I’m pretty sure that you wash your bed sheets and bedding every week or so.
But when was the last time you gave your mattress a deep clean?
Admittedly, I must confess that I’ve probably not cleaned my own mattress the recommended 4 times this year (once every time the season changes).
But we spend around a third of our lives asleep on our mattresses – longer if you use your bed to watch TV, work on your laptop, or play console games.
And if you’re guilty of eating the odd pizza whilst relaxing in your bed – or have pets that like to get comfy on your mattress – then you REALLY need to read every single word of this guide that shows you how to clean your mattress properly.
Because even through normal use, your mattress collects dead skin, sweat, oil, and other debris like you wouldn’t believe. This crime scene gets even worse when you factor in the dust mites and bed bugs that could be crawling through your filthy mattress as you read this.
And if left unchecked, a dirty mattress could cause skin problems, trigger allergies, and even reduce the quality of your sleep.
But before you start dousing your mattress in bleach and every other chemical that you can lay eyes upon – make sure to pick out the right cleaning strategy for your mattress type as listed below.
Always check the details of your mattress warranty to make sure that your cleaning efforts are not going to void it before getting started.
How to Clean a Mattress in 4 Steps
Ok, so if you own a regular spring mattress and you simply want to give it a spruce up then you should follow the 4 simple steps below.
If you have a special type of mattress, need to remove stains, and want to find out when it’s time to actually buy a new mattress – be sure to read until the very end.
1: Wash Your Sheets on a High Temperature
Let’s start with the obvious stuff first.
Remove all of your bed sheets, mattress covers, pillow cases, duvet covers and put them in the washing machine.
The aim here is to use the hottest temperature to both wash and dry your bedding possible – without causing any colours to run or damage to the fabric (check the labels for any specific requirements).
Because the higher temperature will not only remove the most amount of dirt and grime – it will kill off any mites that are living in your sheets.
2: Vacuum the Mattress
Now let’s turn our attention to the mattress itself.
The first thing to do is go ahead and vacuum the mattress to remove any surface debris so that they’re not pushed further into the mattress in the next step.
Ideally, you’ll want a vacuum cleaner with an upholstery attachment, a cordless vacuum, or a standard vacuum tool that forms a tight connection with the mattress to ensure maximum uptake.
But whatever you use, make sure that the attachment itself is clean!
There’s nothing worse than actually putting more dirt and dust on to the thing you’re trying to clean. 🙂
As for technique, I prefer to clean the bed in quadrants – stretching the material out with my left hand, and using my cordless vacuum with my right hand to vac the material in both horizontal and vertical directions (going over the same bit in both directions for the greatest effect).
But don’t press too hard – this can interfere with the suction and possibly damage the fabric.
3: Spot Clean Stains (Optional)
Now it’s time to look at the mattress and see if there are any stains.
If there are, you’ll want to skip ahead to the sections below to find the specific instructions for removing blood, urine, and general stains from your mattress using spot cleaning techniques (also check the next part for guidance on what chemicals to NOT use on certain mattress types), and then move on to step 4 below.
4: Apply and Remove Baking Soda
The next job is to clean and deodorize your mattress using baking soda.
Baking soda – or bicarb as it’s called in the UK – can be used to remove dirt and improve the odour of your mattress.
Simply sprinkle 1-3 cups (208 – 624g) of baking soda evenly over the mattress – more on areas that have a strong unpleasant smell. If you did any spot cleaning, the baking soda will absorb any moisture.
You can either rub the baking soda in or leave it sitting on top of the mattress – it’s up to you.
Ideally, you’ll want to put the mattress in direct sunlight so the UV rays help kill the bacteria [source].
You should leave the baking soda to work for at least 30 minutes or a couple of hours if possible (some sources say up to 24 hours if you can manage it).
Some people say that rubbing essential oils into the mattress can help clean it, but others say that it’s a waste of time because the oil will encourage dirt to bond to the fabric – thus negating your hard work!
Personally, I wouldn’t bother using essential oils to try and clean your mattress – the baking soda and spot cleaning methods are enough in my view.
