How To Clean A Mattress With Everyday Household Items

Similar to our clothes and kitchen utensils, mattresses are used every day. However, we don't clean our mattresses nearly as often as we should. This is one practice that most people fail to do— some don't even realise that they can do it! But this is an important task and everyone should know how to clean a mattress.

Why You Should Clean Your Mattress

If a lot of people don't do it, why should you? Well, just because it's common doesn't mean it's right not to clean your mattress!

Any object that’s used regularly will also need regular cleaning, regardless of what it is. With mattresses, using it every night (and sometimes even during the daytime) wears it out and causes things like sweat, dust mites, and dead skin cell flakes to contaminate the mattress. The presence of a mattress protector can help but it will not eliminate the problem, especially if the mattress protector also lacks regular cleaning.

One reason why many people don’t regularly clean their mattresses is because it requires so much labour. A mattress is heavy and cleaning it is not as easy as washing a shirt or washing up some plates. That said, even with the effort needed to do this, it’s definitely worth the benefits behind it.

1. Managing Your Allergies

Mattresses are of considerable size. They collect much of the dirt from the day, the natural things that our bodies shed, and are an easy place for dirt and dust to rest on. These are also notorious for housing dust mites. All of these can contribute to allergies, especially when left untouched for too long. It’s also much a much better habit to develop for preventing an attack of asthma, rhinitis, and even eczema from happening.

2. Bedroom Air Quality

When you’re out during the day, your mattress is left untouched and allowed to collect dust. After a long day, some people just fall into bed, stirring up dust particles into the air. If you tend to sneeze or have a stuffy nose in bed, a dirty mattress might be the cause of it, and cleaning it might be able to help you manage better.

3. Personal Reassurance

Mattress cleaning helps give you the reassurance you need with regards to your health. Most people believe that health is affected only by the things you eat but not quite. Everything is connected to our health, especially the things we breathe in. Having a clean mattress ensures that nothing nasty is hiding where you sleep at night.

These are details that most people don’t consider when planning their mattress care but it can ultimately help. Another thing is that, though mattress cleaning does take some time and strength, it doesn't happen frequently.

Although it’s used nightly, it doesn’t need to be cleaned daily. Twice a year would be sufficient. If your schedule allows it, setting aside a day to clean your mattress every quarter, whenever the seasons change, is even more advisable. Every time you spill something foreign onto your mattress, it’s best to take that as another opportunity to do a deep clean as well.

To clean your mattress, you can hire special mattress services to do it for a few pounds or you could do it yourself.

What You Will Need

Luckily, DIY-ing it will only require common household items. If you lack anything, these materials are easy to find at your local grocer’s and won’t make you break the bank. At the very most, what might hassle you is how much you’ll need for some.

For equipment, you will need these:

  • Vacuum with an upholstery head;
  • Spray bottle;
  • Strainer;
  • Thick bristle brush (optional); and
  • Towel (optional)

The most important equipment to have is a vacuum. This will make cleaning your mattress so much easier, especially with an upholstery head to match. The spray bottle and strainer will be extremely helpful as well but won’t cause huge delays if you lack either tool, especially the strainer. The brush and towel are there just in case of any accidents or complications.

For materials for your cleaning agents, these would be helpful:

  • Baking soda;
  • White vinegar;
  • Washing up soap;
  • Hydrogen peroxide;
  • Lemon juice;
  • Salt;
  • Warm water; and
  • Essential oil (optional)

Depending on your mattress situation, the measurements for these materials will vary. However, it’s best to be very generous with your baking soda supply. Another reminder is to not confuse it with baking powder, which sounds similar but isn’t the same.

The others on this list can all be mixed together for a stain removal solution. Some, such as the vinegar, soap, and hydrogen peroxide could combat some stains on its own or when mixed with warm water. The essential oil is the most optional material because its only purpose is to add your preferred scent to the mattress.

These are what you’ll need to give your mattress a deep clean, which is important for the mattress's overall preservation and for your health. Whether consciously or not, mattresses will receive wear and tear that will require a deep clean.

