How to clean a mattress

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Cleaning the mattress probably isn’t high on your to-do list. But there are many reasons why you should spend a few minutes every few months keeping it on as hygienic as possible, not least because The average person spends about a third of their life in bed.

In addition, your mattress can be one of the more expensive and long-lasting items in your home, so it makes sense to take care of it.

In our last survey, 14% of the members we surveyed had never cleaned their mattress. And since about a third of you expect your mattress to last between eight and ten years, a lot of dust, sweat and dirt builds up.

Whether you want to remove a specific stain, odor, or just want to freshen up your mattress regularly, our expert tips below will help you keep it in tip-top condition. Remember to check the instructions or care label first.

Or, if yours is past its prime, visit our Best to buy mattresses to find your next one

Why you need to clean a mattress

No matter how often you change your bedding, you always have to go the extra mile and thoroughly clean your mattress.

While you might think your mattress isn’t dirty, especially if you usually shower before bed and the mattress is stain-free, it is unlikely.

According to the sleep council:

  • The average adult loses 285 ml of fluid every night.
  • The average bed contains 10,000 dust mites, which produce over two million feces, which can exacerbate allergies.
  • We lose about 454 grams of dead skin over the course of a year, much of which ends up in your bed.
  • A person spends about a third of his life in bed.

It’s no wonder the Sleep Council says a dirty mattress can contain worrying levels of staph, enterococci, norovirus, and even MRSA.

Learn more about take care of your mattress

How often should you clean a mattress?

There is no hard and fast rule about how often a mattress needs to be cleaned. It all depends on the mattress and the person sleeping on it.

14% of the members we surveyed in March 2021 had never cleaned their mattress.

If you have allergies, keep your mattress clean whenever the tell-tale symptoms of a runny nose, itchy throat, and dry eyes worsen.

It also depends on how breathable the mattress is.

Every mattress we review is tested for moisture permeability – the more breathable a mattress is, the less likely it is that it will accumulate sweat.

Go to ours Mattress ratings find a breathable mattress.

How often do you clean your mattress?

More than once a month

Every 1-6 months

Every 7-12 months

Less than once a year

never

There is no right or wrong answer to the question of how often a mattress needs to be cleaned, but every six months is advisable.

If you turn the mattress over or over (as it should be) every three to six months, it is worth taking a little extra time cleaning your mattress while you do this.

How to clean your mattress

If your mattress is stain-free, cleaning it should be a quick process. Just follow the six steps below:

  1. Take out the bed and wash your sheets. Follow the directions on the labels and remember that stains on your sheets are more likely to be removed with a Best to buy washing machine.
  2. Check the mattress for new stains. If you find any, scroll down for tips on how to tackle them.
  3. Gently vacuum the surface of the mattress. Use the upholstery of your vacuum cleaner, make sure the attachment is clean before you start. Once you’ve serviced the mattress, go back and focus on every nook and cranny in the surface to make sure you soak up that last bit of dust and dead skin. Especially with allergies, it is advisable to vacuum under the bed to remove dust at the same time.
  4. If your mattress is one-sided, turn your mattress from head to toe. If it’s double sided, flip it over and make sure to vacuum both sides of the mattress.
  5. Ventilate your mattress for a few hours so that the fabric can breathe. Unless you need to get rid of an unpleasant odor (see below), it should be enough to open the bedroom window to allow fresh air to circulate through the room and through the fabric in your mattress.
  6. Make the bed new. We recommend that you use a mattress protector under your sheet to protect your mattress from dust and sweat, as you do not have to clean the mattress as often.

Video on removing mattress stains

Our handy video shows you how to combat stains at a glance, or read on for more detailed information.

Scrubbing stains off a mattress isn’t exactly fun, but it’s important if you want to keep your mattresses clean and odor-free for years. Before you get started, there are three golden rules you need to follow:

  1. Try to attack stains as soon as possible after they appear.
  2. Always check the mattress label before applying detergent.
  3. First, test a cleaning solution on a small part of the stain to make sure it won’t damage the mattress.

