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 Clean A Mattress and Get Rid of Stains
Knowinghow to clean a mattresscan help you sleep better at night. This guide explains how to clean your mattress and get rid of stains, odors, and allergens. It also covers how to protect your mattress, so it stays clean and fresh.
Why You Should Clean Your Mattress
Dead Skin Cells and Dust Mites
Of the estimated 1.6trillionskin cells on our bodies, roughly 30,000 to 40,000 of them fall off every hour. Multiply that by the eight hours we’re supposed to get, and we’re shedding around a quarter-million dead skin cells in our sleep.
Sure, your sheets catch most of the skin cells. What they don’t protect your mattress from are the dust mites that feed on those dead skin cells. And, there arehundreds of thousandsof those dust mites in your bed.
Or, Glen Needham, a retired professor of entomology at Ohio State University, says, “Every mattress is a crime scene in terms of how it gets inoculated with mites.”
Moisture, Mold, and Mildew
When we sleep, our bodies lose moisture. Some of that is simply the result of us breathing. Some of it is also sweat.
If you’re a person who “sleeps hot” or who suffers from hot flashes or night sweats, you know how damp your bedding and mattress can get. Combine the two, and our bodies produce over a pound of moisture each night!
While much of that evaporates in the air, plenty soaks into your mattress. There, the dense materials and warm, dark environment provide the perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew spores.
Pets, Kids, and Other Messes
If you have young children, the chances are that at least one mattress in your home bears the results of a nighttime accident. Even house-trained pets can leave your mattress damp if they spend much time licking their paws or hop on your bed right after a bath. And, of course, full-grown adults can soil a mattress several ways, too.
So, you can put up with a stained mattress that stinks of sweat and body oils, or you can set aside an afternoon to deep clean your mattress and get it looking — and smelling — new again.
How to Clean Your Mattress
You need to strip the bed before you begin cleaning your mattress, so this is a good time to launder your bed linens, too.
- Using the hottest setting allowed on the manufacturer’s label will kill dust mites on your sheets and blankets.
- Go ahead and wash your pillows and fabric mattress toppers.
- You can even wash an electric blanket if you use one.
While the washer and dryer are doing their thing, follow the steps below to clean your mattress.
1. Vacuum the Top and Sides
Your vacuum cleaner’s upholstery attachment is the best tool for mattress cleaning. Start at the top and work your way down in overlapping, narrow paths.
Vacuum the sides the same way. Don’t worry about the other side of the mattress just yet — we’ll get there in step 5. For now, we’re clearing away dead skin cells, pet hair, and surface dirt to make the next step more effective.
2. Remove Odors with Baking Soda
S prinkle your mattress well with plain baking soda (bicarb for UK readers) andgentlyrub it in, so it bonds with surface moisture. Let it sit for 10 minutes to continue neutralizing odors.
What about adding essential oils?
Several readers have asked about mixing essential oils with the baking powder before sprinkling it on their mattresses. I don’t recommend it for a couple of reasons.
- Essential oils are stilloils.Rubbing any oil into a fabric is never a good idea — it attracts dirt and can make the bond between the material and soil permanent. That’s pretty much the exactoppositeof what we’re trying to achieve when we clean a mattress.
- It’s a waste of time.By the time you’ve cleaned the mattress, removed stains, and protected it from future problems, you won’t be able to smell the essential oil. So why bother?
3. Vacuum Again
After giving the baking soda time to bond with surface moisture and odors, it’s time to vacuum it out of the mattress.
Using the upholstery attachment, vacuum the top and sides of the mattress with slow, overlapping strokes. Donotpress too hard — it interferes with your vacuum’s suction and may snag your bed’s fabric.
4. How to Remove Mattress Stains
Mattresses typically acquire three types of stains: blood, urine, and what we’ll call “other bodily fluids.”
While it’s best to treat stains immediately, sometimes sleep is more important. Fortunately, you can still clean stains on your mattress even after they’ve been there a while.
You can often get fresh blood stains out of mattresses with just a rag, some cold water, and a little soap. For fresh blood stains, it’s important to usecoldwater, since heat causes the proteins in blood to bond with the mattress material.
If cold water and a bit of soap didn’t do the trick, use the dried blood remover for mattresses below.
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.)
How to Clean a Mattress
If you’ve never taken the time to clean your mattress, it can collect enough dead skin cells and dust mites to double its weight in ten years. The thought of sleeping on that kind of build-up is disgusting. Knowing how to clean a mattress properly can help you sleep better at night.
Merely running the vacuum over it now and then isn’t enough to thoroughly clean your mattress. While you are probably aware of the dust mites and other critters that like to call your mattress home, did you know that it may also contain sweat, blood, urine, along with mildew and mold?
