How to Clean and Remove Stains from a Mattress

How to Clean and Remove Stains from a Mattress

Imagine diving into a fresh, spotless mattress at the end of a long day—sounds heavenly, doesn’t it? Yet, life’s little accidents, from spilt tea to the surprises left by pets and kids, can turn your mattress into a less inviting space. Cleaning and removing stains from your mattress might seem daunting, but it’s easier than you think.

With the right approach, you can bring back that pristine, welcoming feel to your bed in no time. If you’re unsure where to start or if the task at hand seems too cumbersome, considering a professional mattress cleaning specialist can save you time and ensure a deep clean. This guide will walk you through simple, effective steps to tackle those stubborn stains and odours, ensuring a clean, fresh mattress awaits you every night.


Key Takeaways

  • Identify Stain Types for Effective Removal: Understanding the nature of the stain on your mattress, whether it’s from bodily fluids, food, beverages, or other common sources, is crucial for selecting the appropriate cleaning method.
  • Prepare the Mattress Before Cleaning: Stripping the bed, vacuuming the mattress, and preparing cleaning solutions and tools are essential steps to ensure a thorough clean and to maintain the mattress’s integrity.
  • Spot Cleaning and Deep Cleaning Techniques: Employ specific strategies for spot cleaning individual stains using suitable solutions, and perform regular deep cleaning to tackle embedded dirt, dust mites, and allergens for a hygienic sleeping environment.
  • Use a Mattress Protector and Maintain Regularly: Post-cleaning, utilise a breathable, waterproof mattress protector and engage in regular maintenance activities such as vacuuming, rotating or flipping the mattress, and controlling the bedroom environment to prolong the life and maintain the cleanliness of your mattress.

Understanding Different Types of Mattress Stains

Identifying Common Stains

Mattress stains fall into various categories, each requiring a specific approach for removal. Bodily fluids, such as sweat, blood, and urine, commonly discolor mattresses. Beverages like tea, coffee, and red wine also pose a frequent challenge, alongside other culprits like makeup, oil, and ink. Recognising the type of stain you’re dealing with is the first step toward effective treatment.

Bodily Fluids

  • Sweat: Appears as yellowish marks, often found near the pillow area or at the mattress’s centre.
  • Blood: Leaves dark, reddish-brown spots, more challenging to remove once set.
  • Urine: Can cause yellow to brown stains, accompanied by an unpleasant odour.

Food and Beverages

  • Tea and Coffee: These stains are typically light brown to dark brown, often ring-shaped.
  • Red Wine: Produces a distinctive purplish-red stain, notorious for being difficult to remove.

Other Common Stains

  • Makeup: Can leave variously coloured stains depending on the product, such as foundation or lipstick.
  • Oil: Results in dark, greasy spots from body lotions or cooking oils.
  • Ink: Pen leaks or marker spills contribute to sharp, dark lines or blotches.

Approaching Stain Removal

After identifying the type of stain, you can choose the most suitable cleaning method. Bodily fluids often respond well to enzyme cleaners or hydrogen peroxide solutions, which break down organic matter. For food and beverage spills, a mixture of dish soap and water or specialised stain removers might be more effective. Tackling difficult stains like makeup, oil, or ink may require rubbing alcohol or dedicated spot treatments. Testing any cleaner on a small, inconspicuous area first ensures it won’t damage the fabric.

Preparing Your Mattress for Cleaning

Preparing your mattress for cleaning is a crucial step towards ensuring a thorough clean and maintaining the integrity of your bed. This preparation acts as the groundwork for removing stains and odours effectively. Here’s how you can get your mattress ready for a deep clean.

Strip the Bed

Begin by removing all bedding, including sheets, pillowcases, and mattress covers. These items should be laundered according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If any bedding has stains, treat them separately before washing.

Vacuum the Mattress

Using the upholstery attachment of your vacuum cleaner, gently vacuum the entire surface of the mattress. Pay close attention to seams and crevices where dust and debris tend to accumulate. This step removes loose particles, dust mites, and other allergens that can hinder the cleaning process.

Spot Check for Stains

Carefully examine the mattress for any stains or spots. Identifying the types of stains you’re dealing with will determine the most effective cleaning solutions and methods to use. Recall the previous section’s advice on recognising different stain types like bodily fluids, beverages, and other common culprits.

Prepare the Cleaning Solutions

Based on the types of stains identified, prepare the appropriate cleaning solutions. For instance, enzyme cleaners are excellent for bodily fluids, while a mixture of dish soap and water works well for makeup, oil, and ink. Always remember to test your chosen cleaner on a small, inconspicuous area of the mattress first to avoid any fabric damage.

Gather Cleaning Tools

Collect all necessary cleaning tools such as cloths, sponges, a bucket for your cleaning solution, and dry towels for blotting. Having these items within reach will streamline the cleaning process.

Ensure Good Ventilation

Finally, ensure the room is well-ventilated. Open windows or use fans to circulate air and speed up the drying process post-cleaning. Adequate ventilation also helps to dissipate any odours that arise during cleaning.

