How To Clean A Mattress

Statistically speaking, people spend approximately 30% of their lives sleeping, this is why it is of utmost importance to make sure that the place where we sleep and “recharge our batteries” is comfortable, cozy, hygienic, clean and antimicrobial.

Mattress cleaning is necessary not only from a practical and functional point of view, but also from a medical standpoint as well, as otherwise it can easily become a place for dust mites to thrive. Mattress cleaning may sound like a daunting and time-consuming task, and the truth is that it actually is, but the good news is that you only need to do it two to three times a year.

Getting a good, relaxing and deep night’s sleep is important for your mental, physical and emotional health, and in order for that to happen, you must make sure that your bed mattresses are clean and fresh. Poor sleep can take its toll on your mental health, memory and ability to judge, not to mention that it also increases the risk for chronic diseases – are you willing to take all these chances, when you can stay on the safe side by simply cleaning the mattress a couple times a year? Here is how you do it!

1. Regular Mattress Cleaning

If your mattress is not stained or particularly dirty, then you can get away with only a quick and basic cleaning that starts with a thorough vacuum. One of the main reasons why mattresses get dirty is because of the solid dirt and dust particles that gather on its surface – by vacuuming your mattress on a monthly basis, you can increase the lifespan of the mattress, eliminate all the solid residue and get rid of the dust mites as well. However, if you want to fully reduce the risk for irritation and allergic reactions, make sure to clean both sides of your mattress.

In addition to vacuuming it, you must also air the mattress a few times a year (ideally, once a season). Put it in a sunny spot in your backyard and simply let the sunlight clean it in a natural and efficient manner.

If you use to sweat a lot, then the chances are that your mattress is slightly wetter than it is supposed to, which means that it features the ideal environment for bacterial growth, as well as for mold and mildew. The sunlight will prevent that and will also add to the overall freshness and hygiene of the mattress.

For a superficial cleaning of the mattress, you can use a soft upholstery cleaner that removes all the dust mites that your vacuum might have missed, along with shallow spots. On the other hand, enzyme cleaners come in handy for small stains that can be easily removed – as their name implies, these cleaners act directly on the structure of the stains, disintegrating them and making them easier to remove.

2. Understand The Main Types Of Stains And Learn To Remove Them Efficiently

It has happened to all of us to find some unidentified mattress stains and not to know what product should we use in order to remove them efficiently, while still preserving the quality and the aspect of the mattress. Different stains can be removed with different detergents, and it is important to know the source of the stain in order to use the best mattress stain remover.

Simply put, there are three main types of stains: the grease, tannin and protein stains, and the latter tend to be the most common ones. Some of the most common protein-based mattress stains result from vomit, urine, blood, sweat and other bodily liquids that can leave bothersome spots and marks on your mattress.

The more you let the stain to set in, the more difficult it will be for you to remove it. It is crucial to act on the stain immediately after the spilling has occurred, and the only way to do that is by firstly using a piece of dry white cloth to remove the excess moisture, and then to use another piece of damp white cloth to gently blot the stain.

Make sure never to rub against the stain, as this will only spread it and make it look worse – instead of doing that, it is important to gently press on the stain and to let the damp piece of cloth absorb it.

On the other hand, if you were not paying attention when the staining occurred and you only identified the stain days or weeks later, then you can still remove protein spots with a fresh mixture of some cheap yet highly efficient ingredients that you can find in your kitchen.

That being said, you will need some water, a hint of salt and some baking soda to dissolve the stain and to make it easy to remove. Simply create the mixture, then apply it directly on the affected area of the mattress, let it stay for a few minutes and then slowly brush it off, half an hour later.

Once you have removed the stain, make sure to use a wet piece of white cloth to remove all the excess salt and baking soda, as well as any stain debris. This is an efficient and widely known homemade stain remover that has been used for decades, and the secret to quick and permanent stain removal is to use as little water as you possibly can, as otherwise you risk to get the mattress wet and this leads to mold and mildew.

However, it must be said that the baking soda-based homemade stain removal is only a mild detergent-like solution that may not be efficient for the most stubborn protein-based stains. IN that case, you can always use a citrus-type cleaner that you apply on the stain, let it stay for 15 minutes and then clean it with a piece of white and highly absorbent cloth.

Regardless of the age or nature of the mattress stain, it is extremely important to read the owner’s manual that comes with your mattress – especially if you have a luxury-grade one that is made of fine materials like silk. Some detergents can do more harm than good, and if the mattress is permanently damaged and it is your fault, you may no longer be eligible for the mattress replacement granted by the warranty.