Read on for advice on how to tackle specific stains, or scroll down to find out how to get rid of unpleasant mattress odors.

How to remove blood stains from a mattress

To remove blood stains from your mattress, first blot the stain with a little cold water. Be careful not to soak the mattress or rub the stain as this could further spread the blood.

This technique could be surprisingly effective, especially if the stain is fresh, but if not, try adding some baking soda to the water. Apply to the stain, leave on for 30 minutes, then dab with clean water and allow to dry.

If the stain is still there after the mattress has dried, try the following steps to remove the urine.

How do I get urine out of a mattress?

To remove body fluids like urine from your mattress, try diluting dish soap in water, then gently blotting the stain with a cloth or sponge. Remember that mattresses are not waterproof, so it is best to clean slowly and evenly. If the stain still won’t come off and your mattress care label says it’s okay, use an upholstery cleaner but always read the directions. We recommend playing it safe, so it’s safest to dilute it and not spray it directly on the mattress.

Remove other mattress stains

For food and beverage stains like tea and coffee, it’s best to try the baking soda and cold water mixture mentioned above. For body fluids and sweat stains, try using diluted detergent. However, if in doubt, contact the manufacturer to see if they have any specific advice.

Pull out a bed

This is how you prevent your mattress from stinking

Regardless of how comfortable your mattress is, you probably won’t sleep well if you can’t escape an unpleasant odor when you lower your head.

There are two reasons your mattress might smell. The first is because it’s new. It is not uncommon for mattresses made from synthetic materials such as memory foam to have a strong chemical odor when you first unpack them. But even if your mattress isn’t synthetic, it may still smell a bit when new due to the flame retardant chemicals manufacturers are required to use by law.

17% of the members clean their mattress every six months.

The smell should gradually dissipate, but you can speed up the process by leaving it near an open window for ventilation. Or, if the smell is particularly strong, you can try ventilating the mattress outside if you have a patio and the weather is good.

The second reason a mattress can smell is when something has penetrated the material. Body fluids are obvious examples, but drinks like tea and coffee are easy to spill when enjoying breakfast in bed. Even spilled water can give the mattress a musty odor if the fabric hasn’t dried properly.

After you have removed all stains (see above), ventilate the mattress for as long as possible so that the odor disappears. However, if the smell is particularly strong or unpleasant, you need to resort to stronger measures. Sprinkle baking soda over the entire surface of the mattress and let it sit for as long as possible, ideally overnight. Next, soak up the baking soda and ventilate the mattress with an open window – you should find the smell is gone.

Cleaning memory foam mattresses

An air mattress

Memory foam mattresses often come with a removable mattress cover that is machine washable. This can make cleaning up a lot easier, but there are a few things to keep in mind.

Always check the manufacturer’s instructions and the details of your mattress guarantee before cleaning. Some mattresses have removable covers, but the manufacturer does not recommend removing and washing the cover, while others allow it but say avoiding cleaning the foam after removing the cover.

When you put your cover in the washing machine, follow the washing instructions carefully to ensure you don’t accidentally void your warranty or shrink the cover so badly that it no longer fits over the mattress.

If you are tempted by memory foam, take a look at ours Top memory foam mattresses.

Is it time to buy a new bed?

According to our latest survey, three in ten members expect a mattress to last between eight and ten years. And a quarter of you expect it to last longer.

There are a few things you can do to maximize the life of your mattress. Regular cleaning is certainly one of them, but turning or rotating the mattress according to the manufacturer’s instructions, using a mattress protector and not sitting on the edge of the bed will also help. A good mattress pad can also breathe new life into a crumbling mattress.

Even so, mattresses don’t last forever. If you sleep on it every night, it is easy to convince yourself that your mattress is as good as it was when it was new. But just because a mattress is comfortable doesn’t guarantee that it will support your back well.

We’ve tested mattresses that stay supportive for up to 10 years without sagging or softening. But if you’ve had your mattress for a long time, consider buying a new one.

Take a look at ours Best to buy mattresses when an upgrade is due.

Which? Survey of 1,098 mattress owners in March 2021.

Last checked: April 2021.

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