How To Clean A Mattress and Get Rid of Stains

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You can eliminate almost any mattress stain and odor using a vacuum cleaner and ingredients found in your kitchen or medicine cabinet.

How to Clean Mattress Stains

The first time I cleaned my mattress, it was an eye-opening experience. I was in college at the time and had no idea that this was something a person should do. At the same time, I constantly had allergy problems and woke up with a stuffy nose that cleared up shortly after I left my apartment. Then one night my dog was ill and there was no way I was going to sleep on my mattress without cleaning it. Not only did my mattress brighten significantly and smell better, but I stopped having allergy problems, too. It’s not surprising when you think about it, though.

Every night, we shed dead skin cells that sift through our sheets and wind up on our mattresses. 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. As I learned, a dirty mattress makes symptoms worse if you have allergies or asthma. And, of course, old mattresses smell bad, while stained mattresses are embarrassing. Fortunately, it is not difficult to deep clean a mattress at all, as I show in this video.

Before You Begin

You’ll need a half-hour plus a vacuum cleaner with attachments and baking soda to deep clean your mattress. If it’s stained, you’ll need to set aside several hours to use the homemade mattress cleaning recipes I provide below — your mattress needs ample time to completely dry after stain removal.

Steps to Deep-Clean Your Mattress

To deep clean your mattress, sprinkle baking soda on it then vacuum the top and sides, treat mattress stains with the appropriate DIY mattress cleaner, flip and repeat. Then keep it clean by using a mattress protector under your fitted sheet.

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

Sprinkle a light layer of baking soda 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. If I’m in a hurry, I do this step in the morning and let the baking soda sit all day then vacuum it up when I get home.

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: Flip and Repeat

If you find stains on your mattress, this is the time to pause and treat them using the mattress stain remover recipes I share further down this page. 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.

Step 6: Protect It

As I learned when I first did this, using a mattress protector beneath the fitted sheet keeps a mattress from developing stains and odors. 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.

How to Get Rid of Mattress Stains

You can eliminate almost any type of mattress stain using ingredients from your kitchen or medicine cabinet. I keep most of the ingredients on hand already to make homemade cleaning recipes, and you probably have most of them available, too.

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. The stain will fade as the peroxide air dries. Repeat as needed. I’ve found that a clean spray bottle nozzle fits directly into peroxide bottles, though you may need to snip the tube with scissors if it’s too long.

Blood Stain Remover

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.

The hydrogen peroxide method: 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.

The meat tenderizer method: Another method I’ve used to get blood out of a mattress involves making a paste of water or hydrogen peroxide and powdered meat tenderizer. The papain in the tenderizer weakens the protein strands in the blood, so it’s easier to remove. Mix a paste thick enough to spread well and apply it to the stained area, wait 10 minutes, and wipe it away with a damp rag. If you used hydrogen peroxide to make the paste, you can also use more on the rag to blot the area.

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

The baking soda method: I’ve had luck getting up most other mattress stains by sprinkling baking soda on them and working it in with my fingers, then spraying the area with white vinegar. The fizzing action helps loosen most substances that cause stains, so then I can wipe the area with damp paper towels or a cloth and let it air dry. If you’re concerned about the scent of vinegar, don’t be: the smell fades as it dries.

The laundry detergent method: Another method that works on very stubborn stains, including wine spills, vomit, and other bodily fluids requires dry powdered laundry detergent. (A detergent, not a laundry additive like Oxiclean.) I don’t usually have that on hand, but if you do then try whisking 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.

Common Questions

Below are some frequently asked questions about cleaning mattresses. If you don’t see your question answered here, please leave a comment. I update this section regularly, so asking yours can help others find solutions, too.

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 It?

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.

Where do I Put the Mattress Protector?

Place the mattress protector 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 protector but under your fitted sheet. Wash it 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.

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 Clean It?

Do not use essential oils on your mattress — they will void most manufacturer warranties and cause your mattress get 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?

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  1. Beth Hall says:

    I tried the hydrogen peroxide and baking soda mixture to get those awful brown stains off an expensive king mattress. Worked like magic. At first I thought it wasn’t working but when I looked a half hour or so later the stains were gone! Be patient. More is not always better in this case.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Glad to have helped, Beth!

    2. User123445 says:

      Will that also work on a yellow stain in a mattress? Deep cleaning my room before I leave for Christmas vacation and I got my bed from my sister but I’ve notice it got a yellow stain on it.. but will that also work on it? Practically a brand new bed, didn’t use it for a long period of time before she gave it to me. Thank you

    3. Katie Berry says:

      Most yellowing stains are either from sweat or urine. I’ve provided recipes to remove both types of mattress stains.

