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How to Deep Clean and Sanitize a Mattress

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Yep, another thing you probably didn’t know you needed to clean.

We clean our sheets, pillowcases, duvet covers, and mattress covers. But what about our mattresses? How often are we cleaning those?

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Mattresses are subject to the same dirt, sweat, and bed bugs that the rest of your bedding is. We’re talking dead skin cells, sweat, drool, bugs, bacteria, and even mold and mildew in the worst cases. Not only can this be unhygienic and unhealthy, but it can also lead to bad odors and stubborn stains.

Not to worry, though. We’ll teach you how to clean a mattress and remove stains so that it looks as good as new.

How to Clean a Mattress

  1. Strip your bed.
  2. Vacuum the mattress with the upholstery attachment.
  3. Spot-treat any stains with an enzyme cleaner.
  4. Sprinkle baking soda over the mattress and leave for up to 24 hours.
  5. Vacuum with a shop vac.
  6. Steam clean to kill bacteria and odors.
  7. Flip and repeat.


How to Clean a Mattress

Check out this awesome fool-proof method for cleaning your mattress. This is coming from someone who has had the same mattress for 1.5 years, and it looks as good as the day we got it!

What You Need

First, gather your supplies. You’ll need:

1. Strip the Bed

Firstly, strip the bed. Remove all sheets, duvet covers, pillows, and pillowcases, as well as the mattress protector.

Top Tip

Next time you change your sheets, let the mattress air out with the windows open before putting new sheets on. This will help deodorize the mattress.

2. Vacuum the Mattress

Using the upholstery attachment on your vacuum cleaner, vacuum the mattress. Get into all the nooks and crannies. This will remove dead skin, debris, dust, and other things lurking in your mattress.

Optional

Use a scrubbing brush to lift any embedded dirt and debris before vacuuming again.

3. Tackle Fresh Stains

If you notice fresh stains, tackle them right away. The best thing to do is take a dry microfiber cloth and blot the stain until it lifts. You want to use as little water as possible with cleaning mattresses because it will seep into the mattress and potentially lead to mold and mildew.

4. Tackle Old Stains

Next, you can tackle old stains. This is completely optional and purely for aesthetic purposes. If the sight of the stain is bothering you, take steps to remove it. If not, you can leave it.

The best way to tackle old stains is to use an enzyme cleaner. Apply as little as possible to the stain and wipe away with a slightly damp cloth.

If you don’t have an enzyme cleaner, try either of these DIY stain removers:

  • A 2:1 ratio of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide and dish soap.
  • Salt and lemon, creating a paste.

Warning

Never apply moisture or water to memory foam mattresses. These mattresses shouldn’t get wet because they will absorb the water and cling to it.

5. Deodorizing Time

Now it’s time to work out the nasty odors and oils that build up in your mattress. If you’re able, the best way to do this is to air your mattress outside on a sunny day. The sun and fresh air will allow your mattress to air out without getting damp or dirty.

However, not everyone has space or weather to do this. The other option is baking soda. Using a sieve, sprinkle baking soda all over your mattress. For a king-size mattress, you could use up to two pounds of baking soda, so have enough to hand.

Scrub this into the mattress with a scrubbing brush to ensure it’s evenly distributed.

Leave for at least an hour, or up to 24 hours if you’re going away for the night. The baking soda will absorb odors and oils within your mattress.

After it’s sat for a while, vacuum it up. For this, we recommend using a shop vac. Your powerful, expensive vacuum probably isn’t suitable for baking soda since the particles are so fine and can get into the filter.

Try This

Mix a few drops of essential oil into your baking soda before sifting it over your mattress. This will add a nice lush smell to your room.

6. Disinfect

This is an optional step but a good one! We occasionally steam clean our mattress. It helps to kill bacteria as well as odors.

Aim your steam cleaner at your mattress, holding it about 6-12 inches away. Remember, you don’t want to make your mattress wet at all — especially if you have a memory foam mattress. Continue doing this for the entire mattress.

7. Flip and Repeat

If possible, flip your mattress and repeat on the other side. Once you’ve completed the cleaning routine, add your fresh, clean sheets and enjoy a blissful night’s sleep.

How to Remove Stains from a Mattress

If you notice a fresh stain, tackle it right away. If the stain is old, you can still try these methods but keep in mind the stains may be more difficult to remove, and it’s not totally necessary to remove them. But for aesthetic purposes, it’s worth a go. Especially so if you share this mattress with someone else, this is a mattress in a hotel, or you’re trying to sell the mattress.

Removing Blood Stains

Blood is a common stain on mattresses, and it’s one you should aim to tackle as soon as you notice it. Otherwise, it will set. This is the best way to remove blood:

  1. Mix equal parts of ammonia and cold water in a bowl.
  2. Soak a white cloth in the solution and wring it out so the cloth isn’t dripping wet. It should be slightly damp.
  3. Blot the bloodstain and watch it lift from the mattress onto the cloth.
  4. Continue blotting until the entire stain has been treated.
  5. Let it sit for 10 minutes.
  6. Take another clean white cloth and dampen with water. Wipe the affected area.
  7. Repeat if necessary.

