How to Clean Your Mattress

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You wash your sheets and your mattress pad on a regular basis, right? But what about the mattress underneath? It might not get dirty as quickly, but the beating your bed takes can add up -- you do spend a third of your life in it after all.

And if you have pets with bed access, well they spend even more time than you do in that favorite spot.

Cleaning your mattress -- with baking soda for small spots or a steam cleaner for tougher grime -- can calm your allergies by reducing dust mites, improve your health, and -- best of all -- help you sleep better (even if Fido is taking up half the bed).

Here's how to do it.

1. Where to Start

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If your mattress just needs a little freshening and you aren't dealing with stains or smells, then you can start by cleaning it without water.

Run the small attachment of your vaccum over the top while your sheets and matress pad are in the washer; then, says Real Simple, you can use a sieve to cover the mattress with sifted baking soda.

Let it stay on the mattress while you make the bed and when it's time to wash the sheets again, pull out the trusty vacuum to suck up the baking soda -- along with dirt and moisture it trapped.

2. Get Tough

Amazon /Screen capture

If your mattress needs a stronger cleaning, then a steam cleaner is one of the most effective ways to drag out any funky stuff hiding underneath the covers.

Since your bed isn't level with the floor, you'll have an easier time with a smaller handheld steamer, like the Bissell Little Green deep cleaner ($90), with a PVC-free hose and recycled plastic construction. (You can also rent steam cleaners at local grocery stores or hardware stores.)

3. Work in Sections

Video: 5min

Starting with a quick vacuum is still a good idea -- you'll get rid of any loose fibers or hairs that would otherwise get in the way.

Then, working in sections, run your steam cleaner over the mattress. This video from 5min gives you an example of the process, and points out that the mattress will take about four hours to fully dry. (You can just let it air dry before putting sheets and covers back on.)

4. Going Chemical-Free

Amazon/Screen capture

The Bissell cleaner shown above relies on cleaning fluids for a deep clean, but the company offers a line of cleaning products -- some even formulated for pet odors or tough stains -- that are made without phosphates, dyes, or heavy metals, and are twice as strong (so you need less).

If you want to stay away from cleaning products entirely, you can choose a chemical-free steam cleaner -- like the Dirt Devil Handheld ($37). Or split the difference with a homemade solution of 1 cup vinegar in 2.5 gallons of water.

5. Keeping a Clean Bed

Essentia/Screen capture

Now that your mattress is clean, take care of it by rotating it regularly so that it wears evenly (Martha Stewart suggests rotating it four times a year if your mattress is one that can flip over).

And if taking a hard look at your mattress made you realize it's time for a new one, consider a green mattress made without polyester, flame retardants, or polyurethane -- like the Essentia Dormeuse, the natural-rubber Euro from Lifekind, or the natural latex Serenity from Savvy Rest.

Tags: Cleaning

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