Proper Mattress Care: How to Clean Your Mattress

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 keep from living in filth most of the time, so why does everything become so different when we start talking about our mattresses?

 It shouldn’t.

Our mattresses need proper care just like everything else in the house, and keeping your mattress clean is just another part of keeping up good hygiene.

How Often Should You Clean A Mattress?

There actually a couple different schools of thought when it comes to deciding just how often you should clean your mattress.

Some say mattresses should be cleaned every month, while others advocate for cleaning it every six months or more.

Regardless, the point is you should be cleaning your mattress fairly regularly.

Why Your Mattress Needs Cleaning

A woman holds up a spray bottle and cleaning ragMattresses have a tendency to accumulate some pretty nasty stuff inside them 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 do 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 you should be cleaning your mattress.

(If not, I’m not entirely sure why you’re still here…)

Thankfully, the process of regularly cleaning a mattress 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 sheets and run over the thing with a vacuum cleaner!

Strip the Bed

The first thing you’re going to want to do is remove all the bedding from your mattress and throw it in the wash.

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 washer has, as well as high heat in the dryer.

Not only will these leave your bedding smelling nice and rosy the next time you lie down, but it’ll also kill whatever dust mites you might have crawling overtop of you while you sleep.

Vacuum the Mattress

Then, grab 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 dead skin, and if you use a sufficiently high-powered vacuum cleaning, 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

Man smells something stinky and pinches his nose to stop the bad odor.Now, if you’ve waited too long between your mattress cleanings, 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.

Here’s how to get those icky smells out of your mattress.

Sprinkle on Baking Soda

Baking soda is always a great option for absorbing unwanted odors, and that’s as true here as anywhere else in the house.

To get your mattress smelling fresh 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 set for at least 24 hours while you sleep elsewhere.

After that time’s passed, vacuum the mattress thoroughly again to get rid of all the powder.

Seal the Deal

For best results, 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 hours to air out.

Watch out for rain and air pollution, though, or you might have some other mattress issues on your hands!

How to Remove Mattress Stains

Blood spatterMattress stains are another issue a lot of people run into.

Here’s what to do with those.

Use a Cleaning Agent

In general, you’re probably going to want to use an enzymatic cleaner, vinegar, or some combination of dish soap and 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 table spoon table salt.

Whatever cleaning agent you end up with, you’re going to want to spray it on the mattress and let it sit for about 30 minutes.

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 for innerspring mattresses.

These are the most common type of mattress right now, but more and more people have been turning to memory foam in recent years.

While memory foam 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 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 set 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 that cover your mattress and keep 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 mattress cases 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 how well you take care of your mattress, 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.

The best mattresses can have a serious impact on your sleep, and certain kinds can even prevent dust mites altogether.

If you’re really worried about these creepy-crawlies, try looking into memory foam mattresses.

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, but keep in mind that part of any proper maintenance routine is knowing when it’s time to replace the item you’re taking care of.

If you think it might be time to turn in your old, icky mattress, consider having a look at our guide to the best mattress of 2018.

Just remember, taking care of your mattress is a big part of taking care of yourself.

Don’t compromise when it comes to your needs!


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