How to Clean a Mattress: Remove Stains, Deodorize, and Deep Clean Your Bed

Be honest — how often do you even think about cleaning your mattress, let alone do anything about it?

Chances are, if you’re reading this guide, you’re looking for a fix to a specific problem — like a stain or spill that’s just happened recently.

Perhaps you’ve bought a used mattress, and that’s got you concerned about its cleanliness. Maybe you’ve purchased a new mattress and want to keep it fresh and clean from the start. Or perhaps you’ve just realized cleaning your mattress is something that should be done.

Whatever your reason, at OptimimumSleep, we know mattresses are a long-term investment, and to keep your mattress looking after you and your health for years to come, you need to look after it. Yes, even mattresses deserve a little TLC now and then!

In this ultimate mattress cleaning guide, we’ll share with you tips on how to:

  • Do a general clean to freshen up your mattress.
  • Deal with both fresh spills and dried stains.
  • Get rid of urine staining and smell — including cat and dog pee.
  • Deep clean and disinfect your mattress.
  • Clean a memory foam mattress.
  • Keep your mattress fresh and clean with ongoing maintenance tips.
  • How to clean your mattress using natural cleaning products.

We’ll also answer common mattress cleaning-related questions.

How Often Should You Clean Your Mattress?

While your mattress does not require cleaning anywhere near as often as the sheets and bedding that go on it, you should give it a good deep clean every six months or so.

If you’re big on cleanliness, you may like to consider giving the mattress a quick freshen-up with a vacuum every time you change the sheets.

How to Deep Clean a Mattress in 8 Easy Steps

1Prepare Your Cleaning Supplies

Here’s everything you’ll need for a standard mattress clean:

  1. A vacuum cleaner with upholstery and crevice attachments
  2. Stain-removing solutions. Some good choices are (always check your mattress’s care label and manufacturer advice):
    • An enzyme cleaner for biological stains
    • Dish soap/mild detergent and water
    • Equal parts water and hydrogen peroxide
  3. Baking soda
  4. A soft-bristled brush
  5. Cold water
  6. Cleaning cloths
illustration of cleaning supplies

2Strip the Bed and Wash Linens and Bedding

The first step to cleaning your mattress is actually getting to it. Strip down the bed, including the mattress protector, if you use one.

Wash all your linens ad bedding while you work on the mattress. Always check the care label or manufacturer’s recommendations, but if it is recommended, then a hot wash can help rid your bedding of organisms like dust mites and bed bugs.

illustration of bed sheets
Tip

Have you ever thought about washing your pillows too? The same reasons for cleaning a mattress applies to pillows, also. They can collect a build-up of skin, sweat, oils, saliva, and harbor dust mites and other irritants and allergens.

Always read the label and check for washing instructions before attempting to clean pillows — some are ’dry clean only.

3Vacuum the Entire Mattress

Using a vacuum cleaner with an upholstery attachment, go over the entire mattress surface, including the sides and underside.

Pay special attention to seams, overlapping material, and any part the upholstery attachment can’t reach. These harder to get spots are where the crevice attachment will come in handy.

illustration of a vacuum cleaner

4Spot Clean Any Stains

Now inspect the mattress for any noticeable stains. Mattress stains are commonly caused by sweat, urine, blood, or spills of things like drinks, food, and ink.

The type of stain will dictate the kind of cleaning solution you use. An enzyme stain remover works by breaking down proteins and fats in the stain and works well for biological stains and many food stains.

An alternative to enzyme cleaners is to make your own cleaning solution. Mild dish soap (detergent) and water, and equal parts of hydrogen peroxide and water are good spot cleaning alternatives.

How to Spot Clean a Mattress Stain:

  1. Apply the cleaning solution to a clean, dry cloth.
  2. Blot the stain with the cloth.
  3. Using a new clean cloth with cold water applied, blot the stain. It should begin lifting.
  4. Avoid using too much water — the stained area should not be soaking wet; only use enough to allow the stain to loosen and lift.
illustration of a stain spot
A word of caution:

Remember, before attempting to clean any stains, be sure to check the manufacturer’s cleaning recommendations. The warranty will not cover any damage caused by not adhering to the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions.

5Sprinkle Baking Soda Over the Entire Mattress

Baking soda works wonders for freshening up your mattress. It effectively absorbs moisture and odors.

  1. Apply a light dusting to the entire sleeping surface, paying particular attention to any stubborn stains and areas that smell particularly strong.
  2. Use a soft-bristled brush to gently work the baking soda into the mattress.
  3. Leave the mattress. The longer you can leave the baking soda to do its thing, the better. Leave it for at least 30 minutes. Several hours or even overnight is better.
illustration of baking soda
Tip

Allowing your mattress to sit in the sunlight and fresh air is also an excellent method of freshening your mattress and getting rid of moisture and odors.

Consider using the baking soda method and leaving the mattress in the sun and fresh air. The combination of UV rays, airflow, and baking soda will yield the best results.