  2. I looked at your website too late. I have already soaked my mattress with bleach and used the steam cleaner on it.obviously that didn’t work very well otherwise I wouldn’t have started looking for your site. I hope to let it dry and then perhaps try one of your methods. I have a urine stain on my bed from my old dog who had kidney problems. scrubbing it with bleach and the steam cleaner only made a big white spot where the urine was and the rest of the mattress is the color of when I bought it. I think I’ve made a mess and this is an expensive mattress. I wish I would have come here first. Wish me luck!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Oh no! Soaking a mattress is never, ever a good idea. But here’s some bad news: if it’s soaked, it’s going to take a very long time to get it completely dry. Blot as well as you can with towels (seriously, put them on and lay down on them, then switch to new ones, repeat, etc. until the towels come up dry) THEN let it air dry or blow a fan at it for a day or so.

      After it’s completely dry, give my methods a shot. But don’t soak it — never soak it. Please.

      I hope it all works out for you! My dog did the same thing when she was having kidney and liver issues, bless her heart, and the directions in this blog entry fixed it. Wish I had directions to bring her back. She was a very good dog.

  3. Katie your tip for stain worked great. My four year old did a number on my mattress which sift through the mattress cover I had (I ought to think about changing that) and the rest of the solution worked great for removing her pencil graffiti from the wall. Thanks!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Bebe, I’m so glad to have been of help! Thank you for taking the time to let me know. 🙂

  4. Any suggestions if you don’t own a vacuum? I realize that sounds odd, but our house has all wood or tile floors. Our vacuum was old and not useful for sweeping those types of floors (unless I liked scratching up the wood!) so I gave it to a friend who needed one.

    1. Heather Z says:

      You could use a shop vac if you have one, or you could borrow one (vacuum or shop vac) from a family member or good friend or neighbor.

    2. Katie Berry says:

      That’s great advice, Heather!

  5. Helen Tsobanis says:

    Thanks for the hydrogen peroxide/baking soda/dishwashing liquid cleaning tip. It worked wonders on my children’s mattresses which had a bit of everything stains( urine,sweat and blood due to my sons nosebleeds). Still trying to scrape off the paste which I also used in an attempt to extra clean one stubborn spot on the mattress

    1. Katie Berry says:

      You’re welcome!

    2. Susan Loper says:

      Would a little vinegar on a cloth help with the soap crust? Vinegar is my go*to.

  6. Hello, just bought a brand new loom and leaf foam mattress. Blood stain, didn’t read this before i started cleaning it but what I did was use soap and cold water and it completely came out. Now there is a large brown ring surrounding the cleaned stain. How do I get that out?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      The brown ring is where the soap and water spread the blood, rather than completely getting rid of it. Spraying hydrogen peroxide lightly on the ring should take it away after 15 minutes or so. Don’t drench the mattress; just spray lightly, wait, blot with a clean white cloth and repeat if necessary.

  7. My 4 year old sister came to visit me earlier this year and she had an accident in my bed, i thought we’d cleaned it up but the pee stained, i just tried your hydrogen peroxide/baking soda/soap concoction.. and can I just say.. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!! I really appreciate the post, it’s helped me so much! 😀

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I’m so happy to have helped!

  8. Marianne Barkman says:

    Hi, I found a very large yellow stain on my mattress about 1 meter x 80cm…which I don’t remember being there before I stored it during my move. There is no odour. None of the mattress protectors have a stain. Its a puzzle. Anyway we sprayed it with white vinegar and then ladled bi-carbonate soda on it and left it overnight. Now just brushed a bit of the soda away…the yellow stain is till there 🙁 Question: is bi-carbonate soda the same as the baking soda you are talking about? I’m in the UK. I don’t use this soda in baking.
    Can you help?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Yes, bi-carbonate soda is the same thing as baking soda. Hydrogen peroxide is really the key to removing that stain. You should be able to purchase it at the chemist.

  9. Michelle Henry says:

    That. Is. Awesome. Thank you for solving a lifelong struggle in one fell swoop!

  10. Great. This works wonders!!! My jaw dropped to the ground then I dropped to my mattress!! Could not believe the difference. Thank you thank you thank you!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I’m glad you tried and liked it, Leah!

