How To Clean A Mattress


Let’s be honest.

A clean-smelling bed is calming. It also helps to know that your mattress isn’t a pool party for bugs, bacteria or a dust dump. On the other hand, trying to fall asleep on a mattress with stains and odours is not easy.

Truth be told, it is a good idea to clean your bed every few months. Not just to please your nose with fresh bedding but also for hygiene reasons.

If you have no idea how to clean a mattress or want more practical tips that you can do right at home, then this guide is for you.

Clean A Mattress

Good Reasons For Cleaning A Mattress

If you are listening to the sleeping experts, then you are one of the wise folks who are making sure that they get at least seven to nine hours of sleep every night. But not everything about sleep is sugar and spice. While your body and brain rejuvenate themselves, your skin is shedding dead cells, oil, and sweat. The dog that snuck in under the covers when you weren’t looking is adding its own pet-variety of hair, dead skin, and sometimes even urine. Similarly, human body fluids can also be a problem especially pee and bloodstains.

Here are the main reasons why cleaning a mattress should become a chore that you do at least every three months.

  • A cleaning mattress routine keeps your bed hygienic and healthy.
  • It can lengthen the lifespan of your mattress.
  • Mattress cleaning can get rid of dust mites. This helps to manage allergies and asthma.
  • A clean bed is comforting. The resulting snugness and knowing that your bedding is fresh can also help people to fall asleep faster.

Are you looking for more health-supporting beds? If you need a mattress for specific painful conditions, we have already done the research and found the best beds for bad backs, the most comfortable orthopaedic beds, and the best mattresses for arthritis.


How To Clean A Mattress

Alright, now that we know the benefits of mattress cleaning, let’s roll up our sleeves and get to the good stuff. Okay. Cleaning a mattress might not be most people’s idea of fun. But here are the most practical tips to help you keep your mattress in great shape.

Use A Mattress Protector

Use A Mattress Protector

Do you want to get slapped by a well-worn cliche? Here it is – prevention is better than cure. Sorry, we could not resist but this ancient adage is very true if you want to keep your mattress cleaning routine as simple as possible. 

A mattress protector is your first line of defense against all the stuff that tries to defile your beautiful bed.

This is usually a removable cover that can be cleaned using a washing machine. But what exactly does it do? A quality mattress protector has valuable properties.

  1. It protects the sleeper from dust mites.
  2. The mattress protector also protects you from other allergens that might trigger sinusitis and asthma.
  3. It also provides a barrier against dead skin, mould, and bed bugs.
  4. The cover also takes the brunt when you spill something and is easier to clean than trying to scrub the bed itself (just pop it into the washing machine).

Suck That Dust Out

Most vacuum cleaners have an upholstery attachment. This nozzle thingy is your secret weapon against getting those specks of dust out of all the fabric, borders, and even the bedding. Removing dust from your mattress every three months is important if you are trying to reduce the allergies or asthma issues that you or a family member might be experiencing.

How To Suck Dust Like You Mean It

The trick to get rid of dust is to really push the upholstery attachment down against the mattress. Do this as hard as you can without hurting your hand or the fabric of the mattress. Make sure to hoover the entire mattress, including the sides, top, and also the bottom. You are bound to encounter smaller areas that the attachment might not be able to really get into. If your vacuum cleaner has a crevice tool, then you can use that instead to clean the narrow edges around pillow tops, border edges, and quilted surfaces.

If you are a pillowtop fan, then listen up. We scoured all the top brands to find the best mattress and we ended up with several. You are welcome to look at our review of the comfiest pillowtop mattresses of all time. In case you want to add an extra layer of plushness to your current mattress, you can also read our review of the best mattress toppers.

How To Get Rid Of Stains

There is a simple formula to turn you into a great stain remover. Take some stuff, usually add a little bit of cold water, and dab. The good news is that you probably already have some of this magical stuff in your home, like baking soda and hydrogen peroxide.

How To Tackle Blood Stains

Put on your running shoes because you are going to need to move quickly. Blood stains are particularly hard to get out of mattresses. Worse, the longer the stains are allowed to sit the less likely they will feel like leaving. Few people appreciate bloodstains on their mattresses, so it is a good idea to tackle the crimson blobs the moment you see them. 

Here is what you can do to clean a mattress with bloody stains.

