Updated May 25, 2022
Mattresses aren't cheap, so naturally, you want yours to last as long as possible. Caring for your mattress by cleaning it every so often will help to ensure that it provides you with clean, healthy sleep for many years. You should clean your mattress at least every six months. If you're not removing stains, then this is a relatively quick process that will help your mattress perform well for its entire lifespan.
Cleaning your mattress regularly will be good for those who suffer from allergies. The buildup of dust, dander, dust mites, and whatever else collects in a mattress can be very irritating. Regular cleaning is especially important for those who have pets.
Some signs you need to clean your mattress are if it has an odor, your allergies are worse, you have bites, you notice bugs, or if there are stains.
It's actually pretty easy to clean your mattress, especially if there aren't any soiled areas. Just a few simple steps will get your bed smelling fresh and free of allergens.
Vacuum with an upholstery attachment
Dish soap or laundry detergent
To start, you’re going to want to strip all your bedding and wash it. This includes the comforter and bed skirt! You’ll want to wash your pillows too - depending on the type, check the label for instructions from the manufacturer. It’s best to wash your sheets every week or two. Make sure you wash them if you’ve been sick too!
Dust, dander, and dust mites can accumulate in your mattress, so it's a good idea to start the cleaning process by vacuuming. Use an upholstery attachment on your vacuum to remove particles that can contribute to, and worsen, allergies and asthma. Make sure you get into the crevices, you may want to switch your vacuum attachment to get into the seams.
Heavily soiled regions of the mattress can be cleaned with a mild detergent mixed with water. Allow time for the suds to penetrate the stain, and then wipe the area clean with a cool, damp cloth. Allow the area to dry completely before trying additional cleaning techniques. Be sure that you don't saturate the stain too much, as you do not want liquids to penetrate through to the mattress core.
For tougher stains, try using an enzyme-based cleaner, as they can be effective in breaking down the structure of a stain. Most organic pet cleaners are enzymatic cleaners, so you can likely find a good one in your local pet store. These are the best option for any biological stains, as well as grease or oil.
Method: Spray the enzyme cleaner onto a cloth, then dab the stain with it. You don’t want to directly spray the mattress. Let it sit for 10-20 minutes, then dab the area some more. You can then use a cool damp cloth to blot the area and get the rest of the cleaner out.
After removing stains, follow the baking soda method for routine cleaning to clean and the mattress and get rid of any smells.
If you'd like to try additional organic methods, consider trying:
Baking soda and vinegar
Hydrogen peroxide and cold water
Borax (Boric Acid)
Natural soap and water
A good way to get rid of any smells is to sprinkle some baking soda on the mattress after you vacuum. Let it sit for a while, the longer it’s there, the better it’ll work. If you can leave it for a couple of hours that’s best. To get an even deeper clean, you can rub the baking soda into the mattress with a scrub brush.
Then, vacuum the baking soda off. When vacuuming, move in a slow methodical motion to make sure you get every inch. You don’t want to push down too hard or it could ruin the fabric as well as make it harder for the vacuum to get the proper suction.
Let the mattress air out for a while before putting sheets and bedding back on. Make sure there’s absolutely no dampness before doing this or mold can grow. If there’s any way you can let it sit in the sun for a bit, the UV rays are good at killing bacteria.
Make sure everything is dry before flipping, then follow the same process to clean the other side.
Use as little cleaner as possible to get the job done - it’s not good to get a mattress wet, especially memory foam.
When using any type of cleaner, test it out on a small section of the mattress that’s not noticeable to make sure it doesn’t stain or deteriorate the material.
Lookup methods for individual stains - different stains may need different treatments.
If you have mold or a bad infestation of bed bugs, you’ll want to get a new mattress.
Mattress warranties are often voided by stains - make sure to follow their suggestions.
A machine-washable mattress protector will make your life much easier! It’ll block stains, dust, dust mites, crumbs, and moisture from getting to your actual mattress. A mattress pad will add an extra layer of protection as well. If you take the steps to protect your mattress, you'll spend a lot less time cleaning and have a fresher environment to sleep in.
Wash your bedding regularly - throw your sheets, blankets, and bed skirt in the washing machine. It’s best to wash sheets weekly. Other items are okay to wash biweekly or monthly.
Keeping your room cleaner can help keep your sleep environment healthy. Wash your curtains, vacuum or mop your floors, clean under the bed, wipe down your bed frame, ceiling fans, baseboards. Keeping this under control will help reduce dust, pollen, and even mold.
Address any spills or problems immediately after they happen to avoid them soaking in further and drying into place.
Leave your covers off your bed for half an hour or so in the mornings before making it. This helps air it out, any moisture from the night can dry out.
Turn down your temperature - less sweating means a cleaner bed.
Change your pillows out every 6 months. Also, check the label - if you can wash them in hot water, do it every couple of weeks. It’ll get rid of any dust mites.
Wash all your bedding if you’ve been sick.
Steam cleaning - it will get the mattress too wet.
Again - don’t soak your mattress, they’re not meant to get wet.
Using essential oils to make it smell better - it’s not the best option to put oils on your mattress. If there are any stains, oils will make them harder to remove.
Eating on your bed - crumbs and food residue attract bugs.
Using hot water on stains - cool water is better, hot water will lock the stain into place.
Juliana has spent several years in the mattress industry, writing about and reviewing mattresses. She has a deep understanding of how mattresses work for different people and affect sleep.