6Vacuum the Mattress Again

Once the baking soda-covered mattress has sat long enough to do its thing, it’s time to clean it up. Go over the entire mattress surface again, taking extra care to get it all, especially if you have worked it into the surface with a brush.

illustration of a vacuum cleaner

7Flip or Rotate the Mattress

Flipping and rotating your mattress is something you should be doing regularly if you are serious about prolonging your mattress’s life.

If your mattress is flippable, meaning you can sleep on either surface, you should. If your mattress has a definite top and bottom and therefore can’t be flipped, you should at least rotate the mattress 180 degrees.

Flipping or rotating the mattress can prolong the life of your mattress by allowing for even wear and tear over time, rather than things like indentations and weakened springs occurring in one area.

You should ideally flip or rotate your mattress every three months.

illustration representing flipping

8Use a Mattress Protector

There’s no better way to keep your mattress nice and clean for longer than keeping it covered with a mattress protector.

Mattress protectors fit over the mattress like a fitted sheet and protect against dust mites and allergens, as well as bodily secretions like dead skin, oils, and sweat, and liquid spills and staining.

illustration of a shield

How to Clean Fresh Spills off a Mattress?

illustration representing spills If you happen to spill a liquid on the bed, such as coffee, coke, or beer (if you’re that way inclined — no judgment here), and it soaks through to the mattress (this is why using a mattress protector is a good idea) it’s easy to treat.

The steps for cleaning a potentially staining liquid spill are very straightforward:

  1. Soak up as much of the liquid as you can using a dry towel.
  2. Using a small amount of soap and water on a washcloth, wipe the stain.
  3. Dab the stain with a clean towel.
  4. If you can afford the time, an optional step is to sprinkle baking soda on the stain and leave it for anywhere between several hours and overnight.
  5. If the liquid does stain the mattress even after cleaning it this way, follow the steps for spot cleaning in tip number four above.

How to Remove Urine and Sweat Stains From a Mattress?

We’ve dedicated a section of this guide purely to pee and sweat — they’re two of the most common sources of mattress staining.

Both can leave strong stains and, in the case of urine, odors. To remove them, follow these steps:

  1. Mix up a cleaning solution:
    • 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide
    • Three tablespoons of baking soda
    • A few drops of liquid dish detergent
    • Stir the mixture until the baking soda is fully dissolved
  2. You can either put the mixture into a spray bottle and spray the stained area or dab it onto the stain using a cloth. Use enough liquid so it soaks into the stain, but do not drench it.
  3. Leave the solution to air dry for an hour or so. During this time, the peroxide will work to fade the yellowing of the urine or sweat stain.

Dealing With Cat or Dog Urine

illustration of a dog If one of your pets has had an accident on the bed and stained your mattress, then you’ll know the smell is far more distinctive (and worse) than human pee, especially if it’s cat pee.

Thankfully, the process for pet urine is the same as for human urine. Always try to catch the accident as soon as possible and blot as much moisture as possible.

But for any pet urine stain, simply use the same steps above for urine and sweat stains. And if you aren’t already, use a mattress protector, which will not only protect against liquids but will also help protect your mattress from claws.

How to Remove Blood Stains From a Mattress?

illustration representing a blood drop Blood is another fairly common source of mattress staining. But thankfully, with the right cleaning solution, it’s straightforward getting those unsightly dark stains out.

For very light or fresh stains:

  1. Fill a spray bottle with hydrogen peroxide.
  2. Lightly spray the stain with peroxide, and blot it away with a dry towel. Repeat until the stain is gone.
  3. Let the mattress dry completely before remaking the bed.

For older or more embedded stains:

  1. Prepare a mixture of ¼ cup hydrogen peroxide, one tablespoon of liquid dish detergent, and one tablespoon of salt.
  2. Mix the solution well and then spread it directly onto the blood stain. Leave to sit for 10 minutes.
  3. After 10 minutes, scrape the mixture off, and wipe away any excess using a rag moistened with hydrogen peroxide.
  4. Let the mattress dry.
  5. If any brown staining remains after drying, spray the stain with hydrogen peroxide and follow the above for light blood stains.

How to Disinfect and Sanitize a Mattress?

illustration of a disinfectant As a final step for those of you who are real clean freaks, germaphobes, or simply want to freshen up your mattress as much as possible, you can disinfect and sanitize the surface of your mattress.

Spray the entire sleeping surface and sides with an antibacterial fabric spray or general-purpose disinfectant like Lysol, and then leave it to dry. You can use a fan or sunlight to speed up this process.

How to Clean a Memory Foam Mattress?

Foam mattresses require a different approach altogether when it comes to cleaning. They are not something that should ever get too wet.

illustration of a blue mattress Excess moisture is hard to get rid of when absorbed by memory foam and can cause mold, mildew, odors, and humidity, making for an unpleasant sleeping experience.

