How to Clean a Mattress in 5 Easy Steps

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Conventional wisdom tells us that we should change our sheets weekly, but what about the mattress underneath? Dust mites love the soft, porous fabric of a conventional mattress, and these unsavory critters can accumulate by the thousands. Their waste even contains potent allergens that can contribute to eczema, sinus issues, and respiratory difficulties.

Troubling as they are, dust mites are just the tip of the iceberg. A dirty mattress houses massive accumulations of assorted impurities. It should go without saying then that nothing will interfere with a good night’s sleep quite like a dirty bed. The best way to keep the mites at bay, expel the unwanted dirt, and ensure a sanitary slumber is to thoroughly clean your mattress on a regular basis.

Read on to discover how to clean a mattress to perfection in just five steps.

Step 1: Wash Linens

To begin, toss the sheets in the wash. It’s counterproductive to clean a mattress if it’s just going to be adorned with the same dirty bedding. All sheets, pillowcases, blankets, and comforters should be washed on the highest heat setting to eliminate dirt and kill off any lingering dust mites. Consumer Reports also recommends drying the bedding on high heat.

Step 2: Vacuum

Grab the vacuum. This step will require a high-powered vacuum with an upholstery attachment. Don’t even think about using a DustBuster or other handheld vacuum, as these tools—though suited for a number of important household purposes—don’t have the power necessary to penetrate the surface of the mattress. For best results, use a HEPA-powered vacuum, and go over every square inch of the mattress. Don’t forget the corners, edges, and piping.

Step 3: Spot-Treat

Examine the mattress, and spot-treat any visible stains. There are a number of solutions that can do the trick, including conventional upholstery cleaners. Consumer Reports recommends mixing a teaspoon of mild dish detergent with a cup of warm water. For more stubborn stains, try mixing 2 tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide with 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap. Use a toothbrush to apply your mixture to the mattress surface, and scrub vigorously to loosen the stain. Finally, use a damp cloth to wipe away any remaining solution.

Step 4: Use Baking Soda

Break out the baking soda. This will deodorize the mattress and leave it smelling fresh. For an especially dirty mattress, a full one-pound box of baking soda should do the trick. There’s no hard rule for how long the baking soda should remain on the mattress. Home expert Bob Vila recommends vacuuming it up after just an hour, while Consumer Reports notes that it may be necessary to leave the baking soda on the mattress for a full 24 hours. Ultimately, it will depend on how long it’s been since the mattress was last cleaned and how much deodorizing it needs.

Step 5: Vacuum (Again)

Reach for the vacuum attachment one last time. Once the baking soda has served its purpose, use your upholstery attachment to suck up the residual powder. At this point, the bed is ready to be enjoyed once again.

How Often Should Mattresses Be Cleaned?

Cleaning a mattress can be a time-consuming endeavor, and understandably, most people can’t get it done on a weekly or monthly basis. At the very least, a mattress should receive a thorough cleaning twice a year. Ideally, it should get done once every season. A person spends a full third of their life on their mattress, so it’s worth spending the time to keep it in pristine condition.

Once the mattress is restored to like-new condition, check out the best products for a better night’s sleep.

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