How to Clean a Mattress: Tips for Removing Common Stains

hands wearing blue rubber gloves holding upholstery cleaner extension

While we all do our best to avoid them, stains are just a natural part of sleeping on a mattress, especially when it comes to pets and children.

And while some stains come out easily, others take a little more to know how.

In this article, you’ll learn tips for removing common mattress stains, as well as the steps to properly clean and deodorize a mattress.

Why should you clean your mattress?

Like the rest of your space, keeping your sleeping area clean and tidy helps to reduce illness, prolong the life of your mattress,provide a more restful sleep, and improve your mental wellbeing. 

Cleaning your mattress on a regular basis will result in:

  • Pest and bacteria control
  • Longer mattress life (and financial savings)
  • Personal comfort
  • Improved sleep
  • Better air quality
Cleaning product spray bottle

How to clean the most common mattress stains

Stain removal can be a real pain. Most stains are an unavoidable result of what our own bodies produce—blood, sweat, and urine being the most common examples.

While it’s always best to take care of the stain as soon as it appears, sometimes it’s in a spot that’s difficult to see or you just don’t have time to immediately treat it. If that’s the case, place a towel or paper towel over the accident and go back to it as soon as you can.

Here is what happens when a stain is left unattended:

The stain will set into the mattress, which means it will be nearly impossible to remove completely. For stains like blood or urine, the smell can stick around for months, if not more.

The smell of the stain can attract microbes and critters, too, so it’s imperative for both your health and the health of your mattress that you handle the stain as soon as you can.

Have a look at the different stains and how to properly tackle each one:

1. Urine

You can do this one of two ways:

Buy a special stain remover that mentions urine and other tough stains on the bottle. These can be found at most box stores and grocery stores. Simply follow the instructions on the bottle and voila!

For a more DIY solution, all you need are hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, dish soap, and essential oil. Put all four ingredients into a spray bottle, spray the stain, and let it sit until it’s dry. From there, vacuum and repeat if necessary.

3. Sweat

Sweating is a natural way of keeping our bodies cool. On hot summer nights, or when we’re under too many blankets, our sweat will end up on our mattress.

 If you see yellowish stains or smell a musty scent, there’s little doubt that it’s caused by sweat. Fortunately, there are is a reliable solution to removing sweat stains and their odor:

First, use a cloth to soak up any fresh sweat and get the mattress as dry as possible. From there, use a mixture of dish soap, hydrogen peroxide, and water to spray the stain. 

Blot the stain out and dry it with a dry towel before applying baking soda to absorb any excess moisture and those musty odors. Vacuum the baking soda off the mattress and you’re all finished.

2. Blood

Cold water, as opposed to warm water, is the best way to stop blood from setting into the mattress. Since blood is such a prominent and obvious stain, it’s imperative that you find it and remove it as quickly as possible. 

If you’re wondering why cold water is used, it’s because warm water will actually heat the blood and encourage it to set deeper into the mattress with no hope of total removal.

Simply wet the stain with cold water and gently pat it with a cloth until it’s gone. 

If a bloodstain is particularly stubborn, a method using salt, hydrogen peroxide, and cornstarch is one of the best ways to go. Mix everything into a paste, then apply it to the stain. Allow it to sit for 30 minutes before scraping it away with a cloth and then vacuuming the rest.

Cleaning product beside paper towel role.

Steps to Cleaning and Deodorizing Any Mattress

A mattress isn’t like a pair of pants or a shirt; you can’t just toss it in the washing machine to clean it.

There are a number of effective ways to clean a mattress, nearly all of which also involve removing common stains such as urine, blood, and sweat. 

All in all, methods involving how to clean a mattress are generally uncomplicated and only require some time and elbow grease to get it done. They range from immediately addressing spills and spot cleaning old stains to vacuuming and dusting.

Close up of washing machine.

1. Sheet and Cover Cleaning

Before you clean your mattress, remove the sheets, pillow cases, machine-washable covers, and blankets. These items can contribute to unwanted smells and stains, so cleaning them is as important as cleaning the mattress. 

Machine-wash what you can and follow label instructions regarding the rest. Dry everything that you can in the dryer and make sure it’s on the hottest setting; this will ensure the death and destruction of any unwanted bacteria.

To save yourself from future headaches, make sure to invest in a mattress that has a removable, machine-washable cover. That will make cleaning your mattress that much easier.

3. Deodorizing

It’s now time to deodorize your mattress. Even if it doesn’t have any stains, or if it hasn’t had much use—maybe it’s in a second home, a guest bedroom, or you’re just not home very often— body and environmental odors will still build up in the mattress over time.

Baking soda is the most common way of getting rid of unwanted smells. Sprinkle this powder over the entirety of the mattress using a sifter or strainer.If you’re confident in your ability to sprinkle the baking soda over the mattress with your fingers, that is also an option. 

Leave the baking soda on the mattress for up to several hours. This allows it to absorb odors more effectively than if you removed the baking soda immediately after applying it.

6. Air Out the Mattress

To help deodorize the mattress even further, let it air out for a good hour or so. This will allow it to dry, too, if you recently removed any stains.Mattresses that are routinely aired out typically have less dust mites and other allergens. 

Let sunlight in, as UV rays help destroy bacteria while the sun’s warmth dries the mattress faster.

2. Vacuuming

Vacuum the mattress. Use a brush attachment if you have one and make sure to vacuum all sides, including the bottom. Vacuum the floor under the bed, too, as well as the frame. It’s a good idea to dust and clean the frame, too.

A crevice attachment will come in handy if your mattress has a lot of seams and crevices.

4. Spot Treating Stains

Have a look for stains and spot treat them as necessary with either a commercial product or a natural product like dish detergent or vinegar. Common stains include the following:

  • Urine
  • Sweat
  • Dirt or mud
  • Blood
  • Food

5. One more Vacuum

Guess what:

It’s time to vacuum the mattress again.

Suck up all that baking soda you sprinkled on earlier. This is where that crevice tool really comes in handy, as it will remove the powder from even the smallest seams. Because the baking powder soaks in all those odors and liquids from the mattress, everything will smell just like new once you finish vacuuming.

Baking soda can be very messy, so make sure you empty the vacuum container outside or in a confined area.

7. Flipping or Rotating your Mattress

If possible, flip your mattress onto the other side. This helps to keep it clean for longer while also encouraging even wear. If the mattress has a top and bottom, simply rotate it 180 degrees so you’re not sleeping in the same area for the entirely of the mattress’ life.

This ensures that you’re not sleeping on a saggy or uneven area that will eventually wear out and attract dust and even mold. In addition, flipping or rotating your mattress will help support your body while you sleep.

8. Apply a Mattress Protector and Reapply Clean Sheets

Perfect Sense Mattress Topper

We’re nearly done.

Apply a mattress protector if you have one; this will protect it from spills, food, creepy crawlies, and other irritants. Mattress Toppers and Mattress Pads are great ways to help keep a mattress clean, because they can easily be replaced if a stain cannot be removed, plus they add extra comfort and softness to your mattress. 

From there, make the bed the way you prefer it and you’ve successfully cleaned and deodorized your mattress.

Because it’s where you spend so much of your time, your mattress is an essential part of everyday life. Keeping it clean and deodorized is one of the most reliable ways to sleep comfortably and stay healthy. 

Cleaning your mattress twice a year is the general standard to a clean bed free of pests, allergens, and stains. Use the 8 essential steps in this article to do so and enjoy a restful night’s sleep!

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