Quick Mattress Cleaning Summary
Cleaning a Mattress
Mix one cup of hydrogen peroxide with two tablespoons of baking soda and a few drops of lemon and lavender essential oil in a spray bottle. After spraying the cleaning solution on the mattress, let it sit for one hour. Rub with the surface with a towel and allow the mattress to dry.
Vacuuming the mattress will clean all remaining residues. To disinfect an old mattress use our DIY mattress sanitizer recipe.
Unless you shower before getting into bed every night, your mattress could also be home to oils, dirt, and other trace chemicals. If you follow this simple guide, you’ll know how to properly clean a mattress and can start sleeping better at night. Or, if you are tired of cleaning your mattress of stains and deodorizing it, you can learn about the different organizations where to donate a mattress so that it can be used by someone who needs it.
How to Clean a Mattress
Before you can start to clean your mattress, you need to remove your linens from the bed and launder them. First, wash and dry your mattress pad, then move onto your sheets, before finally washing your bedspread or comforter and duvet.
Verify the hottest water and dryer heat setting for your linens, since heat will kill the dust mites in your bedding and get rid of bed bugs that may have infested your mattress. See our how to get rid of bed bugs post for more details. Egypt’s Alexandria University recently released data from a study(..) that suggests that eucalyptus and clove essential oils will help to eliminate dust mites.
Before you place the sheets back on your freshly cleaned mattress, use the following recipe to wash them.
Mattress Cleaning Solution for Eliminating Dust Mites
- Hot Water
- 10 drops clove or eucalyptus essential oils
To eliminate dust mites on your sheets, add the essential oil to your wash. You can also add the two oils to one quart of water and pour into a spray bottle and mist the mattress to get rid of dust mites in the fabric.
Vacuum the Mattress
After removing the linens from your bed, the next step is to vacuum it. Using the upholstery attachment of your vacuum, start at the top of the mattress and work your way down.
Use narrow, overlapping paths. Make sure you also vacuum the sides of your bed in the same manner.
Deodorize the Mattress
While you may not notice your own body odors, over time your sweat can build-up in your mattress, leaving an unmistakable scent. To rid your bed of these unfavorable aromas, you can sprinkle the mattress a DIY mattress deodorizer that uses natural ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry.
Cleaning a memory foam mattress is a little different than dealing with a standard mattress. Powdered cleaners and deodorizers are often the best way for how to clean a memory foam mattress, as excess liquid is bad for the memory foam. Water and other substances that seep into the foam sometimes become trapped and can develop mold and mildew that is difficult to remove.
DIY Mattress Deodorizer Recipe
- 1 cup baking soda
- 10 drops lavender essential oil
Fill an empty Mason jar or shaker container with the baking soda. Add the ten drops lavender essential oil to the bottle. Replace the lid on the container and shake well to mix the lavender essential oil and baking soda. If you’re using a Mason jar, puncture holes in the top using a nail and hammer.
To rid your mattress of odors, sprinkle the baking soda on the mattress and with a scrub brush, gently rub the baking soda into the mattress. This will help the baking soda penetrate the top layer of fabric and bond with the moisture and body oils that have soaked into the fabric. Let the deodorizer sit for at least ten minutes. Vacuum the mattress again to pull the moisture and odors out of the material.
How to Clean Mattress Stains
Unfortunately, when it comes to your mattress, stains are inevitable. If the mattress stains are visible, it can void the warranty on your mattress, making it especially important to do what you can to protect your investment.
You can do this by making regular cleaning and stain remove a part of your regular house cleaning routine. How you clean the stain on your mattress will ultimately depend on the kind of stain you have. You’ll need to target each stain with the appropriate cleaning method.
Choose the appropriate recipe for how to remove mattress stains, depending on what kind of stain you have. If you cannot tell what the stain is from, pick one method to see if it works for stain removal. If it doesn’t get rid of the stain you can try another strategy. Sometimes you may need to repeat the process a couple of times if the stain is particularly large or if it has deeply penetrated the mattress.
Dried Blood Stain Remover Recipe for Mattress and Upholstery
- ¼ cup hydrogen peroxide
- 1 tablespoon liquid dish soap
- 1 tablespoon table salt
To remove blood stains from sheets, mix the ingredients to form a thick paste. Spread the cleaning solution lightly over the stain. Allow the paste to dry completely. Once dry, scrape off the residue. With a white rag dipped in hydrogen peroxide, dab at the remaining stain, rotating the cloth as the stain lifts.
Mattress Stain Remover Recipe for Vomit and Sweat
- Warm water
- 1 cup 3% hydrogen peroxide
- 3 tablespoons baking soda
- Dishwashing liquid
Pour the warm water into a spray bottle and mist the stained area until it is slightly damp. Mix the hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and dish soap and pour in another spray bottle.
