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Bed hygiene: How to clean a mattress and disinfect the bed

Brush up your bed hygiene with our easy-to-follow guide on how to clean a mattress and how to clean a bed! Ensure you and your family enjoy a comfy and hygienic snooze with these simple steps. From how to clean pillow top mattresses to memory foam!


Reading Time: 5 minutes

By Cleanipedia Team

bed hygiene: blue face mask placed on bed with clean white sheets
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Whether you've come to learn how to disinfect a used mattress you've bought second-hand, are a parent needing to disinfect a mattress after a potty training accident, or simply just want to keep your home sanitary: we’ve got you covered. This comprehensive guide to bed hygiene offers advice on general cleaning, disinfecting and even how to remove stains from a mattress.

Before you start...

  • Mattresses need airing, so plan the clean for the start of the day.

  • Check for manufacturer cleaning instructions. These can be found on the tags as well as care labels.

  • Remove everything from your bed including linen, sheets and mattress protectors.

The condition of your mattress is as important as the quality of it. In addition to cleaning, regularly rotate your mattress to maintain its shape and integrity. The same can be said for cleaning a pillow top mattress!

How to disinfect a bed and mattress

Knowing how to properly clean and disinfect a bed is important for your health and comfort. Here’s our step-by-step guide to how to disinfect a mattress and bed with special tips on how to clean a pillow top mattress:

  1. Vacuum up loose dirt, dust and debris from the mattress. We recommend using an upholstery attachment. Don’t forget to vacuum your bed frame and headboard - if the manufacturer advises against vacuuming, use a damp cloth instead.

  2. Remove any stains from the mattress. Use one of our methods below using either diluted washing-up liquid or a mixture of baking powder, salt, and water.

  3. Neutralise any odours. Sprinkle baking powder over your mattress and leave it for 30 minutes before vacuuming clean for a quick deodoriser.

  4. Get rid of any dust mites. Create a solution of ½ litre of water with two teaspoons of eucalyptus oils and spray generously before leaving to dry or try our other tips on dealing with dust mites. For other pests, try this article on how to get rid of bed bugs.

  5. Disinfect your mattress. Spray the following mixture lightly over your mattress and leave it to settle for around 5 minutes. Wipe away excess moisture with a clean cloth.

    2 cups of water

    ½ cup of white vinegar

    ¼ cup of alcohol (at least 60% proof)

    10-20 drops of tea tree oil

  6. Give your mattress time to air. This should be done for a minimum of 10 minutes but for the best result leave it for 6 hours.

  7. Clean the bed frame and headboard. While the mattress is airing, clean the frame and headboard with your disinfectant spray.

  8. Turn and/or flip your mattress. Always check the manufacturer’s instructions.

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Tips for cleaning specialist mattresses: pillow top and memory foam

Here’s our guide for how to clean a pillow top mattress or memory foam mattress.

  • These specialist mattresses take longer to dry so plan plenty of drying time.

  • Only vacuum your mattress when it is dry.

  • Heard of cleaning mattresses with baking soda? Treat lingering odours by sprinkling a thick covering of baking soda onto the mattress and leave it for 8 hours before vacuuming up.

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For extra plush beds, have a look at these simple steps for how to clean a pillow top mattress.

To clean a pillow top mattress:

  1. Use a drop of liquid detergent and a sponge to dab the area you wish to clean.

  2. Move the sponge around to massage areas where stains may have soaked into the fibres. 

  3. Always treat stains immediately using a microfiber cloth to dab excess liquid from the surface.

  4. Never rub, wipe or scrub as this could spread stains further.

  5. Use a clean, dry cloth to remove all traces of cleaning product.

  6. Leave your mattress to dry naturally.

To clean a memory foam mattress:

  1. Blot stains with water, then sprinkle the area with boric acid and leave it to sit for 15 minutes.

  2. Use a damp sponge to blot the stain and remove it along with all traces of acid before leaving it to air-dry.

  3. A cleaning solution we recommend is 2-parts warm water with 1-part quality detergent.

  4. Spray the solution lightly over the entire mattress, ensuring it doesn't become saturated.

  5. Using a damp sponge, carefully blot the mattress to rinse it and remove any traces of detergent.

How to get stains out of mattresses

An important part of learning how to deep clean a mattress is treating unsightly stains. Here are our steps to clean mattress stains with ease.

For simple stains:

  1. Dilute washing-up liquid in a spray bottle.

  2. Spray this solution over the stained area.

  3. Leave it to soak for 5-10 minutes.

  4. Use a paper towel to blot the mattress repeatedly to remove all excess solution.

For more stubborn, yellow stains:

  1. Create a paste of baking powder, salt, and water.

  2. Rub the paste over the stained area.

  3. Leave it to sit for a minimum of 30 minutes.

  4. Use a damp cloth to remove the paste and stain.

For other types of stains, we recommend checking our guide on removing urine stains from a mattress, including how to get urine out of mattress with a pillow top, as well as tips for removing fresh or dried blood stains too.

Understanding the best way to clean a mattress will not only ensure you have a clean place to lay your head but give you the confidence to do it yourself. With this comprehensive guide, we've now given you all the information you need to ensure you know how to clean a mattress successfully.

Mattress cleaning FAQs

Why should you know how to clean your mattress or disinfect it?

Did you know we spend, on average, a third of our lives in bed? Making sure you have clean sheets isn't enough to protect you from the hidden nasties that may be lurking below. Mattresses can be home to hair, dust, dirt and even dead skin cells.

Disinfecting and cleaning your mattress will help to protect you from bad bacteria, odours and allergies as well as helping to contribute to a comfortable night's sleep. Check out this general approach to cleaning your mattress, with a video guide.

How often should you clean a mattress?

You should clean your mattress every six months. For those with allergies, we recommend you vacuum your mattress at least once a month and clean it every 3 months.

What causes yellow stains on a mattress?

Yellow stains found on your mattress are the result of a combination of bodily fluids, sweat, skin and oils from your hair. If you want to clean mattress stains, a homemade paste of baking powder, salt, and water should do the trick. Simply follow our effortless guide above.

Originally published