3. Removing Blood Stains

Removing blood stains from a mattress does sound gruesome, but the truth is that accidents happen all the time, and when they do, it is important to know the tricks you can use to remove the spots quickly and efficiently.

At the time being, hydrogen peroxide is the most widely used solution for removing blood mattress stains – simply apply the solution directly onto the blood stain, let it sit for several minutes and then gently blot it with a piece of dry and clean cloth. If the stain is still there, then you can try to apply a small amount of classic laundry detergent, allow it to act for 10 to 15 minutes and then blot it with another dry and clean piece of white cloth.

The hydrogen peroxide is really effective for breaking down the structure of the protein stains, and although sometimes this may not entirely remove the blood stain, especially if it has already set in, it will surely lessen it to a great extent, thus making it easier for you to remove it afterwards. Worst case scenario, if the hydrogen peroxide is not efficient and the stain is extensive, you can always take the mattress to a local dry cleaning company.

In addition to the hydrogen peroxide, you can always try to rinse the blood stain with plain, cold water. Never, ever use hot water to remove a protein-based mattress stain, no matter if it is caused by vomit, blood, urine or sweat, as it will only deepen the stain instead of removing it. Generally speaking, very cold water is highly effective for removing fresh stains, and this method should be tried before using the hydrogen peroxide.

Baking soda is also very efficient, and you can easily make a homemade stain remover by combining one part baking soda with two parts cold water, insert the concoction into a kitchen sprinkler and then apply it on the stained area.

One of the benefits of using baking soda for removing blood stains is the fact that it will draw up any and all the moisture firstly, and it is particularly useful for deep, old dirt and stains. Besides, it also acts as a natural freshener, deodorizing the stained spot and removing that bothersome rust smell.

After you let it sit for up to one hour, depending on the depth and severity of the stain, rinse the spot with a piece of wet and clean white cloth. If the baking soda-based stain remover failed, then you can also use a mild and preferably eco-friendly liquid dish washing detergent by respecting the same “recipe” detailed above. Make sure to use the blotting technique instead of just rubbing in a circular motion, though!

4. How To Remove Vomit?

Vomit is one of the most common protein-based mattress stains, as mentioned above, and unfortunately it is also one of the most difficult types of stains to remove. The clean-up can be very demanding and tiresome, but the good news is that you can quickly remove vomit with an efficient, long-acting, in-depth enzymatic cleaner that breaks down the structure of the vomit stain.

Simply apply the enzymatic cleaner onto the stain, then take the mattress out in the sun (or open the windows and air the mattress) and then blot the stain with a piece of damp, clean white cloth. The sunlight is known for its natural antibacterial properties, and the “sun therapy” is very important after removing protein stains of any kind, in order to completely get rid of all the germs that may be left behind.

5. How To Remove Mattress Mold And Mildew?

Although these are not stains, it is vital to detect and remove all the mold and mildew that may grow in and on the mattress, before it starts to wreak havoc on you health. Mold and mildew can lead to severe respiratory conditions, from asthma to bronchitis, not to mention the unpleasant smell.

As you may already know, mold and mildew occur in very moist areas, and if your mattress has absorbed a lot of sweat as it usually happens throughout the hot summer months, then make sure to dry it as quickly as possible. If the mildew has formed already and you can feel its smell, then here is how you can remove it quickly and without the hassles:

If the mold and mildew extends to more than half of the overall surface of the mattress, then you cannot remove it at home – not without leaving some of it behind. In that case, you have two options: you can either take it to a professional cleaning company that will perform in-depth cleaning, or you can buy a new mattress.

On the other hand, if only a small and isolated area has been affected by mold and mildew, then you can start cleaning it by using a high-power vacuum. Carefully and thoroughly vacuum the mattress on both sides in order to remove all the solid residue, then gently remove the visible mold with a piece of dry cloth and then leave the mattress several days out in the sun. The antibiotic properties of the sunlight will take it from there.

If the bothersome smell still persists even after several days of leaving the mattress out in the sun, then you can make an efficient anti-mold solution by mixing one-part warm water with one-part isopropyl alcohol to remove any and all remaining mold spores. Common disinfectants are efficient as well, although you need to be very careful when using them.

6. Removing Urine Stains And Smell

Urine is relatively easy to remove, regardless if it is human or animal, as it has the same structure in both cases. If fresh, then make sure to use a piece of dry and white cloth to blot away all the excess fluid, prior to using the enzymatic cleaning product that simply breaks down the uric acid crystals. Spray the urine mattress stain with the enzymatic cleaner, let it stay and then gently blot it.

