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How to Clean a Mattress

How to Clean a Mattress

The right mattress can last you for years to come, so you want to take care of it to make sure it looks and feels its best for as long as possible. From dust and debris to stains, mattresses can become dirty pretty quickly, so they need regular cleaning to help keep them in top-notch condition.

Whether you're looking to freshen up your mattress or you're trying to remove a stubborn stain, here's everything you need to know about cleaning your mattress.

What will I need to clean a mattress?

The exact tools you’ll need to clean your mattress will depend on the method of cleaning you choose, and the type of stain you’re wanting to remove. For a standard mattress clean, you’ll likely need the following:

  • Vacuum cleaner with an upholstery attachment
  • Clean cloths or sponges
  • Cold water
  • Mild laundry detergent or dish soap
  • Baking soda

If you’re removing a stain, you may also need the following:

  • Hydrogen peroxide (blood stains)
  • White vinegar (urine stains)
  • Borax (mould and mildew stains)
  • Ammonia (vomit stains)

The best way to clean a mattress in 5 steps

1. Strip the bed

First things first - totally strip the bed. Remove your duvet, pillows, sheets and pillowcases and put them all through the wash while you clean your mattress and let it air out. If you're tackling stubborn stains, you may need to leave your mattress overnight to dry, so make sure you've thought about alternative sleeping arrangements before you begin.

2. Hoover the mattress

The first step when it comes to cleaning a mattress is a simple hoover. This should be done regularly and not just when you're removing stains - ideally, you should vacuum your mattress each time you change your sheets, to remove any dust, dirt, or crumbs. Make sure you pay attention to the sides of the mattress, with special care taken to get into any seams or crevices.

3. Apply a stain remover

If you're removing specific dirt or stains, next, you'll need to go in with a stain remover. Alternatively, you can use a gentle laundry detergent mixed with water. Always remember when it comes to stain removers and liquids on mattresses, less is more! You should never totally soak your mattress with the product, and you should take special care when cleaning a memory foam mattress as you don't want to get the foam wet.

Apply a minimal amount of stain remover to the area you want to clean, then gently dab with a clean cloth to see if you can blot the stain away. You can then blot with a slightly damp cloth, but be careful not to get the mattress too wet. Remember, you can always go back and add more product if the stain isn't lifting, but you can't remove it if you apply too much!

4. Dry your mattress

If you've applied product or any moisture with a cloth, you need to make sure your mattress is completely dry before you sleep on it. Ideally, you will be able to put your mattress outside to dry naturally in the sun and fresh air. If this isn't possible, you can stand your mattress up in a well-ventilated location with the windows open.

Baking soda is also handy here. It's excellent for absorbing moisture and scents, meaning it can add an extra fresh element to your cleaning and drying process. Apply a thin layer over the top of the mattress, paying extra attention to any areas with moisture, then leave for a few hours (or overnight) before hoovering it up.

5. Protect your mattress

We all know that prevention is better than cure, and that applies to your mattress too! Once you've cleaned your mattress, invest in a mattress topper or protector. This not only adds an extra comfortable layer to your bed, but provides an additional protective layer between your sheet and mattress. If you have any spills, you can simply take off the mattress topper and wash that, making future mattress cleaning much quicker and easier.

How to get stains out of a mattress

Dealing with a specific tricky stain? Here is our expert advice on how to tackle a variety of different stains on mattresses.

How to remove sweat stains from a mattress

Sweat stains are pretty easy to remove from mattresses, as they are usually surface-level. You can follow the five steps detailed above, dabbing the stains very gently until they lift. As this type of stain is generally just on the surface of the mattress, be especially gentle when applying the product as you don't want it to soak through.

How to get blood out of a mattress

Blood can be one of the trickier stains to remove, so it requires some patience; it may take a few goes to lift the stain completely. A specific stain remover is best (these usually contain hydrogen peroxide) - you can blot the stain and leave the product to sit on it for around 30 minutes before pressing with a cloth and cold water to lift the stain. Cold water is best here, as it will help dilute the stain, while hot water can actually set the stain and make it more difficult to remove.

Always lightly dab the stain and never scrub, as this will spread the stain across the mattress and make it look worse.

How to get urine out of a mattress

If you have children, accidents happen. The key with a urine stain is to treat it as quickly as possible to ensure it doesn't dry into the mattress - once dry, you'll have a trickier job trying to remove it.

