How to Clean a Mattress

When I started this room makeover for my little girl, imagine my dismay when I found out that nearly all mattresses in the US have been doused with flame-retardant neurotoxins since 2007. I have some pre-2007 mattresses that I thought needed some upgrading, but I’ll be hanging onto them, now. That makes it even more important that I keep them clean, and so I’m sharing how to clean a mattress.

how to clean a mattress

Anyone with kids will tell you it’s hard to keep a mattress spot-free. No one but you may notice, but the icky fact is that there are things living in our mattresses that just aren’t healthy. In fact, when we had our house torn apart to get the hardwood floors refinished this winter, I noticed that my little one could not sleep on one particular mattress in our house, and I resolved to do something about it.

One particular day, I hit this particular bed with a 3-stage attack:

  1. Cleaned the mattress
  2. Steamed the mattress
  3. Washed all of the bedding, including the pillows

Guess what? No coughing for my little one that night or any other night. I can’t tell you what part of this regime was magic, but I’ll be doing most of this to all of our mattresses much more often now.

Here are the detailed steps.

  1. Apply a DIY spray to one side of the mattress. The spray was simply a quarter cup hydrogen peroxide, about 10 drops of lavender essential oil, and about a cup of water. The very first time cleaning this mattress, the solution also had two squirts of liquid dish washing soap, which removed the stains. DIY solution to clean a mattress
  2. Steam the mattress. My HomeRight SteamMachine was perfect for this job. You can see all the other jobs that this little steamer does for me, and now I’m adding mattress duty.  I really went at it, and spent about 15 minutes steaming the top of the mattress. Once it dried, I flipped the mattress and repeated the spray-and-steam approach. I’m not making any guarantees for all types of foam mattresses. Mine are all innerspring mattresses. clean a mattress with a steamer
  3. While my mattress was drying and airing out, I laundered everything on the bed, including the pillows. Yes, you can wash pillows at home! Just use tennis balls or dryer balls in the dryer. I found out that you can even wash down comforters at home, if your washer is large enough. Who knew?

Like I mentioned, you can add a squirt of dish detergent to your DIY spray mixture to knock out stains. I’ve done this in the past, and it does remove the stains. Would you believe that this mattress is probably somewhere around 20 years old?

There is a bonus in doing this in the middle of winter. The house is so dry from the heater running, that the mattresses dried in just a couple of hours.

Now that it’s clean, I have no interest whatsoever in “upgrading” it to a newer, chemical sprayed model. Since neither I nor my kids smoke in bed, I figure we’ll just take our chances, and hope that our heads don’t spontaneously combust at night.

If you are as horrified as I was to learn about this chemical intrusion into our bedding, please click here and sign the MomsRising petition to congress.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Dylan

    Yeah, cleaning a mattress doesn’t sound fun. But I think it’s like with the 101th kung fu feint (running away), the best way is to prevent it from getting any stains to begin with. I mean, aren’t there mattress protectors for that? Some of them are even waterproof these days. Or at least, the manufacturers claim so. It’s a shame so few actually are.

    1. Darla

      Yes, definitely preventing stains from occurring is best, but kids are unpredictable. This is a surprisingly easy way to clean something that most people never even think to clean.

      1. Jenna Jamieson

        I understand Dylan , Cleaning a mattress is really tough task but somehow it is very important to clean because its not a matter of luxury its a matter of comfort.

  2. Jennifer Mcbride

    Great tips! mattress cleaning can really be a tough job especially with kids around. Haven’t you tried baking soda? it works great! highly recommended

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