The final step is to vacuum the mattress once again to remove the baking soda and the particles that it’s bonded with from the fabric.
Now simply put your freshly-washed bedding back on and enjoy a clean and refreshing night’s sleep.
Mattress Cleaning For Specific Material
The 4-step strategy I’ve outlined above is pretty much the same for cleaning any type of mattress.
However, there are a few extra precautions to take if your mattress is made out of the following materials:
- Memory foam.
- A pillow top mattress.
How to Clean a Memory Foam Mattress
You can use the above process for cleaning memory foam mattresses without too much issue.
However, one thing to keep in mind with memory foam is that the material is highly absorbent.
As such, you’ll want to avoid getting the material too wet and stay away from harsh cleaning products like bleach or ammonia that could damage the memory foam.
Instead, stick to using baking soda for general cleaning, and white vinegar for spot cleaning stains on the memory foam.
How to Dry a Memory Foam Mattress
For drying your memory foam mattress, the most important thing is to avoid using excessive heat – such as using a hair dryer on a too high setting – because this can cause the memory foam to pucker.
Instead, use a small fan in a well ventilated area to allow the foam to dry more naturally for between 6 and 10 hours.
How to Clean a Latex Mattress
Again, you can use the 4 step method above to clean your latex mattress.
However, in addition to avoiding using any strong solvents or bleach that could damage the latex – you’ll also want to avoid steam cleaning a latex mattress because this too could cause damage.
At a push, a few drops of either a mild detergent or isopropyl alcohol mixed with water can be used for spot stains.
Also, ensure that any sponges or cloths that you use are white – to avoid colour bleeding into the latex.
And when it comes to drying and deodorizing your latex mattress, you’ll want to avoid putting it in direct sunlight because the UV rays could damage the cellular structure of the latex material.
How to Clean a Pillow Top Mattress
The problem with pillow top mattresses is that they typically need cleaning on a more regular basis than the other mattress types due to their soft and porous pillow layer (plus they tend to take a bit longer to dry out too).
So if you need remove a spillage on your pillow top mattress – you’ll need to act fast.
The first thing to do is to use a colourless cloth or towel to dab away the liquid. Avoid using paper towels as they can disintegrate and leave a mess. Make sure that you DON’T rub at the stain – this will only make it spread and look worse.
The process of vacuuming the mattress is as described before. Make sure that you vac over the stain once it’s dry – so that you have better access to the stain in the next step by first removing any dust or dirt.
And the next step is to actually treat the stain.
To do this, you’ll want to apply a small amount of liquid laundry detergent or specialist stain remover to a sponge and gently dab at the stain.
White vinegar is also an option too – it will help to remove any soap suds and also eliminate the odors caused by urine.
If you decide to use a stain remover, make sure that you read the instructions and test it on a small amount of the material to make sure it doesn’t cause any further damage.
Allow the mattress to dry naturally – opening windows or using a fan may help.
If the stain hasn’t gone once drying is complete, you can repeat the steps above.
For smells, prepare a thick baking soda paste and apply it to the stain. Leave the baking soda patch on for 8 hours and then vacuum it away.
How to Clean Mattress Stains
In this section, I’m going to explain how to spot clean the most common types of mattress stains.
You can use the techniques below in conjunction with the general mattress cleaning guide outlined above as part of step 3.
However, if you have a specific type of mattress (memory foam, latex, pillow top), make sure that you’ve read the above section so that you don’t end up putting chemicals on your mattress that could damage it.
How to Get Blood Stains Out of a Mattress
To get blood out of your mattress you’ll need to act fast – since blood that’s dried into the fibres can be harder to get out.
Here’s what you need to do.
1: Dab with cold water
The first step is to take a white cloth (to avoid colour bleeding) and dab at the blood stain using COLD water.
Do not use hot water – it can make the stain worse and harder to remove. Make sure to dab and not rub – as the latter can force the stain deeper into the fibres.
Don’t over do it with the water either – since liquid can encourage mildew and mold to grow if the material is not dried out properly.
