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How to Clean and Disinfect Your Mattress (Ultimate Guide)

How to Clean and Disinfect Your Mattress (Ultimate Guide)

by

Aoife O.
 | 
Feb 19, 2022

Mattress Cleaning Tips and DIY Solutions

Sometimes, life can get messy. And try as you may to keep your bedroom a clean and cozy sanctuary, everyday grime has a way of following you to bed.


Besides the time you spend sleeping, you likely spend some extra hours in bed snuggling with pets, watching Netflix, or sharing intimate time with your partner. All this activity contributes to a mattress full of germs, dead skin cells, dust mites, and sweat residue.


But don't worry—our comprehensive mattress cleaning guide will teach you how to combat common stains and what to use to make your mattress look, smell, and feel brand new.


When and Why Should You Disinfect Your Mattress?

Just because your bed doesn't look dirty doesn't mean you're in the clear. Dust mites, germs, dead skin cells, and sweat residue—invisible to the human eye—may lurk under the surface.


Dust and allergens can leave you feeling stuffy and foggy when you wake up, and bacteria can transfer to your skin and cause breakouts. That's why sleeping on a clean mattress is one of the most basic tenants of good sleep hygiene.


We recommend washing your sheets and bedding once per week and fully cleaning your mattress every six months. Also, if you buy a used mattress, you should thoroughly disinfect it prior to use.


On top of routine mattress maintenance, an accident may require you to do some emergency disinfecting. If that happens, make sure to start the sanitizing process as soon as possible to prevent stains.


Read on to learn the best methods for disinfecting and removing common stains from your mattress.


Mattress Cleaning Quick Guide

Illustration showing 7 ways to clean a mattress


How to Disinfect a Mattress: 7 DIY Solutions

While you can easily find a commercial mattress spray that kills odor and lift stains, you don't necessarily need a specialized cleaner to do the job. If you prefer a more natural or DIY solution, you can try one of these at-home options for disinfecting and refreshing your mattress.

Method 1: Steam Cleaning

Best for Routine Maintenance and Sweat Stains


Steam cleaning doesn't require any chemicals, making it the perfect natural method for mattress sanitization.


With a handheld steamer (such as a garment steamer), you can eradicate those nasty dust mites and break up the yellow sweat stains that naturally develop on your mattress. Just be careful not to soak the mattress. We recommend short, sharp bursts of steam.


NOTE: Not recommended for foam mattresses, including latex foam.

Method 2: Antibacterial Spray

Best for Routine Maintenance and Sweat Stains


A general disinfectant spray will break up sweat stains and kill microscopic critters and germs.


Cleaning a mattress with bleach can damage the fibers, so stay away from any product containing bleach. Gently mist—don’t soak—the mattress surface, then blot it with a damp cloth. Open a window to let the mattress air dry completely before dressing the bed.

Method 3: Vodka

Best for Routine Maintenance


Make a vodka martini for you and one for the bed! While it may sound strange, vodka is a natural disinfectant and can be used to clean a wide variety of household items, including your mattress.


Pour some vodka into an empty spray bottle and gently mist it over the entire mattress. Take care not to soak the mattress, and blot it with a clean, dry rag afterward. Open a window and allow the mattress to air dry before making the bed.

Method 4: Baking Soda and Vinegar

Best for Routine Maintenance, Deodorizing, and Stains


Baking soda and vinegar, ingredients you likely have in your kitchen, make an easy DIY mattress cleaner.


To refresh your mattress, simply pour some vinegar into a spray bottle and lightly mist the mattress surface. Don’t worry—the baking soda will absorb the smell. After 10 minutes, blot the surface with a dry rag or paper towels.


Next, sieve baking soda on the mattress and allow it to sit for a few hours in a ventilated room. The baking soda will absorb the vinegar along with any stains.


Before settling in for the night, vacuum away the baking soda from the mattress and dress the bed.

Method 5: Cornstarch and Baking Soda

Best for Deodorizing


Cornstarch—another handy household item great for cleaning a mattress. By absorbing the odor-causing bacteria, cornstarch eliminates that “old mattress smell.” You can even mix baking soda and cornstarch for a double whammy of cleaning strength.


