Who actually thinks about cleaning a mattress unless they actually have a spill they are frantically trying to clean? It’s more likely that you had a spill, tried a few methods to clean it, which didn’t work, and are now researching a method to clean a spill which is a few days old, set, and has had seveal cleaners applied to it.
This article will highlight how to prevent spills from ruining your mattress and what to do in an emergency situation. These tools, learned ahead of time, will prevent you from hours of frustration and save your mattress, an expensive investment which is costly and time-consuming to replace.
This article will also teach you how to clean a mattress and outlines many different types of reasons a mattress could get dirty, and how to clean a mattress in each situation. Many of the products featured are inexpensive, easily available and non-toxic.
A. Prevention and Maintenance – 3 Easy steps
- Mattress cover: dust mite and waterproof
This is the first line of defence and the most important. If you do nothing else, run to your nearest mattress store and purchase a dust mite waterproof cover. It looks like a terry cloth fitted sheet that slips over your mattress before you place your fitted sheet. It is available in 15 inch or 20 inch depths for those deep pillow top mattresses. A queen sized cover is around $69 and has a ten year warranty. It is worth it even if your mattress is scotch-guarded and has an antibacterial coating.
Why is this so important? It will seal your mattress, preventing dust mites and dust from settling into the coil system of your mattress. It is waterproof, preventing any spills or night-time accidents from seeping through. The company offers a guarantee: if a spill penetrates the cover, they will replace your mattress. For the cost of the cover, that is great peace of mind with easy choices: easy way to clean a spill by throwing the cover in the laundry or get a new free mattress. This would be excellent for children’s beds as well, as they don’t always tell you about a spill until it seeps deep into the mattress.
Did you know that your mattress warranty is void if your mattress has a stain? Yes, the mattress company can refuse to honor your warranty and not repair your mattress if it has a visible stain. Please check with your local company to see if this applies in your situation.
Did you know that the average queen mattress after ten years of use weighs 20 – 30 lbs more than when you bought it? Why? The accumulation of dust mites and dead skin weighs heavily on your mattress.
With a dust mite waterproof protector, remove it monthly and wash with your sheets. Pick a regular week in the month ex. First week, and write in on your calendar.
Vacuum your mattress monthly when you remove the cover. Why? It is the best way to maintain your mattress by removing any lint, dust mites or dust can work their way into the layers of foam, coils and materials. This is best done just before reposotioning your clean dust mite protector.
Rotation, rotation, rotation, rotation. That’s how many times per year it should be done. Every 3 months, your mattress shuld be rotated, head to toe, front to back or both. Done through the course of the year, this will provide you with a better night’s sleep and extend the life of your mattress. How? With time, your mattress adjusts to your weight and body position, creating coil and foam compression. If left, this could lead to sagging, a permanent coil change and a need to purchase a new mattress. At the beginning of the year, plan out when to rotate your mattress and note the position change as you write it on the calendar. It is easy to forget with the pace of life today. Grab a friend or family member if the mattress seems too bulky or heavy. Use the side handles for turning and positioning but not for transporting.
B. Stain Removal 101
- Blot with water immediately
If you have an actual stain, grab a white washcloth, dampen slighlty and blot. Rubbing can actually deepen the stainby pushing the matter deeper into the fibers of the mattress ticking. Blotting, the frequent downward pressure and holding of the washcloth on the affected area, allows the stain to be absorbed into the washcloth. This will remove the majority of the stain and is best done immediately before the stain has a chance to set. This is good for all stains. Always use a white cloth to avoid dye transfer into the stain.
- Test before you clean and act quickly
What type of stain is it? What type of fabric is the mattress? Always use
a test spot in an innocuous spot to see if the product affects the mattress
ticking. For all cleaning, do not allow the inner mattress to become wet.
Always dry thoroughly before use. This can be done outside, indside with open windows or with a hair dryer.
Use laundry detergent as a concentrated soap for stain removal. Mix
either liquid or powder laundry detergent with an equal amount of water
in a dollar store spray bottle and shake well. Spray directly onto the
affected area. Blot the bubbles into the stain using a white cloth. Allow
the bubble mixture to work its way into the stain as you blot, which may
take twenty minutes or so. Allow the area to fully dry before placing the
sheets. You can also use a hair dryer to speed the process. Works well
on most stains. This is recommended by mattress salespeople.
