How to clean a memory foam mattress - 5 easy steps to tackle staining and odours, according to experts

Did you know that incorrect cleaning could make it mouldy?

Navy blue bedroom
(Image credit: Future PLC)

If you’re wondering how to clean a memory foam mattress, you’re asking yourself all of the right questions. After all, cleaning a memory foam mattress incorrectly could result in mould growth and a breakdown of the internal material. 

Many of the best mattresses on the market today are memory foam. While you may already know how to clean a mattress, it’s important to note that there’s a big distinction between cleaning a non-memory foam mattress and a memory foam mattress. 

To maintain the integrity of your memory foam mattress you should steer clear of traditional cleaning methods that involve too much water. While the cleaning requirements may be specific we've rounded up top tips from the experts to make the process as easy as possible.

How to clean a memory foam mattress

If your memory foam mattress comes with a removable cover, you’ll likely be able to pop it in the washing machine and clean it that way. But if you don’t have a removable mattress or just want to give your memory foam mattress a deeper clean, check out the step-by-step process below. 

Bedroom with navy blue panelled feature wall, bed with blue decorative cushions, and wooden dresser table

(Image credit: Future PLC/Douglas Gibb)

What you'll need

  • Vacuum cleaner (and brush attachment)
  • Spray bottle
  • Microfibre cloth
  • Laundry detergent
  • Baking soda
  • Water


1. Vacuum the mattress

If you’re wondering whether you should vacuum a mattress, you’ll be happy to know that it’s actually one of the best ways to clean a memory foam mattress. 

Musi Chayla, Vice President of Retail at Sleep.8, says, ‘Use a handheld vacuum cleaner or a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment to gently vacuum the surface of the mattress. This will help remove any loose debris, dust, and pet hair.’

Ideally, you should use a soft brush attachment for this step, all the best vacuum cleaners should come with one of these as this will allow you to pick up as much dirt and debris as possible without damaging the cover or the mattress itself. Don’t just focus on one side of the mattress, though. You should always vacuum both sides of the memory foam mattress. 

Most experts suggest vacuuming your memory foam mattress at least once a week to remove dead skin cells, dust, crumbs, and other debris that have naturally built up. 

A bedroom with cushions on the bed

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

2. Spot-clean any stains

Stains on your memory foam mattress? You’re not the first and you’re definitely not the last to have this staining. This could be caused by something as simple as a spilled morning coffee, or it could be the result of running hot and needing to research the best bedding for menopause and night sweats further.

Whatever the case, it’s always a good idea to spot-clean any stains when you’re cleaning a memory foam mattress. But during this step, you need to make sure that you keep your memory foam mattress as dry as possible to avoid damaging it or promoting mould growth.

So, fill a spray bottle with lukewarm water and laundry detergent and lightly spray the affected area. You can then grab a microfibre cloth and scrub, being careful not to push too hard. 

If the stain remains, you may need to try a different method. Musi says, ‘Gently dab the stained area with a clean cloth soaked in the soapy solution, being careful not to saturate the mattress. Blot the area dry with a clean cloth to absorb excess moisture.’

While you’re at it, it might be a good idea to tackle the yellow stains on your pillows, too.

3. Let the mattress air dry

When you’ve vacuumed and spot-cleaned your memory foam mattress, you may feel inclined to pop your clean bedding on and continue with your day. But patience is key when it comes to cleaning a memory foam mattress. 

If you want to maintain the integrity of the memory foam material, you need to ensure it’s completely dry before putting anything back on it. If you don’t, your mattress may become mouldy, or the inner material may break down. This means that you’ll need to replace it sooner than you’d like. 

Because of this, it’s best to let the memory foam mattress air dry for as long as possible. You can speed up the process by opening your windows, popping on one of the best fans, or even taking it outside to air dry in the sun.

Many experts advise putting your mattress outside in direct sunlight every so often, as it’s a natural odour-eater and will naturally sanitise your memory foam mattress. 

neutral bedroom with double bed and cushions next to wooden bedside table

(Image credit: Future PLC / Caroline Mardon)

4. Sprinkle with baking soda

While there are some things you should never clean with bicarbonate of soda, this natural cleaning product can work wonders when you want to clean a memory foam mattress. 

