7 Step Process for How to Clean a Mattress


You might not think you’ll ever find yourself needing to clean a mattress, but the truth is that accidents happen. And even when they don’t happen, a mattress without a protector (and sometimes even with a protector) is going to soak up a lot of sweat and drool, simply by virtue of it being a bed. Over time, you might start to notice that your mattress is developing a smell. It might be perfectly fine, except for the musty odor coming from the mattress. You can remedy this problem by cleaning your mattress.

Unlike most of the other fabrics in your home, which can be put into your washing machine, your mattress is too large to be cleaned using traditional methods. You will also want to use a method that doesn’t just get rid of the odor, but also kills dust mites and actually removes a stains that might be hiding on that mattress. Here’s a simple 7 step process on how to clean a mattress.

1. Strip the bed and put the linens in the wash.

The first step of cleaning your mattress should be to remove your sheets and throw them into the wash. If your linens are white, use a little bit of bleach and run the hottest cycle your machine has. This will help to kill bacteria that has been living in your linens and help to lift away any stains that might be on those fabrics. You should probably launder your linens at least once a week. Teenagers, especially those who struggle with acne, can benefit from even more frequent changes to their linens or, at the very least, their pillow cases.

2. Start by vacuuming the mattress.

Pull out your vacuum and hook up the upholstery attachment. This is a great way to get rid of any dust, pollen, and mites that might be hanging out in the surface levels of your mattress’s fabric. Give the entire mattress a thorough once over with the upholstery attachment, making sure that you get every square inch of the surface and the sides. If you have a two-sided mattress, start with the side you are currently using and then flip the mattress over and vacuum the other side, too. This is a great thing to do if you it is time to flip your mattress anyway.

3. Use baking soda to deodorize the mattress.

You might already be using baking soda to deodorize a bathroom or your fridge, but it is just as great for deodorizing your mattress (and your carpet, for that matter). If you have noticed that your mattress is starting to develop a smell, especially a body odor smell, sprinkle it thoroughly with baking soda and then spend some time scrubbing it into the mattress with a scrub brush. This will make sure that the baking soda actually gets into the material of the mattress and eliminates the odors where they originate. If you want to give your mattress a fresh scent (something calming, like lavender), you can mix a few drop of essential oil in with the baking soda before you sprinkle it. Let the baking soda (unscented or scented), work for ten minutes.

4. Vacuum again.

Hopefully you did not put that vacuum away, because you are going to need to use it again, this time to suck up the baking soda. Baking soda does not just eliminate odors—it also helps to soak up any moisture that might be in your mattress, from sweat or other bodily fluids, leaving it fresh once again. Vacuuming can also help to fluff up the fibers of your mattress after they have been slept on and, more recently, worked over with a scrub brush. If you have a mattress that has cotton padding that you have started to notice is feeling a little flat, this double vacuuming can give it back a little bit of its life. Once you start to notice that your padding is matting or bunching up, however, this is usually a pretty good sign that it’s time for a new mattress.

5. Spot treat any stains.

Mattresses are going to get stained. The most common stains for any mattress are blood and urine. If your mattress has any of these stains, they can both be treated with a little bit of hydrogen peroxide and backing soda. You only want to use enough to saturate the stain, not the entire mattress. Usually, putting a little bit on a towel and blotting it against the stain is the best way to clean it away. Rub at the edges of the stain and dab at the middle. It is a good idea to use a white rag or towel for this, as any fabric that has been dyed might transfer its color to the mattress while you are cleaning it away.

6. Let your mattress dry and air out.

Even if your linens are done in the wash by the time you have cleaned away any of the stains, you should give your mattress as much time as possible to dry out. There is nothing wrong with putting a fan on the mattress or opening the window in the room to help dry the mattress. Now might be a good time to rotate the mattress, too.

7. Once dry, cover with a protector.

Before putting your sheets back on the mattress, it is time to invest in a better protector for that mattress. It’s much better to be able to simply peel off and wash a protector than it is to have to spot treat stains when they occur.

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