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How to Clean a Mattress

Tyler Joseph (TJ) Thomas


Your bed is a place of comfort. It’s the place that welcomes you after a long day and gets you ready for the day ahead. You spend more time in your bed than you do at your desk, in your car, or on your couch.

Just as you wash your car and wipe down your workspace, your mattress needs cleaning every once in a while. Over time, your mattress can absorb unwanted debris, undetectable by the naked eye. If it hasn’t had a cleaning, your mattress could be full of dead skin, dust, mold, and even dust mites and bed bugs.

Regularly cleaning your mattress is the best way to get the cleanest, healthiest sleep. In this post, we run through everything you need to know to maintain a germ-free mattress.

how to clean a mattress

How to Clean a Mattress in 7 Steps


Let’s take a look at how you can get rid of pests like mites, dust, and mold, and get a clean mattress.

1. Remove the Linens From Your Bed and Wash Them

Just as you would if you were changing your bedsheets, remove all your sheets, and pillowcases. Strip the bed down to the naked mattress. If you have a mattress protector or mattress cover, remove it as well. Take this opportunity to wash all bed linens and the mattress cover in hot water. The heat of the water can kill any microorganisms. A small amount of bleach in the wash will also work to kill pathogens.

If you use a duvet or comforter, wash and dry it separately from your bedding. Most dryers struggle to fully dry a thick duvet, so tossing extra bedding in the dryer with one can slow down the drying process. If after one drying cycle your duvet or comforter is still wet, lay it outside in the sun to air dry.

2. Vacuum the Mattress

First, get out your vacuum cleaner. Make sure the vacuum head itself is clean and the canister cavity is clean and free from debris. You don’t want to turn on the vacuum and have a cloud of dust land on your naked mattress. Use a damp paper towel to clean the inside of the canister before you get started.

Vacuum the entire surface of the mattress. Use a brush attachment or upholstery attachment to allow the head of the vacuum to come into contact with as much of the entire mattress surface as possible. If you have a smaller attachment available, use it to get into the cracks and crevices of the mattress when you’re done vacuuming over the bed’s surface. These crevices are usually deepest at the four corners of the mattress. They are known for harboring dust mites, bed bugs, and other critters.

3. Spot Clean Any Fresh Stains

If you see any fresh stains, it’s best to address them right off the bat. Use a damp cloth with cold water to blot the stain. Use light pressure so you don’t push the stain further into the fibers of the mattress. You may notice some of the stain immediately comes off with this gentle motion.

It’s important to never try to soak part of your mattress with either water or cleaning solution. If you pour liquid onto the mattress, it will cause mold or mildew and damage the mattress fibers. If you do happen to put too much water or cleanser on your mattress, allow it to air dry as long as possible. Place a portable fan in front of the spill to help it dry.

A mixture of baking soda and dish soap is a good stain remover for most types of stains. Don’t go mixing up a whole bucket, though. You’re only going to need a small amount. Just combine two tablespoons of baking soda and 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap.

Stir the moisture together until you see suds similar to a bubble bath. You can use a new kitchen brush or old toothbrush to really get the soapy mixture into the stain. Once the stain has been lifted, blot with a cloth until the spot is dry to the touch. If you used too much soap and the spot is still sudsy, blot again with a wet cloth. Repeat until the area is free from soap bubbles.

4. Deodorize Your Mattress With Baking Soda

Be sure to use a fresh box of baking soda. You definitely do not want one from the fridge full of food odors. Sprinkle baking soda over the entire surface of the dry mattress. Try to distribute the baking soda evenly. If it clumps in one spot, use your hands or a towel to spread out the clump of baking soda.

For an extra nice touch, add a few drops of essential oil to your baking soda before sprinkling. If you choose this option, be careful not to choose anything too pungent because the odor may keep you from sleeping at night. Choose something light and calming like lavender. You also don’t want to use a dark oil, like patchouli, that could potentially stain the mattress.

Let the baking soda sit for at least an hour. During this time, open your windows. Airing out the mattress with fresh air will also help your deodorization process. If you have time, you can leave the baking soda on the mattress for longer. Baking soda absorbs odors and neutralizes acids. The longer it has to do these important jobs, the better.

