How to Clean a Futon Mattress

Two dogs resting on white futon in living area

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Project Overview
  • Working Time: 30 mins - 1 hr
  • Total Time: 30 mins - 8 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner

The futon is no longer just a choice for a college dorm or first apartment piece of furniture. The futon mattress began as a traditional style of bedding in Japan but has evolved into a stylish, convertible piece of furniture that can serve as a sofa or bed with a mattress pliable enough to fold when the frame is adjusted. And, just like any type of mattress, it will get soiled from body oils, food, drinks, and pets. When you see stains or notice an odor, it is time to clean your futon mattress.

How Often to Clean a Futon Mattress

Spills and stains should be removed as quickly as possible to avoid further penetration deeper into the mattress. If the futon mattress has a removable, washable cover, it should be cleaned as needed or at least seasonally.

Vacuum the futon mattress weekly to remove soil and dust. Deeper cleaning of the mattress depends on your habits. If the futon is used only for sleeping, thorough cleaning once per year is usually enough. If it is used as a couch and bed for eating, napping, and snuggling with pets, cleaning the mattress twice a year is a great idea.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Vacuum with hose and upholstery attachment
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Washing machine
  • Clothesline or drying rack
  • Clothes steamer
  • Circulating fan
  • Small bowl or bucket
  • Soft-bristled brush

Materials

  • Baking soda
  • Enzyme-based laundry stain remover
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Oxygen-based bleach

Instructions

How you clean a futon mattress depends on its construction. Traditional Japanese futon mattresses are thinner and usually filled with cotton. They are placed directly on the floor on top of a straw mat. Western futon mattresses used on a metal or wooden frame are thicker and can be made with small interlaced springs, cotton or foam filling, or a solid sheet of memory foam.

How to Clean a Cotton or Innerspring Futon Mattress

  1. Remove the Outer Cover

    If possible, remove the outer cover. Wash or dry clean it as recommended by the care tag.

  2. Vacuum the Mattress

    Using a vacuum with a hose and an upholstery brush attachment, carefully vacuum the mattress. Don't forget the sides and turn it over to vacuum the other side.

  3. Treat Stains

    If your mattress has visible stains, it should be spot cleaned.

    • Food and drink stains: Dampen a microfiber cloth with warm water and wring until it is not dripping. Spray the stained area of the mattress with an enzyme-based laundry stain remover. Let it work for at least 10 minutes. Use the cloth to gently scrub the stained area. Keep moving to a clean part of the cloth as the stain is transferred. Rinse the cloth often and repeat as needed.
    • Urine stains: Mix one-half teaspoon of an enzyme-based stain remover or heavy-duty laundry detergent with one cup of warm water. Dip a soft-bristled scrub brush in the solution and lightly scrub the stained area of the mattress. Work from the outside edges of the stain toward the center to prevent it from getting larger. Blot the area with a dry towel to absorb the moisture. Sprinkle the stain with baking soda and let it air-dry for several hours. Vacuum away the dried baking soda.
    • Blood stains: Use the same enzyme-based cleaner and water for treating blood stains as for urine. Once you have removed as much of the stain as possible, mix a thick paste of oxygen-based bleach powder and water and apply it to the remaining discoloration on the mattress. let it dry for several hours and then vacuum away the dried powder.

How to Clean a Memory Foam Futon Mattress

Memory foam mattresses should not be cleaned with any type of wet cleaning solution including steam. For spills, use microfiber towels to absorb as much moisture as possible. Place the towels over the stain and apply pressure with your hands or a heavy object. Keep changing the towels as the moisture is absorbed. Allow the mattress to air-dry. Do not apply heat from a hairdryer or other heater.

Clean with a powerful hand-held vacuum with a soft brush attachment or a vacuum with a hose and upholstery brush. Start on one side of the mattress and work in a circular motion over every surface to dislodge dust and dust mites that have accumulated.

Tips to Keep Your Futon Mattress Cleaner Longer

  • Use a cover and wash or dry clean it at least seasonally.
  • Monitor humidity levels to prevent the growth of mold and mildew spores.
  • Never leave damp items on the futon.
  • Use a washable pad or blanket under pets if they are allowed on the futon.
  • Treat accidental spills immediately.