Yes, You Really Do Need to Clean Your Mattress — Here's How

Bed.

Design: Cathie Hong Interiors; Photo: Christy Q Photography

When was the last time you cleaned your mattress? No, not your sheets—your actual mattress. If your answer is never, it might be time to consider it, according to our experts. “Because they’re a home to a variety of bacteria, fungi, and allergy-triggering dust mites that feed off the dead skin cells, body oil, and sweat we shed every night, mattresses should be cleaned at least twice a year,” Melissa Homer, the Chief Cleaning Officer of MaidPro, says.

Chris Allen, the director of mattresses and bed frames at Purple, adds that sleeping alongside your furry friends is even more reason to give your mattress routine cleanings. “If you’ve got pets who sleep in your bed, you’ll need to up it to quarterly cleanings, as animals don’t adhere to the same hygiene standards as their owners, nor do they wear pajamas that trap their dander, hair, and sweat,” Allen says. “Keeping a mattress clean will not only give you a better night’s sleep, but also extend its life by protecting against wear and tear.”

Meet the Expert

  • Melissa Homer is the Chief Cleaning Officer at MaidPro, with over 16 years in the cleaning industry. She previously spent 8 years as an Account Manager for Procter & Gamble’s professional line of cleaning products.
  • Chris Allen is the Director of Mattresses and Bed Frames at Purple, a direct-to-consumer mattress company. He's been with the company for over two years.

Professionals use specialized tools to clean and suction mattresses, which allows them to dry quickly, but you can rent your own upholstery cleaning machine or save money over the long haul by purchasing one. “Moisture can damage some specialty mattresses—including pillow top or memory foam—so be sure to check the manufacturer’s label before attempting to clean with a machine,” Homer cautions.

The good news? Even if you don’t have access to a machine, it’s easy to DIY clean your mattress without investing a lot of time or money. Here are five simple steps to a fresh mattress and a better night’s sleep

Soft made bed.

Hannah Tyler

01 of 05

Strip The Mattress And Wash Your Bedding

“Remove everything on your bed—sheets, pad, pillows—so you can thoroughly clean your mattress,” says Allen. “Never forget the key to keeping a mattress clean is a weekly washing of your sheets and pillowcases.” 

02 of 05

Get Out The Vacuum

Make sure you are using a vacuum with an upholstery attachment to get in every crevice of your mattress, Homer suggests.

Be sure to vacuum all the sides and pay special attention to the seams and crevices in the mattress’s surface. “Dust and debris love to hide out in these spaces,” Allen shares. “If it’s reversible, be sure to flip the mattress and vacuum the other side.” Opt for a vacuum with a particle trapping filtration system, such as the Dyson V7 Hand Vacuum. 

Using the attachment, vacuum back and forth and in overlapping M-shaped zigzags over your mattress.

Dyson V7 Vacuum
Dyson V7 Hand Vacuum $239
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03 of 05

Spot Clean Stains

The cleaning solution you choose depends on the type of stain you’re treating. Enzyme-based laundry or pet cleansers, like OxiClean Laundry Stain Remover or Rocco & Roxie Professional Strength Oxy Stain Remover, are effective at breaking down protein stains.

“However, detergents and degreasers, like those found in Spot Shot Professional Instant Carpet Stain Remover, can also break up and lift a variety of organic and inorganic soiling,” Homer says. “But because they contain more chemicals, they may need to be rinsed more thoroughly.”

Never spray a cleaning solution directly onto the mattress. Instead, apply it to a dry cloth or microfiber towel and dab at the spill using the least amount of cleanser possible.

If you’re looking for a natural approach, create a DIY cleanser by placing mixing two parts hydrogen peroxide, one-part baking soda, and one-part liquid dish soap, which can be calibrated depending on the size of the stain, Allen advises.

Don’t scrub or rub the spill, or you’ll risk pushing it deeper into your mattress, Homer warns, and suggests leaving a fan blowing in the room for a few hours to ensure a complete dry.

04 of 05

Shake On Some Baking Soda

After everything has dried, sprinkle a layer of baking soda—think a light dusting of snow, not a blizzard—over your mattress to break down acids and absorb any odors and moisture, Allen recommends. Apply straight from the box or use a strainer for a more even spread.

“Try to plan your cleaning in conjunction with an overnight trip, because the longer you leave the baking soda on, the better,” Allen adds. “Then, vacuum up the powder with an upholstery brush the next day.” To keep things smelling fresh, Allen suggests adding ten to twenty drops of an essential oil, such as lavender or sandalwood, to the baking soda box before sprinkling, or mist your mattress with linen spray at the end of the process.

05 of 05

After Cleaning, Invest in a Mattress Pad

Experts stress the importance of investing in a high-quality mattress cover to cut off the food source for mites and bacteria, while protecting your mattress from dirt and spills. Look for one that’s labeled waterproof or water-resistant and follow the care label when washing it, every three months.

You can also look for a mattress encasement, which zips closed all the way around the top, sides, and bottom of the mattress. “It’s harder to take on and off, but it completely blocks out bed bugs,” notes Homer. 

Crane & Canopy mattress pad.
Crane & Canopy The Luxe Mattress Pad $80-140
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This Crane & Canopy mattress pad is water-resistant and contains a comfortable down alternative filling.

Casper mattress protector.
Casper Mattress Protector $85-105 $77-95
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Casper’s Mattress Protector has water-resistant layers and elasticized skirts to fit snugly around the mattress.

Purple mattress protector
Purple Mattress Protector $79-109
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Purple’s Mattress Protector is water-resistant and made from a stretchy polyester/spandex that won’t hinder your mattress’s ability to breathe, thanks to channels in the fabric that promote airflow.

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