How To Clean A Mattress: A Detailed Guide

How To Clean A Mattress: A Detailed Guide

You sleep on your mattress every night.

Maybe your pets also sleep on it, or your kids love to eat snacks in your bed. You can’t help that sometimes a mattress will become stained and dirty.

Should you clean your mattress regularly?

Even if you don’t have specific stains you want to remove from your mattress, you should still clean your mattress on a regular basis.

This is important to eliminate dust mites and mildew.

Making sure that you keep your mattress clean helps it last longer and feel more comfortable.

But cleaning your mattress doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive, and it definitely doesn’t always require you to call in the pros.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to clean a mattress so that it looks brand new.

Vacuum Your Mattress

Vacuuming Mattress

The first step to cleaning your mattress is to vacuum it.

Use your vacuum cleaner’s upholstery attachment to remove dust and dirt from the mattress’s surface.

Begin vacuuming at the top of the mattress where the pillows go and work your way down the mattress.

Don’t forget about its sides! You should also flip the mattress over, even if it’s a one-sided mattress so that you clean underneath it as bed bugs or dust can collect there. 

Clean The Mattress With Baking Soda

Cleaning Mattress With Baking Soda

Over time, your mattress can start to smell bad.

This is as a result of things like sweat that can seep into the mattress over months, sometimes even if you use a bed cover.

A simple and eco-friendly cleaning method to freshen up your mattress is to sprinkle some baking soda on it.

Rub it into the mattress with a scrubbing brush. To sprinkle the baking soda all over the mattress evenly, use a sieve to make the job easier.

You should leave the baking soda on the mattress for about an hour or so.

Do The Second Round Of Vacuum Cleaning

Vacuuming Mattress

After you’ve sprinkled baking soda on your mattress and left it there for about an hour to get to work, you want to vacuum-clean your mattress again.

This is important because the baking soda has attached to any moisture and body oils that are inside the mattress, so vacuuming your mattress will help to suck up all that dirt, properly eliminating it.

DIY Recipes To Eliminate Mattress Stains

Now that you’ve completed a general cleanup of your mattress, you want to target stains.

When cleaning a mattress stain, you should always first try to blot it with a cloth or towel that’s doused in the liquid you’re using to remove the stain so that you don’t leave any liquid residue behind, such as that of detergent.

If it doesn’t dry properly, this residue can cause mold growth, which you definitely don’t want.

If you have to spray the detergent directly onto the mattress, such as if a recipe calls for it, always make sure you dry it properly before making your bed.

Here are some recipes to remove mattress stains.

Stain-Removal Recipe 1

Mattress Cleaning

Get a spray bottle and fill it with a mix of 50 percent water and 50 percent dishwashing liquid.

Spray this cleaning mixture onto the stain and then scrub it with a brush or rag. You might have to do this a few times for stubborn stains.

Stain-Removal Recipe 2

If there are bodily fluids like urine on your mattress, such as because your toddler had an accident on your bed, you want to use laundry detergent to clean it up.

Mix a bit of detergent with water and apply it to the stain. Always make sure the water you use to clean mattress stains is cool as hot water can actually make the stains worse!

Stain-Removal Recipe 3 

For stubborn stains that won’t come out easily with the above recipes, you want to move on to something a little stronger.

Try this: add a bit more punch to your DIY cleaning recipe by combining baking soda, dishwashing liquid, and hydrogen peroxide in a clean spray bottle.

Spray this liquid onto the mattress stain and then rub and blot it with a cloth. You should see the stain get transferred from the mattress to the cloth.

Stain-Removal Recipe 4

Canister Of Enzyme Cleaner

If you’re dealing with pet stains on your mattress, you might need a specific product to get rid of them.

What’s known as an enzyme cleaner can be very useful.

It can be found at pet stores or online, and it’s used to treat a variety of stains caused by your beloved pets.

Enzyme cleaning products work by breaking down the compounds that produce the stain, and also those that result in bad smells.

Depending on the product you’ve bought, you might have to apply the enzyme product to the mattress and leave it to work for a few hours.

