How to Freshen and Deodorize a Mattress?
No matter what kind of mattress you own—whether it’s a new memory foam mattress, a modern hybrid, or a traditional innerspring bed—it’s a bad idea to get it wet.
Moisture inside a mattress promotes mold and mildew growth, rendering the bed unfit for sleeping, and warranties don’t cover damage caused by water or mold; so if you want to maintain your mattress without ruining its comfort and wasting your money, pay attention to how much you’re saturating it with cleaners.
So how do you strike the balance between being thorough and going overboard, and successfully clean a mattress without destroying it? Easy—you can freshen and deodorize your mattress with a few simple products (that you probably already have handy around your house).
In our post, we run through the simplest steps for cleaning and deodorizing mattresses—of all mattress types—and discuss the importance of regularly freshening up your mattress. Let’s get started!
One of the simplest ways to keep a mattress fresh is with regular vacuuming. The vacuum’s upholstery attachment—sometimes called the crevice attachment—will help you get inside every nook and cranny of your bed. You should wash this attachment in warm, soapy water before it’s used. Soaking the attachment eliminates the dust and germs that tend to cling onto it, keeping microbes from infesting your mattress.
To start, vacuum the entire top surface of the mattress. Then run the vacuum over the sides of the bed and in the mattress’s folds and seams. Lift the mattress so you can vacuum the underside—if you have a bed skirt, this is also the time to remove it for washing.
Lastly, run the vacuum over your bed frame and under the bed. Vacuuming your mattress base ensures your mattress is resting on a clean surface.
Some people may choose to vacuum their mattress once a week as they change their bedding, but others may not have the time to vacuum that often. We recommend trying to vacuum your mattress at least once a month. Monthly vacuuming sessions help you keep the dust, dander, and dirt levels down without taking too much time out of a busy schedule.
Of course, you don’t want to stick to vacuuming just your mattress. Remember to vacuum the rest of your room to prevent allergens and dust mites from settling in your carpet, drapes, and bedroom furniture.
You’ll also pair vacuuming with our next suggestion.
2. Sprinkle Baking Soda and Cornstarch
Baking soda has a reputation for neutralizing unpleasant odors. Many people use baking soda as a way to make their kitchens smell more pleasant; by spreading a few tablespoons of baking soda on a plate, you can eliminate scents in a fridge or microwave. Some people even sprinkle baking soda inside a stinky trash can.
You can use the same trick with your mattress. Sprinkle a coating across your mattress—use a flour sifter if you want a more even application—and let the baking soda sit for at least 30 minutes. (For best results, you may want to leave it alone for a whole day.)
Once the baking soda has set, it’s time to vacuum it up!
Depending on your mattress’s model, you might want to flip the bed and sprinkle baking soda on the reverse side. We don’t recommend this for memory foam and hybrid mattresses, which usually have a distinct top-to-bottom construction. However, you can do this if you have a traditional innerspring mattress.
Adding cornstarch to your coating of baking soda can further freshen your mattress. Cornstarch absorbs body oils, moisture, and odors. Try opening a window to let in some fresh air while the mixture does its work—the air can help speed up the drying process.
If you want to promote better relaxation, adding a few drops of your favorite essential oil to your baking soda mixture can leave your mattress smelling uber-fresh and clean. However, we advise caution when you do this, as these oils can sometimes make a mess. If you want to play it safe, you can enjoy the same benefits of aromatherapy by placing a diffuser in your bedroom, as these give your sleeping area a nice, calming scent.
Some of our favorite essential oils for sleep include lavender and eucalyptus. You can also use essential oils for muscle pain and general relaxation.
3. Water and White Vinegar
Vinegar is another household product that works wonders at neutralizing odors. To create a natural, hypoallergenic odor-removing solution, mix equal parts water with distilled white vinegar to create.
Once you’ve mixed up your vinegar-water solution, pour it into a spray bottle so you can easily mist your mixture over the entire mattress. But be careful, your mattress will only need a light coating of vinegar; avoid spraying too much and accidentally saturating your mattress.
After you’ve misted your mattress, let it sit out, uncovered, until it dries completely—we recommend letting the bed dry for at least a couple of hours, but it’s safer to wait a full 24 hours before proceeding to the next steps. (You can speed up the drying process with a small fan or two.)
Then, after the bed has dried:
- Lift it off its foundation and lean it against the wall. The side you sprayed should be facing the wall.
- Spray another light coating on the mattress’s other side.
- Let the mattress hang out up against the wall until the other side has thoroughly dried.
Once both sides of the mattress have fully dried, it’s safe to put it back on its bed frame.
Cleaning tip: While baking soda and vinegar are both deodorizing agents, it’s ineffective to mix both due to their chemical makeup. Mixing the two essentially leaves you with saltwater. Sprinkle your bed with baking soda then follow up with a misting of vinegar; trying to save yourself a step by combining the two will be counterproductive.
