How To Clean A Mattress And Remove Stains In 7 Easy Steps

You’ll sleep better knowing you’re in a dust mite– and bacteria-free zone.

Ah, blissful slumber. What’s better than sinking into your bed at the end of a long, tedious day? It’s the moment you’ve been looking forward to since, well, you got out of it fifteen hours earlier. But, in case you haven’t noticed, sometimes sleeping can be messy business. You toss, you turn, you sweat and sometimes spill coffee into your sheets. You unknowingly shed dead skin cells (mmm, dust mite food).

Sure, you frequently launder your sheets and pillow cases. You even make your bed up all nice and pretty each morning, complete with way too many pillow shams and a decorative throw blanket. That bed looks oh so inviting, but when’s the last time you cleaned your mattress? Have you ever?

Well you should. And we’re here to tell you why—and how.

Why it’s important to clean your mattress

Like it or not, your precious bed—that safe zone where you’re free to dream and procrastinate and binge-watch (among other things)—can actually be a total breeding ground for bacteria. Especially when dampness is introduced. Routine mattress cleaning can also help if you’re prone to dust or mildew allergies, which can sometimes lead to asthma, eczema and sneezing.

Don’t make us beg, just clean your mattress already. You’ll be glad you did.

How often to clean your mattress

It’s important to give your mattress a monthly cleaning (but definitely wash your sheets way more often than that, like at least once a week!). Seriously, you spent something like one-third of your entire life in bed. Plus, mattresses are super expensive. Regular upkeep of your mattress will increase its longevity, which could save you literally thousands of dollars in the long run. Chances are, you even clean your well-worn and often-napped-on couch more than your mattress, where you sleep (almost) every single night.

You used to be able to flip your mattress over to extend its life (and your back’s), but now most mattresses have pillow tops, so flippage isn’t really an option. You could, however, rotate your mattress a couple times a year to help out with sagging and general wear and tear.

Furthermore, mattresses typically have a life span of about 8–10 years. If yours is saggy, discolored, uncomfortable or smelly (or just reminds you of your awful ex), it might be time to go mattress shopping.

How to clean your mattress in 7 easy steps

Supplies:

  • Vacuum with upholstery attachment
  • Enzyme cleaner or gentle dish soap, like Dawn (to spot treat stains)
  • Hydrogen peroxide + cold water (optional substitute for enzyme cleaner)
  • Baking soda
  • Sponge or microfiber rag
  1. Strip the sheets + do the laundry.
  • Take off any comforters, duvets, sheets, pillow cases and mattress covers, and give them a good washing in hot water (which helps kill dust mites and bacteria).
  • Shake out pillows.
  1. Vacuum the mattress with upholstery attachment hose.
  • Be sure to get every part of the mattress, including both surfaces and sides.
  • Get in the crevices, zippers and seams, too.
  1. Spot treat stains.
  • Be super careful not to saturate the mattress with water, or you could actually cause more mildew or bacteria to form.
  • Don’t apply cleaning solutions directly to the mattress. Apply to your sponge or rag, and then use that to clean the mattress.
  • Spray your cleaning solution onto your microfiber rag or sponge, and blot at the stain until it fades.
    • Enzyme cleaner (for biological stains)
    • Dish soap (such as Dawn) and warm water solution (for regular stains)
    • A DIY solution of equal parts cold water + hydrogen peroxide (as a substitute for enzyme cleaner)
    • If using enzyme cleaner, follow the directions on the product’s label. Then blot the spot clean with cold water to lift the stain. Warm water tends to make stains such as urine, vomit, blood or sweat set (and smell worse!).
  • If using soapy water, be sure to blot clean with plain water to remove soapy residue from the mattress after the stain has lifted.
  1. Sprinkle baking soda all over the mattress to neutralize odors and absorb residual moisture.
  • Let the baking soda sit on the mattress for 2–3 hours (or overnight, if you’ve got someplace else to stay!), and then vacuum it up.
  1. Flip your mattress, and repeat the cleaning procedure.
  • Even though you only sleep on one side of the mattress, the bottom of it could also be harboring lots of dust and bacteria.
  1. Let your mattress air dry completely before putting sheets back on.
  • Consider using a mattress protector to … well, protect your mattress.
  1. Put clean sheets back on the bed, fluff the pillows and bask in the glory that is your fresh and clean bed. You earned it.

How to clean a memory foam mattress

Memory foam mattresses are super popular, made of a petroleum-based material that slowly compresses and gently hugs your resting body. Just thinking about its supreme comfort is making us sleepy. High-end brands and knockoffs are both dreamy and responsive. Cleaning them is a bit different than cleaning a regular spring mattress, so check out our advice below.

