How To Clean, Deodorize and Care For A Mattress

515782

Want to know something positively disgusting? The average person sweats out about 1/2 a pint of perspiration each and every night.

Seeing as how we spend almost 1/3 of our entire life lying horizontally on a mattress – one would think it would stand alone atop of our list of regular cleaning duties..but lets face it, we rarely think about cleaning the mattress.

The problem is, once you strip away all the sheets, you’re left with a mattress that has a cover that you can’t remove – it’s not like there’s a zipper and you can simply unzip the cover and throw it into the washing machine – no, the sad truth is – once we pull all the sheets off, we tend to turn a blind eye to whatever nastiness might live atop the mattress itself.

Mattresses can harbor spills, stains, dirt, dust, dust mites and worse – so, maintaining a clean mattress is important for several reasons, not the least of which is the fact that your partially clothed body is lying on top of it with only a sheet separating you.

Vacuum The Mattress

This is an important step because it removes the dust, dead skin cells and other debris that lands on your mattress and which accumulates, en masse, over time. Consider doing this every time you rotate your mattress; once a season. Now, the important part here is to use a clean upholstery attachment, because remember that your vacuum sucks up all kinds of nasties and you don’t want to be depositing those on your mattress.  We have a post and video on how to clean your cleaning tools, which teaches you how to do this.  Remember to vacuum the mattress as well as the foundation, if you can manage it.

Deodorizing A Mattress

You can fancify your mattress vacuuming by adding another step, and that is deodorizing.  I guess with all that sweat, dust and other fun stuff your mattress handles, it can start to develop it’s own unique aroma.  To combat this, simply sift baking soda over your mattress, leave for thirty minutes and then vacuum up with that upholstery attachment.  Baking soda is a natural deodorizer so it will definitely help neutralize any odours.  Note however, that it won’t really clean any stains in this ‘dry’ cleaning method.   If you like essential oils, add five drops to the baking soda pre-sift and you’ll get to enjoy that lovely scent for a few nights thereafter.

Spot Cleaning And Stain Removal

Stains come in 3 varieties (protein, tannin and grease), but only one usually ends up on your mattress – and that would be a protein stain – and the reason we’re only going to cover protein stains here is because blood, sweat, vomit, urine and other bodily liquids are what we usually have to contend with on a mattress.

As with any stain, it’s best to tend to it as soon as possible to avoid the stain setting in.  Liquid stains need to be blotted up first with a cool, wet cloth and then excess moisture blotted up with a dry cloth.  Remember to use a a pressing motion, rather than a circular motion to lift the stain to avoid further rubbing the stain in.  Also remember that heat sets protein stains so only use cold water when handling these.

Fresh protein stains can usually be removed with a mixture of salt, baking soda and water.  Create a paste, rub it on the area and brush off 30 minutes later.  Then, use some cool water on a damp cloth to remove the excess and allow to dry.  If that doesn’t work, upgrade your solution and try my favourite homemade stain remover, consisting of 2 parts hydrogen peroxide to one part dish soap.  Gently apply the stain remover to the area, gently brush in with a cleaning toothbrush and wipe up five minutes later with a cool, damp cloth.  This should also help with any unsightly discolouration.

Some people love using enzyme cleaners to remove protein stains, and you are welcome to try this, they are highly effective.

Just remember to use as little liquid as possible and to ensure your mattress is completely dried before using it again to avoid growing your very own mold spores.  Placing fans in the room can speed up the process.

A Note About Steam Cleaning & Deep Cleaning

Some folks swear by deep cleaning or steam cleaning their mattresses.  Now, what I know is that mattresses don’t do well with moisture so I don’t use these methods, although I have access to both a deep cleaner and a steam cleaner.   I also know that there are professional service providers who do this and those with allergies or very difficult mattress stains can consider using a professional rather than hacking it on their own.  These folks are trained and have access to great extraction equipment.  I’d trust them over me, particularly when it comes to my most beloved and crucial sleeping tool.

Here Are A Few Other Helpful Mattress Cleaning Pointers

Flip it!

Turn and/or flip your mattress so it will wear evenly, do this at the turn of every season and rotate clockwise.  My husband  and I have about 100 lbs difference between us, so rotating the mattress means we prolong the life of the mattress and even out the wear.  It takes a grand total of 45 seconds to do.

Dry Times

No water on your mattress – mattresses really don’t like water, and memory foam mattresses can’t actually handle liquids at all.  With memory foam or Tempurpedic mattresses,  liquid gets trapped in the cellular structure and has nowhere to go.  On that note, never, ever get your memory foam mattress wet.  If you need to spot clean, be super stingy with the liquid and blot like a mad man or woman.

Fan Club

Use fans to dry the mattress so if that mattress gets wet, use fans to assist in dry time and if you have access to a wet dry vac, use that to help extract moisture.  Don’t think about sleeping on mattresses until they are completely dry.