4. Promote Air Circulation
When it comes to a fresh-smelling mattress, it’s good to promote airflow within the mattress and your overall bedroom. Ideally, your mattress foundation or bed frame should have a slatted base to allow air through the bottom of the mattress, wicking away heat and moisture. If heat and moisture build-up inside your mattress, it can promote mold and mildew growth.
If your room has a ceiling fan or a small personal fan, run it for a couple of hours after you get out of bed. It also doesn’t hurt to open a window and let some sunlight into the room, as the sun’s UV rays can actually help to deodorize your bed and kill bacteria, too. Which leads us to our next point…
5. Leave Your Mattress in the Sun
The UV rays that make up sunlight are a natural disinfectant, preventing bacteria from replicating by damaging their cells and killing dust mites.
Once you’ve cleaned your mattress by vacuuming it and freshened it up, haul it outside to a clean and dry spot in the sun. Leave the mattress alone for about six hours, then bring it back inside. Just make sure you choose a day that’s not only sunny, but offers low humidity and no chance of precipitation. Remember, a damp mattress can encourage mold growth and ruin your bed!
6. Change Your Bedding Every Week
To best prevent allergens and germs from accumulating on and in your mattress, you should wash your bedding every week. Use a gentle laundry detergent with the hottest water setting, unless the item’s washing instructions say otherwise. Extreme temperatures kill the bacteria and dust mites that can make you feel sick.
You may want to wash your pillowcase more than once a week, particularly if you struggle with acne or severe allergies. Pillows should be washed every three to six months. And if you can’t wash them, you can freshen them up with a sprinkle of baking soda and set them out in the sun.
7. Invest in a Mattress Protector
A mattress protector keeps out more than just pests, allergens, and liquids, they also limit the development of unwanted smells by keeping out smelly sweat and mold spores. There are two different types of protectors—some slip over your mattress like a fitted sheet, while encasements cover the entire mattress from top to bottom.
Encasements offer more protection but are harder to get on and off. You might want to consider a sheet-like protector so you’ll have an easier time removing the protector to freshen up your mattress. (Yes, even if you keep your mattress inside a protector, you still want to take the time to maintain its cleanliness and keep it feeling fresh.)
Frequently Asked Questions
Once you remove the mattress from storage, we suggest sprinkling baking soda on top and leaving it alone for a few hours. Then take the mattress outside and leave it in a clean, sunny spot. The sun eliminates mold and mildew spores. Vacuum the mattress and bring it back inside.
Freshen up a mattress by filling a spray bottle with white vinegar. Spray a light coating on your mattress to spot clean stains. You can also use an enzyme cleaner to get rid of smells from urine, blood, and other bodily fluids.
Try sprinkling cornstarch over your mattress to absorb odors, vacuuming it up after you’ve left it alone for about a day. Lastly, you can create a paste from salt and lemon juice. Spread this paste on the mattress and leave it alone for an hour. Then, wipe it off with a clean cloth or paper towel.
Dust mites are microscopic creatures, so it can be difficult to tell when you have them. Often, you’ll only notice a dust mite problem if you suffer an allergic reaction to them. Symptoms of a dust mite allergy include:
- Skin rash
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Postnasal drip
- Irritated, red, watery eyes
- Itchy mouth, nose, throat, or skin
- Chest tightness
- Difficulty breathing
It’s impossible to eliminate dust mites. However, you can take steps to reduce their numbers in your home:
- Wash all bedding once a week in hot water, 130 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Then dry them on a high heat cycle. You can eliminate dust mites from non-washable bedding by freezing the bedding overnight.
- Remove carpeting and upholstery in your bedroom, as they’re places dust mites can settle.
- Keep your home’s humidity levels below 50 percent.
You have a few potential culprits to consider besides bed bugs. You may be dealing with fleas, mosquitoes, bat bugs, or mites that usually live on birds or rodents.
If you consistently wake up with bites, make sure there’s no torn window screen where mosquitoes might be slipping in or an animal infestation that may be introducing other pests. You can check for bed bugs by dismantling your bed and examining the mattress’s seams and the bed frame’s joints. Pests can be tricky to handle, especially if you have to get rid of bed bugs, so you might want to reach out to an exterminator.
Did We Help Freshen Up Your Mattress?
Mattresses, even the best mattresses, can get quite stinky, thanks to all the sweat and debris they tend to collect. Freshening up and deodorizing your mattress isn’t much of a chore. Often, it’s as simple as sprinkling baking soda over the mattress cover and leaving it alone for a few hours.
Doing this just once a month can help your mattress provide years of comfortable rest and keep you from having to replace your mattress before you’re ready to.
This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.