How to Clean a Mattress
Updated: Jul 15, 2021
Whether you’ve just made a new mattress purchase or if you’ve had yours for years already, cleaning your bed is a great way to keep the mattress smelling fresh and you healthy.
This process isn’t too difficult or time consuming, but the benefits are massive. Having a clean bed means you don’t have to worry about dust or other nasty things you could be breathing in at night.
It’s also a good way to get rid of stains from anything you may have spilled on your bed since the last time you washed it.
There are two basic steps to cleaning a mattress, the first being to get rid of any dust that might have built up on the bed since the last time you washed it.
Using a vacuum to clean a mattress
Using a vacuum cleaner to get off the first layer of dust is a good way to start. Make sure you clean the sides as well as the top and press down firmly to make sure you get the dust that might be a little below surface level. If you have an upholstery tool on your vacuum, this is the place to use it.
A bonus tip is to use a garment steamer to give the bed an even deeper clean than you would get with just the vacuum.
As with the vacuum, simply run the steamer over the bed at least once, making sure to hit all the nooks and crannies. Using a steamer can help kill dust mites living in your bed that have made their way close to the surface of the bed.
Not everyone has a steamer though, so don’t worry too much about this step if you’re one of the many people who doesn’t own this tool.
Using stain remover to clean a mattress
After your bed is vacuumed, and maybe even steamed, hit it with some stain remover. This is a pretty straight-forward way to remove any stains that have formed on your bed from sweat, food spills, or anything else that may have stained your bed.
The type of stain remover you use will depend on what kind of stain you have to deal with and what color the cover of the bed is (since you don’t want to accidentally bleach certain sections of the bed).
Whatever stain remover you’ve chosen, just spot clean the bed. For any spots that are stained, simply use the stain remover as you would on any other surface.
Spraying it onto a rag or cloth of some kind is a good idea, and then use the rag to blot the stain until it starts to disappear. After the stain remover is used, use a clean, moist rag to wash away any excess stain remover.
A quick tip here is to use any type of pet-smell remover, which are usually enzyme-based cleaners. These cleaners are great if you have stains on your bed that have been caused by pets.
Even if they aren’t caused by your pets, though, these cleaners do a great job removing all types of smells and stains. The best part about these cleaners is that they are much easier on your skin than bleach.
If you don’t have enzyme-based cleaner around but you still want something that will be more gentle than bleach and other cleaners, try making your own cleaner by mixing warm water with mild dish detergent.
Using baking soda to clean your mattress
After any stains are removed, baking soda is another cleaner that can work wonders on your bed. Smells can make their way deep into the foam of any bed, especially if you have pets or small children.
Covering the entire mattress in a light layer of baking soda is never a bad idea, but if you don’t have enough baking soda for that or you just want to save some time, you can just sprinkle baking soda on the spots where the smell seems to be the most concentrated.
After the baking soda has been sprinkled exactly where you want it, scrubbing it into the bed with some kind of brush is a good idea. Once you’ve done that, leave the bed for at least 10 minutes to let the baking soda do its thing.
The longer you leave it, though, the better the baking soda will be able to eat away at any pesky smells, so doing this before you go away for the weekend could be perfect. After your trip, just vacuum up the excess baking soda and even the most annoying smells should be gone.
How often should you flip and rotate your mattress?
After your bed is clean, flipping your mattress is a good idea. Since most bed manufacturers suggest doing this periodically anyway, why not flip the bed while you already have the sheets, comforter, and mattress topper off anyway?
In addition to adding to your bed’s lifespan, flipping the mattress allows you to start using the side you haven’t used in a while, meaning it is probably much cleaner than the side you’ve been sleeping on for the past few months.
As a general rule, mattress should be flipped every 3 months. This is a procedure that your mattress manufacturer may have specific recommendations for, but this rule is usually good enough. Some newer beds don’t need to be flipped as often, and some can’t be flipped at all because of the way they are constructed.
These beds usually need to be rotated 180 degrees rather than flipped just to ensure you aren’t putting your bodyweight on the exact same spot every single night.
How often should I clean my mattress?
How often you clean your mattress can vary. It really is never a bad idea to do this as often as you can, but experts suggest just doing it twice a year.
This is such an easy thing to do, and only needing to do it every four months or so makes it a no brainer. But if you’ve just gone through a bad allergy season, for example, getting those allergens out of the bed as soon as possible would be much better than waiting for them to ruin your restful nights for the next few months.
