How to clean a mattress

·Contributor, Yahoo Life UK
·6-min read
How to clean a mattress UK
When was the last time you stripped off the sheets and gave your mattress a good clean? (Getty Images)

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The feeling of sliding in-between a set of freshly washed bedding is one of life's little luxuries, but let's be honest, the effect is dampened somewhat when you're the one changing the sheets, so you've recently seen the state of your mattress.

We spend a lot of time in bed, yet our mattresses receive less care than our floors — and all those nights of service can take a toll on the cleanliness of your mattress.

Heads up: The following stats are a little ew!

Every night mattresses absorb up to half a pint of body moisture, according to Bed Advice UK. Over the course of a year, up to 450g of dead skin will also accumulate — ideal conditions for dust mites to thrive.

There's no hard and fast rule about how frequently we should clean our mattresses, but the general consensus among cleaning bods is that it is best to give it a good vacuum every six months, using the upholstery attachment on your vacuum cleaner. Pay particular attention to any nooks and crevices on the surface.

Next time you want to give your mattress a deep clean, bear in mind the following tips:

The DIY hacks

Deodorise with a sprinkle of bicarbonate of soda

Cleaning influencer Sophie Hinchliffe, aka Mrs Hinch, shared her hack for cleaning mattresses using a store cupboard staple on her Instagram Stories in 2020.

She used a sieve to sprinkle bicarbonate of soda over the mattress and left it there for an hour before using the cold setting on her vacuum cleaner to suck it up.

"For those asking why I use bicarb and what does it do, it’s an odour eliminator," Mrs Hinch explained in the video. "So any odours that may be lingering in the mattress, it just soaks them up and absorbs them. It works really, really well."

Cleaning guru Aggie MacKenzie is also a firm believer in the freshening power of bicarbonate of soda. She uses it to spot-treat stains as she revealed when sharing her mattress cleaning tips on ITV's This Morning in 2015. "It's great for smells as it soaks them up and eliminates them." she said. "Sprinkle some over the stain, leave it for few hours then vacuum it up."

Keep your cool when tackling blood stains

Try to treat any stains as soon as possible after they occur. Blood stains should be dabbed with a little cold water (try not to soak the mattress and don't rub the stain to prevent it spreading further). If the stain is still visible, add some bicarbonate of soda to the water. Apply the mixture to the stain and leave for 30 minutes before dabbing with clean cool water.

Treat yellow stains with washing up liquid

Yellow stains from sweat or urine can sometimes be removed using washing up liquid diluted in cool water. Dab the solution onto the stain, taking care not to rub it in or soak the mattress. This may also help with stubborn blood stains.

Fresh air can work wonders for musty smells

This tip literally costs you nothing. Your mattress spends almost all of its time encased in bedding, so is it any wonder if it starts to smell a little less than fresh?

Next time you change your bedding, don't rush to get the new sheets on. Open a window and allow the air to circulate for a few hours to naturally freshen your mattress.

Top-rated mattress cleaning buys

Always check the mattress' care label before applying any cleaning products and test any cleaning solution on a small part of the stain first to ensure it won't damage the mattress.

Buy it: Astonish Premium Carpet and Upholstery Shampoo, 750ml | £6 at Amazon

Astonish Premium Carpet and Upholstery Shampoo, 750ml (Astonish)
Astonish Premium Carpet and Upholstery Shampoo, 750ml (Astonish)

Both Aggie Mackenzie and Bed Advice UK recommend using upholstery shampoo for spot treating mattress stains. But caution that you should first check whether your mattress' care label says it is OK to do so. It is wise to dilute the shampoo in warm water and avoid getting the mattress overly wet when applying.

Buy it: Milton Sterilising Fluid, 1L | £2 at Amazon

Milton Sterilising Fluid (Milton)
Milton Sterilising Fluid (Milton)

After treating urine, vomit or diarrhoea stains with detergent or upholstery shampoo, Bed Advice UK suggests wiping with a few drops of antiseptic, such as Milton Sterilising Fluid.

Buy it: CLEANmax Handheld UV Mattress Vacuum SC04 | £59.99 at Lakeland

CLEANmax Handheld UV Mattress Vacuum SC04 (CLEANmax)
CLEANmax Handheld UV Mattress Vacuum SC04 (CLEANmax)

This handheld mattress vacuum takes a three-pronged approach to cleaning: Firstly, it has a UV-C light that promises to kill 99.9% of mites, bacteria and fungal spores to sterilise your mattress, pillows, blankets and duvet. Secondly it features an 'agitator function', which vibrates to shake up bed bugs and dust particles and lastly, it has a dust and HEPA filter to trap tiny particles, that can irritate allergy sufferers.

Buy it: Kärcher SC1 EasyFix Steam Cleaner | £94 at Amazon

Kärcher SC1 EasyFix Steam Cleaner (Kärcher)
Kärcher SC1 EasyFix Steam Cleaner (Kärcher)

Kärcher says you can use its steam cleaner to clean your mattress, so long as you attach the microfibre cloth kit. The high temperature steam will kill dust mites and their eggs effectively without any chemical products.

Buy it: Vax Spotwash Carpet Washer | £99.99 from John Lewis

Vac Spotwash Carpet Cleaner. (John Lewis & Partners)
Vac Spotwash Carpet Cleaner. (John Lewis & Partners)

If you're wanting to do a thorough home clean, you may want to just bite the bullet and invest in a carpet washer that's suitable for a whole host of upholsters.

You can use your carpet cleaner to clean your mattress, as long as it comes with with a hand attachment, which the Vax Spotwash does – just be careful not to get the mattress too wet. The super powerful Vax Spotwash cleans quickly and easily lifts stains, combining powerful suction with deep cleaning. It can be used on carpet, upholstery, stairs and more.

Eco-friendly mattress cleaning buys

Buy it: Envii Bed Fresh | £9.99 at Amazon

Envii Bed Fresh (Envii)
Envii Bed Fresh (Envii)

This mattress cleaner and deodoriser uses pro-biotic bacteria to clean smells and stains from your bedding. The pro-biotic bacteria digest sweat and urine and convert them into water and co2. It can also work to help clean baby sick. Spray over the stain and leave to dry for two to four hours before making the bed.

Buy it: Panda Bamboo Mattress Protector | £19.95 - £45 at Amazon

Panda Bamboo Mattress Protector (Panda)
Panda Bamboo Mattress Protector (Panda)

A simple solution to avoiding unpleasant odours, stains and dust on your mattress is to use a mattress protector, which is easy to strip off and wash with your other bedding. This one is delivered in a recycled and recyclable box and is made from ethically sourced organic bamboo, which is grown pesticide-free.

Bamboo is naturally anti-bacterial and promises to resist mould, fungi, mildew and dust mites. It is also hypoallergenic, so is suitable for people with eczema, sensitive skin or hay fever.

If your children have a little accident in the middle of the night, you'll be thanking your lucky stars you remembered the mattress protector.

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