How to Steam Clean a Mattress
Freshen Up Your Bed in 6 Easy Steps
This article is part of our series, Sleep Week: The Ultimate Guide to Getting Your Best Sleep Ever. Sleep Week is your destination for whole sleep happiness, curating our very best tips and product recommendations to help you create your coziest, most comfortable sleep environment yet.
We spend nearly one-third of our lives in bed, and even though your mattress is covered with a protector and sheets, it still takes a great deal of abuse from sweat, dead skin cells, dust mites, pets, and food spills. If you see stains and notice a funky odor, it's definitely time to clean your mattress. A steam cleaner will clean your mattress and eliminate stains without you having to put in too much work. Steam that reaches between 212 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit will kill bacteria, dust mites, and break down stains for effective removal. While steam cleaning a mattress is not difficult, it does take planning, timing, and patience to make sure the mattress dries thoroughly. If you steam clean the mattress and it does not dry as quickly as possible, mold and mildew can begin to grow.
You should typically avoid cleaning a memory foam mattress or a latex bed with a steam cleaner because the high heat and moisture could damage the material. However, check with your owner's manual for exact instructions, warnings, and recommendations on how to clean the mattress.
How Often to Steam Clean a Mattress
Your habits in bed will help determine how often the mattress needs to be cleaned. If you have pets, eat and drink, spill things, are potty-training a child, or someone is bedridden, you probably need to steam clean your mattress more often.
If the mattress is only used for sleeping, then steam cleaning it seasonally will keep the mattress fresh and odor-free. It may not cost much to steam clean a mattress if you already have the tools. If you need to hire a professional to steam clean your mattress, it could cost $75 to $150 depending on the size of your bed, but prices vary across the country.
Before You Begin
Though it can be beneficial to steam your mattress, steam can also damage a mattress if it's done improperly. It's of utmost importance to do it right and dry the mattress fully to avoid moisture buildup inside the bed. The best steam cleaner for a mattress is a portable one. To achieve the best results, follow these guidelines before starting the process:
- Choose a day when the bed will not be used for at least four or five hours.
- Start the cleaning process in the early morning (if you follow a regular nighttime sleeping schedule).
- Increase the ventilation in the bedroom. This may mean using an overhead fan, circulating fans, or open windows.
- Choose a sunny, breezy, low-humidity day to steam clean the mattress.
- Make arrangements to sleep elsewhere if the mattress is not dry at bedtime.
What You'll Need
Equipment / Tools
- Vacuum with upholstery brush attachment
- Steam cleaner
- Microfiber towels
- Baking soda
- Laundry stain remover
How to Steam Clean a Mattress
Clear the Mattress
Strip all of the bedding, including the mattress cover, from the bed. Now would also be a good time to wash all of your bedding following the care label instructions.
Vacuum the Mattress
Use the vacuum's upholstery brush attachment to suction away as much dust, hair, dead skin, dust mites, and pet dander as possible. While you can use a hand-held vacuum, a vacuum with a hose and brush attachment will have more suction and produce better results.
Work slowly and use short strokes to loosen and capture as much soil as possible.
Spot Treat Stains
If there are visible stains on the surface of the mattress, they should be spot treated before the steam cleaning process. Use a commercial laundry stain remover that contains enzymes to help break apart the stain molecules. Follow the directions on the product label, or place a dab of stain remover on a damp microfiber cloth.
Work the stain remover into the stained area and allow it to work for at least 15 minutes. Use a clean, damp microfiber cloth to blot away the cleaning product and the stain. Do not over-saturate the area with water or cleaning product.
Prepare the Steam Cleaner
Fill the steam cleaner with water and bring it up to full heat. The water should reach 212 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit to fully destroy bacteria and dust mites.
Steam the Mattress
Hold the steamer head two or three inches above the surface of the mattress and move slowly in long strokes down the surface of the mattress.
Being careful to avoid the blasts of steam, check that the surface of the mattress is damp, but not wet. If it is wet, you are holding the steamer head too close to the surface. Remember to clean the side surfaces of the mattress as well.
Let the Mattress Dry
Open the windows, turn on the fans, and allow the mattress to air dry for at least three hours—the more time, the better. You do not want any moisture to be trapped inside the fibers.
To determine if the mattress is completely dry, place a dry paper towel on the surface and press down with some force. If any moisture is detected, it needs more drying time.
Tips to Keep Your Mattress Clean
- Use a thick mattress protector at all times to help absorb body oils and moisture. Wash it at least monthly.
- Monitor humidity levels in the bedroom to prevent the growth of mold and mildew spores. Never leave damp items on the bed, and be sure that bedding is completely dry before placing it on the bed.
- Change and wash sheets and bedclothes frequently.
Can I use a clothes steamer, carpet steamer, or iron on my mattress?
You can use a clothes steamer, a carpet steamer, or even an iron that creates steam for minor mattress cleanings and refreshing. A small travel steamer or iron will need to be refilled more often and take longer to use.
Does steam cleaning kill bed bugs?
Bed bugs cannot survive heat. If steam reaches 120 degrees Fahrenheit (which it will easily do), it will kill bed bugs in a mattress. However, it will depend on the type of steamer you use. A clothes or carpet steamer or iron cannot typically sustain high enough temperatures for the steam to kill the bed bugs. It's best to call in a professional or use a commercial steamer that can infiltrate the mattress deep enough where bed bugs hide.
Will steam cleaning a mattress remove urine smell and stains?
You should first try to clean the urine stain and smell using a cloth doused with hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and dishwashing liquid soap. If the smell is still evident, steam clean the mattress to resolve the offensive odor.