Once you slap some sheets and a nice comforter on your new mattress, you don’t think about it again.
Well I’m here to change that, because your mattress has a pretty dirty job, if you think about it.
We spend a third of our lives sleeping, hopefully if you’re lucky, although for me it’s been way less than that lately.
You’re on your mattress and a lot goes on it, plus you’re sleeping and you’re sweating and you’re shedding dead skin cells. What ends up happening is all of that just gets absorbed into the abyss that is your mattress and over time it smells, it sags and it’s kind of disgusting and if it gets too wet, it can develop mold.
So we need to make sure that we’re taking really good care of our mattress and in this article that’s exactly what I’m going to do.
If you want to know how much your body actually sweats every night directly into your mattress, it’s an entire cup of water.
If you notice that your bedroom has a bit of a off-putting smell to it, all signs are gonna point to the bed. Well, most of the time.
Your sheets are like the clothing that your mattress wears and when you sleep, you sweat in your sheets and sweat over time builds up odors in your sheets and that’s what smells. That’s why your sheets smell stuffy.
If you’re not laundering your sheets on a regular basis, which means every week to two weeks, your bedroom is really gonna start to smell and over time your mattress is going to absorb that odor.
That right off the top, one thing you can change right away.
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Let It Breathe
After stripping your bed and throwing your sheets in the wash, rather than just remaking your bed immediately with a new set of sheets, open the windows, weather permitting and let your mattress breathe. It needs time to just air out, let it do its thing.
Because all of the time that your mattress is made up, it doesn’t have the opportunity for air to circulate and to naturally freshen it up. But when your window is open and the fresh air is blowing in, it actually makes a big difference in helping to deodorize and refresh your mattress.
Dealing With Stains
Let’s say you have an old stain on your mattress. If it’s not bothering you, aside from the fact that it’s an eyesore, I would just say to leave it and here is why.
Mattresses and moisture don’t get along. So once your mattress gets some moisture in it, it really has nowhere to go and that’s where the concern about mold buildup in a mattress comes from.
If you have a fresh stain on your mattress, you want to hop on that as quickly as you can. As soon as something spills, you want to blot it up like crazy with a super absorbent cloth. You want your stain to be as dry as possible. The more moisture you can remove off the surface, the less will seep into your mattress and just sit there over time.
Once that’s done you can then assess the surface stain, like the way it looks, and see if you actually want to tackle it and a product that I think would do really well would be an enzyme cleaner. They’re really great at breaking stains down. Of course it’ll be entirely dependent on the type of stain that it is, but when you treat the stain you want to use as little product as possible.
You can use a cleaning toothbrush, just to kind of scrub it in and work it in really well and then rather than pouring water on there to flush the stain, you actually want to use a damp cloth to try and remove as much of the suds as possible. That way you’re not adding more moisture to the situation.
So let’s rewind a bit.
You’ve stripped your mattress, you’re washing your sheets, what should you do now?
I would recommend getting a vacuum with an upholstery brush attachment and a crevice tool and you’re going to use that to do a surface vacuum.
You might not visibly see any dirt or dust on there, but this step makes a big difference, because it’s removing everything that’s just surfacy, kind of sitting on top of your mattress that you can’t see.
So you’ll take your vacuum, you’ll work from top to bottom, left to right, you’re going to use that crevice tool if you have a pillow top and you’ve got some bumps that you need to get into. You want to give it a good vacuum and then you’re going to just let it air out.
By doing that you’re removing a lot of those dead skin cells, dust mite, anything that basically is going to make you sneeze or make your mattress smelly. That’s the whole point of doing the vacuum.
When it comes to deodorizing your mattress, there are lots of techniques floating around on the internet. Many talk about about sprinkling baking soda on your mattress and that does work because baking soda is pretty amazing at absorbing odors.
But I want to change things up a little bit just to make sure that you’re doing it correctly and the way that I like to do it to get a nice consistent sprinkle is to sift it on.
Once that’s done, you’re going to let it sit for 30 minutes and then you’re going to vacuum it up, but do not use your $1000 brand new vacuum, because baking soda over time can actually affect the quality of the motor. You want to make sure that you’re using a vacuum that can handle a fine powder like baking soda. And then of course you want to make sure that you’re using a clean upholstery brush.
There are some other articles that are out there talking about adding vinegar and water to a spray bottle in equal parts and spritzing that on your mattress and letting it air dry.
Here’s the thing!
I don’t think vinegar and water is really going to fix what’s going on on a mattress. Frankly I think more than anything, airing it out well, staying on top of washing your sheets, is actually the best way to go.
Bring In a Pro
There are those times where you’ll want to bring in a professional. Steam cleaning, deep cleaning and bed bug cleaning are things that should be done by a pro.
General maintenance of your mattress includes rotating it. Yes, you do need to spin your mattress and the idea is to always spin it in the same direction and you do it once a season. So at the beginning of the season, you flip your mattress around just to even out the wear.
If you have a headboard, what you’ll want to do is maintain that as well by pulling your mattress out, maybe by a foot, because when you dust your headboard, dust falls from the top to the bottom, right onto your mattress. So pull it out a little bit and then vacuum or dust and let the dust fall right to the floor instead of on your mattress.
This might sound like a bit of an unhappy story, but there is a plot twist that can make this all a happy ending.
Quite simply use a mattress protector. Whether it’s just one that looks like an extra fitted sheet that goes right on top of your mattress before you actually put your fitted sheet on or you get a fully enclosed mattress protector. Either way it’s a moisture proof barrier between everything and your mattress.
It just keeps it in much better shape. It prevents odors, it prevents moisture issues, it’s a very small price to pay for a lot of insurance.
So if you don’t already have a mattress protector, do all the cleaning that we talked about and then throw one on.
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Alex P. Davis has a BA in Interior Design from The New York School of Interior Design and 10 years of experience expertly designing sophisticated interiors.