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How to Clean a Mattress: 6 Easy Steps to Follow

Written by, Viktor Gruevski

Updated August, 25, 2022

Remember the last time you gave your mattress a good cleaning? Maybe that one time when you decided it was a good idea for dinner in bed or watching a Netflix film with a glass of red wine. Stains are admittedly the main reason why people decide to clean their mattress, although dust mites, dead skin cells and built-up bacteria are also valid concerns.

Never done it before? 

No worries, in this step-by-step guide on how to clean a mattress we will tell you all about the tips and tricks to keep your bed fresh and clean without breaking a sweat. You will be ready for any bed stain accident and find a way to make mattress cleaning a routine rather than a chore.

Cleaning Supplies

Although there are professionals who will give your mattress a thorough cleaning in no time, there is no need to pay for expensive services. You might be surprised to learn that there is an easier and cheaper way to get the job done — simply by using supplies you already have in your house. 

Ready? This is what you need:

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • DIY mattress cleaner or a store-bought upholstery cleaner
  • Spray bottle
  • Clean towels, t-shirts or rags
  • Mixing bowl
  • 70% rubbing alcohol
  • Water 

If you want to get rid of stains, here is a list of supplies:

  • All-purpose enzyme cleaner from a pet store
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • White vinegar
  • Dish soap
  • White laundry powder detergent
  • Hairdryer (optional)

How to Clean a Mattress: A Step-by-Step Guide 

Cleaning your mattress doesn’t have to be a chore but rather a necessity for both the mattress’s well-being and yours. With this in mind, let’s get down to work and see what’s the best way to clean a mattress.

1. Remove sheets and mattress encasements.

First things first, if you have a mattress encasement or bedsheets, you should remove them before vacuuming. Never clean a mattress with sheets, covers or encasements over it. If you have pets, hair on mattresses is nothing new. To get it off effectively, as well as dust, we suggest vacuuming the mattress encasements before you put them into the washer.

2. Dust away.

The next thing is to vacuum the mattress to get rid of all the dust mites, leftover food or pet hair. Use the vacuum’s upholstery tool to hoover over the mattress vertically, horizontally, and on the sides. Then use the angled attachment to get into the edges and tiny corners so you can pick up most of the dirt residue. 

Flip the mattress and repeat the same thing on the other side.

3. Getting rid of stains and other mishaps.

Most stains can be removed with DIY cleaners made with ingredients you have sitting around at home. Alternatively, you can always use a mattress cleaner you bought from the shop.

We will get into the nitty-gritty of stain removal further on. For now, let’s consider some basic suggestions: 

  • Always make sure to carefully follow the DIY recipes or instructions of the upholstery cleaner. Bear in mind, even homemade cleaners can sometimes go wrong. You don’t want to make things worse than what they already are.
  • Don’t use massive amounts of cleaners as they won’t dry all the way. Also, there is the possibility of damaging the mattress and creating mould from too much moisture.
  • Don’t clean all of the stains at the same time. We recommend starting with the more stubborn stains and then continuing to the smaller ones.
  • For extra disinfection, spray the mattress with 70% rubbing alcohol before spot-cleaning.

4. Flip the other side and repeat.

If you have extra time, you can always repeat the spot-cleaning process on the other side of the mattress. However, if there aren’t any stains, you can hover over it to get rid of hair and dust particles. 

5. Air the mattress.

The following step in the mattress cleaning process is letting it breathe a little. 

In fact, you should air your mattress every other month or at least every 3 to 6 months to keep it fresh. All you have to do is move it off the bed and let it sunbathe for a while. Be careful, it will be better to call someone to help you if you can’t lift it by yourself. 

If you’re in the habit of airing the mattress out often, you might want to consider getting a product that has handles on the sides.

6. Remake the bed.

Let the mattress dry, and then remake it with fresh bed sheets.

How to Clean a Stained Mattress

Removing stains from a mattress can be a pain in the neck. However, there is always a solution for it, even in the worst-case scenario. With a couple of home ingredients and our handy tips and tricks, you can rest assured that your mattress will be squeaky clean and look almost brand new.

Bear in mind that with inevitable accidents, such as wetting the bed or vomiting, the first thing is to act quickly. Remove the sheets and encasements and try to clean the stains on them before putting them in the machine.

Let’s take a look at the most common bed stains and the best ways to get rid of them. 

How to clean urine from a mattress

Scary dreams, welcoming a new sibling into the home, or health issues—there are many reasons why children might wet the bed. In fact, these kinds of accidents are more common than you think. 