Just sprinkle a 50/50 mix of cornstarch and baking soda onto the mattress, and allow it to sit for 30 minutes. Then, vacuum the entire mattress, bed base, and under the bed before putting the sheets back on.

Method 6: Foaming Shaving Cream

Best for Stubborn Stains


Most shaving foam contains alcohol and can tackle even the most stubborn mattress stains.


Simply spray the foam on the stain and let it sit for 20 minutes. Next, remove the excess foam and blot the mattress surface with a damp cloth. Rinse with a 50/50 water and vinegar solution, then let the mattress air dry completely before dressing the bed.

Method 7: Enzyme Cleaner

Best for Stubborn Stains


For very stubborn stains, you can make a homemade enzyme cleaner with 8 ounces of hydrogen peroxide and 3 tablespoons of baking soda.


Apply the solution to the affected area, then let it sit for a few hours. Next, take a damp cloth and gently blot the stain. Allow the surface to air dry before vacuuming the entire bed.


Spot Cleaning Common Mattress Stains

Not sure which solution would work best in your situation? We recommend these spot treatments to tackle the most common mattress stains—urine, blood, and sweat stains.

How to Get Urine Out of a Mattress

You'll Need:

  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Baking soda
  • Empty spray bottle
  • Clean cloths
  • Vacuum

Instructions:

  • 1) Remove the bed sheets and wash them following the care label.
  • 2) Pour a 50/50 mix of vinegar and water into the spray bottle.
  • 3) Using one of your dry, clean towels, blot the excess urine without scrubbing, as this will push the urine further into the mattress.
  • 4) Spray your vinegar/water mix over the stain while blotting out the excess liquid.
  • 5) Sprinkle baking soda over the stain and allow it to sit for about 8 hours.
  • 6) Vacuum the stain to clean the baking soda off the mattress. You can use this opportunity to vacuum the entire bed and base.
  • 7) Repeat the process if necessary.

How to Remove Blood Stains on a Mattress

You'll Need:

  • Baking soda
  • Cold water
  • Clean cloths
  • Bowl
  • Vacuum

Instructions:

  • 1) Remove all bedding and spot clean or wash following the care label.
  • 2) Mix two parts water and one part baking soda in a bowl.
  • 3) With a dry cloth, apply to stain by dabbing, not rubbing.
  • 4) Let the mixture sit for 30 minutes.
  • 5) Dab the stain again with a damp cloth.
  • 6) Vacuum the residue.
  • 7) Allow the excess water to air dry on the mattress before remaking the bed.

For more tips on blood stain removal, you can read our complete guide here.

How to Clean Sweat Stains From a Mattress

You'll Need:

  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Baking soda
  • Clean cloths
  • Bowl
  • Vacuum

Instructions:

  • 1) Remove all sheets and bedding.
  • 2) In a bowl, mix 8 ounces of hydrogen peroxide and 3 tablespoons of baking soda.
  • 3) With a clean cloth, apply the solution to the affected area. Allow it to sit for a few hours.
  • 4) Dampen a clean cloth and gently blot the stain.
  • 5) Allow the spot to air dry, then vacuum the entire mattress.
  • 6) Redress the bed with fresh sheets.


How to Deodorize a Mattress

If you notice your mattress starting to smell a little stale, you can follow these instructions and deodorize it with just one ingredient: baking soda.

You'll Need:

  • Vacuum
  • Baking soda

Instructions:

  • 1) Remove your sheets.
  • 2) Vacuum the entire mattress, base, and under the bed.
  • 3) Sprinkle or sieve the baking soda onto the mattress surface and allow it to sit for as long as possible, preferably in direct sunlight.
  • 4) Vacuum again when ready to remove the baking powder.
  • 5) Redress your bed, and your mattress should smell fresh again.


How to Clean a Used Mattress

Buying a used mattress is a great way to save money, but it does come with some risks. Whether you purchase a used mattress from an online marketplace, get one from a friend, or take home a floor model, you’ll want to take extra steps to clean and disinfect your bed before use.