Giving Your Mattress A Deep Clean

1. Stripping Your Mattress

First things first, you’ll need to strip your bed. This is quite an obvious first step but there’s more to consider regarding this.

Everything on your mattress that directly touches your skin requires very regular cleaning. This goes not only for blankets and beddings but also for any mattress protectors, duvets, and even pillows.

Your bed sheets need to be washed every two weeks to remove the dirt that could have built up. If you have skin allergies, eczema, other skin conditions, or just very sensitive skin, it would be better to wash or change your sheets weekly.

Your duvet also needs washing just as regularly. Most only wash their duvet covers and not the duvet itself. However, these can also start building up allergens and dust particles. Fortunately, these can be easily dealt with using a washing machine.

Your pillow is used just as much as your mattress and it deserves some TLC too. Depending on the filling used for the pillow, it will need to be aired or washed at least once a year. If possible, doing this every three months would be best.

2. Vacuum Over It

After stripping your mattress, it’s time to run over it with your trusty vacuum.

Most vacuum cleaners today will come with a special head meant for upholstery. For tight corners and seams, it might also be safe to use an angled crevice attachment. If you’re unsure which one it is, it usually has a round shape and has very stiff bristles.

Doing this helps clean off most surface level dirt, dust mites, fallen hair, and even pet fur. Make sure to vacuum all sides, especially the bottom of the mattress. This bottom side collects a lot of dust and dirt that often goes unnoticed.

This is a practice that should be done regularly. It’s particularly important for those with easily irritated skin. Make sure to get into every crevice of this to get all the dirt out. In this step, it’s best not to vacuum the bed frame and its surrounding areas yet (you’ll know why soon enough).

3. Spot Clean As Needed

After thoroughly running a vacuum cleaner over the mattress, you should be able to confidently say that it’s free of most loose contaminants. This will also reveal any stained areas of your mattress that require some spot cleaning.

These stains can come from many accidents and instances, some of which you might be unaware of.

The best course of action is to deal immediately with any stain right after it happens. Vomit, food accidents, wine spills, and even blood can be cleaned off before leaving a permanent mark. These are easier to detect and should be immediately mopped up with a towel first.

However, some stains happen with you being none the wiser. Excessive sweating, unreported bed-wetting, and even just leaving a wet towel on the mattress can create these kinds of stains. These are usually the stains that surprise you most when you replace your sheets.

Although different stain sources require different solutions, there are a few mixtures that can help out if you don’t exactly know what you’re dealing with. Commercially made stain removers can be used but if that’s not a route you’d want to take, making your own is simple and affordable!

Making a mixture of washing up soap, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and warm water in a spray bottle could help. For a more natural approach, you could instead spray it with white vinegar and brush it off the mattress with a thick bristle brush after five minutes. You could also squirt some lemon on the stain and cover it with salt to lift it.

Using these ingredients on their own could also work if you know what kind of stain you’re tackling. Dabbing hydrogen peroxide or lemon juice on bloodstains could remove it, especially with newer ones. Additionally, salt can soak up wine spills, and a vinegar-water mixture helps deal with urine and vomit stains.

4. Cover With Baking Soda

Baking soda is a beast of a powder and remains a favourite ingredient for many at-home cleaning tinctures.

Simply get a strainer and sprinkle the baking soda through it, making sure to fine coat the entire mattress with it. You can also add a few drops of your favourite essential oil to the powder to gently infuse your mattress with its scent. Some people prefer to prep the mattress with a fine spray of white vinegar before sprinkling the baking soda powder.

It’s best to keep this layer on for as long as you can. Preferably, it stays on overnight but, if that’s not possible, an hour will have to do. Keeping it there for longer gives it the best shot at working its magic. If you’re getting a bit impatient with waiting, you can wipe down your bed frame in the meantime to keep you occupied!

This might seem like another way to make a mess but it actually does amazing things.

This abrasive powder is mostly made out of sodium bicarbonate, a natural substance that helps balance pH levels in nature. With that, baking soda acts as a very effective alkali cleaning agent that helps combat grease and dirt. It’s also non-toxic, making it safe to use all around the house.