Bed Bugs

We’ve been asked about how to deal with bedbugs.  This is a serious issue and should not be a DIY project.  Act fast and call a professional.  Have them treat your mattress, room and any other affected areas of the house immediately.  If you get – them you want them gone, and these guys know how to do it.

Cover Up

Now you may recall at the beginning of this video that I mentioned something about a tip which would save your mattress from spills and stains and the like – well, its not really a huge secret but a mattress protector is one of the best investments for your mattress – there are a few different types, which I have linked below if you are interested in learning more.

Luna Premium Hypoallergenic Waterproof Mattress Protector

Sleep Defense System – Waterproof / Bed Bug Proof Mattress Encasement

Sleep Tite by Malouf ENCASE Mattress Protector – Six-Sided Zipper Encasement

But trust me on this one, it’s much easier to take off a mattress protector and throw it in the washing machine then to fiddle around on your mattress trying to remove tough stains or spills.

Also it’s important to note that many mattress manufacturers strongly recommend using a mattress protector – because stains on your mattress will void your warranty.  If you gagged at the thought of a gross mattress, you should also check out our pillow cleaning post and video.

So now you can rest easy knowing that your mattress is clean and cared for – just be careful with it and you’ll discover it’s not nearly as daunting as you may have thought.

How do you clean your mattress?

Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.

74 COMMENTS

  1. Awesome, helpful advice!!! Today I found a nasty super sweaty very damp nearly mildewing mattress when we got home from 10 days away from home… obviously someone thought ignoring it would help it go away!! Anyway, it happens to be one of those organic cotton loom & leaf mattresses, so I did my best to clean it up today. Did have one of those good mattress protectors on it, or it would have been a total write-off. Anyway, I did 2 doses of the baking soda/salt paste… (used a whole box of baking soda). Left the 2nd dose on for half a day. It got more difficult to remove and I had to scrape it with my fingernails to loosen it… then brushed most of it up, then vacuumed it well with the upholstery brush. It seems completely better! Good as new! And it was stained and very very stinky. Thank you for your GREAT advice!

  2. I should get a mattress cover sounds like. . . and mattress apparently. -continues sleeping on concrete floor- Good advice though, good advice
    Least I have a pillow. -curls up and hugs it-

  3. Hello, Great post, already tried some of these!! but….
    I need URGENT advice please!!!!!!!!!…..
    – The reason I came here was to find out how to clean a mattress (namely odours) because I’ve just gotten my 3 year old son his first single bed (bit late), and can’t afford a new mattress, so got one second hand for $50 aud.., the seller even dropped it off to my place for me, which was nice, but it was late at night when they got here.
    They said it was in AMAZING cond. And it did look nice, in the dark.
    OH, and it’s one of those foam, not memory, yellow foam! mattress, with a zippered cover around it.
    – First thing to piss me off, I wanted an actual proper mattress. Ok i’m not complaining I can deal with that…
    – Second thing was the biggie!… Got it in his room onto the bed and I went to bed, next morning (yesterday) we woke up and I went in to show him, and all I could (and still can) smell is the stench of perfume? deodorant? strong scent of some sort???
    – I’ve left it a day (till today) and put the fans on, windows open, in the sun etc…..
    – Tried again today, NO HOPE!! (and it’s smell actually made me sick today though i am suffering pregnancy morning sickness.. gah!).

    I am so angry, they obviously had it and someone did something on it and it stained/smelled bad and they saturated it with some sort of spray to mask the smell!!??? But now, it smells so f’n rank 🙁
    I’m so upset at myself, for not looking at it better when they bought it here, for myself for not being able to buy him a bloody mattress! 🙁

    SO…
    Question is:- how would you get a smell like that out of it? I”m not sure why theres a zippered cover cos it says “Do Not Wash, Do Not Dry-clean” or I’d have tried washing that instead…
    I’ve just done the baking soda everywhere and ended up doing my own mattress and the spare bedroom one as well and then vacuumed them all. It’s now bed time, and i’m hoping when I go in tomorrow morning that the stench will be neutralised???
    If not, what else can I do?
    Or should I just throw the dammn thing out anyways?
    This post has made me think about throwing it out completely. I’m angry I spent $50 on it, because $50 to us is a lot of money! It’s almost HALF my weeks budget in food shopping… Grrrrrrrrr
    *PLEASE help me to find a cleaning solution please!? 🙁

  4. We do use a bed bug protector on our mattresses and wash them regularly. We also turn our mattresses regularly, but the next time I turn our mattresses I will also vacuum, just to be on the safe side. Thanks for your tips.

  5. I use a waterproof matress protector religiously. It has saved me countless times, whether from my klutziness with beverages, getting sick, or petsdeciding to mark it! Unfortunately, my best friend doesn’t…so, i have a guest bedroom mattress to try and get a tea stainout of… Thanks for the tips!!