First and foremost, check the mattress for bed bugs before finalizing the purchase and loading it into your vehicle. Bed bugs are notoriously difficult to deal with, but fortunately, a careful eye can spot an active or prior infestation.


Flip the mattress to its underside and inspect the corners and seams. You can see live bed bugs with the naked eye, as well as their blood and excrements, which appear as tiny dark spots. If you see signs of infestation, we do not recommend proceeding with the purchase.


If you do take home a used bed, you'll want to clean and sanitize the mattress as thoroughly as possible. Below, we've broken down the process step by step.

Instructions:

  • 1) Weather permitting, air the mattress out outdoors before bringing it into your home. The sunlight will act as a natural disinfectant.
  • 2) Vacuum the entire mattress, along with your mattress base and underneath.
  • 3) If the mattress has any stains, use one of the spot treatments outlined above.
  • 4) Use the steam cleaner, baking soda, or antibacterial spray method on the entire mattress to sanitize your sleep surface fully.
  • 5) Allow the mattress to dry completely before making the bed.


How to Disinfect a Mattress with Bed Bugs

While ridding bed bugs from a mattress is a hassle, it's not impossible. With methodical care, you can remove live bed bugs, and their eggs, from your bedding, mattress, and bed frame. The process is a lengthy undertaking, covered in our step-by-step Bed Bug Removal Guide.

How to Disinfect Bed Sheets

Cleaning your mattress won't do much good if you still sleep on dirty bed sheets. Ideally, you want to wash your sheets once every week to keep your bedding free from dust, bacteria, pet dander, and allergens. Here’s how:

Instructions:

  • 1) Strip the bed, and put the sheets in the washer on the hottest setting the fabric can handle—be sure to check the care label for instructions.
  • 2) Use a reputable laundry detergent and fabric softener.
  • 3) Dry sheets in direct sunlight or on a high dryer setting, as the heat will act as a natural disinfectant.
  • 4) Dress the bed with your clean, dry sheets.


Keep Your Mattress Cleaner, Longer with a Mattress Protector

The old adage that "the best offense is a good defense" certainly applies to keeping your mattress clean and your sleep environment healthy. Aside from obvious stains, your mattress can host mold and germs that can harm you even if you can't see them.


To keep your mattress looking new, smelling fresh, and prevent bacteria from degrading the materials, we recommend covering it in a mattress protector.


A quality mattress protector should be waterproof yet breathable, and highly durable. Our premium Nolah Cooling Mattress Protector is waterproof but still thin and quiet, so it doesn't disrupt comfortable sleep.


Mattress Cleaning FAQs

To conclude our guide, we’ve gathered a few of the most common miscellaneous mattress cleaning questions we see asked online. If you have lingering questions about mattress care or mattress protectors, don’t hesitate to ask our support team using the live chat feature.

1. How Do I Sanitize a Memory Foam Mattress?

For memory foam, you’ll want to avoid getting the mattress wet. Also, avoid using harsh products such as ammonia and bleach.


The best way to sanitize a memory foam mattress is by mixing 1/2 cup of white vinegar and 1 cup of water in a spray bottle and lightly misting it onto the mattress. Take special care not to soak the surface.


Allow the vinegar mixture to sit for 30 minutes. Then gently dab the mattress with a clean, dry rag or paper towels, and let it air dry naturally.


To clean a liquid stain, sprinkle baking soda on the spot after misting the mattress and let it sit for up to 10 hours before vacuuming. This will absorb the stain while avoiding damage to your memory foam mattress.

2. Can I Spray Lysol on My Bed?

To deodorize a mattress, you can use a can of Lysol Fabric Mist, which you can also spray on sheets, blankets, and pillows for a refresh. In general, Lysol spray eradicates bacteria and is safe to use on most mattresses, but read the label carefully for directions.


After use, ensure that the mattress, sheets, and pillows dry entirely before dressing the bed.

3. Can You Bleach a Mattress?

Do not use bleach on a mattress—the strong chemicals in bleach can damage the mattress fibers. We recommend a more gentle approach like one of the DIY cleaning solutions described above.

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