When laid out on a mattress, the baking soda sucks up excess moisture from the previous steps, loosens up deeper mattress contaminants, and also deodorizes any possible odours.

5. Vacuum Over It (Again!)

Now that you’ve let the baking soda sit on the mattress, it’s finally time to remove it. The best and easiest way to do this is by vacuuming it again!

Using the upholstery head and a fresh bag for the vacuum, simply suck up all of the baking soda from the surface of the mattress. Be sure to take away all the powder from the seams, buttons, and corners. If any powder is stuck, gently brush it away with a thick bristle brush and vacuum it again once it’s come loose.

In the second step, we advised that you shouldn’t vacuum the areas surrounding the mattress yet and this is why! The baking soda would have probably made a mess, especially if you were doing this in your bedroom. Now would be the best time to dust up the floors, wipe the bed, clean off the side tables, and even vacuum the curtains, especially if you opt-out of the next step.

6. Flipping Your Mattress

After cleaning up the baking soda, the best course of action is to flip it and repeat steps 2 – 5 for the new side.

This is particularly important for reversible mattresses but, even if it only has a single side, doing this step (or, shall we say, these steps) will contribute greatly to preserving the mattress and keeping your environment healthy.

However, while repeating this on the underside of the mattress is the best course of action, it’s not easy to do. This already took up so much time for one side, not everyone can afford to take longer with it.

If that’s the case, it should be safe so long as the other side of the mattress is, at least, regularly vacuumed. Even so, if flipping and cleaning the mattress is possible, we implore you to take this step.

After having completed that, you’re free to remake your bed with clean sheets and to sleep peacefully on it.

Caring For Your Mattress

After cleaning your mattress, there are a few measures you can take to help keep it in good shape.

Generally, mattress protectors are believed to be enough to keep your mattress clean. These are typically waterproof and act as a membrane that covers the entire mattress. Not many realize how much a protector could help make life easier, especially as it’s mostly seen as an excessive expense rather than as a helpful tool.

Having a mattress protector ensures that most of the sweat, dust, and other contaminants will fall to the protector instead of the mattress itself. It prevents any accidents from getting on the mattress and helps keep its warranty intact. However, this protector itself also needs regular washing and can’t guarantee that your mattress will stay 100% clean.

Another protective measure would be to vacuum your mattress every time you change sheets. This sucks up everything and is enough to get rid of most irritants. This also helps keep your mattress safe for use, especially for the little ones you have with you.

Other ways you can care for your mattress are by allowing it to air out in the mornings. This simply means taking your duvet off the bed for the sweat and warmth of the night to escape. Trapping the moisture and warmth inside the mattress with thick blankets and duvets serves as an invitation for dust mites and other icky mattress menaces to sleep with you on your bed.

If your mattress feels a little lumpy, rotating it regularly helps it keep its shape and wears it down more gently. Doing this every few months would be enough. If possible, you could also flip it over if one side has become much too soft already.

Killing two birds with one stone, you can even achieve both the security of mattress protectors and also add some comfort to your night routine by investing in mattress pads or toppers.

Some bad habits you might have could likewise affect mattress quality. The simple act of allowing pets to sleep in the bed beside you introduces pet dander, saliva, paw dirt, and even the possibility of a bed-wetting accident. Pet cuddling is fun but giving your furry friends a separate bed to sleep in would help both your mattress and your health.

Jumping on the bed could also harm the mattress. Exerting this kind of force on the mattress adds unnecessary strain on the support systems and could wear it out much sooner. Folding and bending it could also have this same effect.

Being alert with stains is also a must. The moment you realize that the wine has spilled or that you’ve seen something on it that shouldn’t, being proactive in dealing with it right away helps prevent any lasting signs of these accidents.

Final Thoughts

Caring for your mattress requires so much more than just changing the sheets every fortnight. Mattresses are expensive but it’s not treated like how most people would treat other £300 items in their house.

These mattresses need to be cleaned as much as you can, either with a hoover when you change the sheets or with a deep clean twice a year.

It’s not an effortless task but, at the same time, it’s not a small investment! At the very least, maybe it's time to start keeping a box of baking soda on hand, you never know when you’ll next need it.

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