Hydrogen peroxide is a mild bleach and also helps to disinfect the stained
area. It works well on protein-based stains such as blood and urine. Dampen a white cloth and blot! Repeat! This takes out stains from your clothes as well. It is tried and true.
- Recommendations for specific stains:
Blot with water, soap, hydrogen peroxide.
Urine or feces from pets or people:
Remove solid matter and blot any liquid residue. Blot with water, soap. Once dry, an enzyme product should be used to digest the protein in the stain. Leave on for twelve hours, and cover with plastic. Remove plastic and powder with Borax®. Vacuum well. Follow-up with a general cleaning by an upholstery shampoo. If odor persists, try spraying with vodka. Note: Enzyme products are available from pet supply stores, veterinary clinics and janitorial supply stores. Recommended brands include: Outright Pet Odor Eliminator® by Brampton Company and Nature’s Miracle®. Urine stains may cause discoloration of the actual mattress material.
Vomit: Remove excess matter with a cloth. Sprinle baking soda to absorb the smell and the excess liquid.Use a clean cloth to first blot area using water, clean with soap. For a large or deep area, follow up with general cleaning of the entire mattress.
Food or drink: Remove excess food, blot area with a clean damp cloth. Use the sudsy soap mixture. If protein is involved, use an enzyme product as described above.
Ink: Use hairspray directly on the stain as the alcohol in the product will help break up the ink. Follow up with blotting soap mixture, as described above, to remove the visible ink and the hairspray.
- General cleaning of a soiled mattress:
For the overall cleaning of a mattress, an upholstery shampoo may be useful. Specific products are also avaible to clean a mattress such as Nature’s Miracle: Bane-Clene, ideal for allergy suffferers or ProKlean, used by the hotel industry. Steam cleaners can be rented ex. Rug Doctor to give the entire mattress surface a thorough clean or for tough stain removal.
C. Odor removal
Surface odors are easy to tackle once the stain has been cleaned. If odors are trapped beneath the surface, it is difficult to remove the smell as you don’t have access to the inner foam and other materials. Inner stains can become breeding grounds for bacteria and mold growth. Once cleaned and sprayed for odor removal, you can dry it outside in fresh air it out in the summer directly in the sun on a warm day. Don’t forget to flip it and do both sides.
Vodka is a great odor neutralizer and doesn’t leave any residual smell. Simply place in a spray bottle and spray directly on the mattress. This is recommended as it does not leave any toxins or perfumes, which is important considering the length of time we spend on our mattresses. It is non-toxic and easily available.
Baking soda is recommended for light odor removal. Just sprinkle dry baking powder directly from the box onto your mattress and let sit. The baking soda absorbs odors just like when it is in your fridge. Vacuum the soda after eight hours. It is inexpensive, easily available, and non-toxic. Also good for general refreshing of your mattress.
A solution of vinegar and water, mixed 1 to 1, can be effective also. Sometimes it may leave a residual smell. It is inexpensive, easily available, and non-toxic.
Commercially available odor neutralizers such as Febreeze also work well. It is a matter of preference.
Recommendations for specific odors:
Smoke: Vamoose 1808T Tobacco Odor Fabric Spray is sprayed
dirctly on the mattress in sections. Wait for the product to sink into
the surface before blotting to pick up the residue. If it is a new
mattress with serious smoke odors, you may want a professional fire
restoration company who could use an ozonated room.
Sweat: Vacuum the mattress then clean with a good upholstery
shampoo. Apply an odor eliminator such as vodka. Wait until
thoroughly dry. If the odor persists, it is likely deep into the mattress
materials and worth considering purchasing a new mattress.
Urine: Thoroughly clean as outlined in cleaning specific stains. Apply vodka, baking soda or Febreeze to neutralize odor once thoroughly cleaned and enzyme product applied. If odor persists, buy a new mattress.
D. Mattress replacement
After 10-15 years of use, the mattress manufacturers recommend replacement of your mattress. Why? The mattress will begin to sag and leave lasting impressions on you. The lack of support will create pressure points and pain can result. Also, if you haven’t used a dust mite waterproof cover, the mattress will be saturated with dust, mites, dead skin etc… For cleanliness reasons alone, they recommend a change.
When buying a mattress, it pays to shop around. Bring the companies spec sheets and do your homework. Always lay on the bed to see how comfortable it is for you. After it is home, you may forget about the coil count, but nothing beats a good night’s rest.