How to clean a mattress properly

When it comes to giving our homes a deep-clean, mattresses are something that are often overlooked. But, when you consider that we spend half of our lives lying on them, secreting sweat, oils and drool (sorry!), they should really be at the top of our lists.

If not protected and cleaned regularly, a mattress can build up residual moisture, encouraging bacterial growth and mould. And on top of this, dust will inevitably gather and attract dust mites, which can lead to allergies.

But how do you go about deep-cleaning a matress? You can’t exactly load it into the washing machine! We’ve pulled together some of our top tips for cleaning a mattress, including removing stubborn spills and stains, so you can sleep soundly once again.

#1: Air your bed every day

Making your bed as soon as you get up each morning could actually be bad for your mattress. Every night, we each lose around half a pint of water while we're asleep. Although we breath out some of this as water vapour, we sweat the rest straight into our bedding. Diligent daily bed-makers risk trapping this moisture in their bedding, which creates an appealing environment for dust mites and can also lead to stains.

Instead, when you rise and shine turn back the duvet to allow moisture that has built up during the night to evaporate. If you find you get sweaty in the night, open a window before you hit the hay, which will also help regulate the humidity in your bedroom that mites find so attractive.

how to clean a mattress
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#2: Wash bedding at least once a fortnight

Discourage dust mites from taking up residence in your mattress by changing sheets and duvet covers at least once a fortnight and washing them at at a minimum temperature of 60°C.

Use a machine washable mattress protector to help stop sweat or other body fluids coming into contact with your mattress. Wash this once every two months at the highest temperature recommended on the care label.

Don’t forget to wash your pillows and duvet at least twice a year as well. This is important because dust mites and stains can build up here too. Some are machine-washable, but you should always follow the care label directions. Memory foam pillows are usually spot-clean only, but the cover may be removable and washable.

#3: Vacuum your mattress regularly

This might not be nice to think about but we each lose almost half a kilogram of dead skin cells every year and some of this will end up in our mattress.

Again, this can act as a magnet for dust mites. Keep dust and dead skin cells at bay by vacuuming your mattress once a month on a low suction setting, using your vacuum cleaner's upholstery attachment.

The piping along the edges of your mattress can encourage a build-up of dust and dead skin cells, as can buttons, so give these areas special attention.

You'll need to check the mattress manufacturer's care instructions first, though, as some companies claim that vacuuming your mattress can dislodge the filling.

how to clean a mattress
Photographer, Basak Gurbuz Derman - Getty Images

#4: Check if you should turn your mattress

It may surprise you to hear that not all mattresses need to be turned. Some, such as those with an upper layer of memory foam, shouldn't be flipped as they're designed with just one surface to sleep on. However, they do need to be rotated end-to-end every week just after you've bought them, then once every few months.

Spring mattresses need to be both rotated through 180° and flipped weekly for three months after you buy them, then once every three or four months.

If in doubt, check the manufacturer's care instructions. Failing to follow this guidance may invalidate the warranty on your mattress. To help you remember when to flip or rotate your mattress, write a reminder on you calendar or set up a notification on your phone.

#5: Act fast on spills and stains

If you do accidentally spill something on your mattress, it can be tempting to just ignore it. But the longer you leave a stain, the harder it will be to shift, so it's best to deal with the issue as quickly as you can.

Stand the mattress up before you tackle the stain, then sponge the area with cold water, taking care not to over-wet. Blot with a dry cloth, then spot-treat with a stain remover designed for use on carpet or upholstery. Rinse with fresh, cold water, then blot dry.

If the stained area smells unpleasant, add a few drop of disinfectant to the water you use to rinse the stain.

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