Also, harsh cleaners like bleach can ruin foam. If you have a memory foam mattress, you can use the same deep-cleaning techniques of vacuuming, sprinkling baking soda (which has moisture-absorbing properties), and vacuuming again, but spot cleaning requires a different approach.

To see OptimumSleep’s picks for the best memory foam mattresses, check out our guide here.

Removing Stains From Foam Mattresses

Instead of using products like bleach, peroxide, and ammonia, you should use a fabric cleaner or white vinegar mixed with water.

  1. Use ½ cup of fabric cleaner mixed with one cup of water, or ¼ cup of vinegar with ¾ cup of water mixed in a spray bottle.
  2. Spray the mattress sparingly — excess moisture will take a long time to dry and can cause mold, mildew, and odor.
  3. Use a clean cloth to rub and dab any stains.
  4. Lightly rinse off the cleaning solution using a clean damp cloth.
  5. Allow plenty of time for the mattress to dry. If any moisture has soaked in, it may need a couple of days to dry out. Fresh air and sunlight, or a fan can help speed up the process.

illustration representing tips

Tips for Protecting Your Mattress and Keeping It Clean

  1. Use a mattress protector. A mattress protector will protect against liquid spills and other moisture like sweat, oils, and urine. The protector will bear the brunt of any spills, stains, and dirtiness, meaning your mattress will require cleaning less often and remain in good condition.
  2. Always attend to spills immediately. Blotting out liquids straight away means less can soak deep into the mattress, and the chances of staining are lower.
  3. Clean and flip or rotate your mattress regularly. Flipping or rotating should be done every three months, and deep cleaning every six months.
Time To Let Go?

Is It Time to Replace Your Old, Stained Mattress?

Maybe your mattress has become too gross for words, or perhaps staining isn’t the only problem with it. If your old mattress is beyond salvation, or you’re just not getting the good quality sleep you used to, perhaps it’s time to upgrade with a new mattress.

For all the advice you’ll need when shopping for a new mattress, check out OptimumSleep’s ultimate guide to choosing a new mattress here.

illustration representing FAQs

FAQs

What can I spray on a mattress to clean it?

For general stain removal, enzyme stain cleaners can be used on mattresses. For a home-made solution, mix together either a small amount of mild dish soap and water or equal parts of hydrogen peroxide and water.

For sweat and urine stains, use a solution of:

  • 1 cup hydrogen peroxide
  • 3 tablespoons baking soda
  • A few drops of dish soap

For blood stains, use a solution of:

  • a quarter cup of hydrogen peroxide
  • 1 tablespoon of dish soap
  • 1 tablespoon of salt

An antibacterial fabric spray or general-purpose disinfectant like Lysol can be used to disinfect and sanitize a mattress.

What causes yellow stains on a mattress?

The most common causes of yellow staining on mattresses are sweat and urine. A solution of 1 cup hydrogen peroxide, 3 tablespoons of baking soda, and a few drops of liquid dish detergent, well-mixed and sprayed or dabbed on the stain and left to air dry for an hour, should fade the yellowing of the urine or sweat stain.

Is it okay to steam clean a mattress?

Providing the manufacturer recommends it, steam cleaning is an effective way to give your mattress a deep, sanitizing, deodorizing clean.

It is vital to allow the mattress to dry thoroughly after steam cleaning. Any moisture trapped inside the mattress can cause mold, mildew, and unpleasant odors.

Is there any way to clean a mattress?

Yes. You should deep clean your mattress every three months. The easiest method to clean a mattress is:

  1. Prepare Your Cleaning Supplies:
    • A vacuum cleaner with upholstery and crevice attachments
    • Stain-removing solutions. Some good choices are (always check your mattress’s care label and manufacturer advice):
    • An enzyme cleaner for biological stains
    • Dish soap/mild detergent and water
    • Equal parts water and hydrogen peroxide
    • Baking soda
    • A soft-bristled brush
    • Cold water
    • Cleaning cloths
  2. Strip the Bed and Wash Linens and Bedding
  3. Vacuum the Entire Mattress
  4. Spot Clean Any Stains
  5. Sprinkle Baking Soda Over the Entire Mattress
  6. Vacuum the Mattress Again
  7. Flip or Rotate the Mattress
  8. Use a Mattress Protector
How do you deep clean a mattress?

Deep cleaning of your mattress should be done every three months to keep it healthy and fresh.

  1. First, start by vacuuming the entire mattress surface.
  2. Spot clean any stains using an enzyme cleaner (for biological stains) or a solution of either water and hydrogen peroxide or water and mild detergent.
  3. Sprinkle baking soda over the entire mattress surface, lightly rubbing it in with a soft-bristled brush.
  4. Vacuum the mattress again, ensuring all baking soda is collected.
  5. Sanitize the mattress with Lysol or an antibacterial fabric spray.
  6. Expose the mattress to fresh air and sunshine for several hours to help remove smells and dry out any moisture.