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How to Clean a
Mattress the Right Way

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October 6, 2023

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You spend about a third of your life sleeping on your mattress, so keeping it clean is one housekeeping chore that should always be on your cleaning checklist. Knowing how to clean a mattress–and how often–helps keep allergens, mildew, odors, and dust mites at bay. We don’t want to alarm you, but your mattress could have a combination of sweat, blood, urine, and other liquids embedded in it—which means plenty of bacteria and other germs are sharing your bed, too. Yuck!

Why Cleaning a Mattress is Important

According to WebMD, lab tests of 7-year-old mattresses found over 16 million units of yeast, mold, and bacteria like E. coli and Staphylococcus per square inch. You may not notice any moisture, but mold, mildew, and bacteria do—and that means every night you sleep on a dirty mattress is an unhealthy one. Bottom line: If you want to enjoy more serene sleep and a healthier bedroom, learn how to clean a mattress and keep it that way.

What You Need to Know Before Cleaning a Mattress

If you can’t remember the last time you cleaned your mattress, much less the mattress cleaner you used, it’s time! Cleaning your mattress every few months will keep it fresh and healthy. That said, there are situations where you may need to clean your mattress more often:

  • If you wake up several times during the night with allergy symptoms, the cause could be dust, dust mites, and a host of other allergens. Regardless of the cause, it’s time to clean your mattress and get rid of all those pollutants.
  • If you’ve noticed bites on your skin or little bug skeletons. Bed bug infestations may not be very obvious until they get out of hand, so if you see any signs on your skin or your mattress, it’s time to break out the mattress cleaner.
  • If your mattress has a musty or sour odor. Again, your mattress is a catch-all for dead skin cells, sweat, bodily fluids, and even mold. If your mattress is not smelling its freshest, it’s time to strip those sheets and start cleaning.
  • If your mattress has stains. We get it—you aren’t going to deep clean your mattress every time you change the sheets, but how often do you ignore those accumulating stains? They may be out of sight when you put on fresh sheets, but they are still there. Stop putting it off, and take care of those mattress stains once and for all.

Once you learn how to clean your mattress and keep it that way, you can enjoy a healthier night’s sleep more often. From daily cleaning maintenance to removing stains, we’ve got you covered with the latest mattress cleaning tips.

If you keep your mattress clean and healthy, it could provide a good night’s sleep for a decade or longer. Most of us don’t consider shopping for a new mattress until we experience discomfort or have trouble sleeping, but the rule of thumb is to get a new mattress every seven years.

Cleaning a Mattress Made Easy

Most of what you’ll need to clean your mattress you probably already have on hand. You’ll need a vacuum cleaner, cleaning cloths, and an old toothbrush for scrubbing. Your mattress cleaners will be baking soda, dish soap, water, hydrogen peroxide, and an enzyme cleaner. Gather your supplies, strip off those sheets, and learn how to deep clean a mattress like the pros.


The first and easiest step for cleaning your mattress is vacuuming. A good vacuuming will remove dust mites, dust, dead skin, hair, and other pollutants from the mattress. Use a brush attachment to loosen up dried debris and remove surface dust, and use an attachment like a long nozzle to vacuum the sides, corners, and seams.

Vacuuming is your first line of attack when you’re deep cleaning, but it’s also something you should do every time you change the linens. If that seems like overkill, go back and read the section above!

Regularly removing dust and dead skin from your mattress surface is very effective for keeping dust mites and the allergens they produce from aggravating allergies. For memory foam mattresses, regular vacuuming can help you breathe easier too. Because these mattresses also release fumes that could cause respiratory issues as they age, capture those fumes with a HEPA vacuum to create a healthier sleeping environment.

Remove Stains

You should spot clean stains when they happen or at least when you see them. Combine 2 parts of hydrogen peroxide and 1 part liquid dish soap in a container. Dip an old toothbrush into the mixtures and gently scrub the stains on your mattress.

Wipe away any extra suds with a clean, damp cloth. For a memory foam mattress, use only enough to dampen the area because memory foam soaks up liquids much faster than traditional mattresses. This method will work on stains from dirt, drinks, and food.

Biological stains can be a little tougher and may require an enzyme cleaner. Enzyme cleaners work on blood, urine, sweat, vomit, and more. They are also effective at breaking down greasy or oily stains.

Spray some enzyme cleaner onto a clean microfiber cloth instead of directly on the stain. Blot the stain with the cloth until it’s damp. Let the enzyme cleaner sit for 15 minutes to break down the stain. Blot the stain gently with the same cloth to slowly remove the stain. Wipe it all down with a clean, damp cloth and you’re done!

