How to Clean a Mattress?

Regularly cleaning your mattress is an important task for keeping your sleeping area fresh and healthy. However, it is often overlooked. Cleaning your mattress removes allergens, dust, bacteria, and eliminates serious mattress problems including mold and odors.

If your mattress can’t be cleaned, perhaps you should consider getting a new one. We heartily recommend the Nolah signature mattress. It is a great all foam mattress that promises an amazing sleeping experience and you won’t regret buying it. 

However, if you want to try to keep your mattress clean, safe and healthy, perform routine cleaning and address bigger problems like stains, spots and odors, and especially nasty bed bugs and dust mites.

The first step, of course, is to wash your sheets and pillows regularly. Additionally, routine cleaning makes your bed a more comfortable place to sleep and it will also protect your mattress from more serious problems. Keeping your mattress clean is important and it’s not difficult.

As it has been already said, you just need to wash your bedding regularly, vacuum every few months, and add a mattress protector. But even more intensive cleaning like spot removal or even removing odors is usually about as simple as spraying your mattress down and giving it a good scrub.

In this article you’ll learn when to clean your mattress, how to manage regular cleanings and even take care of odors, bed bugs and dust mites. Also, you will learn when it’s time to just give up on your old mattress that’s not worth saving and buy a new one.

Signs That It’s Time to Clean Your Mattress

  • Your mattress hasn’t been cleaned in a few months –  To keep your mattress fresh, it needs to be cleaned every few months.
  • Your mattress has an odor –  Bodily fluids, dust, skin build up and mold can cause your mattress to smell. Odors on your mattress are not only gross but can be quite disruptive when sleeping. They can also be a sign of bigger problems.
  • Allergies – Dust build up can aggravate your allergies and cause discomfort at night. It’s probably time to clean up the dust if your allergies flare up when you are in bed or as you wake up in the morning.
  • Obvious stains on your mattress – Clean the stains on your mattress as soon as you notice them. Waiting will only make cleaning them more difficult later and can cause unpleasant smells. 
  • You notice bugs, strange bites on your skin and itching – Bed bug infestations may not always be obvious, especially in the early stages. But look for signs like strange, red, itchy bites on your skin, microscopic blood stains or insect waste spots on your mattress. 


Keeping Your Mattress Fresh

Even if there are no stains, odors, or other cleanliness concerns about your mattress, you should clean it every few months to keep it fresh. This will prevent the build-up of dust, dirt, and growth of bacteria. It’s also important to adequately protect your mattress from spills and stains.

  • Change your sheets – Bed sheets should be washed with hot water every one to two weeks. Change them more often if you’re sick, you notice stains, or you’ve been particularly sweaty at night.
  • Address spills, stains, and odors right away – Avoid letting stains or odors sink into your mattress. Quickly spray down stains and disinfect odors as soon as you notice them.
  • Vacuum your mattress – Vacuum and clean up dust and dirt every few months while you’re sheets are off the mattress. Use the upholstery tool on your vacuum to cover the top and sides of the mattress as well as the bed spring. Be sure to press firmly reach the dirt below the surface. Clean the quilting and other small details with the crevice tool. 
  • Air out your mattress – Fresh air and sunshine is great for getting rid of odors and bleaching out stains. Wait for a clear day and find a clean spot where you can set your mattress to air out for a few hours. Even if you can’t get your mattress outside, simply standing it up near a sunny open window can help air it out a bit.
  • Don’t make your bed right away – Air out your mattress every day by simply leaving your bed undone for thirty minutes or more in the mornings. While you’re getting ready for the day, pull the covers all the way back and let moisture and odors escape before making your bed.
  • Add baking soda – Baking soda freshens your mattress by absorbing odors. Sprinkle a light layer on top, let it sit for several minutes, then vacuum it up before making your bed.
  • Prevent excessive sweating in bed – Everyone sweats in their sleep from time to time but if you’re waking up soaked most nights, it could be a problem for your mattress. Sweating encourages the growth of mold and mildew. To prevent excessive sweating, you can adjust your thermostat, wear different clothes to bed, get a lighter comforter and sheets, and you can consider getting a breathable mattress topper if your mattress sleeps hot.
  • Use a mattress protector  Mattress covers are always worth it. It’s much easier to throw a mattress cover in the washer than it is to try to remove a stain or smell from your mattress. Look for a waterproof mattress protector that will protect your mattress from spills, odors, and bacteria.