When the accident occurs, immediately strip the bed and wash everything as quickly as possible. You then need to blot up as much excess liquid as you can with a dry towel, cloth, or paper towels.

For urine stains, you can buy specific stain removers or create a solution of 50% water and 50% distilled white vinegar. Using a spray bottle, apply to the affected area before again blotting away with a dry towel or cloth. You should then apply baking soda to the stain - as we've mentioned, baking soda is ideal for breaking down enzymes and absorbing odour and moisture. Once the area is dry and you've vacuumed up any excess baking soda, you can repeat the process as needed until the stain is totally lifted.

How to get mould and mildew out of a mattress

Mould and mildew can grow on mattresses in humid environments. This can lead to health problems, such as allergies and respiratory infections. If you find your mattress has mould or mildew, you can remove it by washing all the bedding in hot water, thoroughly vacuuming the mattress, then applying a solution of white vinegar and water to the mouldy areas of the mattress using a cloth or sponge. After 30 minutes, blot the solution with a clean cloth. Don’t be tempted to scrub at the mattress as this could damage it! To finish, sprinkle baking soda on the mouldy areas and let that sit for 30 minutes, then vacuum it up. Let the mattress air dry completely, preferably overnight.

If the mould is severe, you may need to repeat the process several times or invest in a specific mould remover. Borax is often recommended for mould, but if you’re dealing with a particular stubborn stain you should consider an enzyme cleaner to break the stain down.

How to get vomit out of a mattress

The key to getting vomit out of a mattress is to act quickly. The sooner you can clean it up, the easier it will be to remove any lingering stains from your mattress. Remove any solid matter as quickly as possible with a utensil like a spoon or spatula, then blot up the liquid with paper towels or a clean cloth. Don’t be tempted to scrub as this could make the vomit sink in further.

Once you’ve cleared away the bulk, you can try either a mixture of white vinegar and water as with other stains, or if the vomit has really sunk into the mattress you may wish to try a mix of ammonia and water, or invest in a commercial enzyme cleaner.

What to avoid when cleaning a mattress

Particularly when you have a stain on your mattress, the temptation can be to reach for an extreme cleaning solution such as soaking the mattress in water or throwing harsh chemicals on top of the stain, but this can end up damaging the mattress more.

Avoid the following when cleaning a mattress:

  • Using harsh chemicals such as bleach, as these can make stains worse
  • Soaking the mattress in water, as this could encourage mould to grow
  • Scrubbing at the stain, as this will drive it further into the mattress
  • Steam cleaning the mattress, as this can make stains worse
  • Drying the mattress in direct sunlight, as this could damage the foam

How to freshen up a mattress

If you don't have any stains to deal with and you're just looking to get a smell out of a mattress, you can simply sprinkle it with baking soda, leave for a while, then vacuum it up. You can also spray lightly with a linen spray for a constant fresh scent, being careful not to dampen the mattress.

It's also good to let your mattress air out regularly, so open windows while you're washing bedding and allow air to circulate throughout the bedroom and mattress.

How to keep your mattress clean for longer

We'd recommend investing in a mattress topper or protector for a mattress that really will stand the test of time.

A mattress topper offers extra padding. They're often available in memory foam styles, so you can enjoy the comfortable feel of memory foam no matter what type of mattress you have. As well as adding an extra luxurious element to your sleep, a mattress topper provides an additional barrier between your top sheet and mattress, so any spills, dirt or accidents are less likely to reach through and damage your mattress.

A mattress protector is designed purely to keep your mattress clean, rather than offering additional padding. They're waterproof, dust and mite-resistant, and hypoallergenic. This means your mattress is totally protected from accidental spills, bacteria or moisture.

When do I need a new mattress?

A high-quality mattress should last up to 8-10 years. However, you may find yourself wanting to replace it sooner if you're struggling to clean it. While certain spills, accidents and stains will lift easily, if a mattress takes too much damage, you may struggle to return it to its original condition. If your mattress affects your sleep or your health, we'd always recommend replacing it. Your quality of sleep is worth it!

If you're looking to buy a new mattress, look no further than the Happy Beds collection. From pocket sprung mattresses to memory foam mattresses, we have a range of designs and sizes to suit any sleeping style and ensure you get the good night's sleep you deserve.

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