2: Apply baking soda + white vinegar
Next, mix one part baking soda with two parts cold water and then apply the mixture to the stain with a white cloth.
Then spray white vinegar on top of the baking soda.
Let the baking soda and white vinegar mixture work on the stain for at least 30 minutes.
Then, dab away at the stain and let the mattress dry – either naturally or by using a fan (don’t apply excessive heat using a hair dryer for example).
Once the stain has gone, you might need to repeat the process but WITHOUT the white vinegar – in order to remove the vinegar smell.
3: Try more advanced methods
Has the baking soda and white vinegar combo failed to remove the blood stain?
Don’t worry, there’s a few more things that you can use.
An oxygenated bleach enzyme cleaner is a highly effective way to remove blood stains because it will oxidise the chemical bonds and remove the colour from the blood stain.
If you can’t use bleach on your mattress, then you can opt for a non-bleach alternative.
But in either case, you’ll need to read the instructions carefully and test it on a small area of the mattress to make sure it’s not going to cause extra damage. And as a general rule, you’ll want to avoid applying the enzyme cleaner directly – use the dabbing technique.
You can buy these kinds of cleaners at the store or online. If you don’t have any available right away, use the baking soda technique first – so that you can get to the stain whilst it’s still fairly new and thus more responsive to removal.
Hydrogen peroxide + cornstarch + salt
Alternatively, mix a ½ cup of cornstarch, one tablespoon of salt, and ¼ cup of hydrogen peroxide until it forms a paste.
Apply this paste to the blood and once completely dry (around 30 minutes) – scrape it off with a spatula or knife. Use your vac to remove the debris.
If the stain hasn’t gone – you can repeat this step multiple times for better results.
If you have any talcum powder in your house, another technique would be to mix it with water to form a paste and apply it to the blood stain.
Once dry, you can scrape off the paste and vac away the pieces – hopefully revealing a stain free mattress beneath.
Meat tenderizer powder
Another surprising way to remove blood stains from your mattress naturally without using harsh chemicals is to use meat tenderising powder.
Mix one tablespoon of the powder with two teaspoons of water to form a paste.
Apply the paste to the stain and scrape it away once dry – using a vacuum cleaner to remove the bits.
How to Get Urine Out of a Mattress
To remove urine stains from your mattress, the first thing to do is soak up any excess fluid using a sponge.
Then sprinkle baking soda on to the area to soak up any moisture.
Next, mix a couple of teaspoons of laundry detergent into a cup of warm water and either pour or spray the mixture on to the offending area.
Alternatively, you can use white vinegar – either straight or mixed – with warm water at a 1:1 ratio.
In either case, let your mixture of choice work for at least 10 – 20 minutes – then blot it away.
Now sprinkle baking soda over the area again and leave it to work on removing the smell of urine from your mattress for anywhere between 3 and 24 hours – then vac it off.
You’ll want to place the mattress in a well ventilated area so that the mattress can dry out properly – crucial for avoiding mold growth.
How to Remove Biological Stains from Your Mattress
If you’re facing some sort of biological stain on your mattress, then the first step is to once again dab away any excess with a white cloth or a sponge.
Next, create a dilution of washing up liquid and cold water and spray or dab it onto the stain and let it work for 10 minutes – before blotting it away.
This can be repeated if it doesn’t work.
Or, you can step things up by applying white vinegar to the stain and leaving it for 5 minutes. Then apply baking soda to the stain. Once the fizzing stops – dab up the excess and vac the area.
If that hasn’t worked, you can try an enzyme cleaner.
Mattress Cleaning Tips and Tricks
I’ve now covered most of the main methods for cleaning your mattress – whether it be for general purposes or spot removal of a specific stain, and stated the caveats for cleaning specific mattress types.
I’m now going to wrap up this mattress cleaning guide by sharing with you some mattress cleaning tips and tricks that you should find helpful.
How to Keep a Mattress Fresh
Keeping your mattress fresh starts with making sure that you clean your mattress 4 times each year as the seasons change – using the 4 step mattress cleaning guide at the start of this article.