Another reason to wash your bed sooner rather than later is if you somehow find out that you are having a bed bug problem. While, thankfully, this is a relatively rare issue, you obviously don’t want to wait until your scheduled bed cleaning before running the vacuum over your bedbug-ridden mattress.
Of course, these aren’t the only times that it makes sense to clean your bed more often than twice a year.
If you have kids that are still learning to control their bodily functions, for example, cleaning their bed after every incident is necessary. Leaving things like urine or other bodily fluids to soak into the core of the bed is never a good idea, since this makes the smells much more difficult to get out.
The deeper these smelly substances soak their way into the bed, the harder they are to get out.
The other reason you might want to clean your bed is right after a spill. Some people like to enjoy a meal or beverage in bed, and sometimes these things get spilled.
If having a bed that smells like orange juice for three months after your attempt at serving breakfast in bed doesn’t appeal to you, clean the spill up right when it happens.
As with other substances, food and beverages can stain and make the bed smell bad for as long as you have it. As with spills anywhere else in the house, the faster you can clean your bed, the less likely it is for these things to cause stains and long term bad smells.
Are there different cleaning methods for different mattress types?
The short answer to this question is not really. While there are different types of beds, from pure memory foam mattresses to those with built in springs, or even the old school mattress made from cotton and other materials, they can all benefit from a cleaning using the recommended method.
However, looking up specific cleaning instructions for the type of bed that you have would not be a bad idea. Sometimes manufacturers will even include washing instructions, either on the box or on their website, if they have one. Finding this information should be relatively easy to do.
Why should I clean my bed?
Having a clean bed is one of the most basic things you can do for yourself. You spend time cleaning everything else in your house, so why not take the time to clean the piece of furniture you probably use the most?
Allergens like pet hair, pollen, and more can get trapped between your mattress and the bottom sheet or mattress cover. These can leave you wondering why you still feel like you have seasonal allergies in the middle of the winter.
Dust can cause similar respiratory problems, and you’ll breathe better while you sleep if you get rid of the dust that may have built up on your mattress since the last time you washed it.
In addition to anything you might be able to just vacuum up, nasty critters like dust mites and bed bugs can move into your mattress when you least expect it.
Dust mites eat the flakes of skin that all people, and pets, shed while they sleep. Bed bugs, on the other hand, actually sucking the blood of animals or pets like some kind of microscopic vampires.
Both types of bugs are annoying and disgusting, to say the least, and both can often be avoided by simply keeping your bed clean.
While the benefits of a clean bed are pretty obvious, this is especially important for anyone who has gotten their mattress second hand. Sometimes used mattresses are still in great shape, they just didn’t quite fit the needs of their original owner.
Or maybe a family member has decided to try out a new bed even though theirs had plenty of life in it. Either way, getting a used bed can be a great money saving maneuver if the bed is in good shape. But you don’t want the dust and allergens that could come with that used mattress.
For anyone that has a used mattress, giving the bed a good clean before you use it is extremely important. Not only are there real health benefits to a clean bed anyway, but you’ll restore the bed to its original glory and make it feel like it really is yours.
Even though cleaning your bed is a good idea no matter what, there are some things you can do that minimize the number of times you need to clean your bed.
The best measure to take is to invest in a good quality mattress protector. A mattress protector keeps the mattress clean and helps prevents dust mites. Most mattress protectors are waterproof as well to protect you mattress from getting wet incase any accidents happen.
Mattress toppers are also fantastic, since they often add to comfort of your bed. But if you get one that fits your bed perfectly, the topper can sometimes absorb things that would otherwise stain your bed directly. (check out our post on the top 5 mattress toppers on amazon here)
Think of your mattress topper as not only a way to make your bed more comfortable, but as a barrier between anything that could stain your mattress and your mattress itself. Mattress toppers are easy to wash, as they can often be put into a standard washing machine the same way you would put your sheets in to wash.
Another, possibly even easier, way to make sure you keep your bed clean is to use a sheet that fits well. You’d be surprised how many people use a king size bottom sheet on a twin bed, for example.
And even if the sheet is supposedly the right size, some people don’t make sure the bed is made correctly, with a tight bottom sheet that isn’t going to let any dust get to your mattress.
These three preventative measures are incredibly easy to do, and most people have them anyway. The more barriers between your mattress and things that could stain it, the better.
While these preventative measures can help, they don’t totally protect your bed. Make sure you still wash it a few times a year.