This practical, easy guide explains how to clean your mattress to get rid of stains, odors, and allergens then keep it looking new.
Your mattress collects dead skin cells that you’ve shed in your sleep as well as dust mites that feed on them. Some mattresses harbor mold and mildew, too. If you have allergies or asthma, a dirty mattress makes your symptoms worse. Old mattresses smell bad, and stained mattresses are embarrassing.
The good news is that you can easily get your mattress looking and smelling brand new.
How to Deep Clean Your Mattress and Get Rid of Stains
Gather Your Equipment
Equipment for Cleaning Your Mattress
- A vacuum cleaner with upholstery attachment
- Cleaning rags
- Spray bottle
- Measuring spoons and cups
Mattress Stain Removing Ingredients
- Liquid dish soap
- cold water
- 3% hydrogen peroxide
- baking soda
- table salt – (to remove blood stains on mattresses)
- powdered white laundry detergent
Steps to Clean Your Mattress
1. Strip the Bed by Removing All Bedding
- Remove all sheets and blankets from your bed before you start cleaning your mattress. This is a great time to launder them. Use the hottest setting allowed on the manufacturer's labels to kill dust mites. Go ahead and wash your pillows and fabric mattress toppers, too.(Related: How to Wash Pillows)
2. Deodorize Your Mattress
- Use baking soda to remove mattress odors. Sprinkle it on and gently rub it into your mattress so it bonds with surface moisture. The longer you leave baking soda on your mattress, the better it works. Give it at least 15 minutes and several hours if possible.
3. Vacuum Your Mattress
- Once you've deodorized your mattress, you'll need to vacuum it. Use the upholstery attachment for this. Clean the top and sides of your mattress in overlapping, narrow paths. Don't press too hard, or you'll reduce your machine's suction. Be sure you also clean the grooves near the seams and edges. You can switch to the crevice attachment for this part if you want.
4. Remove Mattress Stains
- To get stains off of your mattress, you need to spot treat each one. Don't pour anything directly onto your mattress or use a steam cleaner or carpet shampooer. Mattresses aren't meant to get wet and can grow mold inside if they do, especially memory foam.
- Match the mattress stain remover to the cause of the stain. Clean all stains of one type before proceeding to clean the next. (For example, remove all pee stains from your mattress then get rid of blood stains.) You don't need to wait for each type of stain remover to dry before cleaning the next kind.
- URINE STAIN REMOVER: 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. Let it air dry.
- SWEAT STAIN REMOVER: Lightly spray the area with hydrogen peroxide until it's damp but not soaking wet. (You can usually put the sprayer nozzle directly onto the peroxide bottle.) Let the area air-dry. The stain will fade as the peroxide dries.
- BLOOD STAIN REMOVER: 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.
- HOMEMADE MATTRESS CLEANING FOAM: Use this to remove wine, vomit, or unknown mattress stains. Whisk 2 tablespoons of the powdered white laundry detergent (no blue crystals, no oxygenated bleach) with 1 tablespoon of water to create a dry foam. Spread the foam on the stain, wait 10 minutes, and scrape it away. Wipe with a damp rag to remove any residue then let it air dry.
5. Flip and Repeat
- Once your mattress is clean and dry on the top, you may want to flip it and repeat steps 1-4 to clean the other side. Only do this if it's constructed the same on both sides, like most spring mattresses.
Protect Your Mattress from Stains
- Protecting your mattress from stains, mold, and allergens takes more than a fitted sheet. Modern mattress protectors use a soft fabric bonded to a hypoallergenic, waterproof layer. (Here's the one I use.) They're silent, and they don't make you sweaty.
- Place the mattress cover over your mattress then add your fitted sheet. If you use a foam topper or pad to make your bed softer, it goes between the mattress cover and fitted sheet. Wash your mattress cover monthly to keep it fresh and you'll never have to deep clean your mattress or get rid of stains on it again.
Tips About Cleaning Your Mattress
Below are some frequently-asked questions about cleaning mattresses and getting rid of mattress stains.
Can I Use a Carpet Shampooer or Steam Cleaner on My Mattress?
Using a steam cleaner pushes water deep into your mattress where air and light don’t reach. 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. That moisture inside your mattress may also lead to mold and mildew in there, too. Then you’ll wind up needing a new mattress.
How Often Should I Clean My Mattress?
If you’ve covered your clean mattress with a good protector, you may never need to deep clean it again. Look for one that’s hypoallergenic and waterproof. (Here’s the one I use.) Remove the protector and wash it monthly to remove odors and allergens. Without a mattress protector, you should vacuum your mattress every month to remove dust mites, dead skin cells, and surface allergens. Then deep clean it at least twice a year.
Can I Use Essential Oils to Freshen My Mattress?
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. Skip the essential oils and use baking soda to freshen your mattress if it starts to smell stale.
How Often Should I Flip or Rotate My Mattress?
Flipping your mattress involves turning it over completely. If your mattress is built the same on both sides, you should flip it over every three months to help it wear evenly. This will also keep it from getting lumpy or developing “valleys” where you sleep.
Rotating your mattress from head to foot helps it wear evenly. You can do it with any kind of mattress. It’s easiest to do when you’re washing your bedding and the mattress is bare. Try to do it every three months, or any time it starts to feel saggy.