5 mistakes you might be making when cleaning your mattress – and how to avoid them

It pays to be clued up on the best mattress cleaning practices

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(Image credit: Future PLC / James Merrell)

Needless to say, buying a mattress easily ranks as one of the biggest and most important investments that we make in our homes. Even the best mattress isn't exempt from the need to be cared for and maintained, so it pays to ensure you're clued up on the most common mattress cleaning mistakes people often make so you can steer clear of them.

Let's be real. The mammoth task of cleaning a mattress is not always the easiest, however, it's a task that is of paramount importance – for the sake of both getting the most bang out of your buck, as well as helping you sleep better.

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5 mattress cleaning mistakes to avoid

'Having a clean mattress is essential for maintaining a healthy sleep environment,' starts Fabio Perrotta, director of buying at Dreams. 'But, there are many mistakes people often make when cleaning their mattress, which can result in unwanted damage.'

Here are 5 mattress cleaning mistakes you might be making and how to avoid them – as advised by the experts. 

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1. Not maintaining a regular mattress cleaning schedule

The first mistake lies with not cleaning your mattress regularly, or perhaps for some, not even cleaning it at all. While regularly changing your bedsheets can help to avoid build-up of dirt getting to your mattress, this simply isn't enough.

'In addition to bodily fluids and dead skin cells, on average, a mattress houses between 100,000 and 10 million dust mites – microscopic creatures that cause skin rashes, irritation and can potentially worsen allergy symptoms,' warns Thomas Høegh Reisenhus, sleep specialist and sleep counsellor at TEMPUR.

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'It's therefore vital to ensure you're cleaning your mattress every six months.' This could look like a big spring clean followed by another spruce up in autumn.

Thomas continues, 'If you suffer badly from asthma or allergies, you should clean your mattress more regularly – around once a month to help ease symptoms.'

This will help to prolong lasting freshness.

2. Getting your mattress wet

'You may need to use a small amount of water to spot clean any small stains but attempting to clean the whole mattress with liquid is a no no,' warns Theresa Schnorbach, sleep scientist at Emma - The Sleep Company.  'A water-logged mattress can lead to a build-up of mould as well as nasty smells.'

Chris Tattersall, sleep expert and MD at Woolroom adds, 'If your mattress becomes damp or wet, I recommend positioning the mattress on its side to allow it to dry out properly.'

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'Keeping it in that position in a dry, and well-ventilated room for at least 48 hours will ensure it dries thoroughly, and mitigate the potential for mould growth, odours and any other structural damage.'

Theresa continues, 'Instead, I'd suggest using baking soda as this can help eliminate any odours, break down any debris and soak up any liquid that may be on the mattress.'

3. Only using a vacuum to clean your mattress

There's long been a debate as to whether you should vacuum a mattress, however, the answer varies from mattress to mattress. While it can be effective, it shouldn't be an end all be all in your mattress cleaning routine.

'I always recommend people to refrain from vacuuming altogether and instead opt for a gentler and mattress-friendly cleaning method,' advises Chris at Woolroom.

'An effective approach is to use a clean, soft-bristle brush to remove surface debris and dust. Doing this will help preserve the integrity of the mattress, extend its lifespan, while also helping maintain a comfortable and supportive sleep surface.'

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(Image credit: Future PLC/James French)

Fabio at Dreams adds, 'You should avoid using cleaning products or vacuuming your mattress on a setting that is too high-powered, using anything that is too harsh can damage the surface fabric and therefore the padding of the mattress.'

'If you have to use a vacuum cleaner, ensure that it is set to a very low suction to prevent the filling inside the mattress to move around,' advises Chris.

And on that note, Thomas at TEMPUR recommends you keep whichever hoover applicator you use for your mattress separate to the ones you use when cleaning your kitchen or bathroom. 'Make sure to keep separate supplies to use for your bed.' 

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4. Forgetting to flip and rotate your mattress

'Don't forget to flip and rotate your mattress!' starts Chris at Woolroom. 'If you have a double-sided mattress, to help it stay fresh, clean and supportive, make sure you are rotating and flipping it regularly.'

'Doing this, will allow each side of your mattress to be exposed to fresh air, which plays a vital role in managing moisture, preventing the build-up of dust mites and allergens, and preserving the overall hygiene and longevity of the mattress.'

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5. Not using a mattress protector

If you've managed to succeed the mammoth task of cleaning your mattress, then it's best to take all the measures you can to protect your hard work – and one of the easiest ways to do that is purchasing the best mattress protector or a mattress topper.

'These can offer protection that shields your mattress from spills, crumbs and other nasties and can be removed and washed separately, making cleaning easier and also helping increase the lifespan of your mattress,' assures Theresa at Emma – The Sleep Company.

Of course, just ensure you're cleaning your mattress protector regularly alongside your bedsheets.

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Does baking soda clean a mattress?

Baking soda doesn't clean a mattress per se, but more so helps to target and eliminate odours as it breaks down debris and soaks up excess liquid. While it's useful for sprucing up your mattress here and there, it shouldn't replace a regular deep clean that should be done every six months.

What cleans mattress stains?

'If you spill something on your mattress, do not use excessive water or cleaning liquids to try and remove this,' warns Fabio Perrotta, director of buying at Dreams.

'We recommend cleaning any mattress spills as quickly as possible with a clean cloth using warm, soapy water.'

Now you're clued up on what not to do when cleaning a mattress, we hope you'll keep these in your back pocket the next time you're faced headfirst with the task.

Good luck!

Jullia Joson
Junior Writer

Jullia Joson is Ideal Home’s Junior Writer. She’s always loved all things homes and interiors, graduating with a bachelor's degree in Architectural Studies from the University of Nottingham in 2022. Previously, she was an Intern Editor for ArchDaily. Now focused on news stories, Jullia can be found down the TikTok and Pinterest rabbit hole scrolling through any new and upcoming trends, hacks, and home inspiration.