Learning How to Clean a Mattress Is a Critical Hygiene Move

Have you ever considered cleaning your mattress? Here's why you should.

We're always looking for new ways to keep our homes spic and span, but one thing we rarely think of is how to clean a mattress. It's a collector of dirt and grime, and it's a spot to which we should devote more of our cleaning energies. You will want to tackle this project about once every six months.

Neutral Bedroom in Lake House

Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Matthew Gleason

You Need a Healthy Sleeping Space

While you're sleeping, dust mites, bacteria, and skin cells collect, and—because we sweat when we sleep—all of this creates an environment that is hospitable to icky stuff and it is, of course, not ideal for the sleeper atop said mattress. Because of this combination of factors, your mattress can become a place that negatively impacts your health, instead of the sanctuary you expect it to be.

Thrasio memory foam pillow sale
Courtesy of Getty Images

All of these factors—dust, sweat, microbes, the list goes on—contribute to corresponding allergies and sicknesses. However, we need not resign ourselves to grubby mattresses. There's a way to mitigate the assorted negatives that collect in our sleep spaces.

How Often to Wash Bedding

How often do you clean your bedding? The best practice here is to wash bedding once a week. When you consider the amount of time spent in bed over the course of a week (40-60 hours), and the amount of perspiration that occurs when you sleep, it just makes sense. To maintain a cleaner mattress, implementing this habit is just preventative maintenance. When you are seeking to take on a full cleaning of your mattress, ensure that all bedding (including the mattress cover) is clean.

How to Start Cleaning a Mattress

Thinking of your mattress as a "high traffic area" isn't out of the question. All of that grime that comes from your body takes its toll on the surface of your sleep area. It only makes sense that once you've stripped the bed in preparation for a mattress cleaning, you need to take a vacuum to it. Be sure to not only vacuum the full top surface, but the sides of the mattress as well.

How to Remove Stains from a Mattress

If you are facing stain removal, never fear. Once again, you want to treat the mattress as you might a area rug. The one exception is, when you apply a cleaning agent, do so with a rag or towel. Applying directly to the mattress might oversaturate the area, and that would only slow down drying.

In the case of mattress cleaning, choosing an enzyme cleaner gives a little extra power. Oftentimes, pet owners will use a cleaning agent like this to remove the most offensive of stains. There's a reason for that. According to the Chicago Tribune, "Enzymatic cleaners can break down both stains and odors, really getting rid of smells rather than simply covering them." Your mattress will thank you.

Finish Cleaning with Baking Soda

Once you have allowed your mattress to dry, you're going to face the easiest step: sprinkle baking soda over the entire surface and then vacuum it off. We all know that baking soda has many household uses, and aiding in the cleanliness of your home is what it's all about.

Flip and Repeat

Once you've done it all, you will want to flip that mattress and put all of this on repeat. Vacuum the other side, spot clean as necessary, allow to dry, sprinkle that baking soda, and vacuum once again. Now you know how to clean a mattress, and the effort you put in will aid in better health and quality of sleep.

Ashley Whittaker Blue Green Master Bedroom
Eric Piasecki Photography

Preventative Maintenance

Keeping your mattress clean and your sleep sound, would benefit from an actual, physical barrier. You should seal up your mattress (and your pillows, while you're at it) with allergen-tight cases, such as zippered mattress and pillow covers, which shield the bed and maintain a barrier between your body and the surface of the mattress. If you use a cover and change it every few months, you'll be working toward maintaining a cleaner sleep space. You should also wash your bed linens weekly to keep dust, allergens, and bacteria at bay.

What Next?

While your mattress is the dirtiest spot in your bedroom, it's not the only spot in your bedroom you should be cleaning regularly. Because of the dust factor, another very dirty spot is under your feet. Invest in floor cleaning supplies and make a plan to clean the hardwood floors or vacuum the carpet each week. Also watch the remote controls and light switches in the room—they're places we touch daily but often forget to clean, making them ideal spots for germs to thrive.

What does your cleaning schedule entail? Do you have a strategy for combatting mattress grime and keeping allergens away, or will you be investing in a mattress cover asap?

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