  6. Great tips! thanks for sharing. This by far is one of the most detailed guide I’ve read. I personally do these steps myself too and I can guarantee this works well. Have you tried using baking soda? it works wonders!

  7. I have used a mattress cover and pillow cover forever. They are both water proof. They work like a charm and give the mouth and body protection to both pillow and mattress your looking for. Thanks for the tutorial.

  8. Gave some very helpful information and will use them. The background music was very annoying and not necessary.

  9. thank u for this video, yes we are mattress protector people, much easier w/ that. i neverrrrrrrrrrr thought of the vacum,ugh,will start doing that now. again thank u .xo

  10. I though most people used a mattress pad. I have used one all my life. On every bed. And I wash them in hot water with soap and bleach at least twice a year, along with my pillow protectors. And I usually do this on a sunny day when I can hang them outside to dry.

  11. I love this video. I have a high quality matteress protector. Well worth it. Saves the life of the matteress.

  12. GREAT VIDEO! First time seeing this and was relieved I didn’t need to replace my mattress as some of the ads on TV recommend.

  13. Awesome video! Question: I use mattress pads on mattress(usually old one & newer one one owner it). Gives extra protection& padding. Using the protector should you still clean mattress with baking soda? Usually wash protectors 2x a year.

  14. The cover we bought with the memory-foam mattress only lasted a couple years before it started leaking through. I bought one online and it’s much better. For those “other” bodily fluids, a large waterproof pad that you lay on top works best. The fluids never even touch the sheets/cover so there’s less to wash. You can just theow it in with the towels.

  15. When we bought a new mattress set 1-1/2 years ago we were required to purchase the mattress protector for warranty purposes. The mattress was nice and firm with a comfortable pillow top. It felt so nice in the store. Now, get it home, put on the protector, the mattress pad and bottom sheet. They all fit so tight because the mattress is so thick that none of those fit properly, even though they were extra deep pocket. Once we took off the mattress protector some of that comfortable pillow top cushion came back. I just wash the pad and sheets more often.

  16. “I” think this video was absolutely fantastic and am thankful that someone (you) finally will be of help to me and others. We just recently bought a new mattress and now I feel like I can keep it in tip top shape. Thank you so much and keep up the good work.

  17. Thanks for the tips; knew most of them already; very entertaining; loved your “wind Machine” touch; and funky mattress; I live in Buffalo heard the Canadian accent, see you live in Toronto! I grew up in Philadelphia, PA, many folks here think I am Canadian; could be the eh I drop now and then! Eh? Thanks again!

  18. Good video and I’m checking out your page to learn about your other cleaning tips. I do use a mattress protector and my 3 year old very expensive mattress looks brand new. I also vacuum it regularly using baking soda as you advised. I did not think of adding a few drops of essential oil so I will try that next time. 🙂

  19. Excellent video! I was using polyurethane on a bedside table and of course spilled some on the far corner of the bed which had 2 medium size stains of it. Sheet ruined, mattress cover caught it and the mattress looks like new. They are worth the extra $$.

  20. I hesitate to use essential oils for fear of staining the mattresses, but have used the baking soda, the mattress covers, the turning, and, of course, the vacuuming. I will try the essential oil on a small mattress area. Thank you for sharing your tips.

  21. I can’t believe why anyone wouldn’t use a mattress pad that can be washed just like your sheets? UGH! Ridiculous to go to all this effort.

  22. Absolutely always have mattress protectors on all my beds. They do all that you said in keeping them clean and easy to wash,and they add the comfort level of the mattresses by adding a little extra padding.I feel much better having guests in my beds, as well, with mattress pads that are clean before and after their visits.

  23. Love your stuff. We have very hard water and the drip pan that catches the water from the dish drainer gets hard water deposits very easily on mine. It happens to be black so you can imagine what it will look like. After a good scrubbing I will spray some Orange Glow on it and wipe it down with a paper towel. The water beads up and runs off faster. Makes the kitchen smell good also.

  24. Great video! I have a question for you… We just bought a very expensive gel memory foam mattress and love it. Well, one day when we left the house, our male dog decided to go over to MY side of the bed and pee on the side of the mattress! I can’t tell you how mad I was!!! Fortunately most of it got on the box springs but we have had to wash it numerous times. I’ve used enzyme cleaners then sprinkled baking soda along the side. I’ve even used the enzyme cleaner with my Rug Doctor spot cleaner. I know you said not to get memory foam wet but desperate times call for desperate measures. We seem to have gotten at least 90% of the smell gone… do you have any other ideas? We are not throwing away a brand new bed but I don’t want to smell dog urine either. That dog is lucky he’s so darn cute.. probably the only thing that saved his life that night lol.
    I really really wish that mattress protectors protected the sides of the mattress. It barely covers from edge to edge and if you have someone that rolls around a lot it can tend to result in unprotected areas. My partner has dust mite allergies so we always use a mattress protector and wash it regularly. I’m going to watch your video on cleaning pillows next. Love your page!!

