Though you might not always realize it, your mattress is actually a really big part of your life.
After all, if you’re getting eight hours of sleep each night, you’re spending a full third of your time here on this earth asleep on your mattress.
That’s a lot!
You probably spend a fair amount of time keeping the rest of your house clean.
You vacuum the floors, scrub the toilets, wipe the countertops, etc.
According to a 2015 report by the Bureau of Labor statistics, the average American over 15 spends almost 66 minutes each day doing nothing but cleaning (that’s 400 hours per year)!
We’re clearly willing to spend the time we need to get rid of filth most of the time, so why does everything become so different when we start talking about mattress cleaning?
Our mattress needs proper care just like everything else in the house, and keeping it clean is just another part of keeping up good hygiene.
How Often to Clean A Mattress?
There are actually a couple of different schools of thought when it comes to deciding just how often you should clean a mattress.
Some say you should clean a mattress every month, while others advocate for cleaning it every three months or twice a year.
Regardless, the point is you should remember about regular mattress cleaning.
Why Is Cleaning Your Mattress Necessary?
A mattress has a tendency to accumulate some pretty nasty stuff inside over time.
Although that old urban legend about your mattress doubling in weight every 10 years is a pretty big exaggeration, dead skin flakes and the dust mites that eat them tend to take up residency in most innerspring mattresses.
According to Ohio State University, the average used mattress can have anywhere from 100,000 to 10 million dust mites living inside it.
While these mites don’t actually have that much of an effect on most people, if you have asthma or a dust mite allergy, they can actually start causing a whole host of symptoms.
Plus, living on a nest of dead skin and insects is probably enough to make your skin crawl (literally, if you have enough dust mites)!
Mattresses also accumulate residue like body oils and sweat over time, and of course, if you have any stains or body fluid spills, you need to get on those ASAP.
If you’re going to spend 400 hours each year cleaning the other parts of your house, you may as well take a bit of extra time to clean away some of the more horrifying aspects of your mattress.
What Typical Cleaning Looks Like?
OK, so hopefully by now, I’ve got you convinced how significant it is to clean your mattress.
(If not, I’m not entirely sure why you’re still here…)
Thankfully, the process of cleaning a mattress regularly isn’t as difficult as you might think.
Unless your mattress has accumulated stains over the months or is smelling really bad, all you really need to do is clear off all your bed sheets and run over the thing with a vacuum cleaner!
Strip the Bed
The first thing you’re going to want to do is to remove all the bed sheets from your mattress and throw them to the washing machine.
If your blankets and sheets have accumulated any stains or nasty smells over time, be sure to stick these on the hottest water setting your washing machine has, as well as high heat in the dryer.
Not only will these leave your bed clean and smelling nice and rosy the next time you lie down, but it’ll also kill whatever insects you might have crawling over top of you while you sleep.
Vacuum the Mattress
Then, grab the vacuum cleaner and start sucking up all over the mattress.
There’s nothing too fancy about this step, but you’ll probably want to use the upholstery attachment to get in all the nooks and crannies around your bed.
This is one of the most important steps for actually sucking up mites and their food, and if you use a sufficiently high-powered vacuum cleaner, you should be able to do a number on those critters’ ecosystem.
Some researchers found between 1 and 3 grams of material in their vacuum cleaners after finishing this step—and while that might not seem like a lot, keep in mind that that’s 1 to 3 grams of microscopic insects and the dead skin they’ve been eating off of you!
How to Deodorize a Mattress?
Now, if you’ve waited too long with cleaning your mattress, you might have some bigger problems than just dust mites and skin.
There are a lot of reasons why a mattress might start stinking to high heaven, which, in addition to just being straight-up gross, can lead to trouble sleeping if it gets bad enough.
When you already know how to clean a mattress, here’s how to get rid of those icky smells out of it.
Sprinkle on Baking Soda
Baking soda is always a great option for absorbing unwanted odors, and that’s as true in your bed as anywhere else in the house.
To get your mattress smelling fresh and clean again, you’re first going to need to sprinkle a whole mess of baking soda on top of it.
Don’t be shy about this, now—it’s not unusual to use an entire box of baking soda just to sop up the nastiness.
Let this baking soda sit for at least 24 hours while you sleep elsewhere.
After that time’s passed, vacuum the mattress cover thoroughly again to get rid of all the baking soda.
