Spills, accidents, and stains happen. Use these tips to make them disappear.

Even if you use a mattress protector—and virtually all mattress manufacturers and experts suggest you do—your bed can get dirty over time. Dust mites and sweat can seep down into the mattress' fibers, causing stains and unpleasant odors. And since you can't simply toss your mattress into the washer when it needs a refresh, it's easy to assume that cleaning yours is a hassle. But our experts assure us that it is not. Here, they explain exactly how to clean a mattress.

bare mattress with folded sheets
Credit: Getty / Pannonia

Pull Out the Vacuum

Though cleaning your mattress isn't a major undertaking, preventing major spills ensures you won't have to complete this task more than you truly need to. This means using a mattress protector under your sheets. However, every so often, you should be removing that protector to tidy underneath, Jill Johnson, the Vice President of Marketing with Tempur-Pedic, explains. "To keep your mattress clean and refreshed, we recommend removing your sheets and protective mattress cover and gently vacuuming the mattress at least once or twice per year," she says. "This is the only recommended method to use on a mattress directly and is a quick and easy step to work into your routine." She also suggests regularly washing your sheets to keep everything that comes into contact with your mattress as fresh as possible. "Finally, you want to ensure your mattress has an opportunity to breathe—leave it uncovered for at least one hour each time you remove the linens," she adds.

Avoid Harsh Chemicals

If you have to go in with a product, avoid using formulas with bleach; chlorine-based cleaning solutions and harsh stain removers are also out, since they can be difficult to fully rinse out of your mattress' fibers. "If you must remove a spot or a stain, we recommend using a mild soap on a cloth dampened with cold water. Apply it lightly," Johnson says, adding that you'll need to be careful not to soak the mattress with liquid.

Treat Set-In Spots

To treat more difficult stains, "try spraying the mattress with vinegar and [sprinkling] baking soda over the top," says Leanne Stapf, the Chief Operating Officer with The Cleaning Authority.  "You can place a towel over the area and let it sit for one to two hours." After it has had time to set, Stapf the says to pass over the spot with your vacuum. Just be sure to clean your machine after, especially if the baking soda is still wet, since it can create clogs and clumps inside the appliance.

Opt for Washable Protectors

When selecting a protector, Johnson says you should always pick one that can be machine washed. "When washing these covers, we recommend a cold temperature setting for machine washing and a cool setting for machine drying—although, if possible, air-drying indoors is preferred," she explains. Look for options with hypoallergenic or anti-microbial agents that keep the surfaces cleaner, longer, too.

Comments (1)

Martha Stewart Member
May 23, 2021
Any tips for removing animal (dog) urine from a new mattress?