Removing Urine Stains

Little ones wet the bed. If you didn’t have a mattress protector, or it leaked through, try this method for removing the stains.

  1. Combine one cup of three percent hydrogen peroxide, three tablespoons of baking soda, and a few drops of dish soap. Stir to dissolve.
  2. Pour the cleaning solution into a spray bottle.
  3. Spray the affected area. Don’t totally soak the mattress, as this can lead to mold and mildew down the line.
  4. Let the mattress air dry for one hour. The stain remover you made should naturally lift the stain.
  5. If the stain remains, spray more of the solution and blot it up with a clean white cloth.

Removing Vomit Stains

If a vomit stain is lingering in your mattress, here’s how to remove it:

  1. Mix a 1:1 solution of water and distilled white vinegar into a spray bottle. Shake to combine.
  2. Spray the stain and blot it up with a clean white cloth.
  3. Repeat until the stain has lifted completely.
  4. While the vinegar will remove odors, if the odors persist, sprinkle the area with baking soda.
  5. Let it sit for one hour before vacuuming with a shop vac.

Removing Sweat Stains

Sweat stains are the most common type of mattress stains. The best way to prevent them is by putting down a mattress protector, which you clean regularly. But if you notice sweat stains, try the same steps for removing urine stains. If that doesn’t work, or you want to try something a bit easier, give this a go:

  1. Mix one cup of baking soda with water and a bit of salt in a bowl. Mix until you have a paste, adjusting the ingredient quantity if necessary.
  2. Spread the paste over the stain.
  3. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes, longer if you have the time.
  4. Wipe the stain with a damp cloth.
  5. Vacuum the area with a shop vac to remove baking soda residue.

Removing General Stains

If we haven’t mentioned a stain that you’ve got, you can try this general stain remover:

  1. Mix a powdered white laundry detergent — that doesn’t contain blue crystals or oxygen bleach — with one tablespoon of water. This should create a foamy paste.
  2. Spread the foam onto the stain.
  3. Let it sit for 10 minutes.
  4. Scrape away with the back of a spoon.
  5. Wipe with a damp white cloth.
  6. Vacuum if necessary.
  7. Let the area air dry.

Mattress Cleaning FAQs

What Causes Yellow Stains on Mattress?

The most common cause of yellow stains is sweat. Sweat is how the body cools down (1). It usually happens in hot weather or during exercise, but it also happens while we sleep.

Other causes of yellow stains include urine and vomit and just general aging of the mattress.

Can I Leave Baking Soda on My Mattress Overnight?

Yes, you can leave baking soda on your mattress for up to 24 hours. Of course, if there is baking soda on your mattress, find somewhere else to sleep for the night. You don’t want to toss and turn in baking soda all night long.

What are Brown Stains on My Mattress?

There are a few culprits for brown stains:

  • Water stains: They can discolor the mattress, especially if they leave to mildew which can create a brown-colored stain on the surface of your mattress.
  • Too much sunlight: While leaving your mattress out in the sunlight to air out every once in a while is fine, leaving it out there for long periods of time frequently can discolor your mattress.
  • Rust: If moisture interacts with the metal coils and springs inside your mattress, it can create rust which can appear on the mattress itself. That’s why you shouldn’t saturate your mattress. And always use a mattress protector to limit sweat getting through to the coils.
  • Urine: If neglected, urine stains can turn a kind of brown-yellow color. You should always deal with urine stains as soon as you notice them.

Can I Steam Clean My Mattress?

Yes, as long as you don’t dampen the mattress too much. However, don’t expect this to remove stains. In fact, the heat can actually set the stain. Instead, use this after spot-treating stains. This is good for killing bacteria and disinfecting the mattress.

Can I Spray Febreze on My Mattress?

It’s safe, but it won’t remove odors. Instead, it masks them. White vinegar and water, or baking soda, is a better way to neutralize odors.

How Often Should I Clean My Mattress?

Aim to clean your mattress twice a year.

Can I Use Essential Oils to Freshen My Mattress?

Yes. You can mix them in with your cleaning solutions, such as the baking soda or the lemon and salt DIY solution.

How Often Should I Flip or Rotate My Mattress?

Not every mattress can be flipped, but if yours can, flip it every six months.

If you can’t flip your mattress, rotate it. If you have an innerspring or memory foam mattress, rotate it every three months. Hybrid mattresses should be rotated every three to six months. Latex mattresses can be rotated every six months.


Bottom Line for Cleaning Mattresses

Now that you know everything there is about how to clean a mattress, it’s time to get down to work. Thankfully, you only need to do this twice a year, and it doesn’t take too long, depending on how long you leave the baking soda on.

While it may seem like a lot of supplies and steps, it’s totally worth it to deep clean and sanitize your mattress. Our last piece of advice is always to use a mattress protector! These work wonders, and you won’t regret the investment.

Headshot of Beth McCallum

About the Author

Beth McCallum

Beth McCallum is a 20-something freelance writer & book blogger with a degree in creative writing, journalism and English literature. Beth firmly believes that a tidy house is a tidy mind. She is always looking for new ways to sustainably clean and tidy her house, that's kind on the environment but effective in the house, too!

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