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How to Clean a Mattress

How to Clean a Mattress

Mattress Resources
Read Time: 7 minutes

Mattress cleaning is often overlooked. It’s easy to know when to clean a bookshelf or TV stand. Dust, as well as smudges the surface, become visible. But we think because a mattress is covered in a sheet, it doesn’t need to be cleaned. That may not be the whole story.

Mattresses actually gain weight with constant use due to the build-up of bodily fluids, dust mites, and other allergens— we’re talking additional weight in pounds. They also accumulate stains over time. Regularly cleaning and removing mattress stains can protect your mattress and help it last longer.

how to clean a mattress

You may not realize it, but all kinds of critters and bacteria can collect inside of a mattress as time goes by. It’s vital that you take proper care of your mattress to ensure a longer lifespan and a good night’s sleep. Follow these steps to properly and thoroughly clean your mattress.

1. Remove the Bedding

First, remove all pillows and bedding from the mattress— this includes the mattress protector, mattress pad, and pillowtop if removable. Remove the pillowcases from their pillows and your duvet cover if you have one.

2. Wash the Bedding

After removing the bedding from the mattress, run it through the washing machine. Wash and dry on the hottest settings possible, using a mild laundry detergent to kill off any lingering dust mites and bacteria.

3. Remove Stains

Keep in mind to use as little liquid as possible when cleaning your mattress. Mattresses aren’t designed to get wet, so avoid spraying any type of liquid directly onto the mattress. This is especially true for memory foam mattresses, since liquid can cause memory foam to deteriorate.

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4. Vacuum

How to Clean a Mattress

Vacuuming with the upholstery attachment removes dust mites, dead skin cells, and allergens. Switch to the nozzle attachment to get into the seams and crevices of the mattress, since most debris accumulate there.

5. Remove Fresh Stains

It’s always a good idea to remove fresh stains immediately— the longer they’re left alone, the more they’ll set in the fabric. Blot the wet stain with a clean cloth damp with cold water. Blotting helps lift the stain out— rubbing the stain with hot water  will set it instead of removing it.

Absorb as much of the wet stain as possible with the cloth before applying a stain remover.

6. Spot Clean Stains

There’s several ways to spot clean a stain, but here are our two favorites:

  • Hydrogen peroxide method: Mix 2 Tbsp hydrogen peroxide with 1 Tbsp liquid dish soap. Using an old toothbrush, gently scrub the solution into the stain. Wipe away with a clean, damp cloth.
  • Enzyme cleaning solution: Spray solution onto a clean cloth and proceed to blot the stain. Let the solution sit for 15 minutes, then blot again with the same cloth to remove. Using a clean cloth damp with cold water, blot the same spot a third time.

After cleaning, let your mattress completely air out before use to prevent the risk of mold and mildew growth.

Next, Deodorize Your Mattress

Mattresses absorb allergens, bodily fluids, and other debris. Because of this, a musty smell may develop. To prevent this from happening, it’s a good idea to deodorize your mattress every few months. There are several ways to do it, but we found two solutions that worked best— baking soda and distilled white vinegar.

Solution 1: Baking Soda

Using a mesh sifter, cover the entire mattress surface with an even coating of baking soda. You can use as much as you need. You can even add 20-25 drops of a favorite essential oil to the baking soda before sifting if you want to leave behind a nice smell.

Let the baking soda sit for at least 30 minutes to absorb odors. The longer it sits, the better. You can leave it for up to 24 hours. In the meantime, try to expose your mattress to fresh air by opening windows. After, vacuum the baking soda using the upholstery attachment. Use the nozzle attachment to reach seams and crevices.

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Solution 2: Distilled White Vinegar

Mix equal parts distilled white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray on the mattress surface until damp, but not soaking wet. Allow to air dry before flipping to spray the other side. Air dry again before use.

How to Maintain Cleanliness

You can take steps to help your mattress stay clean and even extend its lifespan. Steps like immediately cleaning up a spill, cleaning your mattress on a regular basis, and encasing your bed in a mattress protector are all excellent preventative methods.

Clean Immediately

In case of a spill or stain, try to remove it as soon as possible— the longer it’s left, the more it sets in to the mattress, making it harder to remove later. You can follow the above instructions to remove the stain or take a look online for other DIY solutions.

Regular Cleaning

A mattress should be cleaned every 6 months, while bedding should be switched out weekly. This healthy practice may not completely prevent dust mites, but it will cut down on their numbers and reduce bacteria and other allergen build-ups. Regular cleaning may also improve your sleep by helping you breathe easier, with fewer sleep disruptions due to allergens and bad smells.

