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How to Deep Clean Your Mattress Quickly and Easily

Cleaning Lab Director Carolyn Forte explains how to clean a mattress yourself.

Good Housekeeping

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If you haven’t thought about cleaning your mattress lately, consider this: You probably spend six, seven or eight hours on it every night. During that time, dust, dead skin cells, sweat and oil from your body can make their way onto and into it, leading to possible yellow stains. Not to mention that this environment is a magnet for dust mites. Whether you suffer from allergies or not, it’s a good idea to give your mattress a regular spruce-up. That’s why Carolyn Forte, director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab, recommends following this advice every few months to keep your bed fresh and dust-, stain-, and odor-free. Ahead, find out how to deep clean a mattress of any stain and which products to use to remove mattress stains yourself.

How to deep clean your mattress

  1. Ditch the dust. The easiest way to remove dust is to use the upholstery tool on your vacuum cleaner. It’s a good idea to do this every couple of months or more often if someone in the family suffers with allergies. Go over the top and sides of the mattress and as much of the box spring as you can access. Press down firmly on the tool or tap it on the fabric to draw out dust beneath the surface. Then, use the crevice tool to get into the quilting, along the edge welting and where any pillow top is attached. Some newer vacuums now come with tools that vibrate against mattress and upholstery fabrics to better draw out dust.
  2. Give it some steam. If you have a garment steamer, go over the mattress with the steamer holding the nozzle as close to the fabric as you can (without causing the steamer to drip). The penetrating steam will kill dust mites lurking near the surface. Vacuum the mattress again to remove them. No steamer? Give it bursts of steam from your iron.
  3. Remove stains. If pets sleep with you or you like to snack in bed, chances are your mattress may have some stains on it. The easiest way to remove them is with a carpet and upholstery cleaner formulated to remove pet stains, like Good Housekeeping Seal star Bissell Pet Stain and Odor Remover. “It not only removes pet stains, like urine and vomit, but also food stains. And it contains enzymes to tackle odors,” Forte says. To use it, lightly spray the stain — or a cloth — and dab the stain working from the outside edge towards the center to keep the stain from spreading. You want to avoid over-wetting the mattress. When the stain is gone, sponge the area with a damp cloth to rinse and remove all traces of the cleaner. Blot the area with a dry cloth and let the mattress dry thoroughly before making the bed.

How to remove yellow stains from your mattress

Yellow stains on your mattress are likely a result of sweat and body oil buildup. While it’s difficult to wet clean an entire mattress (and you never want to fully saturate it), you can try to whiten it with a 50/50 mix (one cup each) of hydrogen peroxide and warm water, plus 1/4 teaspoon mild dish liquid:

  1. Pour the solution into a spray bottle and spritz the mattress surface.
  2. Work it into the fabric with a soft brush or terry towel and let set about 30 minutes.
  3. Spritz the mattress again with clear water to rinse, blot well to remove all traces of the cleaner, and let it air dry completely. For tough stains, repeat or add a little more hydrogen peroxide to the solution.

If you are lucky enough to own a “steam” cleaner that dispenses detergent and sucks up stains from carpet and upholstery, like GH Seal star, Bissell Little Green Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner, by all means, use it on your mattress too. It will do a better job of cleaning and pulling out moisture so the mattress will dry faster.

How to remove odors from your mattress

If you notice any stale smells, a quick and easy way to freshen a mattress and box spring is with a sanitizing spray, like GH Seal stars Microban 24 Hour Sanitizing Spray or Tide Antibacterial Fabric Spray. Both are safe to use on fabrics and kill odor-causing bacteria. Or, to zap odors between deep cleanings, sprinkle some Arm & Hammer Baking Soda onto the mattress fabric, brush it in lightly, wait 15 to 30 minutes, and vacuum.

How to keep your mattress fresh and clean

The best way to keep your mattress white and stain-free is by covering it with removable mattress pad that you wash regularly. For those with allergies, encasing the mattress and even the box spring in mattress protectors is one of the most important ways to keep dust, pollen, dust mites and other irritants from accumulating. These, too, should be washed regularly.

Lauren is a senior editor at Hearst. She was previously the senior editor at WomansDay.com and the home editor at GoodHousekeeping.com and HouseBeautiful.com. Her book club, ramen, and jean jackets are a few of her favorite things.

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This post originally appeared on Good Housekeeping and was published May 12, 2021. This article is republished here with permission.

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