How To Clean A Mattress

Written by  Harry Taylor
Last updated: July 5, 2023

You rely on your mattress every single night, allowing you to sleep comfortably and get refreshed for the next day. How you sleep depends on the size, firmness, and overall comfort that your mattress offers – but don’t overlook the effects that a dirty mattress can have on your sleep quality.

Over time your mattress get’s dirty, that shouldn’t be news to you. You spend roughly 8 hours a night on it, over time your mattress will get dirty and stained. Especially if you have pets and they hop on!

These factors can lead to allergies and other symptoms – all of which can keep you up at night, and just generally start to smell.

We take a closer look at how to clean a mattress, what products to use, and what should be avoided in this post.

What You Will Need

The first step to cleaning a mattress is understanding what you will need for the process. There are a few tools and cleaning products you should have handy. Getting everything ready during prep work is going to make this easier.

Here is a list of the things you should gather before you start to clean your mattress:

  • A vacuum cleaner with attachments
  • Soap that can be used for stains
  • A laundry detergent if you prefer to use one
  • Some baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Multiple cloths

You can also choose to use a cleaning machine if you have an innerspring mattress. A steam cleaner can also be used in this scenario. Apart from the items listed above, get a small bucket and make sure you have access to water.

Instructions Step By Step

You’ve collected everything in one place, so now it is time to start the cleaning process. Cleaning your mattress may take a little while. You also have to allow some time for drying. Many people set out an hour or two for the cleaning process itself.

We’re going to take a look at the process step-by-step. This will make the process easier to follow and ensure you do not take any wrong steps.

Do Some Prep Work

You have some preparations to do before you get started. Take off the bedding and add it to the washing machine. There is no use in cleaning your mattress if you’re going to put back dirty sheets. You should also get all of your cleaning items ready close to the mattress.

Once the bed is stripped, start by using the vacuum cleaner. Vacuum the mattress thoroughly on the top and the sides. Turn the mattress over and vacuum the other side. This creates a clean surface for you to work with.

Tip: Clean all side tables before and vacuum the floor, that way when you have a damp mattress and you disturb those areas later, you aren’t putting a load of fresh muck on the mattress.

Spot Cleaning

The next step is to do some spot cleaning. This should be done before the cleaning process. The purpose of this step is to help you remove small spots and stains that have developed on the mattress.

There are a few different cleaning detergents and soaps that you can use. Make sure you pick one that is safe to use on a mattress. The solution should be made specifically for stain removal. Use just a small amount of the solution to spot clean the areas with stains.

Tip: Use white vinegar and water mix and some elbow grease to get rid of the stains.

Baking Soda

Once spot cleaning is done, allow the mattress to dry first. Once dried, sprinkle the baking soda you have over the mattress. Be sure to cover all areas of the mattress. Let the baking soda sit on the mattress for a little while.

After a while, get out the vacuum cleaner again. Vacuum the entire mattress and be sure to get all of the baking soda off.

Flip And Repeat

You flipped over the mattress previously, which means the lower level haven’t been treated with the baking soda yet. Flip over the mattress and sprinkle baking soda. Again, wait a while for the baking soda to get to work, then use the vacuum cleaner.

Doing A Thorough Cleaning

The process above is ideal for regular cleaning. Sometimes, however, you may need to clean more thoroughly. This is generally the case when there is a lot of stains on the mattress. It is also useful to do a more thorough cleaning if your mattress has a foul smell.

You can use a liquid solution to clean the surface of the mattress. Alternatively, get a cleaning machine to do the job. These machines usually come with brushes that are able to penetrate the top layer of your mattress cover. You should also consider using a steam cleaner, as this provides a deeper clean for your mattress.

Once done with this cleaning procedure, your mattress needs enough air to dry. Do not put back the sheets before the entire mattress is completely dry. This can cause mould to develop, which is something you want to avoid at all cost.

Tip: Don’t oversoak your mattress, unless you have proper ventilation this can be a breeding ground for mould.


Do you have a few more questions before starting to clean your mattress? We’ve compiled a list of commonly asked questions to help you get the answers you need.

Can I use a carpet shampooer?

Cleaning your mattress by hand is hard work, and sometimes you just can’t match a machine o matter how hard you go. With this in mind, you might want to consider getting a machine that provides a more effective cleaning process.

A carpet shampooer, sometimes just called a carpet cleaning machine, can usually be used on a mattress. You can also use one of the portable machines if you do not want to pick up a large washer on top of the mattress.

By using a carpet shampooer, you can effectively remove dust mites and dirt from your mattress. A powerful carpet cleaner may also be able to remove dead skin cells, as well as stains from urine. This makes them great for homes with young kids. It can also help to remove stains caused by dog urine.

Note that you do need to be careful when washing a mattress made from memory foam or other foams. In these cases, the foam may be problematic if it gets wet. On an innerspring mattress, however, you can safely use these devices without worries.

Can I steam clean my mattress?

Regular cleaning techniques used on a mattress will generally only clean out the upper layer of the furniture. This, however, is not the only area that gets infested with dead skin cells, sweat, stains, and dirt.

As time goes by, these elements all start to penetrate toward the inner layers of the mattress. With this in mind, your regular cleaning routine will not be able to provide effective results.

In these cases, a steam cleaner can be used. Just be sure to vacuum the mattress first. You should also allow adequate time for the mattress to dry after steam cleaning, and keep it in an area that is well ventilated.

How often should I clean my mattress?

A mattress should not be cleaned too often. Remember that cleaning causes the mattress to become moist, which means it needs to dry before you can use it. Cleaning your mattress too frequently can cause problems. At the same time, you don’t want to never clean your mattress.

The specific timeframe for cleaning a mattress depends on a couple of factors. If you use the mattress every night, then you should clean it a few times a year. If the mattress is in a guest room, such frequent cleaning may not be critical – but still, ensure you do clean the mattress from time to time, use your best judgement.

What causes stains on your mattress?

There are many factors that can cause a mattress to stain. If your kid is still very young and wets the bed, this is a possible reason. A dog that urinates on the bed can also cause stains. Additionally, it is possible for liquid and food spills – such as from your morning coffee – to stain the mattress.

Note that sweating can also cause a mattress to stain, unfortunately, this can sometimes look like urine, which makes it awkward at the tip!

How often should I flip my mattress?

Some mattresses can be flipped, whereas others are made to only be used on a single side. If you have a mattress that can be used on both sides, you should flip it over two times a year.

How can I make my mattress smell nice?

The accumulation of sweat, dirt, dust, and other elements on your mattress can cause unpleasant smells. You do not want to wash the mattress too frequently, but still want it to smell nice.

One of the best options for deodorizing a mattress is to combine a bit of vinegar with some water. Add the solution to a spray bottle. Now, spray the solution over the mattress, but work sparingly. The goal is not to make the mattress wet. After spraying, allow the mattress to dry completely.

Cleaning a mattress takes a bit of time, but it is really important to help avoid bedbugs, dust mites, and other factors affecting your sleep. You do need a few basic products, and ventilation needs to be a priority during the cleaning process. If you’re looking at how to clean a mattress, simply follow the step by step instructions we shared in this guide.

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