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    How to Clean a Mattress (and Why)

    Tackling this chore a couple of times a year can help keep things fresh in the bedroom

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    Vacuum cleaning the top of a mattress.
    Experts suggest cleaning your mattress twice a year at minimum. And if you don’t have a mattress encasement, bump that up to four times annually.
    Photo: Getty Images

    A clean, well-cared-for mattress can last longer than one that’s been ignored. It can also promote a more pleasant and productive slumber. That’s what Consumer Reports learned when speaking with cleaning experts and drawing on our own tests to help inform this guide to properly cleaning and maintaining mattresses. 

    “Dust mites, pollen, dust, and loose dirt can cause allergies and trigger asthma attacks,” says Brian Sansoni, senior vice president of communications at American Cleaning Institute. “Sleeping on a clean mattress can prevent these triggers and help you to have a good night’s sleep."

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    Health benefits aside, a clean mattress can also help prevent pest infestations. That’s why it’s important to pay as much attention to it as you might your couch, and focus on how you clean your mattress, as well as how often.

    More on Mattresses

    Back when most mattresses could be flipped over, the conventional wisdom was that you should turn it twice a year, and take that opportunity to clean it as well. These days, most mattresses, including the pillow-top variety, can’t be flipped because they have a proper top and bottom. But cleaning your mattress two times a year remains a solid rule of thumb. (Check the mattress label for instructions because the manufacturer might recommend rotating the mattress head to foot to ensure even wear.)

    Sansoni strongly recommends that people also invest in a mattress encasement. “Having one is crucial to keeping your mattress from being ruined by stains and spills,” he says. It can also prevent you from having to hire a professional mattress cleaner. A professional will typically use a chemical formulation, high-temperature water, and/or a steam process to remove stains and deep-clean the mattress. But that comes at a much higher cost. A quality mattress encasement for a queen bed can cost around $55 or more. 

    If stains have ruined your mattress for good, and you’re in the market for a new one, check out our mattress buying guide and mattress ratings of more than 260 beds. You can also explore our interactive mattress finder to pick the right mattress based on your preferences, from firmness to sleep position. If you’re looking to outfit your mattress with new bedding, check out the pillows and sheets from our tests.

    How to Deep-Clean Your Mattress

    First things first: If your mattress has a fresh stain, tackle it immediately after removing your bedding. Grab the appropriate stain remover, a couple of dry cloths, and treat the stain as if you were treating a carpet—blot, don’t rub the stain in. 

    If the stain isn’t fresh or requires a deeper cleaning, here are some steps you can take.

    1. Wash Your Sheets

    Strip the mattress of all sheets and bedding and toss those items in the wash. To remove tough stains, always use a CR recommended laundry stain remover, and follow the care instructions on your sheets.

    2. Vacuum Your Mattress

    Next, vacuum the entire mattress surface with the upholstery attachment on your vacuum cleaner, paying close attention to seams and crevices, where dirt, dust, and dead skin can collect. Switching to your vacuum’s crevice attachment can help get in deep. (Our tests have found that a normal vacuum provides capable cleaning, so you don’t need to invest hundreds of dollars into a mattress-specific vacuum cleaner.) If you have a pillowtop mattress, the same advice applies: Use the crevice tool to get into the folds of the surface and get around the seams as much as possible.

    3. Spot-Clean Your Mattress

    Once you’re finished vacuuming, check for dry stains and spot-treat them with an appropriate cleaner. An upholstery cleaner or enzyme-based pet-odor remover can do the job on many bodily fluids or organic liquids, like wine. For other stains, such as dirt or grass, try a simple solution of 1 teaspoon mild dish detergent and 1 cup of warm water.

    4. Deodorize Your Mattress

    Next, deodorize the mattress by sprinkling baking soda over the entire surface, and don’t be afraid to empty an entire 1-pound box. If you can place the mattress near a window, do so. Sunlight will add its sanitizing power. For best results, leave the baking soda there for 24 hours and catch some sleep on the couch—or go on that overnight trip you’ve been fantasizing about.

    5. Vacuum Your Mattress Again

    After the baking soda has had a chance to tackle odors, go back over the mattress with your vacuum’s upholstery attachment. 

    Sansoni also suggests using a light spray with a fabric refresher to help remove any lingering odors. For double-duty, choose one with a formula designed to reduce allergens from pollen and dust mites.

    Upgrades for a Better Night's Sleep

    You can make your bed even more sleep-worthy with a comfortable, supportive pillow and soft, durable sheets. Here are two pillows and two sets of sheets that garner top ratings in CR’s tests. Also check out this toolkit for a good night’s sleep.


    Tackling this chore a couple times a year can help keep things fresh in the bedroom. Learn more through the link in our bio. #cleantok #cleaningtiktok #mattress #sleeptok

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