How to clean a mattress

  • Baking soda and a thorough vacuum can help remove dust and odors that build up in a mattress.
  • Thorough cleaning is required two to four times a year. However, stains should be treated on site as soon as possible.
  • Experts recommend changing your mattress every six to eight years – or when it starts to sag.
  • You can find more stories on the Insider homepage.

The bed is usually the cosiest sanctuary in our home. Not only is a mattress an expensive household purchase, we also spend an average of 33 years in bed. But as we recharge and rest, our mattresses collect and absorb sweat, skin and hair oils, dust, dander, and much more.

Even so, we seldom take the necessary steps to keep it clean. According to mattress experts Brian Wiersma, director of initiative and manager of Merry Maids Memphis, and Karen Phillips-Recchia, certified bed consultant at Jerome’s Dream Shop, proper bed cleaning goes beyond changing and washing bed linen regularly. The mattress itself – box spring or memory foam – also requires routine care and maintenance.

What you need

  • Vacuum and attachments for upholstery and crevices

  • 8-ounce box of baking soda

  • Optional: lavender essential oil and / or dried lavender

  • Enzyme cleaner

  • Microfiber fabric

  • Disinfectant wipes

How to clean a mattress

  1. Take off the bed. Remove the sheets, shams, and mattress pads or covers and throw them all in the laundry. Clean the mattress while your bedding is washed and dried.

  2. Prepare a baking soda mixture. Wiersma recommends a full box of baking soda – which helps deodorize – for king and queen size mattresses and half a box for full and double sizes. Combine the baking soda with a few teaspoons of dried lavender and / or a few drops of lavender essential oil. If you have sensitive skin or allergies, you can skip the scented additives. Sprinkle over the top of the mattress and let it rest for 1 to 2 hours to fully deodorize.
  3. Thoroughly vacuum the mattress. Use the cushion attachment to soak up the baking soda. Don’t forget to vacuum on the sides of the mattress, behind the bed frame, and under the bed to keep your entire sleeping area clean.
  4. Clean and treat visible stains. While most stains never come out completely, many can be surface treated with immediate cleaning, says Phillips-Recchia.
  5. Wipe the bed frame. Wipe the bed frame with a microfiber cloth as the mattress dries after cleaning the stains. This can cause a lot of dust to collect – especially behind the headboard.

Quick tip: As part of your mattress care routine, change your bed linen every two weeks.

How to treat a mattress on site

In the case of blood and sweat stains, Phillips-Recchia rubs them lightly with a disinfectant cloth. If they are particularly tough, Wierma recommends mixing one part washing-up liquid with three parts hydrogen peroxide and wiping it gently with a damp cloth.

“Treating stains and urine on pets may require a bacteria / enzyme fermenter to deodorize the area,” says Wierma.

Phillips-Recchia adds, “Urine cannot be completely removed because a mattress is a large sponge and picks it up. A disinfectant wipe cleans the surface stain, but not in the foam.” If frequent urination is a problem, she recommends a waterproof sheet or protector that can be washed regularly.

Do you need to turn a mattress?

Turning a mattress every six months is an easy way to extend the life of your mattress and ensure that it doesn’t wear unevenly over time. However, Wiersma says the best option is to “check your manufacturer’s instructions for recommendations to make sure you’re turning your mattress the right way,” as many modern mattresses no longer need to be turned because of their one-sided design.

Another way to extend the life of a mattress is to use a protector. Phillips-Recchia says that while many mattresses last 10 years (and others up to 25 years, depending on the brand), having a protector fitted at all times ultimately contributes to its longevity.

“Body fluids, allergens etc. can break down foams faster. A mattress can double in size in 10 years if it is not protected,” says Phillips-Recchia.

How often should you clean your mattress?

Vacuuming the mattress every two weeks while changing sheets can be a great way to get used to regular cleanings year-round. For deep cleansing, Wiersma suggests two to four times a year or every three to six months.

When does a mattress need to be replaced?

A good mattress will help you get a good night’s sleep. If your mattress is noticeably saggy in places, the springs are creaky than usual, or you wake up with stiff muscles, it may be time to find a replacement.

Quick tip: The National Sleep Foundation recommends changing your mattress every six to eight years.

Insider to take away

Just like the pillows, sheets, and other items that make up our sleeping environment, mattresses need regular cleaning and maintenance. Changing bed linen frequently and using a mattress protector can help keep dust and other particles out between deep cleans.

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