Steam Cleaning

Whether you have a steam cleaner or just a garment steamer, this safe and natural method is great for breaking down stains, killing germs, and eliminating odors. Warm up your steamer and start applying short bursts of steam all across your mattress surface. Give stains a little extra steam.

You want to be thorough, but be careful not to go overboard and get your mattress too wet. If it’s too damp, you’ll have to wait longer for it to dry, and you could be at risk for mold and mildew. If you want to know how to sanitize a mattress, a steam cleaner is your tool of choice.

Steam cleaning is a simple, chemical-free way to deodorize, sanitize and kill mites/bugs in your mattress. But it’s not suitable for every type of mattress. Always check the manufacturer’s recommendations and warranty terms to see if steam cleaning is a good option.

After you steam clean your mattress, you have to let it dry. Turn on the ceiling fan, open windows, and make sure you give it time to dry thoroughly before making the bed. You may want to use this method when you know you’ll be gone overnight or longer. Make sure your mattress is completely dry before putting on fresh sheets.

Tips For Maintaining a Clean Mattress

Whether you’re steam cleaning, spot cleaning, or vacuuming your mattress, it’s a good idea to use a natural deodorizer. Sprinkle baking soda liberally onto the mattress. Let the baking soda sit for at least an hour to deodorize and help eliminate some of the moisture. Give your mattress another good vacuuming, and you can finally put fresh, clean sheets on.

Since the best way to clean a mattress is not to get it dirty, consider putting a mattress protector on your mattress. Most mattress protectors zip closed to seal the mattress and protect it from spills, dust, stains, and bed bugs. At the very least, invest in a mattress pad or cover that protects the top of the mattress.

Mattress pad or not, don’t eat or drink in bed! Even the neatest snacker can drop a crumb or two, and that’s all it takes to attract pests and germs. If you don’t already, get in the habit of making your bed every morning after shaking off the dust. You’ll kick the day off on a positive note and protect your sheets from contaminants floating around the bedroom.
Regularly flip and rotate your mattress every quarter for even wear to make it last longer. You’ll prevent dips and soft spots and sleep more comfortably. For a mattress that isn’t two-sided, just rotate it regularly.

Don’t Forget the Sheets!

We know you wouldn’t dream of putting dirty sheets back on your freshly cleaned mattress. After all, all those dead skin cells, dust mites, and other nasties come from above, so your sheets can be as germy as your mattress. If bedding isn’t cleaned often enough, it will make your mattress even dirtier and could aggravate allergies and other respiratory issues.

The allergens from dirty sheets can cause sneezing, a stuffy nose, and a night of tossing and turning. If those aggravations aren’t reason enough to wash your sheets more often, maybe realizing just how nasty dirty sheets can be will do the trick.

Take it from the Germ Guy, microbiologist Jason Tetro. The germ specialist conducted an experiment to prove there are millions of germs growing on your bed sheets. Participants slept on their sheets for a month without washing them, and the result was astounding.

A bed sheet that has been slept on and not washed for four weeks contains about 10 million bacteria, some of which you can’t even find in a bathroom. How nasty are 10 million germs? Consider the average toothbrush holder in a bathroom—it has six times fewer germs and lives next to the toilet!

So how often should you wash your bedding? Clean sheets once a week is a good place to start, but your mileage may vary. Do you suffer from allergies or similar issues? Using fresh sheets every few days will decrease the number of allergens and could help you sleep better. Does your pet sleep in your bed with you? Even the cleanest pet increases the number of contaminants on those sheets. If you and your pet share a bed, wash the sheets at least twice each week.

Now that you know all about how to clean a mattress, if you need help with tackling the rest of the bedroom, window cleaning, or any other kind of housecleaning, The Maids has your back.

When to Ask for Professional Mattress Cleaning Services

You know there are many important cleaning chores around the house, like mattress cleaning, but what if you don’t have time? Knowing how to clean your home like a pro won’t get the job done when you can’t even find time to clean your mattress. When your house continues getting dirtier while your schedule gets busier, a clean team is ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work. We’re experts at fighting dirt, grime, and stains, and we even use commercial-grade vacuums with HEPA filtration that cleans memory foam mattresses.

The Maids is committed to helping you enjoy a sparkling clean more often with our extensive collection of cleaning posts and our popular house cleaning services. Find out more about what a difference healthy cleaning can make in your home when you get your free estimate online.

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