How to clean a mattress topper – the best way to keep yours in good condition and improve sleep quality

If you've invested in a mattress topper these are the tips you'll want to follow to keep it in good condition

A Woolroom mattress topper on top of a mattress
(Image credit: Future PLC / Katie Lee)

A mattress topper can be a great investment, but like the rest of our bedding, it can quickly accumulate stains, dirt and dead skin cells over the course of a few weeks or months. Letting this fester for too long have have a negative impact on your sleep quality which is why it's important to know how to wash a mattress topper properly.

The best mattress toppers add an extra layer of cushioning and can instantly revive an existing mattress. However, as you would need to know how to clean a duvet regularly, the same goes for a mattress topper. Whether you’ve accidentally spilled something on your bed, or have noticed that you’ve been sweating more, particularly in the warmer months, your mattress topper will need to be cleaned regularly.

But just how often should you be washing yours? And which cleaning options are best? We’ve put together a step-by-step guide to give you all the information that you need to keep yours in perfect condition.

The Fine Bedding Company Clusterfull mattress topper

(Image credit: The Fine Bedding Company)

How to clean a mattress topper - what you'll need

How to clean a mattress topper – a step-by-step guide

‘Mattress toppers can help reduce any pain in joints you might feel when waking up, particularly as the topper can help mould around those aching joints. However, without proper washing, bacteria and dirt can build up and trigger allergies and even skin irritations that can stop you from sleeping,’ explains Martin Seeley, CEO and Sleep Expert at MattressNextDay.

Once you have one, here’s how to look after and clean it.

1. Strip the bed and check the care label

As you go about removing your bedding, this is when you’ll want to check the care label of your mattress topper to determine exactly how it should be cleaned. Crafted Beds’ Bedroom Interior Expert, Brian Dillon, recommends ‘if you’re unsure, always err on the side of caution. If the label says dry clean only or the topper seems too big for your washing machine, don't force it.’

2. Get vacuuming

Next, it’s time to vacuum. And ‘using the upholstery attachment on your vacuum is a great way to thoroughly clean the top and sides of the mattress topper, removing any hair, dust or debris,’ admits Catherine Green, Cleaning Expert at smol. It’s crucial to vacuum your mattress topper fully before moving onto the next steps, the best vacuum cleaners should all come with a dedicated upholstery attachment.

‘While you are doing this, I also recommend hoovering your headboard and actual U, as they can pick up tens of thousands of dead skin cells and even dust mites, which can also impact sleep by triggering allergies,’ Martin adds.

Soak&Sleep Classic Memory Foam Topper

(Image credit: Soak & Sleep)

3. Check for a removable cover

‘Your topper might have a removable cover, so it’s best to take this off before you start cleaning it,’ Martin suggests. In the case of a foam mattress topper, this will ensure that the foam doesn’t get damp, as ‘this can take longer to dry and if not properly aired can become a breeding ground for bacteria.’

4. Pre-treat stains and do any spot-cleaning

Now it’s time to tackle any visible stains or yellowing, before you give it a full wash. Instead of rubbing or scrubbing at stains, you should dab at them, to stop the stains from spreading and in turn damaging the fibres of the mattress topper.

You can ‘spot-clean stains carefully with a gentle textile cleaner or stain remover, being sure to test a small area first to make sure that the cleaner does not discolour the outer casing,’ instruct Emily and Jonathan Attwood, Founders of scooms. Or you can ‘start with a dilution of washing up liquid and water,’ says Sophie Lane, Product Training Manager at Miele GB.

5. Machine or hand wash

‘If your mattress topper is washer-safe, follow the care label instructions for water temperature and cycle type,’ Brian affirms. ‘Generally, use warm or cold water on a gentle cycle with mild detergent. And avoid using harsh chemicals which can damage the material.’

Alternatively, you can hand wash your mattress topper in many cases. Either in a bath or the sink, ‘place it in cold water along with a mild laundry detergent,’ says Martin. ‘However, make sure you clean the protector thoroughly with a hand wash and rinse off the detergent properly to avoid causing any skin irritations from any lingering detergent.’

