Never Deep-Cleaned Your Mattress? Now Is the Time

It might be what's standing in the way of good sleep.

February 27, 2020
Photo by Rocky Luten

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Have you ever crawled into bed at the end of a long day, only to find yourself instantly stuffed up and sniffling? Or maybe you can’t seem to get rid of that stale odor, no matter how many times you change the sheets?

If either of these situations sound familiar, your mattress might be in need of a thorough cleaning. Think about it: we spend eight (ok, six for me) hours on our mattresses every night, yet we rarely ever clean them. Personally, I don’t think I’ve ever cleaned mine—oops.

While it’s not as easy as tossing it in the washing machine (that would be too easy), there are a few ways to freshen up your mattress, get rid of grime and odors—and hopefully improve your sleep experience.

Start with a Thorough Vacuuming

After stripping the linens off your bed, the first step to cleaning your mattress is to give it a good vacuum. Mattresses collect dead skin cells, dirt, and dust, and you want to get all that gross stuff off it! If you have a textile attachment for your vacuum, this is a good time to use it, and don’t forget to break out the crevice tool to get deep into any creases or seams along the edges.

Smelling Funky? Break Out the Baking Soda

Baking soda is a mainstay of the natural cleaning world, thanks to its smell-sucking properties. If your mattress isn’t smelling quite as fresh as you’d like, sprinkle a generous layer of baking soda over the surface. Let it sit for a few hours to work its magic, then bring back that vacuum to clear it all up.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“I take my comforters / mattress pads linens etc to the laundromat use the big machines and plenty of hot water. It’s even more important now with so many virus problems we now have.”
— nana M.

Want to take things to the next level of clean? Add a few drops of essential oil to your baking soda before you sprinkle it on—lavender is the obvious choice, but you could also go with ylang-ylang, chamomile, or any other scent you enjoy. Not only will this make your mattress smell like a serene spa, but as an added bonus, essential oils are also naturally antibacterial.

Treat Stains ASAP

Ideally, you should be treating any mattress stains as soon as they happen—don’t give them a chance to sink in!

The most common stains on mattresses are bodily fluids, and to treat them, you’ll want to blot up as much as possible using a microfiber cloth and cold water. (Don’t use hot water, as this will set the stains into the fabric!) Then, go in with an enzyme-based cleaner, such as those used for pet accidents. Spray down the stain, then blot it up with a clean cloth or paper towels. You can repeat as many times as needed to get the stain out. If odor still lingers, you can use baking soda to soak up the offending smell.

If you accidentally spilled a drink, you can follow the same steps using a 50/50 mix of water and dish detergent. For red wine stains (because we all have a glass in bed once in a while), you might have better luck using a stain remover specifically for wine.

Give It Fresh Air and Sunshine

Growing up, whenever my family got a stubborn stain on our clothing, my mom used to tell us to put the item out in direct sunshine for a few hours. Believe it or not, it actually works pretty well—the sunshine helps bleach out stains, and fresh air makes items smell, well, fresh!

If you have the space, try propping your mattress up in the sun for a few hours. This could be outside (just make sure not to let it get wet) or even in front of an open window. When you air out your mattress, it will smell fresh, like line-dried laundry, and help get rid of mildew. As a bonus, you get a workout for your arms.

Invest in a Mattress Protector

Once you’ve sufficiently cleaned your mattress, do yourself a favor and cover it with a mattress protector, which will keep stains, dust, and mites from setting into the fabric. These products are typically quite cheap, and they’ll go a long way toward keeping your mattress clean and fresh for years to come.

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Freelance writer, product tester & baking enthusiast.


nana M. March 9, 2020
I own a small B&B and I have read this article before and have followed your suggestions with using baking soda. I think it does refresh the mattresses quite well . I am extremely careful changing beds when my guests leave and have extra linens always on hand. I take my comforters / mattress pads linens etc to the laundromat use the big machines and plenty of hot water. It’s even more important now with so many virus problems we now have.
MLHE March 8, 2020
About once a month, I spray our mattress with a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water, then let it air-dry for a few hours. No vacuuming required with this method.
Deborah W. April 23, 2020
How much of each?
[email protected] March 3, 2020
Get a water proof mattress protector and that is a game changer. There are excellent ones on the market.
jennrockn February 27, 2020
Game changer. Thanks for the tips!