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How to Clean a Mattress in 5 Easy Steps

how to clean a mattress

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Do you keep your couch vacuumed and clean? What about your rugs and upholstery? Of course you do, because they’re investments you’ve made that get a ton of use every day. Everything in the home requires some amount of upkeep, and your mattress is no exception. You may not even realize it, but dead skin cells, sweat, dust mites, pet dander, and dirt don’t just accumulate on your bed sheets—they also make their way onto your mattress. So if you’re not taking the time to clean it, that buildup of yuck can lead to allergies and health issues. That’s why making sure you’re cleaning your mattress regularly is so important, both to maintain its quality and also to help you sleep well.

You might be in the thick of your spring cleaning checklist right now, or maybe you’re scratching your head wondering where to start when it comes to deep cleaning the bedroom. You can rest easy, because cleaning your mattress is actually pretty easy to do all by yourself. We called on Julia Rosien, sleep expert at Restonic, to walk us through exactly how to clean your mattress, and steps you can take to keep it feeling fresh. You’ll only need a couple tools: a vacuum with an upholstery attachment and baking soda. But if you’re dealing with stains, you’ll want to get an enzyme cleaner or dish soap, too, to help spot treat.) Soon enough, you’ll have your mattress smelling, feeling, and looking as fresh as the day you bought it.

How to Clean a Mattress

1. Strip the Mattress and Wash the Bedding

Rosien says washing all of your bedding (that means everything from the mattress protector to the sheets, pillow cases, blankets, and duvet) in hot water is the sure way to make sure you get rid of any dust mites or dirt trapped in those fibers. Consider washing your pillows or comforter as well, if possible. You can double check their tags to be sure they’re washing machine-safe, and follow the care instructions to see if they require other means of cleaning. Once you throw your bed linens in the wash, it’s time to tackle the bare mattress.

2. Vacuum the Bed

Using your vacuum’s upholstery attachment, thoroughly vacuum the top and sides of the mattress. Pay extra-special attention to any grooves, bends, or crevices that might have trapped debris.

3. Apply Baking Soda and Let Sit for One Hour

Then, sprinkle baking soda all over the top of the mattress and let that sit for at least one hour. The longer you let it sit, the better the baking soda will work. The baking soda will help break down bacterias, absorb excess moisture, and neutralize normal odors like sweat. However, if you’re dealing with serious odors like urine or vomit, you’ll want to use an enzyme cleaner before you apply the baking soda. Follow the directions on the back of the label, and be sure to let the enzyme dry. If the odor persists, it’s time to call in an expert or replace the mattress entirely.

4. Vacuum Again

After waiting for the baking soda to settle in, you can vacuum it off the mattress. Take your time doing this, to be certain you’ve gotten all the loose baking soda and gone over each spot again (even the spots without visible baking soda dusted on them). It’s important to go over the entire mattress top, as you’ll want to ensure that you’ve picked up any leftover debris or dust mites, too.

5. Flip and Repeat

Now, flip your mattress over to its underside and repeat these steps. Doing this will guarantee that your entire bed smells and feels fresh. After both sides are done, you can put your mattress protector and sheets back on, and enjoy your refreshed bed.

More Mattress-Cleaning Tips

How Often Should You Clean Your Mattress?

Try including a mattress cleaning into your bedroom refresh routine. Ideally, you’ll want to clean your mattress each time you flip or rotate your bed, or between two and four times per year. But you’ll also want to be sure you’re keeping the space tidy as a whole as well, which includes regularly washing of the sheets, linens, and blankets, and vacuuming the bedroom floors.

How Should You Keep Your Bed Clean In-Between Mattress Cleanings?

“A mattress protector is always your best line of defense to keeping your mattress clean of dust and debris,” Rosien says. “A good rule of thumb is to wash your mattress protector each time you flip or rotate your bed. From there, your sheets should be changed and washed in warm water weekly to keep your sleeping environment fresh-smelling. Your pillows also should be shielded with a cover under the pillowcase—washing these on the same schedule as your protector.”

My Mattress Still Smells Funky. What Should I Do?

You may need to call in a professional mattress cleaning service. Or, unfortunately, it might be time to toss the mattress and buy a new one. Because a mattress has many layers and fibers, once stains and odors set in, it’s very hard to remove them if you don’t deal with them ASAP.

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