Keeping the mattress smelling fresh can help you get the best sleep even if you practice polyphasic sleep. Learn more about The History of Neurobiology and Physiology, and Evolution of Polyphasic Sleep in Humans in our article.

Cleaning Stains, Odors and Infestations

Everyday mattress freshness is very important, but you need to take things even further if you have spots, stains, odors, or even bugs. Always clean up the mess quickly and avoid damaging your mattress. 

Washing Spots and Stains

Spots and stains are a common occurrence on a mattress. Accidents happen and food, drinks and sweat can end up on your mattress and leave stains, so it’s best to take care of these as soon as possible. If left to set, the stains can cause odors and the appearance of mold. Here are some instructions on how to clean a mattress if some accidental spill occurs: 

  • Blot thoroughly – Be sure to blot up any liquids. Use a towel or other clean cloth to remove as much liquid as you can and prevent it from soaking into your mattress which can further leave stains or encourage mold growth and odor.
  • Spray areas with a dish detergent mix – Clean spots and stains with a 50/50 mix of water and dish detergent. Let it sit, then scrub thoroughly. Repeat spraying, sitting, and scrubbing a few times for stains that won’t come up easily. Just be careful not to let your mattress get too wet by blotting up any excess moisture from the spray mix.
  • Remove bodily fluids with laundry detergent – Laundry detergent is formulated to break up urine, blood, and other bodily fluids, so use detergent and water to remove them from your mattress. Hydrogen peroxide will work as well, just don’t use hot water with it as it will leave stains.

Removing Odors

Sleeping on a smelly mattress is simply unpleasant. Mattress odors can interfere with your sleep and comfort and lead to bigger problems like bacteria and mold growth. Clean your mattress regularly and remove all odors to keep it smelling fresh.

  • Vacuum your mattress – Vacuuming won’t remove every odor from your mattress, but it’s a good preparation for getting things clean and ready to scrub down.
  • Spray your mattress – Spray the smelly area with vinegar or an odor eliminating agent like Febreeze, then blot and scrub it. However, you should be careful not to use to much vinegar as the odor from vinegar may also be unpleasant to sleep with.
  • Use baking soda – Baking soda is a great odor eliminator. Sprinkle it directly onto your mattress, let it sit, then vacuum it up and it will pick up odors.
  • Air out your mattress – Let your mattress sit for a while outside on a direct sunlight. It will eliminate odors and dust mites.

Getting Rid of Bed Bugs

No one likes bugs in their bed, but regardless of how clean is your mattress, they can still invade your bed. But the good news is that you can successfully treat most infestations.

