The dead skin cells we shed, the sweat from our bodies, even moisture from our breath all collect in our mattresses, which can cause allergy symptoms and mold or mildew stains. Your mattress may develop greasy stains if you snack in bed. If you have little kids, pets, or health issues, your mattress may have pee or feces stains. If you menstruate, it may have blood stains as well. But you have more choices than buying a new mattress or putting up with a dirty one.
In this article, I’ll explain how to make and use simple but effective homemade mattress stain removers. Once you’ve treated all the mattress stains and given it a good deep-cleaning, I’ve got tips to help you keep your mattress fresh and in peak condition for years to come.
Tips Before You Start
- Use undyed rags. When treating stains, use white cleaning rags to avoid transferring dyes into your mattress surface.
- Work from the edge of the stain inward. Blot stains from the outside toward the center so they don’t spread.
- Blot, don’t rub. The idea is to shift the stain from your mattress to the cloth you’re using. So, rotate and change cloths frequently and that way you’re always using a clean area of fabric.
- Don’t use heat. Heat can “set” mattress stains so they become difficult, if not impossible, to remove.
- Let it air dry after stain removal. Be patient, and don’t try to speed things along with a blow-dryer, since heat can turn any lingering mattress stains permanent. A fan is okay, though.
How to Clean a Mattress: Overview
- Remove all bedding. Take off all the bedding, including sheets, pillowcases, and anything else on there.
- Gather your cleaning supplies. Have your equipment and materials ready, including a vacuum with attachments, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, dishwashing liquid, white vinegar, and multiple undyed cloths, plus additional ingredients needed for the DIY mattress stain removers.
- Vacuum thoroughly. Use the upholstery attachment to vacuum the surface and sides of your mattress, and then go along the seams with the crevice tool.
- Treat stains. Take it one mattress stain at a time using the methods which follow.
- Flip and repeat. If your mattress has the same sleeping surface on both sides, flip it and repeat steps 3 and 4.
- Make your bed. Once your mattress has completely dried, cover it with a hypoallergenic mattress protector and make your bed with fresh sheets.
DIY Mattress Stain Removers
Treat one type of mattress stain at a time to avoid the dangers of mixing cleaning products. After removing all the stains, give your mattress a deep clean to leave it feeling fresh and new again!
If you aren’t sure what’s causing a stain on your mattress, try this simple method: sprinkle baking soda over the stain and work it in with your fingers, then spray the area with white vinegar. The fizzing action may loosen the stain, allowing you to wipe it away with a clean, damp cloth.
Grease and makeup stains
- Sprinkle baking soda on the affected area and rub it in with your fingers.
- Leave it for 30 minutes to absorb the oils, then vacuum it up using the upholstery attachment.
- Combine 1 teaspoon liquid dish detergent in 2 cups of cool water.
- Dampen a cloth with the mixture and blot the area.
- Wait for 5-10 minutes for the detergent to loosen the stain, then blot again with a clean, damp cloth.
- Repeat until the makeup stain is gone, and let the mattress air dry.
- Blot fresh ink with a clean cloth or towel to absorb as much ink as possible.
- For older ink stains, apply a small amount of rubbing alcohol to an undyed cloth and dab the area from the outside in.
- Repeat the process, rotating your cloth to avoid transferring ink back onto the mattress. Continue until the cloth no longer picks up dye.
- Let the area air dry, then wipe it with a warm, soapy rag to remove any alcohol residue.
- Rinse with a fresh, damp cloth and air dry.
Sweat stains or a yellowing, dingy mattress
To remove yellow sweat stains or freshen up a dingy-looking mattress, lightly spray the surface with 3% hydrogen peroxide until it’s damp, but not soaking wet. The mattress stain will fade and the surface will brighten as the peroxide dries. A clean spray bottle nozzle fits directly into most peroxide bottles—just snip the tube with scissors if it’s too long.
Here are three methods that can remove fresh or old blood stains from a mattress:
- Enzyme laundry detergent: Apply a small amount of enzyme-based laundry detergent to the mattress stain using a damp, undyed cloth. Wait 5 minutes then wipe with a clean damp cloth to remove the detergent residue.
- Hydrogen peroxide: Combine 2 ounces of hydrogen peroxide and 1 tablespoon each of dishwashing liquid and salt. Spread this on the bloodstain and wait 10 minutes, then scrape it away with a spoon. Dampen a cloth with more peroxide and go over the area to remove any residue.
- Meat tenderizer powder: Make a paste made using powdered meat tenderizer and water. Apply it to the mattress stain, wait 10 minutes, and blot the area with a damp rag.
See my favorite stain removal products.
- Mix 3 tablespoons of baking soda, 8 ounces of hydrogen peroxide, and a small amount of dishwashing liquid in a bowl.
- Dab the mixture onto the urine stain with a rag, being careful not to saturate the mattress.
- Blot the area with a clean cloth, rotating the rag to a fresh spot as you work.
- Wipe the area with a cloth dampened in cold water and let it air dry.
