How to Clean a Mattress

Each night you shed dead skin cells that sift through your sheets, land on the mattress and encourage stains, smells, dust mites and other bacteria. Routinely cleaning your mattress helps keep it sanitary.

A mattress accumulates more than just dust and dirt over time. Humans shed millions of skin cells an hour, and some of those wind up in your bed where they can become embedded in fabric and exacerbate asthma and other breathing problems. Mattresses also harbor bacteria, mold and fungus, as well as mites and their excrement. As a result, it is important to clean a mattress regularly to remove these microorganisms.

Routine mattress cleaning is relatively simple and involves vacuuming the surface of the mattress with the upholstery attachment. This helps to remove loose particles and eliminates odors. Vacuuming also helps to keep the mattress from becoming soiled by stains.

If a stain does appear on the mattress, it is a good idea to spot clean it right away before it has a chance to set in. Choose a cleaning solution appropriate for the type of stain. For example, bodily fluid stains require different solutions than wine or tea stains. Use a cloth to apply the cleaning solution to the affected area of the mattress. Avoid rubbing as this can push the stain deeper into the mattress fibers.

For other stains, sprinkle the mattress lightly with baking soda and let it sit for an hour or overnight. Then vacuum it thoroughly, paying particular attention to seams, corners and crevices.

If your mattress has an outer cover, you should strip it and wash it in a washing machine on the delicate cycle, along with the sheets and pillowcases and any other bedding that is washed with the mattress. This will help to eliminate any odors and reduce the presence of any bacteria, mold or fungus on the mattress. Alternatively, you can place the mattress in direct sunlight for about 10 minutes to brighten and kill bacteria naturally. 


Stains aren’t just the mark of a bad night’s sleep — they can also be a breeding ground for bacteria. Mattresses collect sweat, blood, urine and vomit stains over time, along with lotions, oils, body hair and more. While you’ll want to treat any fresh stains right away, most can be tackled with a little bit of common household cleaning products and an old toothbrush.

Start by removing your sheets, pillow cases and any protectors from the mattress. Vacuum the surface of the mattress using narrow, overlapping paths with your regular vacuum cleaner’s upholstery attachment and a crevice attachment to get into the seams and corners. Next, make sure your mattress has plenty of sunshine to dry. A few hours of sun exposure will kill any bacteria and odors trapped inside your mattress.

While a routine hoover and an annual airing out are enough to keep most mattresses healthy and stain-free, you may need more frequent spot treatments for more stubborn marks and smells. If you spill a drink or eat breakfast in bed, for example, quickly blot the mark before it can spread. And if your child or pet has an accident, clean up the stain and rinse off the bedding as soon as possible to prevent bacteria from setting in.

If you’ve got a blood stain, don’t use hot water, which can set it into the mattress fabric. Instead, mist the affected area with cold water and blot it. Repeat as necessary until the stain is gone and your mattress is completely dry before replacing the sheets.

For most other stains, you’ll have success with a mixture of powdered laundry detergent and white vinegar. Mix up a solution of 1 part laundry detergent, 1 part vinegar and 10 parts water in a spray bottle, then apply it to the offending mark. Let it sit for 15 minutes, then scrub it with a soft brush or sponge and rinse the mattress clean with a hose.

For stubborn stains, you can even make a homemade enzyme cleaner out of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. First, sprinkle the mattress with baking soda to soak up any moisture and odors. Then, mix up a solution of 2 fl oz of hydrogen peroxide, 1 tbsp of dish soap and a few drops of liquid laundry detergent. Spray the solution on the stain, blot it and let the mattress dry.


If you notice a lingering odor on your mattress, it could be time for a deep clean. Dust, pet dander and dead skin are common culprits that can leave behind a musty or unpleasant odor. Vacuuming your mattress often is the most effective method of removing these and other particles. A handheld vacuum with an upholstery attachment is ideal to get the job done. Be sure to go over the entire surface of your mattress, including its crevices and corners.

If your mattress is stained, consider using an enzyme-based stain remover or an upholstery cleaner to chemically break down the odors and stains. Follow the instructions on your product of choice and spot treat any affected areas as needed. Once the mattress is thoroughly cleaned, allow it to dry completely before remaking your bed.

In addition to stains, your mattress may also have accumulated odors due to sweat or moisture buildup, a condition that can lead to mold and mildew. These conditions can create unpleasant odors and can irritate sensitive individuals, especially those with respiratory problems like allergies or asthma.

Keeping your mattress fresh and odor-free can be as simple as adding a mattress protector and regularly washing your sheets. If you do wash your sheets, CR recommends that you use a reputable detergent that's rated for delicate fabrics. You can also help prevent odors by avoiding exposing your mattress to direct sunlight, which may cause it to "off-gas," or release volatile organic compounds (VOCs), a process that's most likely to occur on new mattresses and other products made from natural materials.

If you do choose to buy a new mattress, consider choosing one with high environmental standards, which will be reflected in its lower VOCs. If you're concerned about a new mattress off-gassing, try airing it out outdoors for several hours to help the odors dissipate. You can also place bowls of baking soda and/or vinegar around the room to absorb and neutralize odors. Promoting air circulation by opening windows and running a fan in the room can help, too. Finally, removing the sheets and blankets and letting your mattress air out on a sunny day is another option that helps to reduce odors.


If you notice a mild odor after cleaning your mattress, there are several ways to freshen it. For example, sprinkle the mattress with baking soda and let it sit overnight. Then vacuum the mattress, making sure to get into all corners and seams. You can also move the mattress outdoors (if weather permits) so that it gets a good airing, as UV rays will kill bacteria and deodorize the mattress as well.

For biological stains, such as urine, fecal matter or vomit, you can use a commercial enzyme cleaner. These products typically can be found online or at a home goods store. They may need to be sprayed directly onto the stain and left to sit for the suggested amount of time before wiping clean. Be aware that some enzyme cleaners can bleach colored fabrics, so it's best to test a small area of your mattress before spraying the entire surface.

A natural deodorizer that's easy on the environment is white vinegar. You can make your own mattress deodorizer by mixing equal parts water and distilled white vinegar in a spray bottle. The solution works as a disinfectant and stain remover, although it won't completely eradicate dark stains. If your mattress still smells after using this treatment, you can disinfect the mattress with 3% hydrogen peroxide, which is safe to use on most mattresses (although it may bleach some colored fabrics).

To keep your mattress as fresh as possible between cleaning sessions, strip it of all linens, including the mattress protector, and wash all sheets and pillowcases in hot water. When the sheets are dry, fold them neatly and place them back on your bed. This helps prevent odors from building up between washings and will also help keep dust mites, mold and fungus away.

Another way to reduce the need for deep cleaning is to use a portable steamer on your mattress after you vacuum and spot clean it. Be sure to read the manufacturer's instructions and avoid using a steamer that reaches higher temperatures than the recommended level for your mattress, as this could damage the fibers.

But if you're tired enough to clean your mattress we can help! The Galaxy's Finest Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning provide professional mattress cleaning services to the Chicagoland area. The Galaxy's Finest Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning service is performed using a special hydro-kinetic upholstery tool that does not saturate the mattress, yet provides a deep clean, removing the skin cells, dust mites, and dirt from the fabric. Sanitizer is included in the solution to kill any bacteria on your mattress and helps stop most odor problems. Click Here to get a quote.

Each night you shed dead skin cells that sift through your sheets, land on the mattress and encourage stains, smells, dust mites and other bacteria. Routinely cleaning your mattress helps keep it sanitary. A mattress accumulates more than just dust and dirt over time. Humans shed millions of skin cells an hour, and some of…