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Cleaning a Mattress: How to Get Rid of Sweat Stains, Spills, and More

Man demonstrating quality of mattress

Do you know who shares your mattress with you at night? You may think of your spouse. Or, perhaps your dog. 

While all that may be true, they aren’t the only ones in there. Your mattress is a bustling microcosm, a veritable universe, the denizens; about 10 million dust mites. 

That’s because your dead skin and sweat provide all the food and moisture a mite could want. Cleaning a mattress can be a tedious chore to add to an already demanding schedule. But unfortunately, it’s the only way to rid your bed of those unwanted inhabitants. 

If you’re interested in learning how to get a mattress professionally cleaned, this guide is for you. Continue reading for a comprehensive look at what to do with your musty, dusty mattress. 

What Is a Good Mattress Cleaner?

The best mattress cleaners are ones you already have in your house. That’s because the most effective cleaners are often homemade. For example, baking soda is a great mattress refresher for cleaning a smelly mattress.

You can also make an excellent spot cleaning paste from baking soda and vinegar.

This paste is made by adding a drop of water to baking soda. Then, scrub the paste into any stain spots. When you’re ready, pour on a drop of vinegar, and watch the frothy stain-fighting in action.

Allow the mixture to sit for 15 minutes before you rinse with cold water. You can repeat these steps for extra stubborn stains. 

As with all cleaning solutions, always test fabrics for colorfastness before widespread application.

(P.S. This also works great on garment stains!)

How to Deep Clean a Mattress

Cleaning a mattress sounds like a tall order, but when you break it down into steps, it’s much more manageable. Of course, first, you must strip off your bedding and toss it in the wash. 

While the bedding is in the wash, it’s time to turn your focus on your mattress. 

Dispatch With the Dust

Your mattress holds a surprising amount of dust. To get rid of it, vacuum your entire mattress thoroughly. This means all sides, as well as flipping the mattress to get the bottom. 

Then use baking soda to help lift off the rest of any dirt, dust, or dander. If you have any essential oils on hand, you can add a few drops to the baking soda to scent it. Next, sift the baking soda all over your bare mattress.

Some people find it helpful to use a sieve to distribute the baking soda evenly. Leave it there for the length of a wash cycle, before vacuuming it all up to reveal a clean and fresh bed. 

Treat Stains

If you spend as much time in your bed as the average person, then you will have accumulated some stains. Be it sweat, blood, or urine; mattresses have seen it all. Use cold water at this point to avoid setting in any stains. 

Dish detergent works like a charm on greasy or oily stains. Likewise, a paste made from baking soda and vinegar works well on discoloration from sweat.

After all of the stains are removed, it’s time to move on to the next step.

Get Steamy

The high temperature from steam kills germs, bacteria, and dust mites. This is also an essential step if you have allergies, because it destroys the allergens locked in the fibers of your mattress.

A garment steamer works best for this task. But, an iron on high with the steam function works as well in a pinch. Let the steam wash all over the mattress, in all the same places as when you vacuumed. 

Pass a vacuum over your mattress once again to suck up any dead mites hanging around. 

Tackling Tough Stains: Spot Cleaning a Mattress

Sometimes you will encounter a stain that needs a whole lot of extra attention. In this situation, don’t despair. With the right tools and a little muscle, no stain is impossible to remove.


Sometimes knowing the chemistry behind a stain helps you figure out what would work best to clean it. In the case of blood, it’s important to remember that it contains proteins. If you heat a protein, it tightens and coils up. 

When you apply heat to blood while it’s on fabric, it tightens up like a typical protein and fuses permanently to the fibers of your sheets. This is why you should only use cold water to clean blood.

Here is a trick that works on even the most stubborn blood stains:

  1. Put something under the stain so it doesn’t bleed through to other surfaces
  2. Soak the blood stain with cold water
  3. Add a healthy sized dollop of shampoo and rub it in with your fingers
    • Yes, shampoo! Any shampoo will do
  4. Let it sit for thirty minutes, longer for larger and more set-in stains
  5. Now and then scrape the shampoo into the stain
  6. Once the stain appears to be lifted, rinse under cold water
  7. Repeat, if necessary

Pet Stains

When you share your home with a fur-covered companion, you also share your bed. Anytime your pet is anxious or excited, chances are they will mark their scent (read: pee) on your bed. While pet urine odors are some of the hardest to get rid of, it can be done. 

The only way to eliminate odors from pet stains is with a bio-enzymatic cleaner. These cleaners use enzymes that target the enzymes in pet waste. When using an enzymatic cleaner, test a small patch of your linens to see if it will cause damage. Two popular and well-reviewed brands are Rocco & Roxie and Nature’s Miracle.

And remember to follow all directions as written, or the product won’t work, and you could worsen the stain.

When Deep Cleaning a Mattress is Only the Beginning

Now that your mattress is cleaned you may have noticed that the rest of your home needs attention too. But, your busy lifestyle cannot accommodate the enormous time commitment the task demands. 

However, there is one last trick for having a clean home while taking up none of your time. The secret is to hire a professional. 

For almost three decades, Anita’s Housekeeping Referral Service has connected weary homeowners with talented cleaning professionals. If you live near Santa Cruz, San Diego, Santa Clara, or Monterey, CA, and you’re ready to relieve some of your household burdens, request a booking today.


Anita's Housekeeping Editors