How To Clean, Deodorize, and Care For A Mattress

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When was the last time you cleaned your mattress? I’m willing to bet it wasn’t recent enough! Mattresses can harbor spills, stains, dirt, dust, dust mites and worse—did you know the average person sweats out about half a pint of perspiration each and every night? Gross, I know. The fact is we spend about a third of our lives in bed, so we should make it a pleasant place to be. This comprehensive cleaning, deodorizing and care guide covers everything under the covers.

Vacuum The Mattress

This is an important first step because it removes the dust, dead skin cells, and other debris that land on your mattress and which accumulate en masse over time. Use the upholstery attachment and make sure it’s clean—remember, your vacuum sucks up all kinds of nasties and you don’t want to be depositing any of that on your mattress. (Find out how to clean your cleaning tools here). If your mattress has a foundation, that will need a vacuuming, too.

Deodorize The Mattress

If your mattress has a funky smell? Neutralize those odors with the help of some baking soda, a natural deodorizer. Simply sift some baking soda over your mattress and leave it on for 30 minutes before vacuuming it up with that upholstery attachment. To please your olfactory senses even more, add five drops of your favorite essential oil 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 generally come in three varieties—protein, tannin, and grease—but here we’ll focus on the one that is most commonly sullying your mattress. From blood to sweat and vomit to urine (not to mention other bodily liquids) protein stains abound in this area of the home.

As with any stain, it’s best to tend to these as soon as possible to avoid them setting in. Start by blotting the stain with a microfiber cloth that you have wet with cold water (never use hot water, as heat sets protein stains), and then blot up the remaining moisture with a dry cloth. Be sure to use a pressing motion, rather than a circular one, to lift the stain rather than further rubbing it in.

With the excess moisture gone, you can remove the stain with a simple DIY solution. Make a paste of salt, baking soda, and water. Rub the solution on the stained area, leave on for 30 minutes, and then and brush it off. Remove any salt and baking soda residue with a cold, wet cloth and allow the area to dry.

For extra stubborn new stains or ones that you were unable to clean right away, upgrade your solution to my favorite homemade stain remover, consisting of two parts hydrogen peroxide to one part dish soap, or a store-bought enzyme cleaner. Apply the solution to the area and gently brush it in with a cleaning toothbrush; leave it on for five minutes and then wipe the area with a cool, damp cloth.

Whatever stain remover you use, just remember to use as little liquid as possible and to ensure your mattress dries completely before you use it again—unless growing your very own mold spores sounds appealing. To speed up the drying process, throw open the windows or use a fan.

A Note About Steam Cleaning And Deep Cleaning

I have access to both a deep cleaner and a steam cleaner, but I never use them on my mattress. As I mentioned earlier, mattresses and liquids don’t mix. With that being said, if you suffer from allergies or are facing some deep difficult mattress stains, these methods may help. If you choose this avenue, I definitely recommend skipping the DIY route and calling in an expert with professional tools.

Cover Up!

Save yourself the trouble next time by investing in a high-quality mattress protector. In fact, many manufacturers recommend them, because stains can actually void your warranty, so you can rest easy knowing you’re covered!

If you gagged at the thought of a gross mattress, you should also check out our pillow cleaning guide.

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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.

89 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for this I’m going to try it. Has this worked for anyone? My mattress smells bad. It came from the funiture store that way. They told me to air it out a few day, and I have done that, but the smell is still there. I spent $600.00 on this set, and it smells so bad I hate to sleep on it. So if anyone has tried this and it works let me know.

  2. I’m looking up ways to clean a mattress because I couldn’t remember how to properly do it. I must say that your descriptions are amazingly detailed. Love this and keep up the great work!!

  3. As a result of the habit of eating in bed, in my Studio/Efficiency “Rented Room”,
    I have long set-in (over a month) stains of ‘spill spots’ from Chocolate Milk, and spots (teaspoon size) from chocolate ice cream. –They really stand-out ! And, I so dread attempting to eradicate them that I have procrastinated to do anything (aside from buying a “Soft and
    Silent” fitted *WATERPROOF Mattress
    Protector) which I intend to put on just as soon as these spots & stains have been cleaned/removed.
    🔴Question: Please tell me how best
    to clean/remove them &
    make the mattress look
    as if they never happened
    Thank you !

  4. So true, we really do rarely think about cleaning the mattress. At least I wasn’t thinking about that too much until reading your article Melissa. The tips you have provided us here are very good and easy to follow so anyone can do this.

    I didn’t know that the water gets trapped in the foam mattress and that it can actually damage it, need to remember that part when I get a new mattress and it will be a foam one 🙂

    Thank you very much and I will be definitely back to read more of your articles.

  5. I purchased my mattress in 2004, So It’s Been On My Bed For 13 Yrs. When They Delivered it I Made The Guys Leave The Hard Plastic Cover on Both the box Spring, and Leave Clear Thick Plastic On The Mattress to. I immediately ordered a 4 inch foam mattress topper and placed it on top the mattress. It came with no cover and buy one was almost the cost of the foam, so I used a mattress cover over the foam I wash weekly with my sheets. Is this ok maintenance? Still looks all brand new.

  6. Your useful post is a deserving read for all the visitors to your website.
    As an avid reader of your writings, I say this one happens to
    be among the best. I have passed it to several friends to further get this amazing article further social shares.

  7. 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!

  8. 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-

  9. 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!? 🙁

  10. 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.

  11. 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!!

  12. 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!

  13. 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.

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

  15. 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

  16. 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.

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

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. “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.

  23. 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!

  24. 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. 🙂

  25. 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 $$.

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. 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!!

    • Use a zippered mattress cover encasement that’s waterproof and bed bug dustmite proof . Then just use a mattress cover over that to wash weekly .

  31. 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 🙂

  32. 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.

  33. 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!

  34. 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.

  35. 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.

  36. 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.

  37. 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?

  38. 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?

  39. 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. 🙂

  40. 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!

  41. 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 🙂

  42. 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?

  43. 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.

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

  45. How can I wake up my man who never cleaned his bed before? Should I use a scare tactic or just tell him how nice it smells now, Melissa?

  46. Can u make a video on how to clean the kitchen…I love the one on bathroom and bedroom…when I clean my kitchen I always with something still messy at the end then I give up

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

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