Cleaning your mattress probably isn’t a priority on your list of chores. However, there are several reasons why you should take the time every couple of months to keep it as clean as possible – not in the least because humans spend approximately a third of their lives in bed.
Here is how to clean a mattress in 8 steps:
Table of Contents
1. Gather your cleaning supplies
To deep clean a mattress, you’ll need the following cleaning supplies:
- Cold water
- Baking soda
- Cleaning cloths
- A vacuum with an upholstery attachment
- Laundry detergent
- An enzyme cleaner or dish soap
2. Strip the bed and wash all the lines and beddings
Before starting the cleaning process, remove everything that’s covering the mattress. Start by removing the top layer of items, including decorative pillows, blankets, and comforters. The next step is to remove any sheets covering the mattress (top sheets, fitted sheets, and any mattress protector that you may have installed). Toss all the sheets, pillowcases, and linens into the washing machine. You’ll want to wash all the bedding in hot water to help get rid of dust mites. Depending on the types of pillows you have, you may be able to clean them in the washing machine as well.
3. Vacuum the mattress
Use your vacuum cleaner’s upholstery attachment to go over the entire surface of the mattress, including the sides. Pay close attention to the seams – if there’s any dust or hidden dirt, you might need to break out the crevice attachment.
4. Spot-clean the mattress using a stain remover
The next step is to focus on getting stains out of the mattress through spot-cleaning. Avoid soaking your mattress or applying cleaning solution or water directly to it at all costs. The stain remover you use for spot-cleaning will depend on the type of stain you’re dealing with as well as the type of mattress you’re cleaning. For biological stains, for example, an enzyme cleaner works best. A great alternative to an enzyme-based cleaner is a soapy solution made by mixing dish soap with cold water. Read the next section for more details on how to clean specific stains.
5. Sprinkle baking soda all over the mattress
If you can’t put your mattress outside in the sun and fresh air, consider sprinkling a layer of baking soda over the entire surface and leaving it to sit for several hours (or overnight if possible). Baking soda will break down acidic stains and absorb any lingering moisture or odor. The longer you leave baking soda on the mattress, the better the results. As the mattress you’re treating sits with baking soda, open any windows in the room and allow sunshine and light in – the UV rays from the sun will speed up the elimination of any bacteria or mold that may be on the mattress.
6. Vacuum for a second time
Once the baking soda has done its job, thoroughly vacuum it up.
7. Flip the mattress
Once you finish cleaning one side of the mattress, flip it and repeat the cleaning process so that both sides are clean and fresh. Whether you’re deep cleaning your mattress or not, aim to flip your mattress every three months, especially if you have a spring mattress, as they tend to compress over time.
8. Protect the mattress
Once you’ve cleaned and thoroughly dried both sides of the mattress, cover it with a mattress protector. A mattress protector is a case that you slip over the mattress to seal and protect it from dust, spills, stains, and dirt.
How to clean a mattress from specific stains
1. Cleaning a mattress from Sweat, oil, and lotion stains
It’s common for these types of stains to occur on mattresses. Fortunately, they are easy to get rid of with the following steps:
- Mix dish soap or light laundry detergent and warm water together
- Spray the mixture on the stain or dab it using a sponge until the stain fades. Keep in mind that mattresses are not waterproof, so it’s best to clean slowly and steadily.
- If the stain is still visible, use a damp sponge and hydrogen peroxide to blot the affected area in a circular motion.
- Allow the mattress to air dry. To speed the drying process, set a blowing fan near the mattress, or use a blow dryer on the cool setting.
2. Cleaning a mattress from Blood stains
One of the trickiest stains to get rid of on a mattress is bloodstains. For the best result, clean blood as fast as possible. Here are some of the most effective techniques to use:
- Cold water
Coldwater is surprisingly effective in dissolving blood if the stain is new enough. Avoid using warm or hot water to help set the stain permanently. Grab a white cloth or rag and run it under cold water. Dab the bloodstain gently (avoid rubbing as this can work the stain deeper into the mattress). Try not to wet the mattress too much to prevent mildew or mold growth.
- Meat tenderizer
If you have a meat tenderizer in your pantry, you might want to try using it to remove blood stains from your mattress. Meat tenderizer is usually used to down the proteins in the meat to “tenderize” it, but it can also work on the proteins present in a bloodstain. To use it, mix one tablespoon of the meat tenderizing powder with three teaspoons of cold water and mix it into a paste. Rub the paste over the affected area and then allow it to sit for about an hour. After it’s dried, use a cloth soaked in cold water to wipe up the paste, and then pat the area dry with a dry cloth.
- Baking soda
Mix two parts cold water with one part baking soda, and then apply the mixture to the affected area with a white cloth. Allow it to sit for about half an hour, and then dab the area with a damp cloth. Let the mattress air dry, or use a fan to speed up the drying process.
- Salt, cornstarch, and hydrogen peroxide
Mix a tablespoon of salt, a ½ cup of cornstarch, and ¼ cup of hydrogen peroxide. Spread the resulting paste over the stained area and dry it for at least 30 minutes. Once it’s completely dry, scrape the area with a knife or spatula and vacuum over it.