How To Deep Clean A Mattress

If you feel like your mattress requires a deeper clean to eliminate bad odors and stains, the good news is that you can deep clean it yourself with household ingredients.

For this, you’ll need 20 drops of essential oil that has a fragrance you like, such as lavender which will also promote feelings of calm at bedtime.

For bacteria-fighting properties, some essential oils fare better than others. These include essential oils like peppermint, orange, and lemongrass.

  • Add the essential oil to a box of baking soda and shake it well.
  • Sprinkle the baking soda that’s been mixed with essential oils all over the mattress and rub it into the mattress with a cloth so that it penetrates deeply into the mattress where odors linger.
  • Let the baking soda mixture work its magic on the mattress for about an hour. Once that time is up, vacuum-clean your mattress to remove all the baking soda. Now you have a fresh-smelling mattress!
  • Your mattress can benefit from being placed in sunlight. This is because the strong UV rays are natural stain removers! In addition, some fresh air will help to air out your mattress after you’ve cleaned it, which is important to prevent mold and mildew.

What Steps Can You Take To Disinfect Your Mattress?

Baking Soda On Mattress

Using ingredients such as baking soda to clean your mattress will help you to disinfect it naturally.

But you can also use a disinfecting spray on your mattress if you want something stronger, such as Lysol, which is safe for fabrics.

Good Housekeeping reports, it also kills bacteria that can lead to bad odors.

How To Disinfect A Used Mattress

It’s one thing to deal with mattress stains and odors that have happened in your home.

Things feel a bit more complicated (and unpleasant, to say the least) in the case of a used mattress, mainly because you don’t know the extent of dust, dirt, and bacteria that can be inside the mattress.

There are some important ways to disinfect a used mattress. Here are some steps to follow.

  • Start by vacuum-cleaning the mattress. This is always a good way to clean it thoroughly, whether the mattress is new or used.
  • While vacuum-cleaning a mattress is important, cleaning a used mattress with vinegar is particularly good to try. White vinegar is a natural disinfectant and it eliminates bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella, making it perfect for properly cleaning a used mattress. Combine it with baking soda to further clean away dirt and bad odor. Here’s a quick and easy recipe:
  1. Pour vinegar into a spray bottle and spray it onto the mattress
  2. Leave it to soak the mattress for about 10 minutes
  3. Sprinkle baking soda onto the mattress and leave it for about three or four hours
  4. When that time is up, use a vacuum cleaner to deep clean the mattress

While processes such as the above can help to clean used mattresses, it’s always advisable to avoid purchasing a used mattress that has stains on it.

You never know how long they’ve been there and even what caused the stains, so cleaning them can prove impossible.

Can You Clean Your Mattress With Bleach?

Bottles Of Bleach

Whether you purchased your mattress new or used, you need to tread carefully if you’re tempted to clean it with bleach.

Bleach is a harsh ingredient that’s made with raw materials like caustic soda and chlorine.

It can sometimes make certain stains worse instead of eliminating them. This is especially the case with what’s known as protein stains.

These are stains caused by animal-based secretions, and include bodily fluids as well as things like eggs, as eHow reports. If you use bleach to clean these up, the stains won’t go away.

That said, there are times when bleach can help to tackle mattress problems, such as mold.

Simply apply some bleach to a cloth or sponge and scrub at the mold until it goes away.

You want to wear gloves when doing this to protect your hands and work in a room or outside where there’s a lot of ventilation so you don’t breathe in the harmful bleach fumes.

Then, leave the mattress in a place where there’s good circulation so that it can dry properly.

Pro tip: If you’ve used too much bleach and you can still smell it on your mattress after it’s dried, you should sprinkle baking soda on the mattress to soak up the odor and then vacuum-clean the mattress again to remove the baking soda. The use of essential oils can also help to make your mattress smell better.

Avoid Bleach If You Have A Memory Foam Mattress

Spraying Memory Foam Mattress

Now, while bleach might help you eliminate stubborn stains on a mattress, you really want to avoid using it on a mattress that’s made of memory foam.

