Updated: February 20, 2018
Mopping your floors, doing the laundry, dusting shelves… any responsible adult knows that cleaning might not be a whole lot of fun, but it’s necessary. Depending on your level of cleanliness, you might consider a quick sweep the extent of your chores, or the absolute minimum. But regardless of how you approach cleaning, there’s one task that is almost universally forgotten: cleaning your mattress. That’s a shame, since mattresses of any kind can and will absorb dust, perspiration and allergens over time (and negatively impact your health in the process).
No matter what type of mattress you have (memory foam, innerspring or something in-between), making time to clean and maintain your mattress means not only extending the life of your bed, but also protecting your health in the process. But what exactly does cleaning your mattress entail, and what steps should you take when cleaning a memory foam mattress?
Check out our comprehensive list of tips on how to clean your memory foam mattress, and a few tips on how to keep your mattress cleaner for longer.
Step 1: Removing loose debris
First thing’s first… get rid of the debris and dust you can actually see. Seems like a given, right? But the way you go about removing that debris is just as important as removing it in the first place. We suggest doing so with either a small, handheld vacuum (we love the Black+Decker 20V Max handheld vacuum) or a larger vacuum with a brush handle extension – anything larger is likely to pull and possibly tear the top layers of your bed.
If you have a pillow top mattress, it might be necessary to target smaller crevices in the cover that could trap debris that’s difficult to see. Start with slow, even strokes horizontally and then vertically across the entire mattress, and finish up with targeted vacuuming in those crevices in case debris was pushed into these smaller areas during prior vacuuming.
Smooth-top mattresses will likely do just fine with a slow, even strokes horizontally and then vertically across the entire mattress. If you have pets, try using a vacuum specifically designed to pick up pet hair, which can sometimes cling to fabric more-so than other kinds of debris (and thus might be harder to pull up and out of the material).
Step 2: Spot-cleaning stains
The faster you get to a stain in your mattress, the better you’ll be able to pull unwanted liquid out of the top foam layers of your mattress. That said, you aren’t always able to get to these stains before they sink further into your mattress, so if that’s the case, careful spot-cleaning can help to lift allergens and unwanted fluids.
Mixing the cleaning solution
Our favorite homemade cleaning solution for your mattress is this: 1 part gentle laundry detergent or dishwashing liquid, 2 parts warm water. A good rule of thumb is to wait until the solution has a watery consistency but still has visible bubbles on the surface. Do not use harsh chemical cleaners that contain things like bleach and ammonia, as these can degrade the foam in your mattress.
Cleaning the stain
Once your cleaning solution is ready, gently dip a clean sponge into the solution. Do so just enough so that the sponge absorbs bubbles on the top layer and a very small amount of water. Rub the stain in small, quick circular motions, from the outermost parts of the stain moving inward. Do not soak the mattress or apply heavy pressure to the stain, as this may cause water and detergent to sink further into your bed, causing even more damage.
Tip: If you have particularly stubborn stains, try a mix of water and hydrogen peroxide. This is especially useful for stains from bodily fluids that may otherwise be difficult to remove.
Step 3: Drying your mattress
If you’ve had to apply more extensive cleaning measures to stubborn stains that leave your mattress damp or wet, make sure the area is well-ventilated. Sprinkle a small amount of baking soda to the damp area, and after its absorbed the majority of moisture, simply vacuum it up. If the area is especially wet, try using a hair dryer on either a low or medium setting – don’t use the highest heat setting, as this can cause puckering or damage to the top layers of your mattress.
Step 4: Preventing future stains
No matter how careful we are, sometimes spills and other accidents are inevitable. A great way to avoid lasting stains and damage is using either a mattress protector or a mattress encasement. A mattress protector fits like a fitted sheet, and is usually made of fluid-resistant materials that still allows for breathability. Mattress encasements are just like they sound – encasements that fit around the entire mattress and protect it from any number of debris, liquids… even bed bugs and dust mites. Though certainly not necessary, both mattress protectors and mattress encasements are a great way to protect your investment and extend the life of your mattress by years.