How to clean a mattress: An easy and thorough guide

Keep your mattress looking and smelling fresh for longer with our helpful guide.

cleaning a mattress

by Lorna White |

If you've ever bought a mattress, you'll know they don't come cheap, and when you're investing this much money in a comfortable night's sleep, you'll want to make sure you're extending your mattress's life for as long as possible.

With the average mattress life being 7-10 years, they can harbour all sorts of nasties in their lifetime, from dust mites and dead skin to dirt and other debris, meaning it's a good idea to clean your mattress on a regular basis.

It's especially important to keep your mattress clean and fresh if you suffer from any allergies or have pets, as this debris can seriously impact your quality of sleep, causing your allergies to flare up when you're needing to nod off.

Related: Expert tips on how to improve your sleep

And while it might seem like one of those unnecessary tasks that you might want to put off, cleaning your mattress is a lot easier than you think, and you only need a few tools to get you started.

What you'll need to clean your mattress

  1. A vacuum cleaner with an upholstery attachment
  1. A bowl of cold water and some dish soap for any cleaning
  1. Baking soda for any stains
  1. Cleaning cloths

How to clean your mattress

cleaning supplies
  1. Start by stripping your bed and inspecting for any stains. If you find any, you'll want to tackle these first with our tips below.
  1. Once it's stain free, gently vacuum the mattress using the upholstery attachment, making sure the attachment is clean before you start. Then go in and vacuum any nooks with the smaller vacuum head attachment before flipping your mattress over and repeating on the other side. Also be sure to vacuum the sides of your mattress too!
  1. When you think you've removed as much dust and debris as you can, it's a good idea to leave your mattress to air out for a little while. If it's the spring or summer months, open all the windows in your bedroom and let that fresh air reach your mattress. If you find your mattress still has an unpleasant smell, follow our instructions below on getting rid of them.
  1. Remake your bed with your nice fresh bedding. If you want to protect your mattress even further, it's a good idea to invest in a mattress protector to protect it from any future stains, dust and sweat.

Related: The best mattress toppers UK

Got a memory foam mattress?

Many memory foam mattresses come with a removable mattress cover which you can simply pop in your washing machine. Just be sure to read the washing instructions carefully as if it shrinks, you might not be able to fit it back onto your mattress.

How to get rid of mattress stains?

Where possible, it's best to remove the stains as soon as they appear (but we know this isn't always possible). When removing stains, you want to avoid over-wetting your mattress and make sure you're using the right products depending on the type of stain. It's a good idea to test the cleaning solution on a small part of the mattress before attacking all stains with it, to make sure it doesn't damage the fabric.

  1. First start by dabbing the stain with a cold damp cloth (don't rub as this could spread the stain further).
  1. If this doesn't work, add some baking soda to the water, dab on again, leave for 30 minutes then dab with clean water and leave to dry.
  1. If it's still not gone, mix some water with some washing up liquid and gently dab with a cloth or sponge.
  1. If this still doesn't work, you might want to use an upholstery cleaner (just be sure to check your mattress care label first). For stains such as blood, urine or sweat, it might be best to use an enzyme cleaner. Spray the cleaner onto a clean cloth, and then blot the stained area with the cloth. Then you will want to apply cold water to a different clean cloth and continue blotting until the stain starts to fade.
hoover bed

Tip: If your mattress has a yellow tint, it's likely from a build-up of sweat and body oils. You can whiten it with a special mix. You will need a 50/50 mix (one cup each) of hydrogen peroxide and warm water plus 1/4 teaspoon mild dish soap liquid.

Pour this solution into a spray bottle and spritz the mattress. Push it into the fabric with a soft brush or terry towel and let sit for about 30 minutes. Then spray the mattress again with clear water to rinse, blot again to remove all traces of the cleaner, and let it air dry completely.

Related: How to choose a mattress

How to get rid of bad smells

A good way to freshen up your mattress if you can’t let it air out outside is to sprinkle on baking soda. Add a light layer of baking soda over the entire top of the mattress and leave for several hours.

Baking soda works to break down the acid and absorb any remaining moisture or odours. If you can leave the baking soda overnight do so, the longer the better.

Open the windows in the room to let the light and sunshine in as the sun's UV rays will actually help kill any mould or bacteria that is on the mattress.

Once the baking soda has been left on the mattress for several hours thoroughly vacuum it up. Additionally, if your headboard is made of fabric you can hoover that too.

hoovering matress

How often should you clean a mattress?

This depends on my different aspects. If you suffer from allergies you should clean your mattress if you feel any persistent symptoms coming along such as a runny nose, an itchy throat and dry eyes.

Another factor is how breathable your mattress is. Clean your sheets first to see if that makes a difference to your allergies, if not then proceed to clean the mattress.

Related: How to choose a mattress

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