Since bleach is harsh, it can damage the foam. That doesn’t mean you have to let those stains slide, though.

Instead of bleach, spot-treat the stain with water and dishwashing liquid.

Another alternative is to dilute white vinegar with water and put it in a spray bottle.

Instead of putting the liquid directly onto the foam mattress, you should spray the liquid onto a cleaning cloth and then apply that to the foam. 

As with other mattresses, always dry your memory foam mattress properly.

Bear in mind that it might take longer to dry than other mattresses, so use fans to quicken the process or pop it outside in the sun on a hot day.

How To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs

Bed Bug Walking On Skin

Bed bugs can be a big nuisance because they hide in groups and love to do so in mattresses and headboards.

This makes it easier for them to bite people at night. If you have bedbugs in your mattress, before you vacuum your mattress you should scrub it with a stiff brush.

This will help you to remove bed bugs as well as their eggs. Don’t forget to scrub areas such as corners and around mattress piping. 

Use a steam cleaner.

Steam is a great way to kill bed bugs but you don’t have to get your mattress steamed by the pros. You can do it yourself.

Just make sure that the steam cleaner you’re using releases steam of around 214 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure you kill both bugs and their eggs.

When steaming your mattress, you need to work slowly. You want to send that hot steam into the deeper layers of the mattress and steam every inch of it.

Steam Cleaning Mattress

You should also keep the steam cleaner really close to the mattress to kill the bugs successfully– aim for holding it about an inch away from the mattress, but no more.

As Pest Hacks reports, a good tip when using a steam cleaner to eliminate bed bugs is to cover the tip of the steamer with a small cloth.

This will prevent blowing the bed bugs and their eggs into the rest of the room, which can make your bug problem even worse.

It’s no good to clean your mattress but neglect your bedding – bed bugs and their eggs could be in there and they will just re-infect your mattress if you don’t tackle them!

Clean your bedding by washing sheets and pillowcases in water that’s 118 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes to kill bed bugs.

Their eggs are more resilient to high temperatures, though, as Pest Hacks reports, so you’ll have to wash them in 118 degrees Fahrenheit water for 90 minutes.

General Tips For Keeping Your Mattress Clean

Dust Mite Mattress Cover

Once you’ve cleaned stains and odors from your mattress, and sent those bed bugs packing, following some healthy tips to maintain the freshness and hygiene of your mattress.

Tips such as the following will protect it in the future.

  • Cover the mattress with a protector. A mattress protector is a valuable item that can minimize and even prevent dirt and bacteria from entering your mattress. It can also go a long way to preventing stains.
  • Wash your bedding. You should aim to wash your pillowcases and sheets once a week. This prevents dirt and allergens from accumulating, which can also compromise the hygiene of your mattress.
  • Keep your sleepwear clean. Always make sure that the clothes you wear to bed are regularly washed. If they’re dirty or smelly, they can make your bedding become less hygienic. In addition, if you’ve walked outside with those clothes, you could have collected dirt, dust, or allergens.
  • Maintain a food-free zone. Although it’s tempting to eat biscuits or popcorn in bed while watching Netflix, sticking to the rule of not eating food in bed prevents you from having to clean up crumbs and attracting insects to your bed.

Related Questions

Should you steam-clean your mattress regularly, not just when you have bed bugs?

Steam-cleaning a mattress eliminates dust and dust mites, and you can use a regular garment steamer to do it.

Before you vacuum your mattress, work over the entire mattress with a steamer, as Good Housekeeping reports.

However, avoid constant bursts of steam as these can wet the mattress too much.

Will a warranty cover bed stains?

It’s your responsibility to keep a mattress clean and hygienic. This prevents damage and it extends the mattress’s lifespan.

Mattresses with stains usually void warranties. No company will want to return a stained mattress to their warehouse, after all.


There are many different things that can contribute to your mattress being unclean and unhygienic.

These include stains and spills, dust and allergens, and horrid bed bugs.

By following our step-by-step guide and avoiding anything that can damage a mattress, such as putting bleach on a foam mattress, your mattress will look brand new and you’ll feel so much better about climbing into it at the end of the day.