When they do happen, you might start frantically googling how to clean wee off a mattress. Don’t panic! These are the steps to follow:

  1. Soak up most of the urine using a bigger towel (avoid paper towels since they can dissolve if there is too much liquid).
  2. Use an upholstery cleaner that is enzyme-based or simply make your own. To get a DIY solution ready add three tablespoons of baking soda, very little dish soap and 8 fluid ounces of 3% hydrogen peroxide in a mixing bowl. 
  3. Dab the mixture on the urine stain with an old t-shirt or a piece of a rag. Don’t soak the rag too much in the mixture—moisture and mattresses don’t mix. Plus it will take longer to dry. 
  4. After you pat the mattress with the mixture, use a clean towel to absorb the leftover liquid.
  5. For better results, put a dash of baking soda or disinfect with rubbing alcohol.
  6. Allow the area you just cleaned to air-dry or use a hairdryer to get it done faster. 

How to remove sweat stains from a mattress?

Even if you have a mattress with super-cooling properties, sweating at night is inevitable. 

Although it might seem harmless, you might want to react quickly and remove sweat stains from the mattress before they become permanent, yellowish reminders of delayed action.

Luckily, getting rid of these stains is as simple as it gets. 

You can make your own mattress cleaner spray—just add some 3% hydrogen peroxide in a spraying bottle. Spray the bed with the hydrogen peroxide sparingly, but don’t drench it. As the hydrogen peroxide dries off, you will see the stain disappearing too. If there is still something left, repeat the process until the stain is completely gone. 

For this type of stains, you can also use a DIY foam cleaner. All you have to do is:

  1. Mix some white laundry powder with a tablespoon of lukewarm water.
  2. Put a small amount of the foam on the stain and let it soak for about ten to fifteen minutes.
  3. Once the time is up, remove the excess foam with a dry towel or a rag, and let the spot dry.

How to get blood out of a mattress

Bloodstains are protein-based like the urine ones, and for that reason, you should get rid of them as quickly as possible. 

Just make sure to always remove the blood stain first with cold water and a rag. Gently pad the spot with the rag, but don’t rub it.

We recommend using the store-bought enzyme cleaner for these types of stains since it will remove them more efficiently. 

However, if you don’t want to run to the corner shop for a mattress stain remover, you can always use a simple paste recipe. This is what you will need:

  1. Mix around 2 fluid ounces of 3% hydrogen peroxide and one tablespoon of salt and dish soap in a small bowl.
  2. Next, put the paste on the blood stain and set your timer for no more than 10 minutes.
  3. Afterwards, scoop out the paste with a spoon and dip a small towel into the hydrogen peroxide to remove any residue.

If there is still some discolouration on the mattress, use the spraying bottle with hydrogen peroxide and let the stain dissolve as it dries.    

How to get vomit off of a mattress

The most important thing when it comes to how to wash a mattress with vomit is not to waste time. After you remove as much as you can from the vomit, use a dry towel to absorb the leftover liquid and be careful not to rub the spot. 

Put a small amount of hydrogen peroxide on the stain and let it sit for five minutes. Soak up any excess liquid with some dry towels or rags. 

The remainder of the stain can be removed with some baking soda. Don’t rub too hard on the stain and let it sit with the baking soda, preferably overnight. Use a vacuum cleaner to remove the baking soda the following day.

How to remove old stains from a mattress

These may be the toughest stains out there because as soon as a stain is all dried up and forgotten, it sort of stays as part of your mattress. 

However, you can still try and fade it as much as possible with enzyme cleaner or DIY recipes. And if that doesn’t work, we suggest you call a professional mattress cleaner service and let the pros handle this one for you.

How to clean a mattress with baking soda

Baking soda truly does wonders when it comes to anything related to cleaning. It isn’t a harsh ingredient, and it will be worth your money and time. 

The most common way to use baking soda on a mattress is with white vinegar. If you spot a ‘mysterious’ stain and don’t know what to do with it, just use these ingredients. 

Spray the stain with the vinegar and let it sit for about five minutes. Then, just add a bit of baking soda. Once the fizzing dissolves, pat on the cleaned spot with a rag and vacuum off any baking soda residue.

How Often Do You Need to Clean Your Mattress?

Well, the good news is that you don’t have to clean it every single day, but it still must be done from time to time. 

