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It’s not uncommon for people to go years, if not decades, without ever even considering cleaning their mattress. We regularly wash the sheets on our bed, change the pillowcases, and swap out blankets, so why do we not think about mattress cleaning? The reality is that most people don’t know why it’s important to clean your mattress at regular intervals, let alone how to go about doing it.
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Over time, mattresses collect layers of dust, dirt, dead skin, and other gross things you wouldn’t want to sleep on every night. There is a commonly cited “fact” stating that mattresses get about 10% heavier each year due to the grime that builds up over time. This is likely hyperbole, but the reality is that mattresses do get dirty over time, and the repercussions of neglecting to clean them can have negative impacts on one’s health and wellbeing.
There are a variety of dust mites and other parasites that thrive in the environment of an unclean mattress. These mites actually live on the dead skin cells that the human body naturally sheds, and so a mattress that has not been cleaned in a long time is a perfect home for these tiny creatures.
Dust mites can cause allergies in some people, as well as breathing problems in people suffering from asthma or other respiratory conditions. Unfortunately, it’s near impossible to totally eliminate all dust mites from your mattress, however, proper care and cleaning can reduce the population and help with the related health risks.
In addition to dust mites, mattresses can develop mold or other bacteria over time when not cleaned regularly. All of these combined create a potential hazard for anyone, especially young children and the elderly.
There are a few different opinions about how often a mattress should be cleaned. Not too long ago, it was common for mattresses to be built in a way that allowed for them to be flipped, and most people did so about twice a year. Cleaning was usually done about the same time the mattress was flipped, so most people cleaned their mattresses twice a year. Nowadays, the majority of mattresses are topped with a soft pillow covering or they are one-sided so flipping isn’t an option.
Going with the twice-a-year mattress cleaning routine works well for many people, and is a decent schedule to stick to. Cleaning a mattress is not difficult, but it can be time-consuming. It’s a good idea to wash all of the pillowcases and bedding at the same time as cleaning the mattress, and start early in the day so everything has time to dry before bedtime.
The best care is preventive maintenance like a waterproof mattress protector. In addition to that basic mattress-cleaning routine is pretty simple. We’ll start by stripping the mattress of all sheets and bedding, and throwing them into the washing machine to run while you clean the mattress.
Next, you’ll want to vacuum the entire surface of the mattress with an upholstery attachment, paying special attention to any areas more likely to gather particles of dirt and dust. After you have finished thoroughly vacuuming the mattress, it’s a perfect time to start removing any visible stains from the surface of the bed. Stains are not covered under most mattress warranties so preventing them with a protector really is a must-do, however, if you are just finding this out you can use a recommended stain removal product recommended by the manufacturer. You may also want to carpet cleaning or upholstery companies that offer or provide this service and know how to work with the various mattress fabrics, fibers, and foams.
For tougher stains, try soaking the area of the stain in warm water for 30 minutes before applying the stain removal product. The water must be extracted completely. This can help loosen the stain and make it easier for the cleaning product to do its job. NOTE: The water itself often leaves a discoloration or stain in foam and fabric that is still visible.
After taking care of the stains, the next step is to deodorize the mattress by using baking soda. Spread the baking soda generously over the entire surface of the mattress, keeping in mind that it’s better to use too much than too little. The baking soda will work to absorb odors but can take as long as 24 hours to work completely. If you are unable to give up your mattress for 24 hours, there are other options to deodorize the mattress. Powder-based carpet deodorizers can help to deodorize a mattress faster than baking soda, but be wary of the potential for skin irritation with some products.
Once the baking soda or deodorizing powder has removed any lingering odors from the mattress, it’s time for a final vacuuming to remove the powder. Vacuum the entire surface of the bed, taking care to leave no cleaning product behind. After you are done vacuuming you should notice a huge difference in overall cleanliness compared to where the mattress was when you started, especially if this is your first time cleaning the mattress.
Using a high-quality mattress cover after cleaning can help ensure protect the mattress from moisture and dust, and will allow you to go longer periods between cleaning sessions. In addition to using a mattress cover, the more often you clean your sheets and change bedding, the less you will have to clean the mattress.