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How to Clean a Mattress

Medically Reviewed by Poonam Sachdev on April 07, 2022

On average, we spend roughly one-third of our lives either sleeping or trying to sleep. With that much time in bed, it's important to have a good — and clean — mattress. Learning how to clean a mattress is an important life skill that may even help you improve your sleep.

Why Should You Clean Your Mattress?

Along with washing your sheets and linens, you should regularly clean your mattress to make sure that it's free from germs, dust, and dead skin cells. 

Humans shed millions of skin cells every hour. Since you spend a substantial amount of time in your bed daily, that amounts to a whole lot of skin cells. On top of that, there are numerous microorganisms that also inhabit our world, including bacteria, dust mites, and their excrements. 

These microorganisms land both on your mattress and in it. They can pose considerable health challenges, especially if you have allergies, asthma, or other breathing difficulties

Exposure to the droppings of dust mites can lead to conditions such as allergic asthma and eczema. Meanwhile, if left unattended, mold and fungal growth on your mattress can lead to lung infections.

An unclean mattress that impacts your sleep may affect other parts of your life as well. Disturbed sleeping patterns may lead to a reduced quality of life and adverse health effects. Bad sleep can increase stress and affect your focus and memory. In the long-term, it can increase your risk of hypertension and certain cardiovascular disorders.

Steps to Clean Your Mattress

Cleaning a mattress isn't as difficult as it sounds. It's actually a pretty straightforward process. Just follow the below steps:

  1. Uncover the mattress. First, remove all the layers from your mattress, including any sheets, covers, comforters, and mattress pads. Make sure to wash these layers as you're cleaning your mattress. Once you’ve got the bare mattress, you can start with a home vacuum cleaner.
  2. Clear the dust. Use the upholstery tool on your vacuum cleaner by pressing it firmly on the surface of your mattress to loosen the dust from its surface. For the edges, use the crevice tool and do the same action. You can also use this to clean in between the layers of pillow-top mattresses.
  3. Extract the mites. While a vacuum cleaner helps remove the dust off your mattress, you'll want to run a clothes steamer over it to rid your mattress of mites. The heat from the steamer can go through the surface and clear the dust mites. While doing this, make sure that the steamer does not drip on the mattress. If you don’t have a steamer, you can use your iron to let out bursts of steam.

How to Remove Mattress Stains

Your mattress can get stained due to a number of reasons, such as sweat, body oil, or food spills. If you have kids at home, they may wet the bed, which could leave stains on the mattress as well. You can effectively clean such spills and accidents by preparing a cleaning solution that contains:

  • Baking soda
  • A gentle laundry detergent (one that does not contain any bleach, which may harm the mattress fibers)
  • Cold water

Once the cleaning solution is ready, follow the steps below to remove mattress stains:

1. Spray the cleaning solution on a soft cloth instead of spraying it directly on the mattress.

2. Dab the cloth on the surface of the mattress. Don't rub into the mattress as doing so may spread the stain to other parts or even permanently set the stain.

3. If the stains are tough to get out, repeat the above two steps a few more times or add hydrogen peroxide to the mixture to make it slightly more potent.

4. After you’ve cleaned the stains, let the mattress dry for at least five hours. 

5. Vacuum your mattress using the upholstery attachment to remove any remnants.

How to Deodorize a Mattress

Some of the spills could lead to unpleasant odors over time. Baking soda is an efficient way to take care of odors because it doesn’t just mask the smell, it completely absorbs it. Baking soda has a basic pH, which helps to counter the foul smell of acidic spills such as urine. It also removes any moisture that settles on the surface of your mattress.

To remove bad smells, leave some baking soda on your mattress for a few hours. Apply a thicker layer of baking soda to any areas that have stronger odors and leave it on for at least five hours, then vacuum it. Repeat these steps if necessary.

How to Disinfect Your Mattress

You can sanitize and disinfect your mattress using natural household cleaners or a commercial spray meant to disinfect sweat stains and kill germs. It’s best to avoid sprays and solutions that contain bleach as this can damage the mattress fibers.

You can also spray an enzyme cleaner on the mattress. These solutions contain enzymes that remove stains quickly without affecting the fabrics typically used in mattresses. Make sure that you don't soak the surface with the cleaner. After you let it sit for three to five hours, you can use a vacuum cleaner to dry the mattress.

Tips to Improve the Lifespan of Your Mattress

How you maintain your mattress determines its lifespan. You can get more out of your mattress by keeping in mind some of these best practices:

  • Clean your mattress every three to six months.
  • If you’re not able to clean your mattress regularly, you can at least vacuum it to clear dust and dust mites from the surface.
  • Wash your sheets at least once a week to prevent the collection of dead skin cells and dust mites.
  • Buy a quality mattress cover to help avoid moisture from getting into your mattress. Dust mites and mold are more likely to grow in moist surroundings.
  • If you stain your mattress, clean it right away to prevent the stain from setting.
  • If your mattress can be used on both sides, flip it every three months. This serves two purposes: it keeps the comfort fillings evenly distributed and helps to air out the other side of the mattress.
  • If your mattress can't be flipped, you can rotate it 180 degrees from the head of the bed to the foot.

Show Sources

SOURCES:

Aggarwal P., Senthilkumaran S. StatPearls, "Dust Mite Allergy," StatPearls Publishing, 2022.

Allergy: "House-dust mites and mattresses."

Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: “Environmental assessment and exposure control of dust mites: a practice parameter.

Handbook of Clinical Neurology: "We spend about one-third of our life either sleeping or attempting to do so."

Nature and Science of Sleep: "Short- and long-term health consequences of sleep disruption."

Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences: "Fungal pollution of indoor environments and its management."

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