6 Steps on How to Clean Your Mattress

Sleeping on a clean bed not only feels refreshing but helps keep your mattress in tip-top shape. So even if you haven’t had any spills or accidents recently, it’s still good to wash your mattress every so often.

Since mattresses aren’t cleaned as often as sheets, you might not be sure where to start. Furthermore, mattresses require specific cleaning directions to avoid damaging them.

You’re in luck, though, as we will show you how to clean a mattress. Plus, we’ll cover alternative cleaning methods, the benefits of disinfecting your mattress, and important do’s and don’ts for keeping your bed in good condition.

How to Clean Your Mattress in 6 Steps

The general consensus is that you should wash your mattress every six months. To walk you through how to clean a mattress, we’ve put together a step-by-step guide so that your mattress will look better than ever. The following cleaning method should work on any latex, hybrid, or memory foam mattress.

Remove Bedding

The first step is to remove all the extra bedding, including the pillows, sheets, blankets, comforter, pads or toppers, and the mattress cover. The mattress should be by itself on top of your bed frame.

Illustration of a girl setting up the bed sheets under the bed

Vacuum

Next, you will need to vacuum the mattress using the vacuum’s upholstery attachment. Make sure to vacuum the top and all the sides around the mattress. The purpose of the initial vacuuming is to remove things such as dirt, dust mites, and any other debris or residue lurking on the surface.

Sprinkle Baking Soda

Once you are done vacuuming, it is now time to add baking soda to the bed. Sprinkle a generous layer of baking soda over the entire surface.

You should at least let the baking soda sit for a few hours, but the longer, the better. If you can manage to leave it on for 24 hours, then consider doing that.

The baking soda helps to eliminate odors, break down any leftover debris, and soak up liquids. Exposing the bed to sunlight during this step is also helpful, so try to keep the blinds open to let the sun hit your mattress while it sits with the baking soda.

Vacuum Again

Now that the baking soda has had a chance to sit, you will need to grab your vacuum and the upholstery extension again. Vacuum up all the baking soda from the bed.

woman using strong vacuum cleaner to get rid of bed bugs

Air It Out

After removing the baking soda, you will want to give your mattress time to air out. You can opt to open the windows, use a fan, or do both. As with the baking soda, the longer, the better, so we suggest letting the bed air out overnight if you can.

Flip and Repeat

Once your bed is aired out, flip the mattress over and repeat steps one through five on the other side. While this entire process will likely take a few days to complete, the good news is that you only need to deep clean your bed twice a year.

Illustration of a Man Flipping His Mattress

Benefits of Cleaning Your Bed

Even though you don’t directly touch your mattress while sleeping, there are significant benefits to washing your bed.

Extends the Bed’s Lifespan

Mattresses are a big investment and an excellent way to enhance your sleeping experience. Most beds will last for about seven years before needing to be replaced. However, there are ways you could extend your bed’s lifespan, one of them being regular cleanings.

Gets Rid of Irritants and Allergens

You may be surprised to learn that the mattress is the most contaminated[1] space in your bedroom. Therefore, sleeping on your bed every night means you’re also getting close exposure to these elements, providing further evidence of why it is vital to keep your sleep space nice and clean.

Some irritants that can accumulate in mattresses include dust mites, dander, fungi, bacteria, dead skin cells, chemicals, food, makeup, and sweat. However, many modern manufacturers implement strict safety processes to reduce or eliminate exposure to harmful chemicals. Therefore, we recommend making sure any new mattress you purchase comes with health safety certifications such as Certi-PUR, OEKO-TEX, Greenguard, GOLS, and GOTS.

illlustration of a woman strugling with allergy symptoms

Not only are things like germs, sweat, and dirt gross, but they could be harmful to your health. For example, dust mites are one of the main allergens in bedding.

When someone experiences an allergic reaction[2] to them, they could wake up with symptoms that include a rash, itchy eyes, runny nose, trouble breathing, nausea, and diarrhea. However, keeping your bedding in pristine condition can help eliminate exposure to these substances.

Get More Info: How to Get Rid of Dust Mites in Bed

Prevents Bad Smells

Over time, you may find that your mattress starts to smell bad, particularly if the item has seen its fair share of spills too. Regular cleanings can help deodorize your mattress and keep it smelling fresh.

Boosts Your Mood

couple laying in bed illustration

Think about when you sleep on freshly washed sheets; your mood is usually lighter, and you likely sleep better. Overall, cleanliness is associated with improving people’s moods and lowering their risk for anxiety and depression. Therefore, washing your mattress could provide an additional way to further lift your spirits and help you feel more organized.

Furthermore, maintaining a clean home could improve your physical health. A study from Indiana University[3] saw a link between participants with tidy homes and better health. Associate Professor NiCole Keith, who led the study, says it may be that the act of cleaning provides more physical activity or that individuals who take care of their home are more likely to also take care of their bodies.

Alternative Methods for Cleaning a Mattress

Steam cleaning is another option for disinfecting a mattress. The benefit of steam is that the high temperature can be excellent at wiping out dust mites and bacteria. However, you should not use a steam cleaner on a latex bed, as this could overheat and damage the latex.

Illustration of Yellow Stains on a Mattress

To steam clean a mattress, start by removing all bedding and then vacuum the mattress, just as you would in the guide provided above. You may also want to put on a layer of baking soda and vacuum that up to tackle any foul odors.

Next, you will prepare the cleaner by filling it with water and heating it to 212 degrees. According to The Spruce[4], steamers for cleaning, clothes, or irons should work fine.