  • Wash thoroughly everything – Bed bugs won’t just attack your bed, but your bedding, blankets, pillows, curtains and even your clothes. So, you should put everything that can be washed into your washing machine and run it on the full-length cycle if it is a cotton. That will certainly kill all bugs and their larvae.
  • Try to bag other objects – Bed bugs can stick to hard surfaces, too. They can hide in your phone, laptop, clock radio, books, and other personal items. Bag these items and place Nuvan strips inside to kill the bugs.
  • Search and destroy bugs on your mattress – Vacuum every part of your mattress to get rid of bed bugs and their eggs, but don’t use vacuum attachments with brushes or bristles as bugs may cling to them. Remove the cover of your mattress if it’s removable and inspect the layers in detail to see if there are any traces of bed bugs and vacuum them as well.
  • Inspect other furniture – As bed bugs can stick to hard surfaces, they may spread to other furniture in your home as well, including your bed frame and dresser. Look inside and under all furniture with a flashlight and search for bugs and eggs and vacuum them too.
  • Clean every surface –  Scrub every surface in your home even if it is not infected. Look in baseboards, cracks, and holes in walls and scrape and vacuum the surface of rugs and carpets to pull bed bugs out.
  • Use mattress encasement – A mattress encasement will act like a protective barrier. Bed bugs won’t be able to get in or out of your mattress through the encasement and those that are still trapped in your mattress will eventually starve and die.
  • Vacuum dead bugs after a year – Bed bugs will be dead after a year, then you can remove your mattress encasement and vacuum up what’s left of the bed bugs.
  • Call for help: Some bed bug infestations are beyond the skills of a DIY bed bug exterminator. If you have troubles getting rid of bed bugs as they constantly keep coming back, then it is better to call professional exterminators.

Treating Dust Mites

When compared to bed bugs, dust mites are not such a great evil, but you definitely don’t want them to accumulate in your bed. They can usually be found in all mattresses as they feed on dead human skin in warm, humid spots. They are not dangerous at all, but if you don’t clean your mattress and let them pile up, they can cause allergies and make your mattress an uncomfortable place to sleep. To get rid of dust mites you can: 

  1. Wash your sheets once a week – As we have already mentioned, dust mites live on dead human skin and they can also be found in your sheets. To remove them, you only need to wash your sheets and pillow cases every week in hot water.
  2. Dry your sheets outside – Direct sunlight kills dust mites, so if you hang your sheets outside to dry that will kill any of the remaining dust mites that survived the washer.
  3. Get a new pillow – Dust mites can accumulate in pillows as well, and while shredded foam and fiber pillows are usually washable, other pillows made entirely of one block of foam are not and you should make sure you change your pillow at least every year.
  4. Take a steamer to your mattress – Steam vapors will kill dust mites (and bacteria), so run a steam cleaner all over your mattress and be sure to cover all surfaces as you won’t be able to see dust mites.
  5. Vacuum your mattress – You can remove dust mites from your mattress by vacuuming them up with your upholstery attachment. Use a crevice tool to get into quilting and reach other tight spots.
  6. Use a mattress cover – A mattress cover won’t keep dust mites out of your bedding, but it can keep them from burrowing into your mattress where they’re tougher to get rid of. If you use a mattress cover, you’ll only need to wash your sheets and pillows regularly and you will not have to worry about dust mites getting into your mattress.

When to Replace Your Mattress instead of Cleaning

For stains, spot cleaning, odors, and even bed bugs and dust mites, it’s usually best to simply clean your mattress rather than replace it. After all, mattresses can be expensive to replace, and there are so many ways to clean them effectively. But if a mattress is too much damaged and is beyond any help then perhaps it is time to replace your mattress and get a new one. (See what are our top mattress choices and pick one that will best work for you.)

  • Mold – Mold on your mattress is a sign that you’ve left it dirty or wet (usually both) for far too long. Once mold appears, it can be really tough to get rid of. Even if you clean it thoroughly, you may never know if you’ve actually eliminated the mold. Sleeping on a mattress with mold can cause some serious health issues, so it is best to get a new mattress.
  • You can’t get rid of bed bugs – If the bed bugs invade your mattress and if you manage to eliminate them before they get out of control, it’s fine to keep your treated mattress. However, a serious bed bug infestation will leave your mattress covered with tiny specks of blood, insect waste, and more creepy crawlies that can be impossible to remove. In such situation you should consider getting rid of your mattress. But remember that even if your infested mattress is gone, bed bugs may still remain in your home, so you’ll need to treat your clothes, personal items, furniture, etc. before you get a new mattress.
  • Old mattresses – An average lifespan of most mattresses is 7-10 years. After this period, they may become worn out, uncomfortable and incapable of providing you with a quality and restful sleep. In such situation, getting a new mattress is the only solution.

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