Some people like to start the process before they leave for work for the day. Then, when you come home, you’re able to finish the cleaning process and climb into a comfortable, fresh-smelling bed.

5. The Final Vacuum

Hopefully your vacuum is still handy. You’ll need to remove all the baking soda off the entire mattress. Again, use the vacuum attachment to reach into all the corners and crevices of the mattress.

6. Flip or Rotate Your Mattress

This is the step disliked by most people because it’s cumbersome and difficult to do alone. If you have a family member or friend living in the home, this is the time to enlist their help.

Flipping or rotating the mattress helps in a few ways. First, it helps to preserve the life of the mattress by using unused space. Over time our bodies create imprints when we sleep in the same spot each night. Second, it gives you a fresh and clean surface to sleep on that hasn’t been used before.

7. Invest in a Mattress Cover or Mattress Protector

Mattress protectors can be pricey, but well worth it— they keep your bed safe from spills, dust mites, and bed bugs, amongst other things. When you have a spill or sweat through your sheets, you can simply strip down the bed and remove the mattress cover. Wash the cover in ultra hot water to destroy any pathogens.

Why Should You Clean Your Mattress?

Cleaning your mattress will prevent it from deteriorating. Over time, dead skin cells, dust, dust mites, and mold eat away at the fabric and other components— and even the best mattresses need proper maintenance to last. Mattress stains from food, sweat, and other fluids also weaken the fiber of your mattress.

Next, think about your health. Have you gone years without giving your mattress a deep cleaning? If so, you may be compromising your respiratory health from exposure to allergens like dust, dust mites, and mold.

Common Questions About How to Clean a Mattress

Most people need a little guidance the first time they clean a mattress. Let’s take a look at some of the hows and whys of mattress cleaning.

How Often Should You Clean Your Mattress?

You should clean and air dry your mattress about every six months. However, if you have allergies or other respiratory issues, you may need to clean it more frequently. Be sure to wear a dust mask while cleaning your mattress. It may also be necessary to replace pillows often. Talk to your healthcare provider if you’re concerned about how your mattress affects your breathing.

Can I Use a Steam Cleaner on a Mattress?

Yes, you can use a steam cleaner on a mattress. Steam cleaning utilizes heat from the steam to destroy bacteria, dust, and other pathogens. These critters take up residence inside your mattress but are killed with the heat of the steam.

An upholstery cleaner may be an appropriate steam cleaner for your mattress. Otherwise, you might want to contact a professional steam cleaning company. Ask about the steam cleaning services they provide for mattresses. Professional mattress cleaners use advanced technology to address and remove stains. Professional mattress cleaners are also able to remove dust, mold, and dust mites.

How Much Does It Cost to Have a Mattress Professionally Cleaned?

Depending on where you live, it can cost up to $150 to have your mattress professionally cleaned. Is it worth it to make the investment? Mattresses themselves are usually a big purchase. A professional cleaning can buy you some time with your current bed before opting for an upgrade. Consider the cost of professional mattress cleaning, as well as the age of your mattress, and weigh that against the cost of a new mattress to help you make your decision.

Now It’s Time to Clean Your Mattress

Dust, dust mites, mold, and dead skin cells are the last thing you want to think about when you head to bed at night. A professional mattress cleaning may be the best option for you if you’re concerned about allergens. You may also want to consider the cost of a new mattress and how long you’ve had your current mattress to determine the value a professional cleaning would have for you.

If you want to DIY the mattress cleaning, it’s pretty simple but takes some time. All you need is a cloth for spot cleaning, a spray bottle with water, some baking soda, and some liquid dish soap. Although you’ll be using liquids to clean the mattress, be sure not to soak any part of the mattress. Doing so can lead to more mold growth — just the thing you’re trying to avoid.

Although we spend so much time in them, most mattresses get neglected when it comes to cleaning. Most people don’t think to include mattress cleaning as a part of their regular routine. You can extend the life of your mattress with regular cleaning, so consider doing it every six months.

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