Seal the Deal
For deep clean, you might also want to consider misting your mattress in a light layer of citrus-based cleaner.
If it’s possible, you’ll also want to leave your mattress outside for a couple of hours to air out.
Watch out for rain and air pollution, though, or you might have some other mattress issues on your hands!
Another way to deep clean the mattress in your bed is to prepare a simple mixture of essential oils and baking soda. It will help you to get rid of moisture, kill the mites, and provide your bed with a very pleasant smell. You can use, for example, peppermint, wintergreen, lavender, or eucalyptus essential oil.
How to Remove Mattress Stains?
Mattress stains are another issue a lot of people run into.
Here’s how to clean mattress stains.
Use a Stain Remover
In general, you’re probably going to use an enzymatic cleaner, vinegar, or some combination of dish soap and hydrogen peroxide.
For urine stains, WikiHow recommends three tablespoons’ baking soda, eight fluid ounces’ hydrogen peroxide, and half a teaspoon of dish soap.
For blood stains, they recommend two fluid ounces hydrogen peroxide, one tablespoon dish soap, and one tablespoon table salt (no baking soda this time).
Whatever stain remover you end up with, you will need to spray it on the mattress and let it sit for about 30 minutes to get clean.
Dry it Off
After you’ve applied your spray, apply baking soda to the affected area and, if possible, let it sit overnight.
Set the mattress in the sun to dry after you’re done, and clear up the remaining residue.
Read This If You Have Memory Foam
Please note that all the directions we’ve been talking about so far have only been intended to clean a mattress with an innerspring structure.
These are the most common types of mattresses right now, but more and more people have been turning to memory foam in recent years.
While a memory foam mattress has a lot of advantages, it does not do well with moisture.
This is because it’s full of tiny pores, so if a large amount of water gets on your memory foam mattress, you’re in for a rough ride.
It’s very, very difficult to get the moisture out of memory foam.
So if you’re dealing with stains, you’ll want to dab out as much as possible before applying a spray.
Let the spray sit for just five minutes, and take extra care to dry everything afterwards.
How to Get Out of Cleaning
We’ve just spent pretty much an entire article talking about how to clean your mattress.
Now, I’m going to tell you how you can get out of having to do most of this!
It’s really simple—just pick up a mattress case.
Also called “encasements,” things are basically just big plastic sleeves covering your mattress and keeping it from accumulating much of anything.
The best mattress cases are completely airtight, so you shouldn’t have to worry about stains, spills, odors, dead skin cells, dust mites, sweat, body oils, or any other nastiness in your mattress!
You typically can’t even feel such a mattress cover under your sheets, and they can be a real lifesaver—especially if you’ve invested a good amount of money in a high-quality mattress.
Getting a New Mattress
Of course, no matter if you remember to clean a mattress regularly or not, we all know that no product can last forever.
Hopefully, you’re not throwing away your mattress because of any stains, odors, or dust mite infestations, but you are going to have to get rid of that thing at some point.
Although replacing your mattress can seem like a bit of a chore, it’s actually often a great opportunity for an upgrade.
An excellent mattress can have a very beneficial impact on your sleep, and certain kinds can even prevent dust mites altogether.
If you’re really worried about these creepy-crawlies, a memory foam mattress may be the right choice for you.
There are a lot of options out there, many of which are actually highly affordable.
Sleep Innovations Shiloh, for instance, is probably the best value memory foam mattress, at well under $500.
However, the Amerisleep AS3 is our highest-rated memory foam mattress overall.
Don’t feel pressured into making such a big investment at once, but keep in mind that part of any proper bed maintenance routine is knowing when it’s time to replace the item you’re using every day. You can’t use baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, dish soap, or a stain remover forever. You know how clean a mattress can be – and if there is no way to regain this state, the time has come for you to buy a new one.
If you think it might be the time to turn in your old, icky mattress, consider having a look at our guide to the best mattress of 2022.
Just remember, taking care of your mattress is a big part of taking care of yourself. It’s crucial for your hygiene and your well-being. You probably vacuum your floors often, wash your clothes in the washing machine frequently, and clean your house thoroughly every three days or at least once a week, so remember to clean the mattress that you have in your bed regularly as well.
Don’t compromise when it comes to your needs!
Senior Content Manager
Matt is the Senior Content Manager and is an author of many of our reviews, as well as blog posts. He is the creative one in the company and can find the solution to any of your mattress problems.
Updated at January 18, 2022