How to Clean a Mattress and Get Rid of Stains!


When it comes to the mattress you sleep on, it’s a classic case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ for many people. However, what lies beneath your bed sheets can often be a nightmarish sight to see! The appearance itself may be dirty and covered in stains, but what’s scarier is the fact that germs, bed bugs, and dust mites can all potentially be living in your mattress, causing health problems such as severe allergies and breathing difficulty. Therefore, it’s important to note that covering your mattress is simply not enough to keep it clean and sanitary. 

If you’ve never cleaned it before or don’t know how to get stains out of a mattress, we’re here to help! Everything you need to know about cleaning and sanitising your mattress for better sleep can be found in this article. The methods below are tried and true for a safe and effective mattress cleaning. Read on!

7 Steps to Clean a Mattress

NOTE: Always check the mattress label for laundry symbols or washing instructions symbols before cleaning.

When you attempt to clean your mattress for the first time, be prepared to spend an entire day on the process while also making alternative sleeping arrangements in case it does not dry up before bedtime. With that in mind, let’s begin!

Step One: Vacuum the Mattress 

This may sound simple (and it is, for the most part), however, when vacuuming a mattress, it’s important to go over every inch of the outer material. This is because dirt, dust mites, and bed bugs can be hiding in stitch creases or corners of the mattress that have folded seams. Therefore, a thorough vacuuming on all sides of the mattress is imperative for the overall success of the cleaning process. 

Start by vacuuming the top of the mattress followed by the sides; after you have carefully cleaned corners and creases, flip the mattress and vacuum the underside. Take your time with this entire step as any dirt and debris present on the surface will get worked into the material during the cleaning process if not removed. 

TIP: Use an upholstery brush attachment for an effective clean.

Step Two: Deodorise with Baking Soda

Although direct sunlight is one of the best ways to kill bacteria and air out your mattress, it’s not always the most viable option for homeowners. Nevertheless, if this is something you can do, we definitely recommend it (for a couple of hours). 

To deodorise your mattress with baking soda, cover the top with a layer of the powder and allow it to absorb musty or bad odours for at least 2 hours. It helps to work the powder into the mattress with your bare hands or a soft-bristled brush. Baking soda is very effective in absorbing moisture which may be trapped in the material; therefore, the longer you leave the powder on your mattress, the more effective the results will be. 

Step Three: Vacuum the Baking Soda

Baking soda can really work its way into the outer material of the mattress when there is no dust and debris on the surface. Therefore, along with the initial vacuuming process, this must also be done thoroughly! 

In this step, you will be removing moisture and bad odours by vacuuming up the powder that has been absorbed by the material. Start at the top of the mattress; press the upholstery head attachment firmly down on the mattress and slowly move it downward to clean in a straight line. Repeat the process line by line, until you have thoroughly vacuumed up the baking soda.

Step Four: Make the Cleaning Solution

Regardless of what your mattress is made of, it is advisable to keep moisture to a bare minimum. While the material may get a little damp during this part of the cleaning process, we suggest scrubbing the surface as dryly as possible. 

For this, you’ll need a handheld scrub brush with soft bristles, and a homemade cleaning solution made with the following ingredients:

      • 4 cups water (room temperature)
      • 1/4 cup white distilled vinegar
      • 1/2 cup baking soda
      • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Mix these household ingredients in a bowl and pour the contents into a spray bottle. 

Step Five: ‘Dry’ Scrub the Mattress

Shake the spray bottle well before you lightly dampen the mattress (from afar). If the bottle has an adjustable nozzle to change the pressure/stream of the spray, set it to ‘mist’. Avoid dampening the material  any more than 1-2 mist sprays per area; the idea here is to simply transfer some amount of the cleaner onto the mattress and gently scrub it to remove dirt. For a thorough clean, spray and scrub all sides of the mattress. 

To get the most out of cleaning the outer fabric of your mattress, use circular motions and minimal pressure when scrubbing. If you find that not enough of the cleaner has been applied to the surface, spray over the mattress again, and continue scrubbing. 

Step Six: Wipe and Vacuum

Since the solution contains all natural ingredients, there is no worry of rinsing the cleaner off. Simply wipe the mattress with a clean towel to absorb moisture from the surface, and vacuum over it once again to remove any dirt and debris that may have been dislodged from the fabric due to scrubbing. 

This requires a quick vacuuming as there won’t be much dirt left on the surface after all the steps that have been taken prior to this. If you have dampened the material more than suggested, allow the mattress to dry up for about an hour or so before you vacuum it. 

Step Seven: Dry the Mattress

Again, if you have the means to dry or air out your mattress in direct sunlight, it is advised! Alternatively, you can stand the mattress up on its side so that the top and bottom are able to air out simultaneously. Rotate the mattress every few hours and keep the room well-ventilated with the fans running on high speed.

