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How To Clean a Mattress: Step-by-Step Instructions (and What You Definitely Should Not Do)

Deep clean for sweet sleep.

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If you’re anything like me, you spend a great deal of time on your mattress. Whether catching quality Zzzs, watching a movie, or working remotely, my bed is my sanctuary. Not only is it comfortable, but it’s the best place to perform my favorite pastime — sleeping

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It’s why I love my memory foam mattress… And considering the average American spends approximately one-third of their time in bed, you should love your mattress, too. I know what you’re thinking: “A mattress is a big investment.” And you’re right. The best mattresses can cost a significant chunk of change, which is why it’s important to know how to properly care for them. Below are step-by-step instructions for how to properly clean your mattress. With a little TLC, you can make your investment last.  

Why is it important to have your mattress cleaned?

If you’ve never cleaned your entire mattress, there’s a pretty good chance that it’s one of the filthiest items in your home. Think about it: You spend one-third of your life curled up on your bed — that’s roughly 318 months of tossing and turning on a surface that’s constantly building up dead skin cells, bacteria, dirt, grime, and other debris. Yes, it’s gross. It’s also the reason you should deep clean a mattress every now and then. Here are some others.

Reduces Allergies and Itching 

It’s difficult to summon the Sandman when you’re itching or wiping your nose with a tissue all night. Allergic reactions to dust mites and fungus in a mattress can cause sneezing, coughing, and other uncomfortable breathing difficulties. When cleaning your mattress, you wash away the dangerous irritants and bacteria that can cause allergies and irritation. As a result, you’ll find sleep much easier.  

Sheets are Not Impenetrable 

Despite what you may think, your comfy-cozy sheets and ultra-plush mattress pads don’t provide layers of protection to the surface of the mattress. This is because there are itty-bitty holes in these layers, making it easy for bodily fluids, oils, dust, grime, mildew, and dirt to find their way to the mattress and leave tough stains on the top of the mattress.

Prevents Creepy Crawlies 

Dust mites are tiny, microscopic insects that can live on your uncleaned mattress, bedding, and pillows, feeding on the dead skin that you shed naturally as you snooze. On average, we shed about one and a half grams of skin a day — and this amount can nourish the bellies of up to one million dust mites. Yuck. What’s worse, these critters poop twice their body weight each day, all of which can happen in your bed if you don’t clean your mattress regularly. 

Extends the Life of the Mattress 

A new mattress can cost well over $2,000 — in other words, they’re expensive. If any type of mattress isn’t cared for, it’ll likely have an average lifespan of five to seven years. Fortunately, regularly DIY cleaning the entire surface of your mattress can boost this life expectancy to eight to 12 years.   

Fresh Air

Every time you fluff your bed sheets or simply toss and turn as you snooze, you throw tiny microbes like dirt and dust into the air. Many of those particles are allergens — and when you sleep on them or move them into the air, they can cause a slew of not-so-wonderful issues, like itchy eyes, scratchy throat, and sneezing. So, if you’re on a mission to boost your air quality and feel better, start by cleaning your mattress. Trust me; you won’t believe the difference a clean mattress can have on your sleep. And speaking of sleep… 

Supports Better Sleep 

If restlessness is plaguing your slumber, you’re not alone. According to experts, sleep issues like insomnia affect up to 70 million Americans every year. Many of these folks require special treatment via medical help to get their sleep back on track, but there are also a number of things you can do to induce a better night’s rest, like having a clean and hygienic bed. What’s more, snoozing on a clean mattress can give you total peace of mind when dreaming at night (especially after learning that you’re potentially sleeping on a mattress filled with dead skin flakes, creepy crawlies, and dust particles). 

How can I clean my mattress?

Now that you’re up to speed on the importance of cleaning your mattress, you’re probably chomping at the bit to get your sleeping space up to snuff. I don’t blame you; the thought of dust mites burrowing into my mattress or bacteria growing in my sheets gives me the heebie-jeebies, too. To clean your mattress properly (and get the best results), there are a few steps you should follow. 

Gather your supplies.

First things, first — gather all the supplies needed to clean your mattress. Here’s everything you’ll need:

  • A vacuum cleaner with an upholstery attachment
  • Cleaning cloths
  • Baking soda
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Dish soap
  • Enzyme cleaner or similar stain remover

Remove your bedding.

One of the best parts of cleaning a mattress is that your sheets, pillowcases, and mattress covers also get a chance to whirl around inside the washing machine. So, strip your mattress of all these things and toss them in for a wash cycle before moving to the next step. 

  • Pro Tip: When you toss your bedding into the washing machine, make sure to use the hottest water setting available, along with high-quality laundry detergent. The hot temp kills bacteria that hide in linens better than cold water. If you want, you can also add a bit of white vinegar to boost the power of your cycle and get stubborn stains out.

Deodorize your mattress. 

After you’ve stripped your mattress, sprinkle a light layer of plain baking soda on top of its surface before rubbing it in gently with your hand or a soft brush. Allow the baking soda to sit for roughly 60 minutes. If possible, leave it for a full 24 hours.  

Vacuum.

Once the baking soda has had a chance to work its magic, it’s time to go over your mattress with your handy-dandy vacuum. Be sure to pay special attention to the crevices, seams, and corners. 

Spot clean mattress stains

Vacuuming your mattress won’t eliminate stains, so you’ll need to get your hands on a stain remover. The type you use will depend on the type of stain, but if you’re dealing with common stains like sweat, blood, or urine, opt for an enzyme-based cleaner. 

  • Pro Tip: Don’t have an enzyme-based cleaner? Mix together a little dish soap, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide. Use a spray bottle to apply the mixture to the stains. Once the stains have been sprayed, gently dab them using a clean cloth. 

Flip the mattress. 

Once one side is completely cleaned and perfectly dry, flip the mattress and repeat the whole process. Make your bed with your freshly washed bedding and enjoy a quality snooze on your newly cleaned mattress. 

Any pro mattress care and maintenance tips?

You betcha. Here are tips to better care for your mattress.

Clean your mattress every six months. 

According to the Sleep Foundation, regular cleaning helps to extend the lifespan of your mattress, so it’s best to clean your mattress once every six months. 

Use a mattress protector

There’s arguably no better way to keep your mattress clean than to keep it covered with a mattress protector. Yes, I mentioned that some icky grime can still make it through sheets and mattress toppers, but mattress protectors were made specifically to do what they say. A quality mattress protector offers waterproof protection to shield against accidents and spills — plus, it also reduces the amount of dust, dirt, and grime that makes it into your bed. 

Flip your mattress every three months. 

To prevent your mattress from sagging and becoming lumpy, a good rule of thumb is to flip it every three months. That said, if your mattress has only one designated sleeping side, rotate it from end to end instead. 

Steer clear of bed bugs.

One surefire way to ruin a perfectly good mattress is by introducing it to bed bugs. These pesky pests are difficult to get rid of once they infiltrate. If you’re sleeping away from home, be sure to inspect the bed for signs of bed bugs and try your best to keep luggage and bags off the floor.

Note: If you suspect a bed bug infestation, contact an exterminator right away, as the longer you wait to get rid of the problem, the bigger it will become.  

Attend to spills immediately. 

Last but certainly not least, if you spill something, clean it up sooner rather than later. Blotting out and drying up spilled liquids from your mattress right away following an accident means less can soak deep into the mattress — and the chances of staining are lower.

The Final Word

And there you have it: Everything you need to know to clean your mattress like a pro. Whether you’re on a mission to deep clean your mattress, or simply hoping to remove a few stains, the tips listed above can certainly help.

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