How To Clean Your Mattress (And Why You Should)

It can affect everything from allergies to bacteria.

Americans sleep an average of 7.7 hours a day, according the U.S. Bureau of Labor. That’s a lot of mattress time. And the caliber of that sleep depends a lot on your mattress — mainly its quality and how well you take care of it. Once you’ve bought the right mattress, you’ll want to know how to properly maintain it. “Taking proper care of your mattress will help you to protect your investment and promote better sleep,” says Lin Enilk, a representative of the American Sleep Association. Here’s what experts say about cleaning and caring for your mattress.

1. Read your warranty. “Before you do anything to your mattress, be sure you read the warranty and understand what the limits are,” says Mary Helen Uusimaki, vice president of marketing and communications for The Better Sleep Council, adding that some manufacturers stipulate specific cleaning instructions. Understanding how your actions may affect your warranty will save headaches and possibly money in the future.

2. Get some protection. The most important part of caring for your mattress is having preventative layers that create barriers against moisture, dust and dirt. “There are a ton of covers and pads and encasements that help protect your mattress, particularly for those who might have allergies to dust or dust mites,” Uusimaki says.

Covers don’t necessarily just go on top of the mattress; they can zipper tightly closed, completely encasing it. These come in a variety of prices and materials, such as cotton and cotton blends, often with polyurethane backing. Covers serve different purposes, from protecting against dust and dust mites to creating waterproof barriers — great not just for potty-training kids but also for people who tend to sweat in their sleep — to warding off bacteria. There are also scented encasements.

Yet another option: mattress covers designed to prevent bedbugs. “Another destroyer of your sleep investment,” says Lin Enilk of the American Sleep Association.

3. Tackling spills. For mattresses without protective barriers, Uusimaki recommends treating spots, stains and spills with a damp cloth and warm water. It’s important to note the difference between a damp cloth and one that’s soaking-wet. “You don’t want to saturate your mattress,” Uusimaki says. “It’s just like your sofa. You wouldn’t pour water on your sofa.” Avoid steam cleaning as well.

As soon as an accident occurs, blot it dry quickly, then begin treating the spot. For blood or urine, Enilk recommends using a cloth dampened with a mixture of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide to scrub the area. “Keep in mind, however, that hydrogen peroxide may change the color of your mattress,” she says.

For other stains, the sleep association suggests the following method:

Fill a spray bottle with a few drops of mild dish soap mixed with water.

Spray the solution lightly on the stained area.

Scrub gently with a soft brush.

Aerate the dampened mattress by setting it outside (if feasible) or directing a portable fan on the area.

4. Flip and spin. The beginning and end of daylight saving time is a great way to remember when to give your mattress a little extra attention by flipping and-or rotating it. “This process helps to offset the normal settling that occurs by placing body weight on a compressible surface,” Enilk says.

“It’s the perfect time because it’s not something that needs to be done monthly,” Uusimaki says.

This is also a good time to consider using the handheld brush attachment on your vacuum if it has one and gently go over the mattress to eliminate any dust that might have collected.

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