How To Clean A Mattress At Home (For Allergies, Pee, Dust Mites and More!)

We all clean our sheets regularly; and most even take the time to wash their pillows and mattress cover as well. But how often do you actually clean your mattress—the very bedrock of your slumber of each night?

Do you clean it once a month? Once a year? Never? Did you even know you could safely clean your mattress? It’s okay if you didn’t. Most people never really give cleaning their mattress a second thought. However, regardless of the sheets, blankets and comforters that separate you from your mattress, this special, expensive, and vitally important piece of furniture also needs some TLC from time to time.

To help you accomplish this, in the following article we will discuss some of the reasons why it is so important to clean your mattress, and explain the frequency at which you should complete this chore. We will also outline a step-by-step mattress cleaning guide, explaining each step in great detail to make it easy to get started. Finally, in our last section, we will give you some tips on how to maintain a clean mattress and keep it looking and smelling like new.

Cleaning Your Mattress: The Why and the When

There are 24 hours in a day, and most of us spend about 8 of those hours sleeping (at least we try to), preferably in our soft and comfortable bed. When you do the math, it’s not hard to figure out that the time you spend on your mattress is quite substantial—an entire one third of your life. With that in mind, doesn’t it make sense to lie on something clean each and every night? We think so, and here’s why:

It’s very possible that your mattress may contain dust mites. These little critters are impossible to see with the naked eye, but they are known to feed off the dead skin that falls from your body as you snooze away. Even worse, the droppings from dust mites, which are also nearly impossible to see, have a chemical within them that can trigger allergies, breathing problems, eczema and headaches, leaving you feeling less than you should after a good night’s sleep.

Unfortunately, dust mites are not the only villains that could potentially invade your mattress. There may also be a wide variety of bacteria and fungus on your mattress from a number of different sources. Regardless of how fastidious you are about your personal hygiene, it is still absolutely crucial for your health that you maintain a clean mattress.

Now that you have a small idea regarding the “why” to clean your mattress, let’s talk about the when—how often you should do it. If you have an older-style mattress, you should probably be turning that mattress over about every 6 months to help it maintain its shape and support—this is also a good time to clean it. In fact, even if you have a newer pillow-top mattress that is not designed to be turned, you may want to give both sides of the mattress a good cleaning every six months or so.

How To Clean Your Mattress

Below we will lay out a step-by-step schedule for cleaning your mattress. By following each of these steps on a regular basis you can help ensure that your mattress remains dust mite, bacteria and fungus-free.

Step 1: Strip Your Bed and Wash All of Your Bedding

If you’re going to go to all the trouble of cleaning your mattress, you might as well ensure that the bedding you return to that mattress once the job is done is also very, very clean. Using a high-quality detergent, wash all of your bedding. When washing and drying your sheets, pillow cases and mattress cover, be sure to wash and dry them using the hottest settings. In these hot conditions, bacteria and fungus simply cannot live. Be sure to wash your blankets and comforter as well, following the manufacturer’s care recommendations for these items.

Step 2: Vacuum Your Mattress

The first real step to ridding your mattress of dust, dirt, debris, mites, etc. is to vacuum it. Using any household vacuum or even a garage vacuum or shop-vac, go over your entire mattress. Be sure to use the upholstery attachment to isolate the suction and press down a bit as you go to make sure you are picking everything up. Use the crevice tool to get into all the nooks and crannies of your mattress, and then switch back to the upholstery tool to pick up any leftover, hard-to-see particles. Repeat this step on the other side of your mattress, and then turn it back over to its normal side.

Step 3: Spot Clean Your Mattress

The next step in cleaning your mattress is to spot clean any stains or blemishes. There are currently a number of great mattress cleaning products on the market today that can help you do this safely, so be sure to read the manufacturer’s directions carefully and follow them to a “T.” When cleaning with these types of stain removers, try to use as little of the liquid as possible (mattresses can take forever to dry) and then follow up by going over the stain with a damp, well wrung-out rag, soaked in water only, to remove any hint of the mattress cleaner.

Step 4: Deodorize Your Mattress

Deodorizing your mattress can be accomplished in a number of ways. You could, of course, use a recommended mattress or furniture deodorizer, but these products can be very pricey. Instead, you may want to use just plain old baking soda. To do this correctly, liberally sprinkle the baking soda over your mattress, making sure you have covered every square inch for best results. You will want to leave the baking soda on for about 24 hours. We understand this can be a bit of an inconvenience, but in the end it is well worth the extra time and effort. Also, if possible try to complete at least part of this step outdoors in the sunlight. The sunlight has natural sanitizing and deodorizing properties. If taking your mattress outside is not an option where you reside, at least open an window during the sunny part of the day.

Step 5: Vacuum the Mattress Again

After you have let the baking soda sit on your mattress for 24 hours, absorbing all the odors that have accumulated there, you will want to vacuum the mattress once again. Start by using a wide attachment to vacuum up the bulk of the baking soda, and then use the upholstery and crevice attachment just as you did in Step 2.

Step 6: Replace Your Bedding

Now that your mattress is smelling as fresh and clean as the day you brought it home—maybe even cleaner—you can replace the bedding. Congratulations! You now know how to clean a mattress from start to finish.

How to Maintain a Clean Mattress

Cleaning a mattress is hard work, so now that it is clean, you will want to do your best to keep it that way. To accomplish this, there are several things you can do. First, make sure to regularly change your linens at least twice a month. And when doing so, leave the sheets off for most of the day before replacing them. The extra time exposed to the air will discourage the growth of bacteria. Remember to keep all liquids away from your bed, from coffee to soda to even water. Liquids are one of a mattress’ worst enemy.

If you do not have a mattress protector, either in the form of a pad or a liner, get one. There are many comfortable options on the market today, most of which are hypoallergenic, waterproof and will help protect against things like dust mites.

Try to keep the temperature in your bedroom down. Dust mites, bacteria and fungus tend to thrive in warm conditions. Also, make sure your bedroom receives lots of sunlight to discourage bacteria growth. These germs like warm and dark conditions, so a cool, well-lit bedroom can help your fight against them.

Never keep any houseplants in your bedroom area. Sure, houseplants can do wonders in terms of adding to your bedroom décor, but they also tend to attract insects, dust and pollen, all of which can eventually make its way to your bed. If you just have to have greenery in your bedroom space, go with some artificial plants. This will mean less work for you in terms of care, and give you some much needed peace of mind.

Finally, remember to air out your mattress at least once a month. If it is a sunny day, drag it outside and let it sit on a protected surface for a while. Stand it straight up and down, as this will allow the air and sunlight to hit both sides of the mattress. Not only will this help to keep your mattress smelling fresh, it will also assist you in eradicating any mold or mildew that may have built up on your mattress.

This may seem like a lot of work, but for something on which you spend a third of your life I am sure you’ll agree it is worth it.

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