Clean Your Mattress the Natural Way

How to remove common stains and keep your mattress fresh and clean-smelling.

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Mattresses take a lot of abuse. Jerome Tisne/Stone/Getty Images

Not only is your mattress an expensive purchase, it also plays an important role in keeping you healthy both mentally and physically. Despite that, most people show their mattress little love, never giving it a proper cleaning. But just as you wash your sheets on a regular basis, you need to clean your mattress, although fortunately, not nearly as often.

However, when it’s mattress-cleaning time, why rely on strong chemicals or expensive commercial cleaning products?

While it is very important to keep the space where you spend a third of your life clean and fresh, that doesn’t mean it’s necessary to surround yourself with potentially irritating fragrances, cleaners or other harsh chemicals. Instead, you can use natural methods and simple ingredients you probably already have around the house to freshen and clean your mattress, remove funky stains and leave your sleeping space pleasantly scented and ready for dreamtime.

Cleaning the Mattress

Your mattress is exposed to the worst of you: sweat, drool, shed skin flakes, hair and skin oil, and various bodily fluids. Add to that the allergens, dust, mites, indoor pollution and pet dander found in most homes, and your mattress is ripe for a cleaning. At a minimum, you should clean the mattress every six months, but ideally, do it each season.

General cleaning and odor removal:

  1. Strip all the bedding from your mattress and toss it into the washing machine while you work.
  1. Vacuum the top of your mattress, the sides, and underneath the bed. Now lift the mattress (get someone to help if it’s difficult) and vacuum between the mattress and the box springs.
  2. Mix one cup of baking soda with a few drops of essential lavender oil in a bowl, then put the mixture in a strainer.
  3. Shake the fragranced baking soda evenly over the entire mattress.
  1. Leave the baking soda on the bed until your bedding is finished washing and drying.
  2. Vacuum the baking soda off the mattress, and remake your bed with the clean linens.

Urine and sweat:

Bedwetting happens -- it’s hard to raise kids without at least one or two nighttime accidents. Sweat produces similar yellowish stains, and over time, it’s common for mattresses to become discolored and musty smelling from sweat, especially a mattress used by a teen boy or a woman suffering through hot flashes. If you have a mattress stained by either urine or sweat, use the following method to remove the smell and the stain.

  1. Strip the bed completely.
  2. Mix together one cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide, three tablespoons of baking soda and just a few drops of liquid dishwashing soap. Stir until the baking soda dissolves.
  3. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle, and then spray the entire stained area of the mattress, letting the solution soak into the mark.
  4. Leave the solution to air dry for at least an hour. If you want to speed things up, set a blowing fan near the mattress, or use your blow dryer on the cool setting.

Blood:

It’s an unfortunate – and gross – fact of life that sometimes mattresses get stained with blood.

If this happens to yours, treat the stain as quickly as possible.

  1. Remove the sheets from the bed, and wash right away.
  2. Fill a spray bottle with 3% hydrogen peroxide.
  3. Spray the bloodstain, then blot with a clean towel.
  4. Repeat spraying and blotting the stain until it is gone.
  5. Let the mattress air dry, or use your blow dryer to speed up the process.

Vomit:

If you have kids, you’re probably familiar with this scenario. Whether it’s from a stomach virus or too many cookies before bedtime, kids all seem to vomit in bed at one time or another.

  1. Remove all the bedding from the bed, and toss the soiled sheets into the wash.
  2. Mix a 50/50 solution of water and white vinegar in a spray bottle.
  3. Spray the soiled area of the mattress, then blot with a clean towel.
  4. Continue spraying and blotting until the mark is gone.
  1. Sprinkle a little bit of baking soda over the treated area.
  2. After an hour, vacuum away the baking soda, and let the mattress air dry.