You can eliminate almost any mattress stain and odor using a vacuum cleaner and ingredients found in your kitchen or medicine cabinet.
Every night, you shed dead skin cells that sift through your sheets and wind up on your mattress. So do the dust mites that feed on those skin cells. Some mattresses grow mold and mildew, too, especially if you sweat a lot in your sleep or live in a humid area. A dirty mattress makes your symptoms worse if you have allergies or asthma. And, of course, old mattresses smell bad, while stained mattresses are embarrassing.
Steps to Deep-Clean Your Mattress
The good news is that you can easily get your mattress looking new again. Follow the steps below to deep clean your mattress and get rid of odors and stains, then check out my tips to protect your mattress and keep it in like-new condition for years.
Step 1: Gather Supplies
You need a vacuum with attachments, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, mild dish soap, table salt, and some microfiber cloths to remove most stains, bacteria, and odors from your mattress.
Step 2. Remove Your Bedding
Take off all sheets and blankets from your bed before cleaning your mattress. This is a great time to launder them. Use the hottest laundry temperatures allowed on the manufacturer’s labels to kill dust mites. Go ahead and wash your pillows and fabric mattress toppers, too. You can even launder electric blankets.
Step 3: Deodorize Your Mattress
Avoid cleaning your mattress with commercial products with a strong fragrance or chemical smell since those will become overpowering when you’re actually in your bed. They can also make allergies and asthma worse.
It’s best to use plain baking soda to deodorize your mattress. Sprinkle a light layer on your mattress and rub it with your hand. Don’t scrub your mattress with a brush since it can snag the surface. Let the baking soda sit in place for at least 15 minutes to bond with surface moisture. You can also do this step in the morning and proceed with the rest of the steps later in the day.
Step 4: Vacuum
Use your vacuum cleaner’s dusting brush or upholstery attachment to clean your mattress since a rolling brush may snag or damage the surface. Clean the top and sides in overlapping, narrow paths, including near the seams and edges where dead skin cells, debris, and dust collect. To make sure you’re removing all of the baking soda, work from the top of your mattress toward the foot, then turn and go over the mattress surface from one edge to the other.
Step 5: Use Homemade Mattress Stain Removers
You can eliminate almost any type of mattress stain using ingredients from your kitchen or medicine cabinet.
Sweat Stain Remover
If your mattress is yellowed from sweat stains or you feel like it’s looking dingy, lightly spray the yellowed area with 3% hydrogen peroxide until it’s damp but not soaking wet. You can usually put a clean spray bottle nozzle directly onto the peroxide bottle. The stain will fade as the peroxide air dries. Repeat as needed.
Blood Stain Remover
This formula gets fresh or old blood stains out of your mattress. Combine 2 ounces of hydrogen peroxide and 1 tablespoon each of liquid dish soap and salt. Spread this on the bloodstain and wait 10 minutes, then scrape it away with a spoon. Use a clean rag dipped in hydrogen peroxide to remove any residue. Let the area dry. If a brown discoloration remains after drying, spray it lightly with hydrogen peroxide. The stain will fade as the peroxide dries.
You can get blood stains off of your mattress and other fabrics so long as you haven’t used any treatments involving heat, which can make them set permanently.
Urine Stain Remover
To remove fresh or old urine stains on your mattress, and also their odors, combine 3 tablespoons of baking soda, 8 ounces of hydrogen peroxide, and a tiny amount of liquid dish soap in a bowl. Use a rag to dab the mixture onto the stain, but don’t drench it. Switch to a clean cloth and blot the moisture. Turn your rag as you work, so you’re always using a fresh spot to lift the stain. Once it’s gone, go over the area with a cloth dampened in cold water, then let it air dry.
Wine, Vomit, and Other Stubborn Stains
Use this cleaning solution to remove wine spills, vomit, other bodily fluids, and unknown mattress stains. Whisk 2 tablespoons of powdered laundry detergent with 1 tablespoon of cold water to create a dry foam. Spread the foam on the stain, wait 10 minutes but do not let it dry, and scrape it away. Spray the area with hydrogen peroxide to loosen any stubborn residue, then wipe the rest away with a damp rag. Let it air dry.
Alternatively, you can sprinkle more baking soda on the spot and work it in with your fingers, then spray the area with white vinegar. This combination will cause a foaming reaction that may dissolve the stain’s bonds to your mattress fabric. Once the foaming subsides, wipe the area with damp paper towels or a cloth and let it air dry. The scent of the vinegar will disappear as it dries.
Mattress Stain Removal Tips
- Never pour anything directly onto your mattress. Mattresses aren’t meant to get wet and will grow mold inside if they do, especially memory foam mattresses which are basically giant sponges.
- Do not use a carpet shampooer or steam cleaner to clean your mattress. These machines do not extract all moisture, and the excess liquid will turn into hidden mold and mildew.
- Treat all mattress stains of one type before tackling the next kind. Since you should never mix cleaning products, even natural cleaners, treat all stains of one kind and let them dry before treating the next type.
Step 6: Flip and Repeat
Once your mattress is clean and dry on the top, you may want to flip it and clean the underside. If one side has a pillow-top and the other doesn’t, the flat side of your mattress probably won’t need stain treatment. You should still vacuum it, though, especially if you have allergies or pets that like to crawl under your bed.
How to Keep Your Mattress Like New
Once you’ve removed all the stains and odors from your mattress, you can keep it fresh by simply using a mattress protector, not just a fitted sheet. Look for one that provides hypoallergenic, waterproof protection. Here’s the one I use. With a waterproof protector, you’ll never have to worry about mattress stains again.
Place the mattress cover over your mattress and add your fitted sheet. If you use a foam topper or mattress pad to make your bed softer, it belongs on top of the mattress cover but under your fitted sheet. Wash your mattress cover monthly to keep it fresh, and let your mattress air out while it’s in the washer. Fresh air and sunshine are two great ways to eliminate mattress odors and hidden mold.
Common Questions About Mattress Cleaning
Below are some frequently asked questions about cleaning mattresses.
How Often Should I Clean My Mattress?
With a mattress protector, you just need to let your mattress air out while the protector is in the washing machine and vacuum it once a year. Without a mattress protector, you’ll need to vacuum your mattress monthly to remove dust mites, dead skin cells, and surface allergens. Treat any stains at that time, and deep clean your mattress twice a year.
How Often Should I Flip or Rotate My Mattress?
Flip or rotate your mattress every three months. If your mattress is the same on both sides, flip it one time and rotate it the next. If your mattress has only one side for sleeping, rotate it from end to end every three months. This habit will help prevent saggy spots and lumps and prolong the life of your mattress.
Can I Use a Carpet Shampooer or Steam Cleaner on My Mattress?
No. A steam cleaner pushes water deep into your mattress where air and light don’t reach. This will turn into mold and mildew that can destroy your mattress. It may also cause allergy issues and odors. Your mattress is basically a big, thick sponge. Imagine the smell of a wet sponge left in a dark, warm spot for a few days.
Can I Use Essential Oils to Freshen My Mattress?
Do not use essential oils on your mattress — they will void most manufacturer warranties and case your mattress to look grimy faster. That’s because essential oils smell nice, but they are still oils. Rubbing oil into fabric attracts dirt, which can become a permanent stain. Also, by the time you’ve vacuumed and covered your mattress to protect it, you won’t smell the essential oil. So why waste time and effort?