  • Remove all bedding from the mattress and wash them separately if they also have stains.
  • Get clean water and a clean cloth. It is also important to make sure that the cloth stays clean and the water as well. Otherwise, you’ll just end up smearing blood in a wider circle. Change the water as often as you need to.
  • Dip the clean cloth into cold water and wring out the excess water (the cloth should be damp and not dripping).
  • Gently dab at the stain to wet the area. Do not rub or vigorously scrub away at the mark. This will stain the bed worse by leaking blood deeper into the mattress. You might get rid of the surface blood but the fluids that managed to seep deeper will be almost impossible to remove completely.
  • Once the stain is lightly saturated with water, dab the area to soak up the blood stain. Keep doing this until the stain is dry. Do not rub it with the towel.
  • Repeat the soaking and drying exercise until the stain is removed.
  • Allow the mattress to dry completely before you replace the sheets and other bedding. Otherwise, the bed might develop a mould problem.
  • You can also spray the stain with 3 percent hydrogen peroxide instead of using water. Just dab in a similar manner by repeating the spraying and dabbing until the stain is gone.

How To Zap Other Stains

All mattresses collect stains. Over time, sweat might discolour the fabric or Junior dropped his juice while watching Peppa Pig on his bed. Luckily, not all stains are as difficult to get rid of as blood. Among the most useful ingredients for a homemade stain remover are hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. 

If you need to spot treat stains, you can make a paste of baking soda, cold water, and salt. Gently apply the paste to the stain and rub very gently. Make sure to let the baking soda paste sit for at least half an hour before removing it with a damp cloth. 

For stains like urine or sweat, you can create the following stain solution. Mix three cups of hydrogen peroxide (also the 3 percent or “household” type), three tablespoons of baking soda, and a couple of drops of dishwash liquid detergent. Place the mixture in a spray bottle and slosh until the baking soda has completely dissolved. Spray the stain or stains and let them air dry. This should take care of the problem with most mattresses.

How To Get Rid Of Odours

Do not put that box of baking soda away just yet. That is right. Not only is baking soda useful for fighting stains but one can also freshen mattresses with baking soda. When you clean your mattress, getting rid of odours should a top priority.

There is nothing worse than settling in for the night and having to inhale funky smells. Unfortunately, most mattresses develop some kind of odour at one point. To keep your mattress clean and fresh as a daisy, here is a simple solution that you can try. 

If you want to treat your mattress every few months against smells or just to refresh it, you can simply sprinkle baking soda over the entire mattress.

Get Rid Of Odours

A great way to do this is to use a strainer to distribute the baking soda across the mattress. Let it sit for one or two hours. During this time, the baking soda will absorb odours and leave your mattress cleaner. You can use a vacuum cleaner to thoroughly remove the baking soda and the suction will clean your mattress as well. Talk about a double winner. 

Here is a wonderful fact if you hate vomit (who doesn’t?). Using baking soda is a great way to make sure that the smell of vomit does not spoil a bed. Vomit stains can be removed from mattresses by adding equal amounts of water and white vinegar to a spray bottle. Do the spray-dab-repeat thing until the stains are gone. Afterwards, sprinkle baking soda over the area of the stains and vacuum the baking soda after one hour. Let the mattress air dry before using it again.

Fresh Is Good But Perfumed Is Better

Don’t worry, we will not suggest that you mix baking soda with your wife’s perfume or husband’s aftershave and then sprinkle it over the mattress. That will just get you into trouble. And make the bed impossible to sleep in. This section is optional but a lot of people do enjoy a slight fragrance to their mattress. As a bonus, you will also clean your mattress from odours. 

You guessed it. We are gazing at that box of baking soda again. Grab that trusty stain remover and add one cup to a mixing bowl. Add a few drops of essential oil for flavour. You can pick your favourite essential oil but we suggest that you choose one known for helping with sleep and relaxation. The best choice is lavender essential oil. Stay away from oils that awaken the mind like peppermint and rosemary oil. After you clean your mattress just sprinkle the mix over your bed (directly on the mattress and not the bedding). Mattresses can stand like this for an hour or two before you can vacuum the mattress clean again. Afterwards, the bed will retain a lingering fragrance.

Do you feel that your bed might be too far gone to rescue? Even with a deep cleaning? Then perhaps it is time to get a new mattress. If you are unsure about when you should make the call, you can grab our free guide that explains how often you should change your mattress.


How To Clean A Mattress (Memory Foam)

Harrison Spinks Mattresses Buying Guide

When stains occur, memory foam mattresses can present a special problem or two. Due to the nature of the material, memory foam is more airy and absorbent than most other mattresses.

This means that stains can head deeper into mattresses (something you do not want) and do so at a rapid clip. A memory foam bed can also develop problems with dust mites and odours. 

The good news is that things like baking soda, white vinegar, and cold water are the answer to how to clean a mattress made with foam. Always remember avoid the urge to use too much water.

This counts for any type of mattress. Too much water can settle inside the mattress where it avoids detection and that leads to mould and even more odours, possibly even a degree of rotting. Which, needless to say, is not healthy at all.