3. Cleaning a mattress from Urine
To get pee out of a mattress, you’ll need the following items:
- Distilled white vinegar
- Baking soda
- Spray bottle
- Paper towels
- White cloth
If the urine stain is fresh, use paper towels to blot the affected area to absorb as much liquid as possible. Avoid wiping or rubbing the stained area as this could work the stain deep into the mattress fibers and make it all the more difficult to clean. Make sure to grab a fresh paper towel every time the one you’re using becomes soiled.
Once you’ve blotted up as much urine as possible, coat the stained area with baking soda. Create a solution of one part distilled white vinegar and one part water and put it in a spray bottle. Spray the stained area with your vinegar solution, taking care not to drench the mattress. Allow the mattress to soak in the solution for 10-15 minutes—blot excess moisture with a clean cloth.
Sprinkle more baking soda over the soiled area and allow it to sit for at least 8 hours. Use a hose attachment on your vacuum to remove the baking soda. Ensure the baking powder is completely dry or risk damaging your vacuum cleaner. Alternatively, use a wet/dry vacuum to clean up damp powder. Once you finish vacuuming, inspect the mattress carefully. If necessary. Repeat the process to get rid of any lingering stains or odors.
To remove dried urine stains, you’ll need hydrogen peroxide and liquid detergent in addition to the items listed above. Dried urine tends into the mattress fibers, leaving behind an unpleasant yellow color. This type of stain requires strong oxidizing agents like hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide alters the composition of urine by breaking down the molecule that absorbs visible light to create the yellow color.
Here is a step-by-step guide to eliminating the old stains:
- Combine 8 ounces of hydrogen peroxide, 2-4 drops of liquid dish detergent, and 3 tablespoons of baking soda in a bowl, and then pour the solution into a spray bottle. It’s important to mix the ingredients in a bowl first because shaking the spray bottle to mix them will result in messy foaming.
- Spray the soiled area with the cleaning solution, but be careful not to soak it. Allow the mixture to sit until it dries. To speed up the drying process, leave a window open or point a fan toward the mattress. A solid baking soda residue layer will form as the treated area dries.
- Vacuum off the residue later and check to see if the stain has been removed. Repeat as necessary.
Remember that hydrogen peroxide has a bleaching effect on some materials, so you may want to test it on a small area before using it on larger stains. Peroxide may also slightly discolor or even damage materials like memory foam. Make sure to use it sparingly, and remove any colored bedding before applying it to avoid bleaching.
4. Cleaning a mattress from food stains
Whether it was your morning coffee, a glass of wine, or a little spill from your late-night snack, getting food stains out can be done with liquid dish detergent or white vinegar. The longer the food stain stays puddled on the mattress, the harder it will be for the stain to come off, so you’ll want to work fast.
- Blot the stained area by dabbing with a towel. Avoid scrubbing as this will set the stain more.
- To clean and deodorize, start by mixing a tablespoon of dish detergent and a cup of cold water.
- Dab the stained area with soapy water and allow it to sit for about 3 minutes. Be careful not to soak the mattress.
- Dry the area by blotting up the water with a dry cloth or paper towel.
Alternatively, you can use white vinegar, following these steps:
- Mix a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle.
- Spray the soiled area and let it soak for 10-15 minutes.
- Dab the area with a clean cloth. Repeat this several times until the stain disappears.
- Allow the mattress to air dry.
5. Cleaning a mattress from vomit
It’s essential to act quickly to eliminate the stain and odor from vomit. Here’s what you can do:
- Prepare your cleaning solution by mixing a 50/50 solution of distilled white vinegar and water in a spray bottle.
- Spray the stained area of the mattress, and then blot with a clean towel. Keep spraying and blotting until the stain fades.
- Sprinkle a bit of baking soda over the treated area and let it sit for an hour. Vacuum away the baking soda and let the mattress air dry.
Related article: How Do You Air Out A Room Quickly?
Cleaning a memory foam mattress
Most memory foam mattresses come with a removable mattress cover that’s machine washable. This can make cleaning a bit more effortless, but there are a couple of things to consider.
Before you start cleaning, make sure to check the care instructions and details of the mattress warranty. Not all memory foam mattresses have the same care instructions, so it’s always wise to consult the care booklet it came with for guidance. Some foam mattresses have removable covers, but the manufacturer actually doesn’t recommend taking the cover off and cleaning it, while others permit this but advise to avoid cleaning the foam after the cover has been removed.
If you’re putting your mattress cover in the washing machine, follow the provided washing instructions carefully to avoid inadvertently invalidating your warranty or shrinking the cover to the point where it doesn’t fit back over the mattress.
Related article: 10 Simple Reasons Why is Your House Dusty
Cleaning a mattress will extend its life and make it more conducive to sleep on. While there’s no particular rule on how often you should clean your mattress (it all depends on the type of mattress and the person sleeping on it), aim to clean yours every six months.
Last update on 2023-01-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API