Mattress Protector

The best way to protect your mattress is to get a mattress protector. Most are inexpensive and shield your bed from dust mites, allergens, bed bugs, and liquids. It’s easier to wash a mattress protector than it is to remove a stain. We also recommend a mattress protector because without one, the current warranty may be voided should a spill occur.

Bed Frame

Not only should you clean your mattress, but you should also take care of your box spring and bed frame. For a box spring, vacuum the entire surface, including any nooks and crannies.

How you clean leaning the bed frame depends on the type of material it’s made of. For instance, a wood cleaner and a soft rag would be best for a wooden bed frame. If the frame is made of fabric, vacuuming it with the upholstery attachment, followed by spraying it with a mix of distilled vinegar and water might be a good idea.

How to Tell if Your Mattress Needs to be Cleaned

There are a few ways to tell if your mattress needs a good cleaning. Mattresses can be expensive, so you should protect your investment through regular cleaning and deodorizing.

Allergy Symptoms

A mattress is the perfect breeding ground for dust mites. If you suffer from allergy symptoms in bed, but rarely encounter them while awake, it could be coming from your mattress.

Bed Bugs

If you notice small, oval-shaped bugs and red marks on your skin, you may have a bed bug infestation. Unfortunately, the best way to rid your home of these pests is to get rid of your mattress and fumigate your home.

Bad Smell

With so much allergen and bacteria build-up, your mattress may give off an unpleasant smell. It could disrupt your sleep if not addressed. Regularly cleaning and deodorizing is a great way to freshen up your bed.


If you’re noticing stains, and you’re not sure how they got there, it’s a good idea to address them immediately— don’t put it off. Stains can increase bad odor and may wear down your mattress. Taking care of a stain right away can help improve your sleep and preserve your bed.

Why You Need to Clean a Mattress

Like any object in the home, a mattress does require regular cleaning, which prevents allergens from building up and may improve your breathing for a healthier rest. Regular cleaning may also help the mattress to last longer.

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Common Questions

How do you get smells out of mattresses?

Baking soda is one of the more common ways to freshen up a mattress. Strip off any bedding, then sprinkle an even coating over the mattress and let it sit for a few hours. Then, vacuum up the baking soda.

If you want to prevent smells from seeping into your mattress to begin with, try a waterproof mattress protector. It keeps out fluids that might stink up your mattress or can cause smelly mold and mildew to grow.

What is the first sign of bed bugs?

Signs you have bed bugs include:

  • Blood stains or dark, rust-colored bedbug excrement on your bedding
  • Egg shells and shed skin
  • An unpleasant musty odor

To get rid of bed bugs, wash your bedding in water that’s at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Then spot clean your mattress and vacuum everywhere around your bed—and we do mean everywhere. It’s a smart idea to take apart your frame and make sure there’s no place for bed bugs to hide. Check other crevices and corners in your room as well, sealing up any holes with caulk.

What causes yellow stains on a mattress?

Sweat can produce yellowish stains—it’s one reason why white bedding can fade to yellow over the years.  You might want to invest in a waterproof mattress protector to keep your sweat from working its way into your mattress. Changing your bed to a breathable material, such as cotton, can also limit sweating while you sleep.

What can I spray on a mattress to clean it?

We recommend you don’t spray anything at all directly onto your mattress, since mattresses aren’t made for getting wet. Instead, spray your chosen cleaner onto a cloth and blot any stains on your mattress. Try using an enzyme cleaner to get rid of stubborn stains.

How do you deep clean a mattress?

To deep clean your mattress, first strip off its bedding. Take a vacuum hose with an upholstery attachment and run it all your mattress—not just the top, but the sides and bottom as well.

Then sprinkle baking soda over your mattress to deodorize it, leaving the baking soda alone for a few hours. The longer you leave the baking soda, the more moisture and smells it will absorb from the mattress. Vacuum up the baking soda once it’s done it’s job.

Is Your Mattress Clean?

A clean mattress can help you sleep better by improving your breathing and may even extend the life of your current mattress. A new bed can come at a high cost— isn’t it better to clean your mattress regularly than to spend a few thousand dollars every few years for a new one? Make sure to use some type of mattress protector or encasement. The more layers between you and the mattress, the better protected it will be.

Harrison Wall is Sleep Junkie’s business strategist and sleep analyst. He also authors posts on bedding and mattress accessories. Harrison regularly coordinates with new mattress companies and tests their products to determine what really helps you get better rest and have brighter mornings.

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