How To Clean, Deodorize and Care For A Mattress

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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?

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45 COMMENTS

  1. 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!!

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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 🙂

  7. 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.

  8. 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 !!

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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?

  13. 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?

  14. 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. 🙂

  15. 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!

  16. 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 🙂

  17. 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?

  18. 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.

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

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

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