth and continue blotting until the stain lifts. The goal here is to use as little product and moisture as possible. This method is ideal for blood, sweat, vomit, urine, and other related stains.
As an alternative to an enzyme-based cleaner, you can make your own DIY solution by mixing dish soap with water and applying just the resulting foam to the stain. You can also make a DIY solution of equal parts cold water and hydrogen peroxide.
5. Sprinkle baking soda all over the entire mattress
If you can’t put your mattress out in the sun and fresh air, baking soda is the next best thing. Sprinkle a layer over the entire top of the mattress and leave for several hours (or better yet, apply before an overnight trip). Baking soda will break down acid and absorb any remaining moisture or odor. The longer you can leave baking soda on the mattress, the better it will work! As the mattress sits with the baking soda, open any windows in the room to let the light and sunshine in. The sun’s UV rays will actually help kill any mold or bacteria on the mattress.
6. Vacuum again
Once the baking soda has worked its magic, thoroughly vacuum it up. (If you have a fabric headboard, now’s a good time to vacuum that, as well! Might as well get a fresh start with everything bed-related.)
7. Flip the mattress
Now that side one is spotless, flip the mattress and repeat steps 1-5 so both sides are equally fresh and clean. Flipping, of course, should be done at regular intervals, whether you’re deep cleaning the mattress or not. The conventional wisdom has been that people should flip their mattress every three months, but that rule of thumb only applies to spring mattresses because they compress over time. As mattresses get more specialized, your best bet is to check with the model manufacturer. (The foam Casper mattress, for instance, only needs to be rotated 180 degrees every few months, while only the top pad of Duxiana’s Dux mattress needs to be flipped and turned.)