How to clean a mattress in 5 easy steps

Follow our thorough mattress cleaning step-by-step guide to refresh your bed and drift off to sleep at ease

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You change your bedding every week, but how often do you clean your mattress? Well, you may not be surprised to hear your mattress is likely to be covered with dead skin cells, sweat, dust mites, stains, mould and a host of other charming things. 

Even if you have a mattress topper or mattress protector, it’s still very important to regularly clean yours – at the very least it will make your bedroom feel fresher. By following our simple guide to cleaning a mattress, you can sleep at ease knowing your bed isn’t a breeding ground for little critters.

Find more cleaning tips and advice on our dedicated hub page...

You will need:

1. Vacuum the mattress

Remove your bed sheets and mattress cover and vacuum the mattress vigorously, using an attachable nozzle to really get into any grooves. This will remove any leftover food crumbs, dirt, dust and pet hair that’s been building up. Vacuum the sides too.

TIP: If you have a steamer, use it to go over the mattress before you vacuum, to help kill and remove dust mites that might be lurking. We've rounded up the best steam cleaners in our buying guide. 

2. Spot clean the mattress

Exactly how you clean will depend on what type of stain you’re trying to remove. It’s likely to be bodily fluid – sweat, urine, blood – and they are probably not going to be fresh stains, which will make the removal process a little harder.
Here are a few options:  

To remove sweat:

Mix 2oz of powdered detergent with 300ml of warm water, mix well until soap suds form. Apply a thin layer onto the stain and rub in with a sponge. Keep rubbing until the stain starts to fade. Remove any remaining detergent with a clean sponge. Leave to dry completely or use a hair-dryer, holding 50cm above the stain, to help speed up this process.

To remove urine:
Soak up the urine by blotting with paper towels, applying pressure to reach the deeper layers. Spray the stain with a white vinegar solution (two parts warm water, one part white vinegar). Blot with a paper towel. Repeat two or three times to remove the stain and smell. Allow to air dry. 

For more detailed advice on how to remove urine from carpets and upholstery too check out our guide. 

TIP: You can also use a carpet cleaner to remove urine. Follow the instructions of your chosen carpet cleaner as normal. Check out out pick of the best carpet cleaning machines

To remove blood:
Water and salt: Mix 2 tsp of salt with 300ml of cold water and pour the solution into a spray bottle. Spray over the stain. Blot the area with a dry cloth to absorb excess liquid. Repeat until the stain is gone, use a damp cloth saturated in cold water to remove any remaining solution. Dry with a clean, dry cloth. 

Baking soda: Mix 4oz of bicarbonate of soda with 600ml cold water. Apply the solution to the stained area with a cloth. Leave for 30 minutes. Use a damp cloth to rinse thoroughly. Use a clean towel to absorb excess and dry the mattress. 

Again, if you need anymore advice on how to clean up blood stains, we've got that covered too. 

To remove vomit:

Got a baby in the family? Or a toddler with a tummy upset? You can clean their mattresses pretty quickly. Once you've picked up the vomit (see our more in depth guide to cleaning up vomit for how to get round this in the least gross way possible), start blotting up any liquid. Then mix equal amounts of water and white vinegar in a spray bottle, wet the stain then blot. Repeat until the stain disappears.

3. Freshen with bicarbonate of soda

Using a sieve (if you have one), sprinkle a light layer of bicarbonate of soda over the entire surface and gently rub in with a scrubbing brush – leave for at least one hour, longer if you can. This will absorb any excess liquid from the stain removal process, and leave your mattress smelling fresh and clean. Vacuum off the soda, making sure to get into all crevices. 

4. Air the mattress out

The best thing to naturally eliminate bacteria from your mattress is fresh air, ideally in the sunshine. If you are unable to haul your mattress into the garden, a well-ventilated sunlit room will work as well. The sun helps to kill bacteria and dry out moisture build-up in the mattress. Leave the mattress out for at least two hours. 

5. Cover and protect the mattress

If you don't have a mattress protector, now is a good time to buy one. They are important to protect against future dirt and stains, and can be thrown into the washing machine on a regular basis. 

Check out our pick of the best mattress protectors

Hacks to keep your bed clean and fresh

  • Have a no eating or drinking in bed rule. 
  • Use a mattress cover at all times. 
  • Change your bed sheets every week. 
  • Rotate the mattress every one to three months to keep it from ‘warping’ and at the same time sprinkle bicarbonate of soda on and leave it on all day, vacuuming up afterwards. 

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