The enzymatic cleaner alone will only “consume” the urine stain but it will never remove it completely – for that, you will need to use the same old baking soda. Sprinkle some baking soda over the previously blotted area, let it stay for a couple of hours and then thoroughly vacuum it. For the best results and for extensive, in-depth urine blot, you can even combine the baking soda with some hydrogen peroxide, as they are both equally efficient for removing protein stains.

At the same time, if you do not have baking soda or hydrogen peroxide at your disposal, then you create yet another efficient urine remover by mixing one small cup of water with one tablespoon of vinegar, half a tablespoon of dish washing soap or laundry detergent and then one or two drops of disinfecting cleaner.

Carefully mix all these ingredients together and then use them to remove the urine stains from your mattress, either with the help of a sponge or with a clean white cloth. However, make sure never to pour any stain remover directly on the spot as it can be absorbed into the mattress and lead to the formation of mold and mildew – instead, apply on the sponge and gently and repeatedly press down on the stain.

Although all the urine stain removers described above act not only on the stain but also on the unpleasant odor, the smell of urine may not be fully removed. If that is the case, then you can always use a proprietary anti-smell product that will permanently remove the bothersome odor and leave your mattress fresh and as good as new.

7. Remove Juice Stains With Alcohol And Vinegar

Stains caused by dark-colored drinks such as Coca Cola, coffee or natural juices can be easily removed with some vinegar, citrus cleaner or plain alcohol. The secret lies in the high acid content found in the vinegar and the citrus cleaner, which simply breaks down the structure of the stains, and removing them will become a breeze!

If you do not have vinegar or citrus cleaner, then you can always use alcohol to remove them. Like it happens with the urine spots, make sure never to apply alcohol directly onto the spot as it will easily get soaked in – instead of doing that, blot the colored drink-induced stain with a piece of clean white cloth that has been previously soaked in rubbing alcohol. A last resort measure would be taking the mattress to a dry cleaner.

8. Removing Soil From A Mattress

When our clothes get soiled and dirty, we simply throw them in the washing machine and let the laundry detergent work its magic. However, this does not apply to soiled mattresses, as they require special attention, and soiled mattresses can sometimes be even more difficult to clean than stained mattresses. With that in mind, here are the steps that you need to take for cleaning a dirty mattress that is contaminated with soil:

Firstly, you need to vacuum the cleaner. This is the “first line of attack” for cleaning mattresses regardless of their problem. Make sure to use the special upholstery attachment that comes with the vacuum cleaner for removing all the dander, the dust and the dust mites that linger in your mattress. This must be performed each season, and both parts of the mattress must be equally and thoroughly cleaned.

Once you are done vacuuming, you can use either an efficient upholstery shampoo that is especially designed for cleaning soiled mattresses, or some soft detergent that you use for cleaning your carpets. Make sure to open all the doors and windows to ensure a correct and consistent air flow that speeds up the drying process, and that the sunlight falls directly on the mattress to kill all the remaining germs and bacteria.

If you want to go green and to use only environmentally-friendly products to clean your stained or soiled mattress, then you can trade the soft detergent or the upholstery shampoo for some vinegar that fully disinfects the mattress and acts as a proprietary anti-odor remover as well.

Don’t forget that it is very important to flip your mattress twice a year, not only for keeping it fresh and hygienic, but also for prolonging its life span. That, coupled with the use of a comfortable mattress pad or topper will reduce the risk for mattress staining or soiling.

9. The Basics Of Deep Cleaning And Steam Cleaning

In spite of the fact that most mattresses these days come with a 15 to 20-year warranty, it is highly recommended to replace your mattress every several years if you are committed to staying healthy and you do not want to make any compromise in terms of freshness and hygiene.

Steam cleaning and deep cleaning are two highly efficient, in-depth cleaning methods that are widely used both for cleaning mattresses and for cleaning upholstery.

However, given the fact that both these cleaning methods can leave your mattress very moist if you are not careful, it is extremely important to pay extra attention when using them – or you can always take them to a professional and certified local steam cleaning company, especially since these professionals use state of the art extraction equipment.

Steam cleaning and deep cleaning are particularly important for those who suffer from allergies, as you know that the allergy rates sky-rocket during the spring. Some people recommend using baking soda coupled with several drops of essential oil, such as sandalwood, ylang ylang, chamomile or even lavender in order to keep your mattress fresh throughout the whole season.

If you have decided to do the deep cleaning all by yourself, keep in mind that memory foam (the most common material used for filling up mattresses these days) has a special cellular structure that not only “remembers” the shape of the mattress, as the name suggests, but involuntarily traps the moisture particles within the mattress, thus causing mold and mildew.

