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.)
Shop Mattresses on Amazon
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.
Bet You Didn’t Know You Should Be Cleaning Your Mattress — Here’s How
Of all the things in your apartment to keep clean, we’re guessing your mattress hasn’t made the list. But youshouldbe periodically deep-cleaning the place you spend nearly one-third of your entire life. Along with refreshing your bed, this easy cleaning Links">DIY also ensures a better night’s sleep. There’s no need for harsh chemicals or expensive concoctions — all you need is a box of baking soda (and, if you’re feeling fancy, an essential oil) to clean your mattress.
What You’ll Need to Clean Your Mattress
- 16-ounce box baking soda
- Essential oil
- Vacuum cleaner
How to Clean Your Mattress
- Before beginning, flip or rotate the bed, which is smart to do every six months to extend mattress life and prevent sagging. While you’re working on your mattress, toss your bedding in the wash, and fluff duvets or feather beds in the dryer.
- Open the box of baking soda and add 10 to 20 drops of your favorite essential oil. Close the box and give it a good shake to distribute the essential oil and break up any large clumps. Lavender, chamomile, sandalwood, and ylang ylang are all soothing scents that would be wonderfully calming. And essential oils are naturally antibacterial.
- Sprinkle the baking soda over the bed, using the entire box. Now it’s time for a mattress massage! Rub the baking soda mixture into the bed, which really gives your mattress a deep cleaning. Let the baking soda and essential oil work its magic for at least an hour.
- While you’re waiting, wipe down the walls around your bed and the bed frame, creating a nice and clean sleeping area. After an hour, vacuum the mattress, working slowly to ensure all the baking soda has been removed.
- Along with freshening your bed, the mixture helps lift dirt and residue while wicking away moisture. And giving your mattress a good vacuuming sucks away any lurking dust mites, which makes everyone sleep easier. Make the bed, and you’re ready for some serious slumber.
How to Clean Your Mattress
Sure, you change your bed sheets and dust your bed frame on a weekly basis. But do you ever give much thought to the mattress itself? Although your bed might be your haven, it can also be home to a whole host of not-so-nice things (like dust mites). That’s why you should learn how to clean your mattress as a part of your overall cleaning regimen.
After a long day at work or chasing the kids around, you look forward to lying down in your comfy bed. What you might not realize, though, is that you’re not sleeping alone. There’s a good chance your mattress is filled with hundreds of mites. Mites thrive in warm moist conditions, and feast on dead skin cells. If that’s not enough, mites also leave behind allergens. Other than mites, your mattress is probably filled with dirt, dust, sweat, and other bodily fluids. In short, your mattress needs a scrubbing—now. Moral of the story: commit to cleaning your mattress at least twice a year. Here’s how to do it.
Strip Your Bed & Wash It
If you thought that you could just dust your way to a clean mattress, think again. You’ll need to take everything off your bed (and we mean everything) and wash it all. That goes for the mattress pad as well as the cover. Use bleach for white cottons and use hot temperatures to dry, since that can help kill the dust mites. If your sheets are made from a finer fabric (say, silk), be sure to always check the care tag to avoid damage.
Vacuum Your Bed
Next, it’s time to break out the vacuum. Use the upholstery attachment on your vacuum and vacuum the entire bed. To ensure that you get the most out of your cleaning session, make sure the vacuum is set to the highest setting. Be sure to get in all the nooks and crannies of the bed.
Spot Clean Your Mattress
If your mattress is sporting stains (like red wine, for example), you’ll need to spot clean it. This works best by mixing hydrogen peroxide and baking soda, and then applying the mixture to the stain. Make sure these areas are dry before putting your sheets back on the bed.
Use Baking Soda
Once your mattress is dry, cover it completely with a fine layer of baking soda. Not only will the baking soda eliminate odors, but it can also help remove moisture and residual dirt on the mattress. Let the baking soda sit for at least 30 minutes. After the baking soda has had time to sit, vacuum the entire mattress again to get it all up.
The last step is preventing mites and other particles from getting into your mattress in the first place. You may want to invest in an allergy protection mattress cover. This way, there is a lot less of a chance of these nasty critters coming back.
Cleaning your mattress should become part of your deep cleaning routine. It can help extend the life of your mattress, reduce your potential exposure to allergens, and keep your bed beautiful — and bug-free, too.
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.