  1. Strip the sheets + do the laundry.
  • Take off any comforters, duvets, sheets, pillow cases and mattress covers, and give them a good washing in hot water (which helps kill dust mites and bacteria).
  • Shake out pillows.
  1. Vacuum the mattress with upholstery attachment hose.
  • Be sure to get every part of the mattress, including both surfaces and sides.
  • Get in the crevices, zippers and seams, too.
  1. When cleaning your memory foam mattress, avoid chemical-based cleaning solutions, like ammonia or bleach.
  • Instead, mix your own DIY cleaning solution in a spray bottle, using ½ cup of white vinegar + ½ cup of water.
    • You could also substitute fabric cleaner for the vinegar, if you’d like (or if you hate the smell of vinegar!).
    • Be sure not to oversaturate the foam mattress with liquid.
    • Spritz your cleaning solution all over the mattress, and let it air dry.
  1. Spot clean stains.
  • Make a DIY spot cleaning agent with equal parts liquid laundry detergent and water.
    • Rub the solution gently onto any visible stains, and let it sit for about 30 minutes.
    • Rinse the solution by wiping it off with a clean, damp rag to remove soapy residue.
    • Blot the spot dry with a clean towel.
    • Let all treated spots air dry completely.
  1. Sprinkle baking soda all over the mattress to neutralize odors and absorb residual moisture.
  • Let the baking soda sit on the mattress for 2–3 hours (or overnight, if you’ve got someplace else to stay!), and then vacuum it up.
  1. Flip your mattress, and repeat the cleaning procedure.
  • Even though you only sleep on one side of the mattress, the bottom of it could also be harboring lots of dust and bacteria.
  1. Let your mattress air dry completely before putting sheets back on.

How to clean mattress stains

Spot treat stains and blot, blot, blot. Depending on the stain, you can utilize a variety of cleaning agents. Before spot treating, be sure to do your quick clean (dry brush and vacuum) to remove any excess dirt, dust, debris, lint, hair and the like. The quick clean will also ensure that you’re not grinding more dirt into the mattress when you’re spot cleaning.

For pee, sweat + puke

  • Hey—it happens. Crack the windows to ventilate the bedroom, since bodily fluids and biological stains tend to smell unsavory, at best.
  • Mist the stain with some cold water to dampen it.
  • Mix 1 tablespoon 3% hydrogen peroxide with 3 tablespoons of baking soda in a spray bottle.
    • Spray your DIY solution over the entire stain, and scrub it lightly with a soft bristle scrub brush until the stain fades away.
    • Repeat as necessary.
    • Then mist with your cold, clean water again, and blot with a clean rag to remove soapy residue.
  • If your mattress still smells like any of the aforementioned bodily fluids, sprinkle the stain generously with baking soda, and let it sit for several hours before vacuuming it up. This ought to neutralize the odor. (And leave the windows open for a while.)

For blood stains

  • Hydrogen peroxide removes blood, especially if you get it while it’s still wet. It also works on dried blood, but not as efficiently.
  • Mix 1 tablespoon 3% hydrogen peroxide with 3 tablespoons of baking soda in your spray bottle.
    • Spray your DIY solution over the entire stain, and scrub it lightly with a soft bristle scrub brush until the stain fades away.
    • Repeat as necessary.
    • Then mist with your cold, clean water again, and blot with a clean rag to remove soapy residue.

For food + beverage stains

  • Mix a solution of 1 part laundry detergent, 1 part vinegar + 10 parts water into your spray bottle.
  • Apply the solution to the offending stain.
  • Let the solution set for about 10–15 minutes.
  • Scrub the stain with a soft bristle brush or sponge.
  • Blot the spot with a clean, damp rag to remove any soapy residue from the mattress.
  • Then blot the spot dry with a clean towel, and let it air dry before replacing sheets.
  • If your mattress smells like a coffee shop or a wine tasting room, hit that spot with some baking soda, and let it sit for a few hours before vacuuming it up. That should neutralize any remaining odors.

How to clean urine from a mattress

Supplies:

  • Baking soda
  • Clean rags
  • Cold water
  • Laundry detergent
  • White vinegar
  • Spray bottle
  • Vacuum with upholstery attachment

Strip the sheets + wash them with white vinegar ASAP.

  • Toss your bedding into the washing machine before the urine has time to set, which might make your sheets stink permanently.
    • Wash the sheets on the cold setting because warm water makes the pee smell worse.

However tempting, don’t scrub the stain. BLOT!

  • Using a clean, dry rag, get to blotting the offending pee stain to absorb as much excess liquid as possible.

Mix a vinegar/cold water solution (1:2 ratio) in your spray bottle + a few drops of laundry detergent.

  • Spray the heck out of that pee stain. Usually this is the part where we remind you not to oversaturate your mattress. Thing is, the pee has already done that, and it’s rapidly soaking in, so don’t be afraid to get after it with your cleaning solution.
    • Let your vinegar solution soak for about 15–20 minutes.
    • Blot it clean with a fresh rag (or you might need a towel if it’s a whole lot of pee!).

Hit the stain with some baking soda. Like, a lot of it.

  • Cover the whole stain with baking soda, and let it sit for 4–6 hours. (Ideally, you can leave it on overnight.)
    • Once it’s dried, vacuum up the residual baking soda from your mattress.

Did that help? If not, repeat the vinegar spray and baking soda steps, as necessary.

Cleaning your mattress might seem like a silly chore (after all, it’s not like any of your visiting guests even see it … heck, you hardly get a glimpse of it yourself!), but it’s actually super important for your health. Especially if you’ve got biological stains, moisture spots or dust buildup. So work cleaning your mattress into your monthly cleaning routine, maybe once for every 4–5 times you wash your sheets. You might even be shocked by the amount of spots and stains hiding on that thing. And you may actually notice the difference a clean mattress makes pretty quickly, especially if you’re prone to allergies. Sweet dreams!

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