Mist the mattress cleaner over the stain. With an old toothbrush or soft scrub brush, gently brush the stain until it is eliminated. Mist the area again with fresh water and blot dry.
Food and Drink Stain Remover Recipe for Mattress
- ¼ cup laundry detergent
- ¼ cup white vinegar
- 2 ½ cups water
Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle. How to get rid of coffee stains also applies to soft drinks and pizza sauce. Lightly spray the stained area and gently agitate with an old toothbrush.
Allow the solution to sit for approximately 15 minutes. With a wet hand towel, blot the area to remove the stain and the solution. Stubborn stains may require additional time and effort.
Rinse the cloth and continue to blot the area until the stain disappears. Remove any excess liquid by blotting the area with a dry towel.
How to Get Urine Out of Mattress
If you have urine stains on your mattress, cleaning them can be tricky because urine is one of the toughest stains to treat, especially once they’ve dried. With this easy to make DIY stain remover, you can get rid of urine stains out of a mattress, both old and new, and get your mattress looking like new again.
Urine Stain Remover Solution for Mattresses
- ¾ cup hydrogen peroxide
- 2 tablespoons baking soda
- 2 drops lavender essential oil
- 2 drops lemon essential
In a glass spray bottle, mix the hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. Add the essential oil and swirl the bottle gently to combine the ingredients. Spray the mixture on the areas you are treating.
Allow sitting, untouched for an hour. Using a clean towel, soak up any excess liquid. Remove the towel and let the area air dry. Run a vacuum over the area to pick up any residue.
How to Disinfect a Mattress
It is crucial to regularly disinfect your mattress to remove the germs and dirt that tend to collect. If you’re still not convinced, consider that you sweat ½ pint of liquid every night, which ultimately ends up in the fibers of your mattress. Getting rid of the dirt and germs can help to alleviate allergies and can prevent the spread of illness. After you’ve vacuumed the mattress, sanitize it with this useful mattress sanitizing solution.
Homemade Mattress Sanitizer Recipe
- 2 cups vodka or rubbing alcohol
- 30 drops of tea tree oil
- 15 drops lemon essential oil
- 15 drops lavender essential oil
- 15 drops of eucalyptus essential oil
Add the ingredients to a glass spray bottle and shake well to combine. Spray a light mist of the solution over the mattress and allow the surface to air dry.
Be sure to follow these steps for both sides of your mattress. Since cleaning a mattress is such a challenging task, you should consider using a washable mattress cover to keep the dirt, dust, and grime from settling into your mattress.
A mattress cover will allow you to quickly pop it into the wash if you spill anything on it and make it a part of your regular washing routine.
We hope you enjoyed learning how to clean a mattress and utilize the all-natural recipes included to keep your mattress clean and fresh. If you found the mattress cleaning information in this article useful, please share it with everyone you know.
How to Clean Your Mattress
You’ll rest easier knowing you’re not sleeping on dust and dead skin cells.
If you haven’t thought about cleaning your mattress lately, consider this: You probably spend six or seven hours on it every night. During that time, dead skin cells, sweat, and oil from your body make their way onto it. That’s why Carolyn Forte, director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab, recommends following this advice every few months to keep your bed fresh.
What You’ll Need
1. Ditch the dust.
The easiest way to tackle dust is to use the upholstery tool on your vacuum cleaner to go over the top and sides of the mattress and as much of the box spring as you can access. Press firmly on the tool to draw out dust beneath the fabric’s surface. Then use the crevice tool to get into the quilting, along the edge welting, and where any pillow top is attached. If you have a garment steamer, go over the mattress with the steamer before you vacuum to help kill and remove dust mites lurking near the surface.
2. Wipe out old stains.
If pets sleep with you, or you like to snack in bed, chances are your mattress may have some stains on it. The easiest way to remove them is with an upholstery cleaner formulated to remove pet stains, like Good Housekeeping Seal-holder Bissell Pet Stain and Odor Remover ($18, amazon.com). "They not only remove stains but also contain enzymes to tackle odors," Forte says. Avoid over-wetting the mattress, and let it dry thoroughly before making the bed.
3. Kill any odors.
For any telltale smells, spray the mattress and box spring with a disinfecting spray, like Lysol ($7, amazon.com). It’s safe to use on fabric and kills bacteria that causes odors. To freshen your mattress between cleanings, sprinkle some Arm & Hammer Baking Soda ($12 for four boxes, amazon.com) onto the fabric, wait 15 minutes, and vacuum.
Now that you know your mattress is clean, check out these tips for making sure your pillows and mattress pad are dust- and odor-free too.