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How to Deep Clean a Mattress

Do you sometimes wake up with a stuffy nose or itchy throat?

While you sleep, you shed thousands of tiny pieces of dead skin, sustaining a dust mite population in your bed fabrics that reproduces at a rapid rate. These bugs produce proteins and waste particles that trigger allergic reactions, such as hay fever and asthma.

Additionally, we all sweat into our sheets, and occasionally these body oils and odors can make their way into your mattress, along with spills and other stains. Disinfecting your bedding kills these pests, may help in alleviating allergies, and improve your sleep quality.

A thorough vacuum and wash also improve your indoor air quality and prolongs the lifespan of your topper and pillows. This guide takes an in-depth look at how to deep clean your mattress.

How Often Should You Perform Deep Mattress Cleaning?

In most climates, dust mites’ breeding season falls between May and October, which is when allergen levels skyrocket. Ideally, you need to deep clean your mattress once every six months—at the beginning and the end of the peak pest breeding season. Thorough disinfection at the start of May will significantly reduce mite reproduction.

How to Clean Your Mattress Video

Best Way to Clean Your Mattress at Home

Let’s take an in-depth look at how to clean a mattress at home. Following our proven process will speed up the cleaning process and make it more effective. Read on to learn:

  • Which cleaning supplies you need
  • How to vacuum and spot-clean a mattress
  • How to deodorize and disinfect your bedding

Gather Your Cleaning Supplies

Before you start the deep cleaning process, collect the following supplies:

  • A vacuum cleaner with an upholstery attachment
  • A hand broom or soft-bristle cleaning brush
  • A sponge or cloth
  • A stain remover mixture
  • Laundry detergent
  • A deodorizer product
  • An antibacterial spray or garment steamer

If you prefer a chemical-free deep clean, you can make your own stain remover and deodorizer. The additional products you need to make a mattress cleaning solution include:

  • Vinegar
  • Dish soap
  • 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • Baking soda
  • Essential oils

If your mattress contains memory foam layers, don’t use products containing harsh chemicals as they can cause damage.

Remove and Wash All Bedding

After gathering the necessary cleaning supplies, remove all linen from your bed, including fitted and flat sheets, covers, pads, comforters, bed skirts, and quilts. Then, wash these fabrics using your machine while you deep clean your mattress.

Using hot water for your bedding will kill most germs and pests, such as dust mites, and you need to select the highest water temperature setting on your washing machine that is safe for your fabrics.

If you don’t have a favorite laundry detergent, consider using a small amount of powdered tide and liquid bleach, as this popular combination can strip out the dirt and dead skin while disinfecting your linens. Just be sure your sheets are white before using bleach!

If your fabrics are polyester blends, use lukewarm water to prevent damage and shrinkage. Cotton fabrics have a higher tolerance for hot water—tumble drying or ironing your bedding after sun-drying can kill any remaining germs.

Vacuum the Mattress

With all the bedding in the washing machine, you can start cleaning your mattress by vacuuming it thoroughly. This step aims to remove contaminants, such as pet hair and dander, pollen, dust particles, mold spores, and skin cells from:

  • Pocket coils and latex foams
  • Viscoelastic and gel memory foams
  • Dacron and wool

Use the right vacuum attachments to suck up all the particles along seams and in crevices. As you vacuum, agitate and loosen the dust particles using your hand broom or soft-bristle brush. These particles may become airborne before settling on the surface, so give your mattress a second run-over with the vacuum.

Clean the Stains

Next, let’s talk about how to remove stains from a mattress. Start by mixing a stain remover in a spray bottle. Experiment with the following combinations:

  • 50% water, 50% vinegar, and half a tablespoon of dish soap.
  • One cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide, one tablespoon of baking soda, and half a teaspoon of dish soap.
  • Two cups of cold water and one tablespoon of powdered tide or your favorite laundry detergent.

The water and laundry detergent solution is the most effective for removing bodily fluid stains like urine. First, spray the affected area with the stain remover. Then, use a sponge or soft bristle toothbrush to agitate the stain, loosening the substance from the fibers. After 20 minutes, soak up the liquid using a cloth.

Find Out More: How to Get Urine Out Of Mattress

Deodorize Your Mattress to Get Rid of a Mattress Smell

Knowing how to get the smell out of a mattress is integral to the deep cleaning process.

To deodorize your mattress, mix a cup of baking soda with a few drops of essential oils. Then, pour the mixture into a strainer and spread it evenly over your entire mattress using a shaking motion. You can also use a commercial deodorizer product, but make sure it contains no chemicals that can be harmful to your health.

Let the mixture sit on the sleeping surface for 24 hours before vacuuming the surface. If you are cleaning an old mattress, or if this is the first time you are washing your bed, use an extra cup of baking soda.

Disinfect the Mattress

The last step of cleaning a dirty mattress is disinfection using an antibacterial spray or steam cleaner. Your goal with disinfection is to kill all remaining germs, including viruses, bacteria, and pests.

If you own a steamer, move it over the mattress slowly and systematically, covering the entire sleeping surface. The steam cleaner’s heat will kill all germs on and below the surface. You can also use an antibacterial spray if you don’t have access to a steam cleaner.

Need help? Check out our complete guide on how to kill dust mites in bed.

Flip and Repeat These Steps

Now, you can start the stain removal, deodorization, and disinfection process on the other side of the mattress. If you are washing a white mattress, only use clear dish soap, as a colored product may cause discoloration.

Depending on the condition of the bottom side of the mattress, you don’t need to let the deodorization mixture sit for 24 hours on the other side as well. However, if you detect mold growth or stains on your bed base, complete the entire process for the other side. Then, after repeating the steps for the other side, flip the mattress to use the other side as the sleeping surface.

Tips to Keep Your Mattress Clean

Protect Your Mattress

Using a high-quality mattress protector is the most effective way to protect your topper from spills and contaminants. Consider a mattress protector that is waterproof with a polyurethane moisture protector. Organic and breathable cotton protectors are easy to clean, and they help keep you cool at night.

Air Out Your Mattress Regularly

Air your mattress out regularly by:

  • Removing bedding and covers
  • Loosening dust particles with a soft brush
  • Vacuuming the mattress thoroughly on both sides
  • Opening all windows or placing the mattress in a location with good airflow

Ideally, you should air your mattress out once every three months.

Wash Your Bedding Every Week

Your bed linen is a breeding ground for dust mites and germs. Wash your sheets, pillowcases, covers, pads, and other linen once a week using hot water, fabric softener, and high-quality laundry detergent.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I clean memory foam mattresses?

To clean a memory foam mattress, you can follow all the steps in this guide. However, pay careful attention to your product’s care instructions and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. Laundry detergent, water, and baking soda are safe and effective products for cleaning memory foam.

How do I get rid of bed bugs?

A thorough brush scrubbing and vacuuming are practical methods for removing bed bugs and their eggs. You can also steam clean your mattress or spread ground silica gel around the areas where you detect bed bugs.

Get More Info: 25 Natural Home Remedies for Bed Bugs

Should I steam clean my mattress?

If you don’t have the time to clean your mattress yourself, consider a mattress dry cleaning service. Professional mattress cleaners have all the necessary equipment and products to clean your entire mattress safely. If you own a steam cleaner, you can use it to disinfect your mattress and kill harmful pests that live in the fibers.

Jill Zwarensteyn

Jill Zwarensteyn


About Author

Jill Zwarensteyn is the Editor for Sleep Advisor and a Certified Sleep Science Coach. She is enthusiastic about providing helpful and engaging information on all things sleep and wellness.

Combination Sleeper