  25. Great video! Thanks for the great tips for cleaning mattress I always wonder how dirty our mattresses really get!! I do have a mattress cover that I have always had the mattress we currently use which we have had for 2 years and still looks in great condition 🙂

  26. Hello, great article. I never thought about mixing the an essential oil with the soda. But I was wondering if the mix could be left in the on instead of vacuumed. Just a very light dusting of the soda of course.

  27. Hi, how do I get rid of the awful smell on my brand new mattress, which I can only assume might have been wee from my partners 6 yr son when he slept over.? I have striped the bed, washed the sheets and hired out this entire room for over a month and still smells. I was planning to move my own daughter into this room as I am now expected another in 3 mnths though cant stand to even go in that room because of the smelly mattress, did I mention its pretty much brand new an atm can not afford to just go buy another
    ….HELP please !!

    • Ok, there probably isn’t much you can do to eliminate the odor at this point. It’s in there. What you can do is a couple baking soda applications – sprinkle on, leave it for a couple hrs, vacuum the mattress. After that, get a waterproof mattress case – one that you zip on and covers top, bottom & sides. Add a decent mattress pad/cover for the top – because the waterproof cases don’t feel very nice, even with sheets over them. The waterproof mattress case should trap the smell, and with the mattress pad on top of it, it should still be comfortable. Good luck!

  28. This is some of the best information I have ever read . I own a professional carpet cleaning company and I really respect this site. Great job. I have invited a bunch of people to like this page.

  29. Melissa what a wonderful article! I would also say to choose your essential oils wisely! Lavender is great for mattresses since it helps you sleep better, but a citrus essential oil could make it harder to sleep at night. Thank you for bringing up the importance of mattress pads! It could make the difference in a mattress warranty.

  30. I’m trying to get rid of the urine smell from my mattress. I was initially clueless on how to do it. I think the option no 2 that you have is what I’m going to try. I never thought of using baking soda and clearing it up with a vacuum would work. It looks like a logically wise thought. Thanks for the great tips.

  31. My hubby left an open 2L bottle of Coke on our headboard. My (toddler) son reached up and pulled the entire bottle down on himself and our brand-spankin’-new mattress. The child was easy to clean up, but the Coke stain keeps coming back.
    I’ve treated the stain right away (well, after cleaning said toddler) with a mixture of baking soda, peroxide and a drop of Dawn. It took the stain out very well, and it is what I keep using when the stain comes back.
    Is there anything I can do to get rid of this stain once and for all?

  32. My mattress has been stored in the garage of my new house until until my basement completion. Unfortunately, it wasn’t covered. Is it still okay to use your cleaning methods and move it in? Do I have to worry about bugs of any kind?

  33. Thanks for the tips! I’ve deodorizing my mattress using store-bought sprays but I didn’t know baking soda can be used as well. It’s amazing how items from the pantry can also be used for cleaning ’round the house.

    • I’m curious about this too! Any idea, Melissa or anyone’s else? (My Tempurpedic’s been sitting in my cigarette-smoke-stinky apartment far too long…glad I spent thousands on THAT, right?) If/when I find out, I’ll let you know. 🙂

  34. My mattress has a “topper” attached extra, fluff/softness so I can’t flip It. It honestly never even occurred to me to rotate it – duh! Thanks for the tips. I’ll be cleaning my mattress MUCH more often now – like, at all. I also have a question: is it okay to use the baking soda + essential oil combo on a Temurpedic, or would that constitute too much moisture? Thanks for the great tips!

  35. Great tip! Found your site poking around, looking up cleaning tips I have recently heard of. Thieves essential oil would be a great oil to use with baking soda when cleaning a mattress! It has crazy germ fighting power and smells nice too 🙂

  36. Question: I used the homemade Hydrogen Peroxide and Dish soap formula and the stains came out but the area where I sprayed is still soapy. I used the cold water cloth to blot, but the previously stained areas are still pretty soapy. Can I let it dry and then vacuum or do I need to blot more?

  37. Thanks for the info. I think I need a pro to clean my mattress because my cat decided to use it for her litter box. How gross! Now it has stains and smells! I feel like throwing it away, but it is not that old and not cheap. If it is salvageable, I will definitely invest in a good mattress protector.

  38. Hi, mine is a question. When deodorizing the matress with baking soda and essential oil, will the essential oil not stain the matress?

  39. Does the baking soda and vacuuming treatments still apply if you have a memory foam on top of your mattress?

Tell us what YOU think!!