  11. Hi, I recently recieved a mattress that has never been used but was stopped in a basement for a couple of years. It reaks of a musty molded basement! I have tried putting it outside to air out, then fanning it out inside after spraying it down with bleach, thinking would kill any mold present. The smell is still there! I don’t know what to do. Can you help?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Assuming it’s completely dry, I’d work baking soda into all surfaces of the mattress and let that sit overnight, then vacuum it very well using your machine’s upholstery attachment. If it still reeks after that, it’s probably hopeless. Sorry! 🙁

  12. Will this work on urine stains that have been there for a while? I have made the mistake of using two mattress covers on my son’s mattress and did not think to look at the condition of the mattress, Well, today…I noticed a good sized urine stain from my son’s dog and I am not 100% sure how long it has been there. Help!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Yes, it works wonderfully on old stains!

  13. Does it clean OLD and i mean old like 1 year old blood stains? Same goes for urine stains? Thank you

    1. Katie Berry says:


  14. Veronica Jack-Melville says:

    Thank you very much, it worked!
    I used it on my mattress about twenty-five minutes (25) ago and it really works. The stain has gone.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I’m so happy to have helped!

  15. Julie harris says:

    I have fake tan and night sweat stains on my mattress , it’s a spring coil mattress made with natural fibres and an attached pillow topper covered in damask material. These stains are old , can I get them out ?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Julie,
      I’m sorry that I don’t have any specific answers for this since it’s not a problem I’ve encountered. Everything I’ve found about removing fake tan from fabric suggests a combination of warm water and liquid dish detergent, or warm water and oxygenated bleach (like OxiClean). Obviously, you can’t saturate the top of your mattress but maybe try wiping the areas with this to remove the fake tan, then treating the sweat stains afterward?

      You might also want to consider getting a waterproof, washable mattress pad, so you don’t have to do this regularly.

  16. Germaine Lee says:

    I have a mattress with water stains that are a bit old. Other than that the mattress is in excellent condition.
    How can I remove the stains. Thanks

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Germaine,
      I’d treat them as urine stains and use the methods described.

  17. I have a extremely deep mattress and havnt bought the sheets to match …my labrador has been rubbing against the side of the bed and left an oily stain along it from his coat what would be the best method to get rid of it thanks

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Graeme,
      A bit of liquid dish soap and warm water should remove oily stains. I’ve found that Dawn (in the US) or Fairy (in the UK) are the best at cutting through greasy residue.

  18. Hi i came very late to visit your site..i washed my mattres 3 days ago with water and now its dry on both surface but the water is still present inside…its too heavy…i am very upset about it…i realized my blundder that it should be not wet…How can i dry it completly?? Kindly suggest

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Naila,

      I’m sorry you hadn’t found my site before getting your mattress wet. I’d move it to a sunny spot outside and place it on something that keeps it off the ground. That way the air can circulate while sunlight helps it dry. If you have access to a shop vacuum (a wet/dry one) you can try suctioning the water out, too.

  19. Any recommendations for white powder detergent? I don’t use powder and the ones I’ve used in the past all had the blue crystals.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Amanda,

      Most powdered detergents for sensitive skin don’t have blue crystals. I think Arm & Hammer’s powdered detergent doesn’t, either.

  20. I have a brand new Sterns and Foster mattress and I noticed a small black spot almost looks like grease in one of the divots so I got out a white wash cloth and dreft baby soap with a little water and gently dapped and rubbed a little – the black spot is gone (yay) but now I am left with a white spot (mattress off white color) what should I do?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I’d just wipe the spot more. It sounds like there might be a little soap residue left since the Dreft doesn’t contain any bleach and your comment indicates the rest of the mattress is off-white.

  21. Monique Fischer says:

    Would the mixture for wine stains work on old coffee stains? Also, would you suggest doing the larger stains first before the other stains?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      The wine stain solution should work, yes.

  22. Jenelle Rodenbaugh says:

    What about an overall dirty looking mattress? I think from moving in uhaul. Would the spraying of hydrogen peroxide clean it up?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      It should definitely help.

  23. Hello I try using the hydrogen peroxide dish soap and baking soda but I add the baking soda after the spray. Mattress looks way better but it still has some yellow stains do I keep doing the process until the yellow stains are gone and the Mattress feel rough not smooth how it use to be. How can I get the mattress to be soft again.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hello! I’m not sure I understand what you mean about adding the baking soda after the spray. That said, roughness is a sign there’s still baking soda on your mattress. Vacuum it well using the upholstery attachment to get up any remaining baking soda. Then you can repeat steps as needed to finish removing any yellowing, but be sure not to drench your mattress in the process.

  24. What else can one use to clean stained mattresses if they don’t have a vacuum cleaner?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      The homemade mattress stain removers don’t require use of a vacuum.