The Bear Guide on How to Clean a Mattress

Posted by Meagan Kay on

When was the last time you cleaned your mattress?

If you’re suddenly thinking, “Wait… That’s a thing I have to do!?” — you’re definitely not alone.

Considering all the things we have to clean around the house, it’s not surprising that mattresses rarely make the list. But cleaning your mattress even just twice a year will not only rid it of bacteria, allergens, mold and dust mites (among other substances), but will also lengthen its total lifespan. 

While cleaning your mattress may sound like a huge undertaking, it’s actually pretty easy — especially if you follow these tips and tricks!

General Mattress-Cleaning Tips

First and foremost, always remove all of your bedding before you start cleaning your mattress. That might seem obvious, but we thought we’d point it out anyways. (And heck, while you’re cleaning your mattress, you might as well wash your sheets, mattress protector and blankets while you’re at it.)

Now, it doesn’t matter if you have a foam, hybrid, or encased coil mattress, the following general cleaning tips still apply:

1. Your Vacuum Is Your Best Friend

It’ll remove particles of all kinds from the surface of your mattress (just make sure you vacuum every side of the mattress, as well as the seams and piping).

2. Baking Soda Is Your Other Best Friend

Baking soda will absorb any of the odors, acids and oils that have built up deep in the fibers of your mattress. Again, you’ll want to use it on both sides of your mattress. 

3. Enzymatic Cleaners Don’t Have to Be Your Best Friend, but They Can Be a Close Acquaintance

If you have a pet, you’re probably already familiar with enzyme cleaners that break down odors and stains from urine, vomit and other biological fluids. But, did you know they can also be helpful in removing dried blood and other tough stains?

Just make sure you follow the instructions on the cleaner, and don’t spray it directly onto your mattress — the goal is to use as little cleaner as necessary to remove a stain.

Step by Step: How to Deep Clean Your Mattress

Alright, now that you’ve decided you can’t possibly sleep on your mattress tonight without feeling grossed out — let’s give it a thorough cleaning.

1. Vacuum Your Mattress

The first step to making sure your mattress is clean as can be is to vacuum it. This will remove any dust mites, hair, dead skin and other debris that builds up in the fibers. We recommend using a (clean) brush attachment across the surfaces of your mattress, and afterward, the upholstery nozzle to vacuum the nooks and crannies (i.e. all the seams). 

2. Address any Stains or Spills

If you have any fresh spills or stains on your mattress, deal with those first. They’ll be the easiest to remove, and the sooner you get to them, the greater the chance you’ll get rid of them entirely. 

The nature of the stain will determine the method you use to clean it. For example, if you’re trying to figure out how to get urine out of a mattress, an enzymatic cleaner will probably be the best option. Hydrogen peroxide, on the other hand, will probably be more effective on food or drink stains — but we’ll get to some specific stain-removal tips in the next section of this guide.

3. Deodorize!

To deodorize your mattress you’ll need your second BFF: baking soda. You’ll want to sprinkle a generous dusting of it over the entire mattress and then gently rub it into the fibers.

If you really want to make your mattress smell nice, you can add about 10 drops of your favorite essential oil for sleep (like lavender, valerian root or eucalyptus) to the baking soda. Plus, essential oils will help break up any clumps in the baking soda, and some of them even have antibacterial properties! 

4. Let the Baking Soda Work Its Magic

Next, you can walk away and do something else for a while (get in a quick workout, binge some Netflix, take a nap on the couch, etc.). 

The baking soda should sit on your mattress for at least 30–60 minutes so it can absorb odors, break down acids and soak up any liquid from when you did your spot cleaning. The longer it’s on there, the cleaner your mattress will be.

5. Vacuum (Yes, Again)

Once the baking soda has had ample time to deodorize your mattress, you need to vacuum up the excess using the same attachments as before. Not only will you be vacuuming up the baking soda itself, but you’ll also be removing any odors, liquids and acids the baking soda has absorbed over the last hour.

6. Let Your Mattress Air Out

Last but not least, we suggest giving your mattress some time to air out. This will help dry any liquid that may remain in the mattress from spot cleaning (any remaining moisture could lead to mold growth — yuck). 

Pro-tip: If it’s warm outside, open your windows! It’ll let in the fresh air and help dry your mattress faster. 

Just Need to Remove Some Mattress Stains?

Besides using an enzymatic cleaner, here are a few stain-removing hacks to get that pesky brown-ish yellow monstrosity out of your mattress:

1. For Super-Fresh Stains, Use Cold Water

If you just spilled something on your mattress in the last few minutes, get a clean cloth and dampen it with very cold water (cold water is always best for lifting stains). Then, blot — don’t rub or scrub — the stain until it’s gone. 

2. Use Hydrogen Peroxide and Dish Soap

This stain-removal hack is great for food, drink or dirt stains on your mattress. Just mix 2 tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide and 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap, stirring them together until the mixture is sudsy. 

Then, grab an old toothbrush, dip it into the mixture and gently scrub at the stain to lift it out of the fibers. Once it has worked its magic, wipe away the suds with a clean, damp cloth.

3. Dab on a Little Bleach

If the stain is really a gnarly one, you can dab a very small amount of oxidizing bleach on the stain — but only just enough to cover the surface area! Do NOT pour bleach all over your mattress. Also, be sure to follow the instructions on the bleach container to determine whether or not it needs to be diluted with water. You don’t want to damage your mattress in the process of removing a stain.

Once you’ve carefully applied the bleach, let it soak into the mattress stain for about 15 minutes, and then wipe away with water.

Don’t Want to Clean Your Mattress More Than Twice a Year? Get a Mattress Protector

While cleaning your mattress is actually pretty easy, you don’t want to have to do it more than a couple times a year. 

The best way to make sure your mattress stays clean is to use a mattress protector, which will act as a safeguard against everything from spills and liquid damage to dust mites and dead skin cells. The key is to get one that’s waterproof, like the Bear Protector (which, by the way, also helps keep you cool while you sleep).

If you get yourself a mattress protector AND clean your mattress a couple times a year — well, there’s a much greater chance you’ll be sleeping on your mattress for many years to come. 

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