How to Clean a Mattress

It’s midnight and you’re in bed munching on cheese-flavored potato chips. You spill diet soda on the sheets while fumbling around for the television remote, and your dog snuggles up at your feet after coming in from the yard. You rub your eyes as sleep comes over you and realize you never washed off your makeup, but you’re feeling tired and decide to remove it in the morning. A little mascara and eye shadow on the pillow never hurt… right?
According to Insider, people spend a third of their lives sleeping. The buildup of debris such as food, cosmetics, urine, and dead skin on your mattress can make for an interesting environment to “tuck into” for eight hours every single day, in the name of beauty rest. When it’s time to tidy up your sleep habits, clean your mattress every six months using these techniques recommended by Architectural Digest:

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1.  Vacuum your mattress

Put your vacuum cleaner’s upholstery attachment to work and remove dust and dirt from the surfaces of your mattress. Don’t forget the sides and any nooks and crannies that may be harboring hidden dead skin cells, soil, and allergens! Edges and seams are easy places for those pesky particles to hide.


2.  Spot-clean your mattress with a specialized cleanser

Accidents happen! Whether your mattress is soiled with blood stains from nicks and cuts, sweat from having a nightmare, or anything that comes out of either end of a baby, it can all be gently removed using an enzyme cleaner made specially to fight biological stains. Spray the solution on a clean cloth and blot the stains to remove. This will help gently lift the stains rather than sending them deeper if scrubbed too vigorously. You should also use a separate cloth and cold water to continue blotting the stain once it has been treated with the enzyme cleaner. For non-biological stains like wine or juice, use a regular spot remover and employ the same blotting technique. Remember, never soak your mattress in water or stain remover – the less moisture, the better. Be patient and gentle while performing this process on both sides of your mattress, and it will look new in no time.

3.  Remove unwanted odors and moisture with baking soda

Open any doors and windows to let in sunlight, and dust the surface of the mattress with baking soda to soak up any lingering dampness. Let it sit for as long as possible–the longer it sits, the more it absorbs. Then, use the trusty upholstery attachment on your vacuum to suck up all the baking soda, so you can flip and repeat the process on the other side. An even better solution? Forgo the baking soda and lay your mattress outside for a tan. The sun’s UV rays will eliminate any mold and bacteria trying to sneak past the cleaning process. No survivors allowed!


4.  Cover your mattress

Once it’s fresh and clean, cover your bed with a mattress protector to add an extra layer of safety over your slumber vehicle. This will keep creepy crawlies, spills, and debris from seeping through the surface and make cleaning a breeze the next time you tackle maintaining your mattress.


Wash your sheets often

While mattresses, pillows, and bedding only need to be cleaned every six months, sheets should be cleaned weekly. Send them for a hot bath in the washer and a tumble in the dryer to remove dust mites and wash away any debris (you know, from all the midnight snacking). You should also wash your pillows and comforter to get rid of any sweat, chemicals, or moisture that may have collected in them from your skin. Just be sure to read the care labels for those items before cleaning. Many will specify an ideal washing temperature and give special drying instructions to ensure they come out clean, fluffy, and like new.

Pro tip: keep two sets of sheets on hand for each bed in your household, so you can cycle them out each week. While one set is being washed, the other set can be used. You’ll never be without a ready-made bed to relax on. (There’s nothing worse than getting ready to flop into bed for the night and realizing you stripped your bed clean, washed the sheets, and subsequently forgot to transfer them to the drier.)

While cleaning a mattress can be a lengthy process, it’s worth undergoing, especially if you suffer from allergies. According to Insider, one in six people has allergies, and a dirty mattress can worsen the symptoms. Some of the icky debris and critters that could be hiding in your mattress include:
* Allergens like dust mites, pet hair, and even cockroach dander
* Fungal spores, including penicillium, Cladosporium, Alternaria, and aspergillus
* Bacteria from your skin, mouth, intestinal and fecal matter, and genitals, which include staphylococcus, lactobacillus, and streptococcus
* Skin cells
* Chemicals like plasticizers, flame retardants, isocyanates
* Food particles
* Cosmetics
* Sweat. The average person perspires up to 26 gallons a year in bed alone!
The culprit? Gravity. Each of these substances settles on your mattress over time, and a little tossing and turning can cause them to resuspend in the air and enter your airways while you’re snoozing. This can create an endless cycle of sneezing, coughing, and irritation. In addition to a semi-annual cleaning, you should replace your mattress every eight years. Replacing your mattress will help fight the germ and allergen cycle as well as keep you from getting body aches due to wear and tear over time that can make sleeping uncomfortable or even painful.
If you want to ease your allergies by hitting “refresh” on your mattress but you’re in a pinch for time, you can speed up the cleaning process by using this quick method recommended by Today:


Quick Bed Refresh

1. Remove the sheets and linens and wash them based on the care instructions on the label. Remember, sheets should be washed weekly!
2. Fill a spray bottle with white vinegar and spritz the surface of the mattress, but avoid soaking it. Excess moisture is the enemy! Make sure to let it dry thoroughly before continuing.
3. Sprinkle baking soda over the dry mattress and use the vacuum upholstery attachment to suction it up. Just as in the extended process, the longer you let the baking soda sit and soak up odors and moisture before vacuuming, the better!
4. Repeat this process on the other side and cover with a mattress protector for any extra layer of safety.
Most of us can likely think about the different sources of dirt and filth that come in contact with our beds each day–kids, pets, dirty clothes, snacks, and even drool from a good night’s rest. We also look at our mattresses and usually know what any stains are and where they may have come from. But, what about when you don’t know? Used mattresses are tricky to buy and, according to Hunker, are best bought from people you know if you’re planning on taking the risk. Choosing and cleaning a used mattress can take a little extra care. Here’s how to do it:
1. NEVER buy a stained mattress. You don’t know what kind of biological matter they might contain (yuck!), and it’s best not to chance exposing yourself or your family to the unknown. Used mattresses can come with residue from blood, sweat, urine, and even breast milk. These stains can leave discoloration as well as stubborn odors. Purchasing a used mattress from someone you know can give you the opportunity to ask what the stains are from, so you can tackle them appropriately or not purchase the mattress at all.
2. Grab your handy-dandy vacuum upholstery attachment and go over each surface of the mattress to pick up any loose particles and dander. This can include food, pet hair, skin, and other debris.
3. Time to sanitize! Spray the mattress liberally with disinfectant spray until damp. Why is it okay to dampen the mattress in this process and not when spot treating? The alcohol in the disinfectant will sanitize the fabric and evaporate quickly from beneath the surface of the mattress compared to water, which can leave unwanted lingering moisture. Lingering moisture creates the perfect environment for bacteria and fungus to thrive–not the ideal cuddle buddies! You can speed up the drying process by recruiting a ceiling or standing fan for help, as well as by opening any windows and doors to let in warmth and sunlight.
4. Repeat the sanitization process on both sides of the mattress, then spray with a fabric refresher such as Febreze to freshen and fight any strong alcohol smells that may be lingering from the disinfectant. As always, once dry, cover your bed with a mattress protector for added safety.
Whether your mattress is new or used, thoroughly cleaning it twice a year is essential in fighting germs, bacteria, and allergies. While it can be a long process, the benefits far outweigh the time spent, and your body will thank you for providing a clean slumber environment. And after a long day of refreshing your mattress, you can always reward yourself with a nap on your ick-free bed. Go ahead – get some zzz’s. You deserve it.