How To Properly Clean a Mattress

person vacuuming mattress
A vacuum cleaner can be used to remove dust from a mattress. jmalov / Getty Images

We all like to get our sleep, we and rely on our mattresses to provide us with a clean comfy place to rest. But, what happens when your mattress gets dirty? How do you prevent dust mites and other allergens from interfering with your sleep? What routine maintenance does a mattress need?

What Do I Do Daily, Weekly, and Monthly to Keep My Mattress Clean?

Cover the mattress, to protect it and extend time between cleanings.

Consider purchasing a mattress cover to protect the surface of your mattress. Choose a washable cover that is easy to remove and replace on your mattress. Some covers are even designed to reduce dust mite allergies and reduce the need to vacuum your mattress.

Wash the bedding including sheets, pillowcases, and comforters or comforter covers weekly. Clean bedding will protect the mattress cover which in turn protects the mattress from becoming soiled.  Remove and wash the mattress cover whenever there are any spills or at least monthly. This is the time when you will want to inspect the mattress for any stains and treat them. 

It's a good idea to also vacuum the mattress at least once a month. Dust, dander, and dust mites build up in your mattress. Even those of us without allergies can begin to notice dust and dirt in our mattress. Vacuum your mattress using the upholstery attachment on your vacuum cleaner.

If someone does have allergies in your home, you may need to vacuum more frequently and/or make purchasing a mattress cover a necessity.

What Do I Do When Spills or Stains Happen On My Mattress?

When a stain or spill happens on a mattress, you should immediately remove and wash all bedding including the mattress cover.

If the mattress surface has become dirty or soiled, you can try using an upholstery shampoo. Following the directions exactly, use the upholstery shampoo to clean dirt and soil from your mattress surface.

Alternatively, you can mix a mild dish soap with water until suds form. Apply the dry suds only to the soiled area using a sponge. Wipe the area with a sponge that has had warm water wrung from it. Try not to allow the interior padding of the mattress to get wet. Allow the area to dry thoroughly. If the temperature is warm enough, you can dry a mattress quickly outside. You can also use a fan blowing across the mattress surface to make sure that it dries quickly.

What Supplies Will I Need To Clean a Mattress?

  • Vacuum cleaner with upholstery attachment
  • Upholstery shampoo
  • Mattress cover
  • Mild detergent
  • Water
  • Sponges
  • Fan

Do Mattresses Really Need to Be Flipped Every 6 Months?

It used to be a very common practice to flip a mattress every 6 months to help provide even wear.  This was especially important if only one person slept in the bed or the size difference between bed partners was significant.  But many beds now have one side that is pillow topped or have some other construction that makes flipping the bed a bad idea.

  You can check your manufacturer's instructions, but if your mattress is a pillow-top or has a designated head and foot, it shouldn't be flipped.  Some manufacturers still recommend rotating the bed so that the foot of the bead is at the head every six months, especially when the mattress is brand new.

How Long Will My Mattress Last?

It is really difficult to predict how long a mattress will last because of the different types and construction methods of mattresses today.  Most mattresses have a lifespan of 8-10 years.  Although some top end mattresses have up to 25-year warranties on the quality of their mattress. 

If your mattress is starting to look like it has seen better days.  And if you are facing increasing stiffness and pain after sleeping, it might be time to start looking at a new mattress.

  The good news is that using a mattress cover and providing regular maintenance can make any mattress have a longer usable lifespan.