For this step, all you need to do is sprinkle some baking soda on top of your mattress and leave it to work its magic for a few hours. Not only will this baking soda soak up any lingering sweat or moisture, but it will also remove any lingering odours. 

Then, you can just vacuum it up with your best handheld vacuum cleaner and reap the rewards of a clean and odour-free memory foam mattress. 

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(Image credit: Future PLC/Phil Barker)

5. Repeat every month or so

When you’ve completed all of the steps above, you can focus on putting your bed back together and enjoying your clean mattress. But it’s important to keep on top of this cleaning task. 

Most experts would suggest repeating this deep clean every month or so. However, it could be a good idea to vacuum your mattress and treat any stains every time you change your bed sheets. Then, you can be confident your memory foam mattress is as clean as can be. 

How to keep a memory foam mattress clean

When you’ve successfully cleaned your memory foam mattress, we can understand why you wouldn’t want to clean it again in a hurry. Luckily, there are a few ways you can then keep a memory foam mattress clean:

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(Image credit: Future PLC / Darren Chung)
  • Clean your bed sheets regularly: Sweat, grease, and dirt can easily make their way through your bed sheets and onto the memory foam material below. Because of this, you should aim to clean your bed sheets regularly. In an ideal world, you should change your bed sheets every week. 
  • Use a mattress protector: For added protection from dirt and grime, why not add one of the best mattress protectors into the mix, too? A mattress protector will create a barrier between your sheets and the mattress itself, limiting the dirt and grime that can come through. 
  • Clean spills immediately: Laura Burnett, Interior Expert at Feather & Black, urges, ‘Treat any spills or stains as soon as you can – act quickly using a soft, dry cloth or paper towel. For stubborn stains, spritz lightly with lukewarm water and dry off as soon as possible.’
  • Avoid steam cleaners: The best steam cleaners can be a useful cleaning tool, but you should avoid using them on your memory foam mattress. The powerful heat and steam coming from this appliance can not only cause mould, but it can also damage the foam underneath in the process. 
  • Stop drinking in bed: Although you may get thirsty in the night, experts would urge thirsty Brits to avoid drinking in bed if they can. After all, you want to avoid getting any moisture on your memory foam mattress, so you don’t want to risk a spill. 
  • Let it breathe: If you make your bed as soon as you get up in the morning, you might want to give yourself a little break. In fact, you should never make your bed first thing in the morning, as you should give it time to breathe instead. Laura says, ‘We recommend airing your memory foam mattress in a well-ventilated room once a week. This can be done whilst you change your bed sheets for ease.’


How do you deep-clean memory foam?

The best way to deep-clean memory foam is to vacuum it regularly. This will tackle any crumbs, dead skin cells, or debris that is sitting on top of the mattress. 

You can then focus your attention on spot-cleaning any stains with a mixture of warm water and laundry detergent. When you’ve left it to air dry completely, you should sprinkle the whole thing with baking soda to remove any odours and absorb any leftover moisture.

Of course, if you have a removable mattress cover, you may also be able to take this off and put it in the washing machine. Just make sure that you check the specifications and specific cleaning instructions before doing this. 

How do you get yellow stains out of a memory foam mattress?

In most cases, using a mixture of warm water and laundry detergent should get yellow stains out of a memory foam mattress. But if that doesn’t work, you could also use a mixture of warm water and white vinegar. 

Simply spray it onto the yellow areas and blot the area until the staining has disappeared. When doing this, avoid saturating the mattress, as this may result in mould. 

Happy cleaning! 

Lauren Bradbury

Lauren Bradbury is a freelance writer and major homes enthusiast. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Chichester in 2016, before dipping her toe into the world of content writing. After years of agency work, writing everything from real-life stories to holiday round-ups, she decided to take the plunge and become a full-time freelancer in the online magazine world. Since then, she has become a regular contributor for Real Homes and Ideal Home, and become even more obsessed with everything interior and garden related. As a result, she’s in the process of transforming her old Victorian terraced house into an eclectic and modern home that hits visitors with personality as soon as they walk through the door.