You’ll then hold the steamer several inches above the bed as you move it in slow, long strokes across the top and sides, making sure to carefully avoid touching the bed directly. The mattress should feel faintly moist but not wet. Therefore, if you notice it’s becoming too damp, hold the steamer higher up from the bed.

Once you are done steaming, you will need to let the mattress air out to prevent any moisture buildup in the material. To help, leave the windows open and a fan on to let it dry. Before using it again, double-check that the bed is fully dry, and if it’s not, allow more time for it to air out.

If your bed is dual-sided, you should steam both sides. However, if you only use one side, you don’t need to flip it over and steam the bottom.

What Else Should I Clean?

Although it’s highly beneficial to wash your mattress, don’t neglect other important parts of your bed as well.

Mattress Protector

Mattress covers provide a defense shield between your mattress and sheets. They serve multiple purposes that include keeping the mattress clean, limiting your exposure to dust mites and allergens, and helping to lengthen the mattress’ lifespan.

The process by which you wash a mattress cover will depend on the material. Generally, you should plan to wash your cover every two months.

Illustration of a Fitted Sheets or Mattress Pad

Mattress Topper or Pad

Mattress pads and toppers help adjust the feel of a bed. For instance, if your bed needs some extra cushioning, you can purchase a mattress pad to provide added plushness. You should cleanse these items every two to four months.

Learn More: How to Clean Foam Mattress Topper in 3 Easy Steps

Bed Frame

If you haven’t thought much about cleaning your bed frame, then now is the time to start. The frame can easily harbor plenty of dust and dirt.

Some folks may have completely wooden or steel bed frames, while others have fabric covering them. Although you can wipe down or vacuum wood and steel frames, fabric ones will need more specific maintenance depending on the particular fabric. Since dust can accumulate fairly quickly, it’s a good idea to wipe down your frame whenever you clean your bedroom.

Sheets

Since you directly touch your sheets and pillowcases every night, these should be washed regularly. Most experts recommend washing your sheets once a week or at least swapping out your current set for a fresh one every week.

a person putting on clean bedding

Comforter

Most comforters should be cleaned about twice a year. However, you may find that you prefer to clean yours more frequently, particularly if you have allergies. Be sure to check the label to find the directions on how to properly clean your comforter.

Pillows

Although you should wash your pillowcases regularly, the pillows themselves don’t need to be washed as often. Generally, you should plan to wash your pillows twice a year to keep them in good shape.

Need help? Check out our guide on how to properly wash your pillows here.

Illustration of a Man Putting Stuff in the Washing Machine

Under the Bed

Like your frame, the space underneath your bed is vulnerable to dust and dirt. So when you’re cleaning your frame, don’t forget to do a thorough sweep under the bed too.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you get a bad smell out of a mattress?

We mentioned earlier that baking soda should help deodorize your bed, and you have the option to do an additional round of baking soda if you feel the bed is extra smelly. However, sometimes spills and accidents are the culprits behind those bad odors. In this case, you should spot clean mattress stains during the cleaning process as well.

How you clean and what you use will depend on the type of stain. For example, blemishes produced by bodily fluids such as blood stains or urine should benefit from an enzyme-based cleaner.

Need more details? See our guide on how to remove mattress stains.

Illustration of a Lady Ready to Clean Her Mattress

Can you shampoo a mattress?

You may wonder if carpet shampoo is a viable stain remover for mattresses. The answer to this depends on who you ask.

Some cleaning experts advise against shampoo, while others say to only use it on an innerspring bed that doesn’t contain any foam. The problem with shampoo is that there’s a risk of moisture buildup that could lead to the formation of mold and mildew. For this reason, we suggest checking with your bed’s specific manufacturer, and if you are still unsure, we recommend not using it to prevent any potential problems.

Does water ruin a mattress?

Water has a lot of great benefits, but when it comes to cleaning your mattress, consider it the enemy. Water can severely damage a mattress by creating an environment for mold and mildew to thrive. Typically, you can detect mold either by seeing or smelling it.

Mold can also be particularly harmful to your health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC[5]), mold exposure is linked to a stuffy nose, wheezing, red or itchy eyes and skin, fever, shortness of breath, upper respiratory tract symptoms, coughing, and wheezing. Individuals with allergies, compromised immune systems, and chronic respiratory diseases are most vulnerable to the effects of mold.

If your mattress becomes oversaturated with water, you should immediately try to absorb as much moisture as possible. You can use a clean cloth, baking soda, and a vacuum to soak up moisture.

After that, allow plenty of time for the entire mattress to dry with open windows and a fan. If the weather where you live is dry and sunny, you could also place your mattress outside to expose it to fresh air and help it dry even more.

Illustration of a Couple Replacing Their Old Mattress with a New One

Sources and References:

  • [1] Your mattress is actually the dirtiest object in your bedroom, Business Insider, November 27, 2015
  • [2] Allergic Reaction, University of Michigan Health, February 26, 2020
  • [3] Tidier homes, fitter bodies?, Indiana University
  • [4] How to Steam Clean a Mattress, The Spruce, February 9, 2021
  • [5] Basic Facts about Mold and DampnessCenters for Disease Control and Prevention, August 11, 2020
Content Writer

Jill Zwarensteyn is a content writer for Sleep Advisor and is enthusiastic about providing helpful and engaging information on all things sleep and wellness.

Based in Los Angeles, she is an experienced writer and journalist who enjoys spending her free time at the beach, hiking, reading, or exploring new places around town.

She’s also an avid traveler who has a personal goal of being able to successfully sleep on an airplane someday.

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