10. How To Efficiently Deodorize A Mattress?

If there is one thing that is more bothersome for mattress owners than stains, that is certainly the unpleasant smell and odor that can sometimes get trapped within the mattress’ fibers. Mattress deodorizing is the second most important step after vacuuming the mattress and removing the stains, and although some homemade stain removers such as baking soda or vinegar can remove the smell as well, it will leave the mattress smelling funny rather than smelling nice.

Baking soda is an odor neutralizer, not a deodorizer, which means that it will not improve the “aroma” of your mattress in any way. For that, you can either use a special air freshener and odor eliminator such as the well-known Febreze, or you can use several drops of scented or essential oils, as mentioned above.

One of the most stubborn and difficult odors to remove is the cigarette smell, which is particularly annoying for non-smokers. Of course, it is always better to prevent than to treat, but if your mattress has already started to smell like cigarettes, then you can simply air the mattress for 12 hours during a hot, sunny and dry day. You can also gently spray the mattress with a special fabric odor remover and the take it out to freshen up.

Remember that in case of cigarette odor, the mattress is not the only one that can catch a bad smell, as this often happens to the linens as well. That being said, make sure to frequently launder your linens and to use a laundry balm each time, for a truly refreshing smell.

Although the cigarette smell is the most common one, there are other odors that are at least as bothersome, such as the urine, vomit or sweat odor. The process for removing all these bad smells is almost identical, as you need to sprinkle the whole mattress with baking soda and allow it to act over the night.

The second day you need to thoroughly vacuum the mattresses and then to randomly spray a citrus cleaning product to clean it even better. After that you can use Febreze or FreshCare, both of which are highly efficient against stubborn odors – besides this, these odor removers are very cost-effective as well.

11. Other Useful Tips And Hints For Cleaning Your Mattress And Keeping It Fresh

The methods described above are mainly aimed at removing stains, soiling and bothersome odors, but there is much more to cleaning and caring for your mattress than that. As described above, it is important to flip and rotate your mattress from top to bottom at least twice a year, in order to extend its life.

Another very useful tip is to invest in a good mattress topper or pad – it can be either a regular one or you can invest in a heated mattress pad if you want your bed to keep you warm at night. Not only will the pad improve the comfort of your mattress, but it will also keep it fresh and clean for a longer period of time, while keeping stains and bothersome odors at bay.

No matter if you only want to slightly freshen up your mattress or to thoroughly clean it, it is of utmost importance to carefully read the tags on your mattress, as the manufacturer usually includes several useful tips in there, along with all the warnings and the safety measures that you need to take in order to prevent any damage that may occur to your mattress.

The final tip is to never let a stain set in, no matter if it is a protein stain or a stain caused by colored drinks, such as coffee. If you let it set, it will go deeply into the fibers of the mattress, thus becoming extremely difficult to maintain. If it reached the mattress padding, then it is twice more difficult to remove, not to mention that it also poses a great risk for mold and mildew.

12. Keeping Your Bedspreads, Sheets And Bedding Clean

Keeping your mattress clean and hygienic is important, but so is cleaning your bedding, sheets and bedspreads. Besides, your bedding and bedspreads do not require any special treatment, as you can easily put them in the washing machine along with your clothes, as long as you make sure to read the washing symbols and the manufacturer instructions first, to prevent shrinkage, excessive stretching or any damage that may occur.

Your blanket must be washed at least once a month, while your bed sheets and pillow cases must be washed and dried weekly. One of the most common mistakes people tend to make nowadays is that they wash their bedding and sheets with very warm water, thinking that this will kill the germs and bacteria, when it will only wreak havoc on the material and on the structure of the sheets. Always wash them with ice-cold water and a powerful detergent.

If there are any spots on the sheets, bedding and bedspreads, then make sure to apply a strong cleaning agent directly on the spot, prior to inserting them into the washing machine. Also, if you are very allergic to a certain ingredient or if you have very sensitive skin and you get irritated quickly, then opt for a green, chemical-free detergent.

The Bottom Line

To conclude, your bed is the place where you relax after a hard day at work, it should be treated as an oasis of peace and relaxation, the place where you leave all the worries behind and have some “you” time. Keeping your mattress clean, fresh, hygienic and comfortable is crucial not only for improving your night’s sleep, but also for staying healthy and energetic in the long run.

On average, it takes several minutes to an hour to keep a mattress clean, dry and stain-free, and it takes only one minute to flip it once every six months. This is a small investment for the benefit of sleeping better, breathing easier and healthier and for keeping mold, germs and dust mites away.

Showing 2 comments
  • Jon

    Great Content! Cleaning mattresses can be tricky, especially if you don’t even know where to begin.

  • Bobby Thom

    Thanks jon. It’s a great compliment coming from someone who owns a cleaning company.

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