However, you can also rotate – or sometimes even flip – the mattress to increase the lifespan of the mattress.
I would also make a habit of vacuuming the mattress each time you change your sheets, and you may also choose to air out the mattress in sunlight if possible whilst your sheets are in the wash. This exposure to UV rays can help kill microbes that live in your mattress.
Also, be sure to air the bed daily for at least 30 minutes before making the bed – this will prevent moisture build up that can lead to mildew and bug infestations.
How to Deodorize a Mattress
To fully deodorize a mattress, simply follow the 4 steps in the mattress cleaning guide above.
However, if you don’t have time for all of that, I would suggest that you sprinkle baking soda over the mattress, leave it for 30 minutes, and then vacuum it up.
Baking soda is very effective at removing smells from mattresses.
How to Remove Bed Bugs from a Mattress
Bed bugs are small – but visible – insects that feed on human blood.
They are NOT present in every household, but you may have them if you’re waking up with bites on your skin and unexplained itching.
To get rid of bed bugs from your mattress, the first thing you need to do is wash all of your bedding on the highest possible temperature to kill the little beasts. I would advise placing the bedding in a plastic garbage bag in order to prevent the bugs from contaminating other areas of the house during transit.
Next, use a stiff brush to comb the mattress to remove the bugs and their eggs – then vacuum the bed. Be sure to take the vacuum cleaner bag, tie it up in a plastic bag, and place it in the bin outside.
The next step is to use a bed bug proof encasement to cover your mattress for ONE YEAR. This will trap the bugs and ensure that they die. Bed bugs can survive for months without feeding – that’s why you have to leave the case on for so long.
If the bugs are present in other areas of your house, you may need to contact a pest control expert to banish these horrible creatures from your home for good.
How to Remove Dust Mites from a Mattress
Dust mites are more prevalent than bed bugs.
You can use the 4 step mattress cleaning protocol at the start of this guide to help remove dust mites from your mattress.
However, because it’s not going to be practical to apply that mattress cleaning strategy with the frequency required to keep dust mites at bay – you’ll need to take an extra step:
Encase your mattress in a dust mite proof cover to put a barrier between you and the mites that live in your mattress.
This step alone may help reduce the symptoms of a dust mite allergy.
If this doesn’t work, it could be because the dust mites are present in other areas of your room.
When Should You Replace a Mattress?
By following the steps in this guide, you should now know how to clean your mattress properly and potentially extend its lifespan.
However, the general rule is to replace your mattress every 7 – 10 years.
And if your regular spring mattress is approaching that age, then you might want to consider a memory foam mattress.
Because not only can they help you sleep more comfortably and help with things like back pain – a high quality memory foam mattress can last you even longer if well looked after.
But which memory foam mattress is the best?
Well, I recommend Amerisleep – because their AS range provides 5 levels of firmness that are suitable for different sleeping types, and they have a 100 night sleep trial plus a 20 year warranty to boot.
Click the button below to see the 5 different types of Amerisleep mattresses now.
Dan is the founder and head content creator at Bedroom Style Reviews.
He has been working as a professional online product reviewer since 2015 and was inspired to start this website when he ended up sleeping on a memory foam mattress that was too soft and gave him backache.
Through in-depth research and analysis, Dan’s goal with this website is to help others avoid such pitfalls by creating the best online resource for helping you find your ideal mattress, bedding, and bedroom furniture.
Dan is a qualified NVQ Level 2 Fitness Instructor with 6 years’ experience helping clients improve their health through diet, exercise, and proper sleep hygiene.
He also holds several college and university-level qualifications in health sciences, psychology, mathematics, art, and digital media creation – which helps him to publish well researched and informative product reviews as well as articles on sleep, health, wellbeing, and home decor.
Dan also has direct personal experience with insomnia, anxiety, misophonia (hypersensitivity to sounds), and pain from both acute and long-standing sporting injuries – he enjoys writing insightful articles around these subjects to help fellow sufferers of such conditions.
Learn more about Dan here.