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Spring-Cleaning for the Bed

How to Care for Your Mattress


Turn your mattress over four times a year, top to toe and side to side, to distribute the wear evenly. Keep track by attaching two tags to the mattress with safety pins. Mark "January" (right side up) and "April" (upside down) on one end, and "October" (right side up) and "July" (upside down) on the other. When the appropriate month rolls around, turn and flip the mattress so that the appropriate month's name is right side up at the foot of the bed. Turning a big bed top to toe can seem like a daunting task, but try this method: Working with one person on each long side of the bed, grab onto the handles and turn the mattress perpendicular to the box spring. Then slide the mattress partially off one side, bringing the end that was at the foot of the bed up, and let the other end fall to the floor so the mattress is standing on one end. Then simply let it fall back onto the bed and turn it back into place, with the end that was the foot now at the head.


Vacuum mattresses and box springs every three months (when you flip your mattress) using the upholstery attachment and, if possible, haul both outside for a day of fresh air.


Strip your bed whenever you go on vacation to air it out.



Don't sit on the edge of a mattress; doing so causes the sides to slope.


Don't let children jump on the bed. Not only do they risk serious injury, but also the impact on the mattress can pop buttons, tear the stitching, and damage the filling.


Don't allow your mattress to get wet, which could cause some upholstery materials to compress.


Don't use dry-cleaning fluid of any type to clean your mattress; the chemicals can damage some of the construction materials.


Don't place a board between your mattress and your box spring. The board will interfere with the supporting function of the box spring -- and you may not get the proper support that the box spring is intended to give you. If you need extra support, you should consider buying a new mattress set.


How to Care for Pillows

Fluff pillows daily when you make your bed.


Guard against stains by encasing pillows in machine-washable, zippered pillow protectors; launder protectors once a month. Be sure to place the zipper end of the cover inside the pillowcase first so it's not near your face.


Don't toss extra pillows on the floor when you go to bed. Place them on a sofa or bench to keep them clean.


Whether made of natural fibers (such as down) or synthetic materials (often polyester), most pillows can be washed in the machine. They should be cleaned every three to six months to remove mold, bacteria, and odors. Read the care label for instructions.


Pillows that can't be laundered (such as those made of wool, silk, and some down pillows manufactured before machine-washable ones became common) should be gently spot cleaned with a mild dishwashing liquid (be careful not to saturate the filling) and aired in the sunshine two or three times a year.

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