If you’ve only cleaned the top of the mattress, leave it to dry face up, under a ceiling fan. In some cases, a mattress may require several hours to dry up inside and outside; therefore, it’s best to air it out overnight.

How to Get Stains out of a Mattress

The best way to tackle mattress stains is by spot cleaning them before the scrubbing process (i.e. step 5). Mattresses are prone to a number of stains and unfortunately, not everyone knows how to remove coffee stains or how to get pee out of a mattress! There are various methods to remove different types of stains including blood, urine, vomit and other bodily fluid stains. Here are the appropriate methods to tackle common mattress stains.

1. How to Remove Dried Blood Stains

It’s not that difficult to get out dried blood stains from fabric; all it takes is a little perseverance and the right cleaning solutions for the job. Follow the steps below to remove dried blood stains from your mattress:

      1. Mix 1 tablespoon (each) of salt and liquid dish soap in 1/4 cup of hydrogen peroxide; it should form a paste. Add more or less hydrogen peroxide to get the right paste consistency (not too thick, not too runny).
      2. Use your fingers to apply the cleaner to the stain; leave it to harden/dry or wait 15 minutes before moving on to the next step.
      3. Remove the paste with a spoon; scrape lightly to get stubborn bits off.
      4. If the blood stain has not come off completely, allow the material to dry completely, and move on to the next step.
      5. Dip a clean white cloth in hydrogen peroxide and dab the stain repeatedly until it is completely lifted. Be sure to rotate or replace the cloth as and when needed.

2. How to Remove Urine Stains

When you have young children and/or pets, it pays to know how to remove urine stains from a mattress since the odds of putting that knowledge to use are pretty good! Before you can tackle the stain, however, there are some pre-treatment steps you need to take to help get rid of pee smell first. Here’s what you need to do to clean urine stains from a mattress, and do away with the odour:

      1. Use paper towels to soak up as much urine from the mattress as possible.
      2. Combine 1 cup hydrogen peroxide, 3 tablespoons baking soda, and 1 teaspoon of liquid dish soap; mix well. If you’re dealing with a large stain or affected area, double the ratios when making the pre-treatment solution.
      3. Dampen a clean white cloth with this mixture, and dab over the area. Do this repeatedly without soaking the mattress more than it already is (with the urine). Use a fresh cloth or rinse out the one you are using at intervals.
      4. Allow the area to dry up and observe how much of the stain has already been removed with the steps above. Accordingly, you can make a homemade urine stain remover (shared below) which will also aid in freshening up your mattress.
      5. Whisk 3 tablespoons of powdered laundry detergent in 1 cup of water; it should become a foamy consistency before you apply it to the urine stain.
      6. Spread a thick layer of the foam over the affected area and allow it to sit for half an hour. Reapply the cleaner if it dried up too quickly.
      7. Remove the cleaner with a damp or dry cloth depending on how moist the layer is. If it has dried up completely, a damp cloth is advised.
      8. Dampen a clean white cloth with hydrogen peroxide and wipe over the area.
      9. Leave it to air dry and vacuum up any residue from the cleaners if needed.
      10. For persistent stains/odours, repeat the process.

3. How to Remove Stubborn Bodily Fluid Stains

NOTE: When working with household ammonia, keep your windows open and use protective gear such as gloves and goggles as the product can cause skin and eye irritation.

When you encounter a nasty, stubborn stain caused by one’s body, fear not for this can be removed and all cleaned up with the following cleaning process:

      1. Remove or clean up non-fluid bits; the surface should be completely free of debris before you begin the stain removal process.
      2. Lightly spray the stain with raw household ammonia (avoid soaking) and wait for 10 minutes.
      3. Dampen a clean white cloth in cold water and dab the stain. With repeated blotting, the stain should start to transfer onto the cloth.
      4. Wipe over the area with a damp towel and observe the stain. 
      5. If the stain has not disappeared, repeat the steps above AFTER the material has dried up.
      6. To help remove moisture quickly, apply a layer of baking soda to the area and leave it for a couple of hours.
      7. Vacuum up the powder thoroughly and allow the mattress to air dry for as long as required.

Tips to Prevent Mattress Stains + Maintenance Measures

      • Use a washable mattress cover to prevent stains 
      • Avoid eating and drinking on your bed
      • Act quickly to prevent a stain from setting
      • Wash or clean your mattress cover after liquid spills
      • Flip your mattress every few months
      • Vacuum and spot clean your mattress every other month (or sooner if possible)
      • Always keep a fitted sheet over the mattress to prevent dust mites and bed bugs
      • Replace your mattress when you feel like it is not providing adequate support anymore

In conclusion, the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ attitude can come back to haunt you in the form of ugly stains, pesky bed bugs, and nasty germs that all come with their own set of health risks!

Karen Saunders


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