By Steve Gillman
Here are some basic procedures for cleaning a mattress. They
cover routine cleaning that should be a regular event, as well
as removing stains and odors. There are also some tips about
hiring a cleaner to do the job for you, if you choose to go that
If you have cats you will likely have their fur on the mattress.
Even if you keep it pretty well covered with sheets at all times,
cats like to rub against the lower corners and edges, which may
not be covered. To remove the cat hair, use a rubber glove and
just rub your hand across the surface. The hair should roll up
into clumps that you can then pick off.
The next step is to thoroughly vacuum the mattress. The more
powerful the machine the better, because you are hoping to pull
out dust and dust mites form as deep in the mattress as possible.
Go slow and let the suction do its work. If you have no stains
and are relatively careful about keeping the mattress covered,
regular vacuuming may be all that you need to keep it clean.
If there is an odor, you may be able to remove it using baking
soda and/or sunlight. Locate the area where the odor is coming
from, and sprinkle it with baking soda. If you aren't sure about
the location of the odor, you can treat the whole mattress. Rub
the baking soda in a little, and let it sit for at least several
hours (all day is better). Then vacuum it out as well as you
can. If you don't get it all, you'll see little puffs of baking
soda when you slap the mattress. This routine will remove many
You can also use the sun to sanitize and remove odors from
a mattress. Assuming you have a clean place to place the mattress
outside, like a wooden deck, or on a clean tarp, let the sun
shine on it for hours, then flip it and do the same to the other
side. Fresh air and sun will remove many odors and even kill
some bacteria. Don't do this too often, though, because the sun
can fade and weaken the fabric over time.
For stains you can use rug cleaners or products that are specifically
formulated for cleaning mattresses. Use according to instructions,
and be careful not to get the mattress too wet during the process.
It takes a long time to dry a mattress if you let the moisture
soak in too far, and you also might just push contaminants deeper
into the materials. Light application of a cleaner and extraction
with a wet-dry vacuum cleaner works best.
For stains like dog urine, you could try cleaning, applying
baking soda, and giving the spot a sun bath, but chances are
good that to get the odor out completely you'll need a professional.
If there is not a mattress cleaning company near you, try carpet
cleaners. They often have experience with mattress cleaning.
Typically they will use their upholstery tools for the job. Be
sure that after the cleaning strokes are done (with hot water/steam)
they do several passes over each spot with suction alone to remove
as much moisture and stain substances as possible.
If cleaning alone is not enough, you might consider getting
a mattress bag. They are sold by many bedding dealers and furniture
stores. These covers are like a big envelope in which you enclose
the mattress. Look for one that is soft enough, so it won't make
too much noise when you are moving in bed. Another advantage
of these is that they protect you from any dust mites that are
in the mattress.
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