How to Clean a Mattress




Completed a masters in mechanical engineering and then realised I didn't want to be an engineer. ...

Taken from the "Life's Burning Questions", this is a very simple Instructable on how to clean a mattress with simple household ingredients.

I've lived in many a rented house and although being furnished is a great help, you can never be sure what's "clean" or not. Every time I move into a new place, the first thing I do is give the mattress a good clean with this method and gives me a sweet-smelling bed for the future.

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Step 1: What You Will Need

Cleaning a mattress is very simple and remarkably effective considering the items used. What you will need are:

The mattress that you want cleaned
Some Bicarbonate of Soda (available in all supermarkets in the baking aisle)
A sieve (an icing sugar shaker/duster is even better)
A vacuum cleaner

That is all you need.

Step 2: The Dusting

If you are using a sieve, pour a small amount of bicarbonate of soda into the sieve and use the sieve to sprinkle the soda all over the mattress. You're aiming for a good dusting over the entire surface of the mattress so don't worry too much if you accidentally put too much on, just spread it around.

Areas that have stains or soiling should be treated with more soda on that spot.

If you have a dusting tin (like a big salt/pepper shaker but for icing sugar and cocoa powder), then just fill the shaker up and sprinkle liberally.

Step 3: The Cleanup

After you have dusted the entire surface of the mattress with bicarbonate of soda, leave the mattress for several hours (a whole day if possible) for the soda to work it's magic.

The soda draws dirt, moisture and odours out of the fabric and absorbs them leaving the material unblemished.

After the mattress has been left to settle, use the vacuum cleaner to suck up all of the soda from the surface and inside the mattress. Do this quite thoroughly otherwise you'll get puffs of soda everytime you lie down.

Step 4: Voila!

And hey presto, the mattress is clean again! If you're not happy with the result, repeat as required. Some stains may be beyond the capabilities of this process and could require more extensive cleaning products. But this method is great for freshening a mattress without cleaning chemicals or dampening the material and is best done on a regular basis if possible.

Do this as soon as the stain occurs ideally for maximum effect. Also good for other soft furnishings such as chairs and sofas.

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    16 Discussions


    Tip 1 year ago

    If mattress stained badly eg with blood, the stain can be removed by mixing bicarbonate of soda to a stiff paste with water and smearing onto stain. Leave several hours then remove either by sweeping up or vacuuming. I have used this method many times and it always works.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    I've heard the average mattress will gain 10 pounds in dead dust mites during it's usable lifespan. Sleep tight...

    2 replies

    10 years ago on Introduction

    This is definitely the best way to clean a mattress, works on carpets too, but you need to replace your vacuum bag or clean out the filter(s) in a bagless, but that said, if you use a decent vacuum made for such tasks (cylinders, Kirbys, or some uprights with turbo-nozzles) it'll get the skin flakes and dust mites out of the material... :)

    Actually, I nabbed a video made by the BBC's "One Show" (UK only as far as I know) which shows a Kirby in action on cleaning a mattress, it also has a UV light fitted for killing living nasties, though I don't think they used it here:

    I have one of those "sample" tools, it's actually called a Baird Dirt Meter, usually used by Kirby salesmen (there is the Kirby Dirt Meter, but this needs to have replacement filter discs each time it's used, the Baird has washable cloths), very handy to have, if you have a Kirby that is, I don't think there's many other vacuum manufacturers that have their own version... :)


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Treat this as auto upholstery - use the same cleaners and if you need to rinse it at all, use a damp towel and a wet-dry vac. If you really see STAINS that won't come out, at least try to sanitize them with Lysol spray. Finally, if it's all just ugly, throw a Bedsack over the whole thing and wait until you can score a free replacement mattress in Craigslist.

    BigNateMIlogic bomb

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Yes, covering the mattress in a full vinyl or plastic cover deprives them of food, then they die. However, this makes me sweat like a woman of ill repute in a house of worship, so I add a thick mattress pad which allows my skin to breathe, and which I launder weekly.

    chioklogic bomb

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    I'm not sure I'm afraid. Steam cleaning and vacuuming might be the only effective way, but it's not as dry as this method.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Bicarbonate of Soda = Baking soda = Arm and Hammer. This is a great instructable, but in the states this "Bicarbonate of Soda" is called baking soda, or Arm & Hammer. Just trying to keep it simple.

    2 replies

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Ah, we have baking powder, which is different to bicarbonate of soda, only slightly though. Arm and Hammer in the UK is a toothpaste I believe. But thanks for the disambiguation!


    11 years ago on Step 2

    At this point, depending on your location and weather you may want to lay the mattress out in the sun for a few hours. That shiny thing in the sky is one of the best deodorizers and it disinfects too!


    11 years ago on Introduction

    This is superb for people who need to sleep on a mattress that was previously used by another i.e., a college dormitory. I recommend cleaning the mattress, then covering with a dust mite proof cover, before using a mattress pad and sheet. Thank you!


    11 years ago on Introduction

    WoW! Does this really work? I've got to try this...! ;)