Experts on mattress cleaning suggest the following:

  • Clean your mattress immediately after an accident happens. This way, you will get rid of it faster and more efficiently. Remember, it is more challenging to get rid of an old stain than a more recent one.
  • For people with asthma, we strongly recommend cleaning your mattress at least once a week. Simply use some baking soda to get rid of the odours, and vacuum or use a steam cleaner to remove all of the dust and dust mites.
  • If you have allergies, you should clean your mattress more often during the spring and summer. By doing this you can significantly minimise your allergy symptoms.
  • If you want cleaning your mattress to become a routine, you can start doing it at least twice a month. All you need to do is remove the bed sheets, mattress encasement and vacuum all areas. After you’re done, put on fresh, clean bed sheets, and that’s it.
  • Get professional mattresses cleaning twice a year at the very least. That way you will keep your mattress fresh and clean, and extend its durability as well.

How to Protect Your Mattress

Mattress maintenance doesn’t just involve cleaning, you might also consider protecting your bed. This way, you’ll not only make cleaning easier but also prolong the bed’s lifespan.

  • Try changing your bed sheets more often. We recommend you start using fitted sheets to keep the entire mattress covered. Wash your sheets at a higher temperature to get rid of all the dust mites and bacteria collected.
  • Get yourself a mattress protector (a waterproof one would be ideal) and a mattress pad that would keep stains away from directly going on the mattress.
  • We know that cuddling with your pet is what you need at the end of the day, but try to do that somewhere else rather than your bed.
  • To ensure that your mattress won’t tear up, rotate it at least once a month. Furthermore, to prevent mould from growing on your mattress, air it out once in a while.
  • Don’t bring food and drinks to your bed – those stains are more stubborn and harder to remove.

When Is It Time to Get Rid of Your Mattress

Saggy mattress sides, low elasticity, visible dips, frequent backaches and a stiff neck are the surest signs your once perfect mattress is just not that good anymore. Yet, remember, not every type of mattress has the same life expectancy. For example, memory foam mattresses can last up to 15 years, while hybrid mattresses need to be renewed every six to ten years.

Before You Roll Up Your Sleeves…

Cleaning a mattress isn’t a difficult chore or rocket science. Best of all, it doesn’t require expensive tools and ingredients, nor does it take up a lot of time. Now that you know all the steps involved in cleaning a mattress, all that is left is to give them a try and thus protect yourself and your bed. 

how to clean a mattress

Frequently Asked Questions And Their Answers

How to clean a memory foam mattress?

Cleaning a memory foam mattress is easy and straightforward. All you have to do is pay attention to the amount of liquids you use, since the foam soaks them up, thus creating mould. Instead, use baking soda or white powder laundry detergent, and a vacuum cleaner. If there are stains and you have to employ some type of liquid, try to use the smallest amount possible. 

Keep in mind that you can’t use a steam cleaner for the mattress as this might ruin your memory foam bed. 

How to dry a mattress?

This is what you need to do if your mattress gets wet: 

  • Soak up as much as possible from the liquid with clean towels or rags.
  • Use ingredients like baking soda or even cat litter that absorb liquids faster.
  • Let them sit on the bed for about 1-2 hours, to absorb as much of the liquid as possible.
  • Once done, vacuum the leftovers and put your mattress to air-dry out in the sun. If that’s not an option, try to leave it in an air-conditioned space or use a hairdryer.

How to stop your mattress from smelling?

Nobody wants a smelly mattress, and here’s a quick solution on how to get rid of unpleasant odours: sprinkle some baking soda or cornflour over the mattress. Sprinkle a fair amount of it all over the mattress, rub it in gently to get most of the odours out, and let it sit for at least a couple of hours, or preferably overnight. Vacuum the remains the next day. 

Another option would be to purchase a deodoriser from the shop, although it might not have the same effect. 

How to steam clean a mattress?

Steam cleaning your mattress can chase away the most stubborn bacteria and dust mites. What’s expected from you is to: deodorise it first, vacuum, treat the stains, steam the surface of the mattress and let it dry. And don’t forget the most important rule in the how to clean a mattress guidebook: do not drench the mattress with too much steam or water unless you want to ruin it. 

I'm an interior architect by education with a tendency for content writing and research. Whenever I’m waiting for the engine to finish rendering my model, I love reading and researching on a wide variety of topics. I especially love writing content that is backed up by thorough research and relevant data. Given my engineering background, I'm more for the empirical data, not the "I couldn’t help but wonder..." vibe. When I'm not busy writing or drawing, you can find me hiking with my beagle or binge-watching in my bed. There is no in-between.