How to Clean a Mattress (and Why)
Tackling this chore a couple times a year can help keep things fresh in the bedroom
Most people spend about a third of their life in bed, pending they get the 7 to 9 hours of rest recommended by doctors. That easily makes mattresses one of the hardest working fixtures in our home. But while it’s common for people to regularly vacuum their living room sofa or wipe down kitchen chairs after each use, routine mattress cleaning is a task that is often overlooked.
The truth is, a well-cared-for mattress can last longer than one that’s been ignored. It can also promote a more pleasant and productive slumber. “Dust mites, pollen, dust and loose dirt can cause allergies and trigger asthma attacks,” says Brian Sansoni, senior vice president of communications at American Cleaning Institute. “Sleeping on a clean mattress can prevent these triggers and help you to have a good night’s sleep."
Health benefits aside, a clean mattress can also help prevent pest infestations. That’s why it’s important to pay as much attention to it as you might your couch, and focus on how you clean your mattress, as well as how often.
How to Deep Clean Your Mattress
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to give your mattress a deep cleaning at home. Below it, you’ll find a couple of products we recommend for a better night’s sleep.
First things first: If your mattress has a fresh stain, tackle it immediately after removing your bedding. Grab the appropriate stain remover, a couple of dry cloths, and treat the stain as if you were treating a carpet—blot, don’t rub the stain in.
If the stain isn’t fresh or requires a deeper cleaning, here are some steps you can take.
1. Wash Your Sheets
Strip the mattress of all sheets and bedding and toss those items in the wash. To remove tough stains, always use a CR-recommended laundry stain remover, and follow the care instructions on your sheets.
2. Vacuum Your Mattress
Next, vacuum the entire mattress surface with the upholstery attachment on your vacuum cleaner, paying close attention to seams and crevices, where dirt, dust, and dead skin can collect. Switching to your vacuum’s crevice attachment can help get in deep. (Our tests have found that a normal vacuum provides capable cleaning, so you don’t need to invest hundreds of dollars into a mattress-specific vacuum cleaner.) If you have a pillowtop mattress, the same advice applies: Use the crevice tool to get into the folds of the surface and get around the seams as much as possible.
3. Spot-Clean Your Mattress
Once you’re finished vacuuming, check for dry stains and spot-treat them with an appropriate cleaner. An upholstery cleaner or enzyme-based pet-odor remover can do the job on many bodily fluids or organic liquids, like wine. For other stains, such as dirt or grass, try a simple solution of 1 teaspoon mild dish detergent and 1 cup of warm water.
4. Deodorize Your Mattress
Next, deodorize the mattress by sprinkling baking soda over the entire surface, and don’t be afraid to empty an entire 1-pound box. If you can place the mattress near a window, do so. Sunlight will add its sanitizing power. For best results, leave the baking soda there for 24 hours and catch some sleep on the couch—or go on that overnight trip you’ve been fantasizing about.
5. Deodorize Your Mattress
After the baking soda has had a chance to tackle odors, go back over the mattress with your vacuum’s upholstery attachment.
Sansoni also suggests using a light spray with a fabric refresher to help remove any lingering odors. For double-duty, choose one with a formula designed to reduce allergens from pollen and dust mites.
Upgrades for a Better Night's Sleep
You can make your bed even more sleep-worthy with a comfortable, supportive pillow and soft, durable sheets. Here’s a pillow and two sets of sheets that garnered top ratings in CR’s tests. Also check out this toolkit for a good night’s sleep.