Loaf Friendly Kip Mattress Topper

(Image credit: Loaf)

6. Allow it to air dry

When it comes to drying your mattress topper, the experts concur that air drying is best. If it’s the time of year when you can hang it outside on your washing line, this is a great way to have it dry naturally. Otherwise, any room with enough space to set up a drying rack will also work. 

‘Just remember to open a window to increase airflow when drying these kinds of items inside to reduce the chances of dampness and mould,’ Winstons Beds’ Mattress Expert, Rebecca Swain.

You’ll also want to double-check that your mattress topper is completely dry, before replacing it on your bed, to prevent any mould or mildew growth.

7. Finish by sprinkling it with some baking soda

‘Baking soda is a fantastic deodoriser and can be found in most stores for as little as £2,’ says Martin. ‘Once the topper is dry, sprinkle the baking soda over it and leave for as long as possible before vacuuming.’ Anywhere from an hour to overnight will allow the baking soda to work its magic.

You can also use baking soda in between washes to freshen up your mattress topper.


Why is my mattress topper turning yellow?

There are a number of different reasons why your mattress topper might have turned yellow or yellowish in colour. ‘Oil from your hair and skin, sweat, saliva and fake tan,’ are some of the top culprits, according to Catherine.

‘If you tend to use your topper intermittently, storing it in plastic boxes could actually cause the topper to turn yellow as the plastic can emit gases,’ warns Rex Isap, CEO and Sleep Expert at Happy Beds. Instead, you should be looking to store it in a cool, dry location, away from any dampness or moisture, when it’s not in use.

And if your bed is routinely bathed in sunlight – when the sun does make an appearance here in the UK – direct sunlight can also cause your mattress topper to discolour more quickly. In this case, you’ll want to rotate your mattress topper more frequently to stop this from happening.

Can a mattress topper be machine washed?

Only certain mattress toppers can be machine washed, so it’s important to check the care level and any instructions before you go to do so. ‘This will also give you the best temperature to wash it at,’ Rebecca affirms.

‘Generally, memory foam toppers should not be machine washed as the agitation can damage the material,’ warns Fabric Online's Materials Expert, Thomas Bird.

Since specific toppers can be rather large and bulky, it may make more sense to hand wash them or take them to a professional dry cleaners, to avoid causing any damage to the mattress topper itself or your washing machine.

The Fine Bedding Company Spundown mattress enhancer washing machine

(Image credit: The Fine Bedding Company)

How often should you clean a mattress topper?

While you don’t need to wash a mattress topper as frequently as you would need to wash your pillowcases, sheets and duvet covers, the experts agree that once every three months is ideal.

Failing to routinely clean your mattress topper ‘can lead to a buildup of bacteria, dust mites and dirt which can worsen conditions, including asthma and allergies, if left untreated,’ Rebecca argues. So, if you or someone in your household suffers from either you’ll definitely want to keep on top of your cleaning schedule.

However, if you notice a stain or any dirt as you go to change your bedding, you’ll want to spot-clean this right away to avoid the stain from taking hold. And as you might imagine, we tend to sweat more during the warmer months, while others may be more prone to sweating all year round. To stop this from building up, you’ll want to wash your mattress topper more frequently, potentially on a monthly basis.

Ellis Cochrane

Ellis Cochrane has been a Freelance Contributor for Ideal Home since 2023. She graduated with a Joint Honours degree in Politics and English from the University of Strathclyde and between her exams and graduation, started a lifestyle blog where she would share what she was buying, reading and doing. In doing so, she created opportunities to work with some of her dream brands and discovered the possibility of freelance writing, after always dreaming of writing for magazines when she was growing up.

Since then, she has contributed to a variety of online and print publications, covering everything from celebrity news and beauty reviews to her real passion; homes and interiors. She started writing about all things homes, gardens and interiors after joining Decor & Design Scotland as a Freelance Journalist and Social Media Account Manager in 2021. She then started freelancing at House Beautiful, Country Living and in Stylist’s Home team. Ellis is currently saving to buy her first home in Glasgow with far too many Pinterest boards dedicated to her many design ideas and inspirations.