Why You Should Clean Your Mattress – and the Proper Way to Do It

You know pillows get dirty, and we’ve been told our washing machine is filthy, but what about our mattress? How often should it be cleaned and how does one go about cleaning it? We’re breaking it all down starting with how to deep clean a mattress (both pillow top and foam), plus when to know if your mattress needs to be replaced. Let’s tackle this dread-able chore together. 

How To Deep Clean a Mattress

What We’ll Cover Here:

  • Our Favorite Tools for Cleaning a Mattress
  • How To Clean Mattress Stains
  • How To Clean a Mattress Using Baking Soda
  • How To Clean a Pillow Top Mattress
  • How To Clean a Memory Foam Mattress

Start by taking off the mattress pad, foam, and/or covers. Consult each product’s care instructions and clean accordingly. Using a handheld vacuum (I am a big fan of this one from Dyson) or cannister vacuum with an upholstery attachment (Miele’s canister vacuums go the distance, in case you didn’t know) vacuum the mattress to remove any pet hair, dust, or dirt. My husband also thinks it’s fine to stand on the bed and vacuum with our upright stick vacuum. Whether you choose that adventure is up to you. The next step in your deep clean involves spot-treating stains. If you have a pillow top mattress, Consumer Reports suggests pet odor remover or carpet cleaner.

Sprinkle baking soda over the entire mattress once stains have been lifted. The pros at CR advise letting it sit for 24 hours so it can really work its deodorizing magic. That being said, if you don’t have a guest room and aren’t planning a night away, your friends here at Southern Living think that 12 hours should be just fine. Vacuum up the baking soda before making the bed with your clean linens, mattress pad, and/or cover. (You might think it goes without saying—but you’d be surprised.)

If you have a memory foam mattress, Overstock.com offers this formula for a milder solution than prescribed above: ½ cup of fabric cleaner to 1 cup of water. Use the spray sparingly as memory foam will soak up liquid quickly and it’s best not to saturate more layers than necessary. Once the spot is removed, wipe away any leftover solution with a wet cloth. Now is the time to crank up your overhead fan to full speed. You’ll want the mattress completely dry as quickly as possible. A blow dryer will work in a pinch, but only on the cool setting. Heat could cause your mattress to become misshapen. Follow the spot cleaning with the same baking-soda process we outlined above. It’s important to note that some memory foam mattresses require professional cleaning. Consult your care label.

How To Protect Your Mattress

What We’ll Cover Here:

  • Types of Mattress Protectors
  • How Often To Clean Your Mattress
  • When To Buy a New Mattress

Protecting your mattress starts with prevention. The most obvious way to do so is by selecting a mattress protector. A few of the top mattress protectors on Amazon are designed to provide a waterproof barrier, cut down on allergens, or give some added comfort. Pinpoint your needs to narrow down the best option for your mattress. A mattress protector won’t do all the work for you though. In order to get the most life out of your mattress you’ll need to keep up with a cleaning schedule. Completing the process outlined above anywhere from monthly to bi-annually is a good rule of thumb. Of course, your sheets should be cleaned weekly.  

While cleaning your mattress should help keep it in tip-top shape, the time will come when you will inevitably need to replace it. If you’ve been dealt a blow with a particularly disastrous spill or stain, it’s probably time to upgrade. If your mattress isn’t providing the comfort it used to; you wake up achy; it sags, puckers, or pills; then it’s time to replace. And that little rule about replacing your mattress every 8 years—it actually comes sooner than you think. The Better Sleep Council recommends replacing when any of the symptoms we listed here begin to present themselves or at 7 years.