Tips To Keep Your Foam Mattress Clean

  • As with all other types with beds, you will do yourself a great favour by investing in a mattress protector.
  • A good rule to keep your bed fresh and clean is to clean a mattress every time you change the bedding. Even if you just hoover for dust mites or sprinkle some scented baking soda, your mattress will stay clean if you change the bedding on a regular basis.
  • That is right, the scented baking soda trick is also perfect to clean a mattress with foam layers. As a bonus, it will also fight odours.
  • But how to clean a mattress that got stained? A foam mattress can benefit from a mixture consisting of water (two parts) and fabric cleaner (one part). You can also replace the fabric cleaner with liquid dishwash detergent or another gentle-action soap. Spray the affected area but never soak it and then pat the stain with a clean towel.
  • Tough stains on your foam mattress can be treated by filling a quarter of a cup with white vinegar and filling the rest up with water.
  • When you must clean a foam mattress with liquids, it is important to dry the mattress as soon as possible. You can use a table fan when you cannot stick around or use a hairdryer to blowdry the area for the fastest results.

How To Clean A Mattress The Wrong Way

With the Internet being the Internet, there are lot of “advice” that come from dubious sources. While they may sound good, such tips can end up destroying your mattress. Here are some of the worst mistakes that people make when they try to clean a mattress at home.

  1. Dunking the mattress in water. By now, you understand that too much water is never a good thing with a mattress. No part of a mattress should be soaked, dipped or emerged in water in any way. Short of cutting a bed open (not very practical), you can never be sure that after dunking a mattress that it is completely dry on the inside. When moisture stays behind, a mattress can turn into a serious health hazard by harbouring mould, bacteria, and germs.
  2. Using harsh chemicals or dangerous chemicals. Too often, when people spot dirt or a stain on their mattress, they reach for the bottle of bleach. This is a huge no-no. Bleach is exceptionally harsh as a cleaner. Don’t blame the bleach. It was designed to tackle tough jobs. But using it on a mattress, however, can lead to more stains (at best) and damage, especially when there is foam inside the mattress.
  3. Steaming a mattress. Steam has its place in the cleaning industry. But steam should never be used to “deep clean” your mattress. Why? Steam is water and you are basically shooting that mattress full of moisture and future problems.
  4. A common myth is that you can use a beater to rid a mattress of dust mites. The truth is that beating a mattress does not make mites fall out, die, or pack their suitcases. The only thing a good beating does is to damage the mattress. Dust mites can only be removed from a mattress by getting rid of the dust. The upholstery attachment of a vacuum cleaner is sufficient for this task.
  5. Using normal vacuum cleaner attachments. You know that piece you attach to hoover the floors and carpets? Yep, not suitable to clean the mattress. A lot of floor attachments retain dirt and particles that might get transferred to the mattress and it also does not work as effectively at cleaning the mattress as the upholstery or crevice tool.

Keep A Mattress Clean With Prevention And Routine

At the end of the day, sleeping on a fresh and hygienic mattress is possible no matter how busy you are. Developing the habit of maintenance takes time, trial and error. The same goes with caring for your mattress. In order to be successful, you need to focus on two things. Prevention and routine. 

Prevention involves making sure that you don’t drink coffee in bed or allow the puppy that is still potty training to play on your mattress. It will pee on your mattress. Just ask anyone who ever owned a puppy and played with it on the bed. Similarly, identify the things you know might cause accidents or problems with your mattress. Try to avoid or minimize them (like using a mattress cover that will take the bite out of a stain should an accident happen). 

Routine involves identifying all the things you want to do. Think about it for a minute. What tasks do you feel are required to refresh your mattress and keep it hygienic? Every person’s situation is unique but once you know what you need, it is a matter of forming the habit of applying those tasks. For example, a mattress stays cleaner for longer with fresh bedding. Perhaps one can change the bedding on a certain day of the week and while you are at it, sprinkle some lavender-scented baking soda for odour control and fragrance. Twice a month, you can perhaps hoover for dust and mites. 


Have A Lemony Fresh Good Night

Well done. If you have read this far then you have all the knowledge you need. You now know several simple recipes to clean stains and remove odours from your mattress. You have learned tips to prolong the life of your mattress and also to keep it cleaner for longer. 

Most of us are extremely busy but it is worthwhile to spend the time and energy on keeping your mattress hygienic and clean. Why? Sleep is critical for health, optimal thinking, and physical energy. Where would you be without those things? Not feeling very happy, that is for sure! So while making your mattress maintenance a priority is a bit of a schlep – nobody likes chores – you will reap amazing benefits from getting a good night’s sleep on a mattress that won’t make you sick.

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About the Author Tom

My journey into the world of sleep came about through living in several properties over my lifetime and always seeming to have the worst luck with neighbors. All but one have been extremely noisy and very inconsiderate. What this made me realize early on, was that the little sleep my neighbors allowed me to get needed to be of great quality. So I started to learn all about sleep, and what helps people get the best quality sleep possible.