Your Step-By-Step Mattress Cleaning Guide (To Make Your Bed Feel As Good As New)


When’s the last time you gave your bed some well-deserved TLC? Like everything else in your home, your mattress should be cleaned regularly to help it stay fresh and last longer. You never know what’s making a home out of your old bed, and knowing how to clean a mattress can make all the difference.

“This is where you sleep every single night,” says Michael Silva-Nash, vice president of operations with Molly Maid. “Seasonal cleaning can remove dust and allergens you’d otherwise be inhaling.” One Ohio State University study estimated around 1o0,000 to 10 million dust mites can collect inside — yuck. To maintain a clean sleep environment and limit as many household allergens from camping out in your bed, it’s important to keep up on regular cleaning and take preventative measures.

Your mattress is a big investment so the best way to keep your mattress clean is by using a mattress cover. “A mattress protector is designed to keep dirt, dust, liquid, stains, and bugs out of your bed,” says Christina Heiser, content director at Saatva. “It also can help prevent sweat stains and keep dirt buildup out of your mattress so it stays clean longer.”

Mattresses also contain dust mites, a common indoor allergen, which thrive on the skin we shed. To reduce exposure to potential allergens, American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology recommends encasing mattresses, box springs, and pillows in allergen-proof zippered covers.

Look for a mattress cover which is machine washable, then wash it regularly, just as you would your sheets. “Sheets should be washed weekly, which helps keep the mattress cleaner, too,” says Silva-Nash. If possible, have two sets of sheets on hand so you can rotate.

You should read your bed’s care tag or check out the manufacturer’s care instructions online before cleaning, but generally, all types of mattresses can be cleaned by vacuuming about once a quarter. “Use the upholstery attachment to pull out debris from crevices and along seams,” says Silva-Nash. Go over the entire mattress. If recommended by the manufacturer, now is a good time to flip or turn the mattress, too.

Accidents happen, such as that spilled cup of coffee or a kid who gets sick in bed. The quicker you react to spills, the better, says Silva-Nash.

Step 1: Blot up as much as possible of the substance with a clean, white rag or white paper towel until no more comes up. Pro tip: Silva-Nash recommends using white because you don’t want to risk dyes transferring from the rag or paper towel to your mattress.

Step 2: If you’re cleaning something like vomit, scrape up as much as possible first, then blot up any remaining liquid. You may be able to get up even more moisture by placing paper towels on top of the area and adding weight and pressure with a few heavy books, says Heiser.

Step 4: Dip a clean cloth in the cleaner, and then dab the spill. Start from the edges of the area and work inwards so you don’t spread it further outward. Do not scrub, which pushes the substance into the fibers.

Step 5: Continue dipping and blotting until no more of the spill comes off on your cloth, says Silva-Nash.

For memory foam mattresses, apply the cleaning solution sparingly to the stain, says Heiser. Don’t oversaturate the area because if it becomes too wet and takes too long to dry, you can increase the risk of developing mold or mildew, says Heiser.

To freshen up your mattress, you may want to do a deep cleaning to get rid of dirt, grime, and bacteria that have accumulated, says Heiser.

Step 1: Start by vacuuming it with the upholstery or crevice attachment. Or use a garment steam cleaner to lightly go over your mattress before vacuuming to help loosen up any debris.

Step 2: Next, spot-treat any stains with the mild cleaning solution described above.

Step 3: Deodorize by using a generous sprinkle of baking soda, which can neutralize odors. Cover the entire mattress with it; you may need to use up to a full pound box of baking soda if this is the first time you’re cleaning your mattress.

Step 4: Leave it on for a full day, if possible. Then vacuum it up, using the upholstery attachment, says Heiser.

Our Forbes Vetted team helps readers make educated, confident decisions by providing thorough research, backed by insights from experts or professionals in directly related fields. In this case, we spoke with Michael Silva-Nash, vice president of operations at Molly Maid, a premiere cleaning service that customers all over the world employ. We also sought the expertise of Christina Heiser, content director at Saatva, to discuss the best way to keep your mattress clean.

Not really. For starters, you don’t want to oversaturate any mattress, especially a memory foam type because it won’t dry quickly, which may allow mold or mildew to grow. Another reason it’s not a good idea is that shampoo and some other types of cleansing ingredients may compromise the material strength and longevity of a mattress, says Heiser.

Start by blotting up the accident with a clean, dry rag or paper towel, as you would do with any liquid stain. Change out dry towels until you don’t absorb any more liquid. You also can weigh down the towels by topping with books to increase the amount of liquid absorbed. Repeat the process until the area is barely damp, says Heiser.

Next, use an enzyme-based upholstery cleaner on pet messes, which chemically breaks down stains and odors, says Heiser. Follow the product label, but it usually must be left to air-dry. Retreat if the first attempt didn’t completely remove the odor.

Bleach seems like a quick solution, but it’s actually too harsh to use and may create a new stain or damage the mattress. Instead, stick with the dish soap, water and vinegar mixture described above, which can remove most stains and is safe to use on any mattress type, says Silva-Nash. An enzymatic cleaner may be required for organic stains such as pet urine or blood.

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