The smart guide to cleaning your mattress

We sleep on our mattress every night but rarely think about cleaning it. If you’re guilty of neglecting yours, check out our ultimate guide to cleaning your mattress. It covers everything from the basics to tough stain removal.

Essential mattress cleaning tips

Hoovering your bed - make it part if your cleaning schedule.
Hoovering your bed – make it part if your cleaning schedule.

Your mattress can quickly build up stains, odours and dust mites, and if you don’t clean it regularly it can harbour germs and bacteria that could affect your sleep and well-being. Follow these steps for keeping a clean mattress:

1.Keep your mattress dry, this is really important. Spills, sweat and cleaning products all add moisture to your mattress, and you risk growing mould and breeding other nasties. Always dry well after cleaning.

2. Wash the mattress cover if possible. This should be happening as regularly as cleaning your bedding. If you don’t have a cover, invest in an extra fitted sheet to act as a cover.

3. Vacuum your mattress at least once a month and don’t forget to do both sides. Vacuuming can remove accumulated dust, dirt, dust mites, hair and dead skin cells which can all irritate allergies and cause poor sleep. It’s important to use a clean hand attachment so you can get into the nooks.

4. Air your mattress every 2-3 months to prevent mould from forming. Place it outside, ideally when it’s sunny and this should help remove any lingering smells from your mattress.

5. Flip your mattress at least twice a year. Also, rotate it around so that you’re not always sleeping on the same end. This helps your mattress stay even and gives you the chance to get rid of trapped dust.

6. Buy a mattress protector and it’ll be one of the best investment you’ve ever made. It’ll save your mattress from spills and stains, and keep dust and dirt from reaching your mattress.

Deodorise your mattress

Bicarbonate of soda to the rescue!
Bicarbonate of soda to the rescue!

Mattresses can get pretty smelly if you share your bed, especially during the Summer months when you tend to sweat more. It’s said the average person perspires around half a pint of sweat each night. That’s a lot…

…if only we could wash our mattresses! Well, the next best thing is to deodorise and refresh. Use bicarbonate of soda to soak up moisture and get rid of any stubborn smells that form from dirt, sweat and other grim stuff.

  1. Take a cup of bicarbonate of soda and sift it onto your mattress evenly
  2. Leave it to sit for 30 minutes
  3. Vacuum it all up using a hand attachment

For a particularly bad-smelling mattress, you can add a few drops of your favourite essential oil to the bicarbonate of soda before you sift it onto your mattress.

Go one step further and prop your mattress up outside for a few hours (just make sure it’s a dry day) or stand it up in your bedroom, open all your windows and turn a fan on.

For more details on how to clean naturally, discover how one pot of Bicarbonate of Soda can clean your entire home.

How to tackle mattress stains

Hotel fresh.
Hotel fresh.

Mattresses can quickly build up a surprising amount of stains. You might occasionally drop a drink or some food which will cause a tannin or grease stain, but mostly you’ll find ones from the protein variety. These include blood, sweat, vomit, urine and other bodily fluids so we’ll focus on how to remove these first…

Cleaning fresh stains

As with all stains, it’s best to get to them while they are still fresh so in this instance, grab a cool, damp cloth (avoid hot water) and gently blot the stain. Then with a dry cloth gently dab it to pick up any moisture. Be careful not to use a rotating motion as this will push the stain further in and around the mattress. Gently pat the stain instead.

Next, grab these ingredients from the kitchen cupboard:

  • Salt
  • Bicarbonate of Soda
  • Water

Mix half a cup of water with 2 tablespoons of salt and drip the water and stir to form a paste. Gently rub it into the area with a dry cloth and leave it to dry for 20 minutes before brushing off. Again use a cool, damp cloth to remove any excess paste and allow to air dry. If there is too much moisture on your mattress, dry it with a hairdryer on a low setting or keep a fan running to help.

Battling old stains

But what do you do when you’ve found a stain during your mattress clean that looks like it’s been there for months? Get out the hydrogen peroxide.

It’s an amazing household cleaner (find out more in my article 29 reasons why you need hydrogen peroxide in your life) and works really well on old or stubborn stains, lifting out any discolouration. Simply mix 2 parts hydrogen peroxide with 1 part washing up liquid and apply to the stain using an old toothbrush. With old stains, you can move around in circular motions to get right into the fabric, then 5 minutes later clean the solution away with a cool, wet cloth.

If you prefer to use household cleaning products then be careful not to use too much. Use sparingly to avoid saturating your mattress with liquid, and always make sure you mattress is dry before you use it again. Enzyme cleaners are very good at removing protein stains, they are usually found in the guise of pet stain and odour removers, check out Amazon for a huge range.

Removing tannin and grease stains

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Tannin is a naturally occurring vegetable dye and is found in liquids such as coffee, tea, fruit juice and wine. If you get to it quickly it can be easily removed, but leave it for a few days and it leads to one stubborn stain. Mix other ingredients in with hot tannin liquids, such a sugar and cream in coffee, and it becomes a nightmare.

If like me you love to enjoy a morning tea then you’ll know how perilous it is balancing a cup in bed! If your tea and other liquids have found their way through the duvet, sheets and mattress protector and onto the mattress, here’s how to get rid of them…

Immediately take off any bedding and your mattress protector and lie a cool, damp towel on the spot and weigh the towel down. This will help keep the spot damp and easier to clean. Chuck any bedding into a cold wash with a stain remover (if you don’t have one, bicarbonate of soda will also work).

Next, grab some dish detergent and mix with room temperature water before gently washing the stain with a sponge. If you have a pre-wash stain remover then follow the instructions on the bottle and work it into the stain. When you don’t have either to hand, the following can act as alternatives:

  • Bicarbonate of Soda
  • White Vinegar
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Lemon Juice

If possible, put the mattress out in the sun, the chemicals or natural ingredients found in the alternatives will work a lot more effectively if you have the power of the sun beaming down on it.

You are less likely to find grease stains on your mattress, but there are a few oil-based products you might use in your bed – lubricant, hand cream, make-up and butter for example (breakfast in bed!). For stains like these follow the same steps above but avoid the damp initial blotting with a damp cloth. Instead, soak up grease by covering it with talcum powder or baking soda, and brush off.

Important things to remember

Avoid excessive amounts of water, mattresses – particularly foam ones – don’t do well with moisture and will quickly form mould. With memory foam mattresses, liquids get trapped in the cellular structure and has nowhere to escape!

Never sleep on a wet mattress. Use a hairdryer (only after stain removal) or fans to help dry it quicker if you need to. When you’re using cleaning products and water always use minimal amounts and build up to it – don’t just whack a load on – and always blot dry.

Prevention is better than cure and urine is the hardest thing to clean. If you have a puppy or a child avoid messy mishaps by investing in a mattress topper or use a thin plastic sheet. When dealing with urine, buy an enzyme spray – we can recommend Mr Muscle Oxy Action Stain Remover.

Dust mites are more common than you think and a major cause of allergic symptoms. Mattresses collect a lot of dust which provides a happy playground for them and they also feed off dead skin cells. The best thing you can do to avoid them is:

  • Flip your mattress
  • Rotate it
  • Hoover regularly
  • Clean well and often
  • Wash your bedding in hot cycles
  • Change your bedding regularly



A keen money-saver and fan of all things natural, Anushka enjoys making her own beauty products and is partial to a bit of crafting. Never short of a clever tip or two, she's always looking for new ways to make her money go even further.

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