Everything You Need To Know About Cleaning And Removing Stains From Your Mattress

Sprinkling baking soda on mattress to clean it

Of all the things we know we should regularly be cleaning in our homes, the trickiest one just might be our mattress. The big, comfortable sleeping space is obviously too big to fit into a washer, and while there are dry cleaners and other professionals who will clean it for you, we’re not exactly eager to wrestle it into our cars to transport it there. (Plus, we can’t help thinking about all the things it would pick up on the journey home from being cleaned. Wouldn’t it just defeat the purpose?) So we have to figure out ways to clean it in the comfort of our homes, and still have it ready and waiting for us to collapse at the end of our busy days. Don’t worry! Cleaning your mattress is actually simple, and we’re here to teach you how. Whether you’re just looking for a basic method to get it as clean as the rest of the house, need to take care of a blood or urine stain, or are handling a scary mold situation, there’s a method here that will work for you. Read on, and get those mattresses clean!

  1. Mattress Prep

    Most mattress cleaning tips start with dusting and vacuuming the mattress— but wait! Good Housekeeping recommends actually starting by using a garment steamer to go over the mattress first. It’s a great way to kill any dust mites on the surface.

  2. Regular Cleaning

    Most of the time when you clean your mattress, it’ll just be a regular cleaning every time you flip it – which should be about every two months or so, with a rotation every month – or about once a season . Your best bet is to first vacuum the mattress, with a clean attachment, to pick up most of the dirt and dust particles and avoid spreading stains. Then attack any stains with an enzyme cleaner, and use an upholstery cleaner all over, which will also remove any dust mites.

  3. DIY Regular Cleaning

    If you want to give your mattress a thorough cleaning and don’t want to get a bunch of store-bought products involved, then you can’t do better for your sleeping space then this foolproof method from Clean My Space. All you need to do is:
    1. Vacuum your mattress, every time you rotate it and/or once a season, with a clean vacuum attachment.
    2. To deodorize, sift baking soda over the mattress first. Let it sit for 30 minutes, then vacuum it up.
    3. Remove stains by first dabbing any stained areas with a damp cloth. Add a mixture of equal parts baking soda, salt and water, let it sit for 30 minutes, and then clean it all off with cold water. Not too much, though; you don’t want to soak your mattress.

  4. Sweet-Smelling Deep Clean

    Does your mattress still have a lingering stale smell after you clean, or do you worry about really getting it clean? Then try this idea for a deep clean that also smells great! The method basically remains the same as the DIY cleaning, but you’re first going to add 10 to 20 drops of your favorite essential oil to your box of baking soda, and shake it to evenly disperse. Then, when you sprinkle the baking soda over your mattress, massage it into the mattress to get it as deep as possible. Then let it sit for an hour before slowly and carefully vacuuming it all up.

  5. Urine Stain Removal

    Nobody really likes to think about it, but if we let pets sleep in our beds – or if we have young children – at some point we’re probably going to have to deal with a dreaded urine stain in the mattress. When that happens, follow these steps:
    1. Blot away any excess fluid.
    2. Spray and blot with an enzyme-based cleaning product. Good Housekeeping recommends Bissell Pet Stain and Odor Remover.
    3. Get rid of any lingering odors with tried and true baking soda. Shake it over the stained area, let it sit overnight, and vacuum it up. You can also make a spray out of 8 ounces of hydrogen peroxide and 3 tablespoons of baking soda.

  6. Alternative Urine Smell Killer

    Another way to get rid of the smell of urine after treating the stain? It sounds counterintuitive, but Good Housekeeping recommends spraying the mattress and box spring with a disinfecting spray like Lysol. It’s actually safe for use on fabric, which is probably why it’s a component . . .

  7. Alternative Urine Stain Removal

    . . . in this alternative method for removing urine stains. This one’s especially effective for bigger, deeper stains.
    1. In a bowl, mix:
      • 1 teaspoon water
      • 1 tablespoon vinegar
      • 1 teaspoon laundry or dishwashing detergent
      • 2 tablespoons baking soda
      • 1 drop disinfecting cleaner (like Lysol)
    2. Use a dry cloth to sponge and/or blot the mixture into the stained area.
    3. Wipe the surface with water. Do not pour water onto your mattress or saturate it.
    4. Apply a layer of baking soda, and let sit for several hours up to (preferably) overnight.
    5. Vacuum up the baking soda,
    6. Spray with Febreeze, and lay dryer sheets on the spot for 30 minutes.
    7. Repeat a week later, if desired and/or needed.

  8. Blood Stain Removal

    All ladies know that urine isn’t the only bodily fluid that can stain your mattress. About once a month, blood is definitely a concern. Don’t be embarrassed— it happens to the best of us, and you can totally remove it! For this one, hydrogen peroxide’s your best friend.
    1. Apply hydrogen peroxide to the stain and blot while it bubbles with a clean, dry cloth.
    2. Rinse with cold water. As always, do not saturate the mattress. Use tiny amounts, and dab.
    3. In a spray bottle, mix salt with regular water. Spray and dab until the rusty iron from the blood is removed. (For this step, WikiHow also says you can use meat tenderizer.)
    4. Mix a solution of 1 part baking soda and 2 parts cold water. Apply it to the stain with a cloth and let it sit for 30 minutes. Rinse with a damp cold cloth, and soak up any extra moisture with a dry cloth.
    5. Make another mixture with 1 tablespoon of dishwashing detergent and 2 cups of water. Use a cloth to apply it to the stained area, and scrub gently with a toothbrush. Blot with a wet cloth, and dry with a dry one.

    This method is also effective for removing cigarette stains and smells— but we know you know it’s not safe to smoke in bed, right?


  9. Mold And Mildew

    Next to bed bugswhich you should always get a professional to cleanmold and mildew might be a mattress’ worst nightmare, and ours! Luckily, you CAN remove it.
    1. Mold and mildew thrive in damp environments, so your first step has to be to dry your mattress out. If you can, take it outside in the sun and let it dry. While it’s outside your home, wipe off any mold or mildew you can see. Be careful!
    2. Vacuum both sides of the mattress. Be sure to dispose the vacuum’s filter and bag when you’re done so you don’t bring spores back into your home.
    3. Mix warm water and isopropyl alcohol, and sponge onto the mattress, then rinse with warm water.
    4. Use a disinfectant, like Lysol, all over to kill any remaining spores.


  10. Beverage and Mystery Stains

    Most mystery stains can be removed with a citrus cleaner. Just spray, let sit for about five minutes, and then blot out. You can also use a mild dish detergent, and if you know the stain is from something like soda, vinegar will work, too. For sodas and other colored drinks, you’ll want to follow it up by blotting with rubbing alcohol.

That should take care of just about everything! As long as you catch stains as close to when they happen as possible, and do a regular cleaning every few months or so, you should always rest assured – literally – that you have a wonderfully clean place to sleep at night. When in doubt, for most things, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and your vacuum are your best bets, but it’s wonderful to have the knowledge that should something weird happen, you can bring your mattress back to pristine quality.

Are there any stains or mattress issues we didn’t cover here you’d like to know how to clean or handle? How often do YOU clean your mattress?

Learn more about these different methods and others on WikiHow.