To naturally remove pet urine stains on your mattress:
- Blot up as much urine as possible with a dry cloth.
- Apply a 50-50 mixture of white vinegar and water to the area until damp but not soaking wet.
- Wait 30 minutes for the vinegar mixture to neutralize the odor and kill bacteria then blot to dry the excess moisture.
- Sprinkle the area with baking soda. The fizzing will help further lift the stain, then let it sit for at least 3 hours to eliminate odors.
- Vacuum the mattress to remove the baking soda.
For commercial products, use specialized enzymatic cleaners designed to break down pet urine stains and odors, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Accidents happen. When it comes to removing mattress stains caused by feces, you need to remove the mess then eliminate the stain, odor, and germs. Here’s how:
- Scrape up any solids with a paper or plastic plate and blot the area with a clean, dry cloth.
- Sprinkle baking soda over the stain and let it sit for an hour then scrape it away.
- Go over the area with a soapy rag then again with a clean, damp rag.
- Disinfect the spot by spraying it with 3% hydrogen peroxide. Let it air dry.
- Reapply the hydrogen peroxide if needed to remove discoloration.
Wine, vomit, and other bodily fluids
For mattress stains caused by wine, vomit, and other bodily fluids, you’ll need to make a concentrated detergent.
- Rapidly whisk together 2 tablespoons of powdered laundry detergent and 1 tablespoon of water until it’s foamy.
- Apply the foam to the stain, wait 10 minutes, and scrape it away. Do not let it dry in place.
- Spray hydrogen peroxide on the area to loosen any stubborn residue, then wipe with a damp cloth.
Mold and mildew
Have you ever noticed a musty smell or powdery black or green mattress stains? It might be mold or mildew, which can develop over time due to excess moisture or improper cleaning.
- Spray the affected area with a 50-50 solution of white vinegar and water, and let it sit undisturbed for one hour to kill mold and mildew spores.
- Dab the area with a clean, damp cloth to remove any remaining vinegar.
- Brighten the area by spraying it with 3% hydrogen peroxide, and let it dry completely.
When removing mold, wear gloves, a mask, and long sleeved clothing to protect yourself from coming in contact with the spores.
How to Deep-Clean Your Mattress
To deep clean and freshen your mattress after removing stains, follow these steps:
- Sprinkle baking soda over the bare mattress surface.
- Rub it in gently with your hand so it bonds with surface moisture.
- Use the upholstery attachment on your vacuum to remove it from the top and sides. Work slowly, in overlapping strokes going from the top to bottom of the bed.
- Repeat at a right angle, cleaning from side to side.
- Use the crevice tool to clean along seams where dust mites and dead skin cells can accumulate.
- Flip the mattress and repeat these steps if both sides are designed for sleeping.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some common questions about cleaning mattresses and keeping them in peak condition.
How do you keep a mattress from developing stains?
Once you’ve removed mattress stains and given it a thorough deep-cleaning, protect your mattress by using a hypoallergenic, waterproof protector. This will keep sweat, skin cells, and spills from reaching your mattress, so it will stay in peak condition for years.
Where do you put the mattress protector?
To use a mattress protector, place it directly over your mattress and add your fitted sheet. If you use a foam topper or pad, place it over the protector but under the fitted sheet. Nothing goes between your mattress and the protector.
How do you get rid of mattress odors?
To remove odors from your mattress, vacuum it thoroughly and then sprinkle baking soda over the surface. Let it sit for several hours or overnight, then vacuum it up. Repeat if necessary. You can also spray the mattress with equal parts water and vinegar–the acetic acid in vinegar kills odor-causing bacteria and refreshes your mattress as it dries.
How often should you clean your mattress?
To keep your mattress clean and comfortable, vacuum it monthly, especially if you don’t have a mattress protector. If you use a protector, wash it every 1-3 months and let your mattress air out when you do, then vacuum your mattress once a year.
How often should you flip or rotate your mattress?
Flip or rotate your mattress every three months to prevent sagging and lumps. Rotate it from end to end every three months if it has only one side for sleeping. If it’s the same on both sides, flip it one time and rotate it the next.
Can you clean your mattress with steam?
Cleaning experts caution against cleaning your mattress with steam devices because they produce a great amount of moisture that can lead to hidden mold growth. Steam’s heat will also make mattress stains set in, so they’re impossible to remove. Instead, use dry cleaning methods like baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, or enzymatic cleaners.
Can you use a carpet shampooer on your mattress?
Cleaning experts advise against using carpet shampooers on mattresses as they can over-saturate your mattress, leaving moisture trapped inside. This can lead to mold and mildew growth, which causes permanent damage and poses health risks. Instead, stick to safer surface cleaning and targeted mattress stain removal methods.
Can you use essential oils to freshen your mattress?
Cleaning experts caution against using essential oils to freshen your mattress as they can void manufacturer warranties, attract dirt, and lead to permanent stains. Any scent added by an essential oil disappears when you vacuum and cover the mattress. And if you have pets that sleep on your bed, using essential oils can be dangerous to their health.
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