By following these preparatory steps, you’re setting the stage for an effective and efficient mattress cleaning session.

Spot Cleaning Stains on Your Mattress

Once you’ve prepared your mattress by stripping the bed, vacuuming, spot-checking for stains, preparing cleaning solutions, and ensuring good ventilation, you’re now ready to tackle spot cleaning stains directly. This process involves treating and removing specific stains from bodily fluids, beverages, and other common culprits like makeup, oil, and ink efficiently.

Identifying the Stain Type

First, identify the type of stain you’re dealing with, as this determines the cleaning method you’ll use. Bodily fluids, such as blood, sweat, or urine, require enzyme cleaners or a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and liquid dish soap. Beverages, like coffee or red wine, and other substances like makeup or ink, may need a more tailored approach:

  • Bodily fluids: Use an enzyme cleaner or a solution of 50% hydrogen peroxide and 50% water.
  • Beverages: Apply a small amount of cold water immediately to dilute the stain, then use a cleaning mixture of one part vinegar and two parts water.
  • Other substances: For oil-based stains, a solution of baking soda and water helps absorb the oil.

Applying the Cleaning Solution

  • Test a small area of your mattress with the cleaning solution to ensure it doesn’t damage or discolor the fabric.
  • Blot, don’t rub, the stain with a clean, dry cloth or sponge to avoid spreading the stain further.
  • Apply the cleaning solution sparingly to avoid soaking the mattress, which can lead to mould growth.

Removing the Stain

  • After applying the cleaning solution, let it sit for at least 10-15 minutes. Some stains may require a longer sitting time to break down.
  • Dab gently with a clean, damp cloth to remove the cleaning solution and the stain.
  • Repeat the process if necessary, ensuring the stain diminishes with each application.
  • Blot the cleaned area with a dry cloth to remove excess moisture.
  • Allow the mattress to air dry completely before putting sheets back on. Use a fan or open windows to expedite the drying process if the room has good ventilation.

Deep Cleaning Your Mattress

Following the initial steps for spot cleaning stains on your mattress, deep cleaning further ensures a hygienic sleeping environment. This process tackles not just visible stains but also embedded dirt, dust mites, and allergens. Here’s how you can carry out a thorough cleaning:

Preparing Your Mattress

  1. Strip the Bed: Remove all bedding, including sheets, pillowcases, and mattress protectors. These items should be laundered according to their care labels.
  2. Vacuum the Mattress: Using the upholstery attachment, vacuum the mattress’s surface, sides, and any crevices to remove dust and dirt.


  1. Sprinkle Baking Soda: Generously sprinkle baking soda over the entire surface of the mattress. For added fragrance, mix the baking soda with a few drops of essential oil like lavender or eucalyptus before application.
  2. Let It Sit: Allow the baking soda to sit for at least an hour, though a few hours or even overnight provides more thorough deodorization.
  3. Vacuum Again: Vacuum off the baking soda, ensuring all residue is removed.

Spot Cleaning Revisited

  • Reassess Stains: If any stains remain after the initial spot cleaning, revisit them with targeted spot treatments, making sure you test any cleaning solutions on an inconspicuous area first.

Steam Cleaning

  • Use a Steam Cleaner: If you have access to a steam cleaner, running it over the mattress can kill bacteria and dust mites that survive vacuuming and spot cleaning. Ensure the mattress is allowed to dry fully to prevent mould growth.
  1. Air Out: Let the mattress air out for several hours in a well-ventilated room or in the sunlight to remove any lingering odors and help in drying any damp spots.
  2. Use a Mattress Protector: Once thoroughly dry, encase your mattress in a breathable protector to guard against future stains and allergens.

By implementing these steps, you ensure not only a visually clean mattress but one that’s hygienically fresh and conducive to a good night’s sleep. Regular deep cleaning, at least twice a year, complements daily and spot cleaning routines, creating an overall cleaner, healthier sleeping area.

Maintaining Your Mattress Post-Cleaning

After deep cleaning your mattress, keeping it in top condition is crucial to prolong its life and ensure ongoing comfort. Here are some straightforward strategies to maintain your mattress post-cleaning.

Use a Mattress Protector

Investing in a good quality mattress protector provides a barrier against spills, stains, and accumulations of dust and allergens. Choose a breathable, waterproof protector that doesn’t compromise comfort but effectively shields your mattress from potential damage.

Regular Vacuuming

Set a reminder to vacuum your mattress every time you change your sheets. Using the upholstery attachment, run the vacuum over the mattress surface. This removes dust, dead skin cells, and other allergens that can accumulate over time, keeping your mattress fresh between deep cleans.

Rotate or Flip Your Mattress

Rotating or flipping your mattress every 3 to 6 months ensures even wear and extends its lifespan. Check the manufacturer’s recommendations to see if your mattress can be flipped or if it should only be rotated.

Control the Bedroom Environment

Maintain a dry and cool environment in your bedroom to prevent the growth of mould and mildew in your mattress. Using a dehumidifier in damp climates can help control moisture, while ensuring good ventilation helps to keep the mattress dry and odour-free.

Address Stains Immediately

Even with the best precautions, accidents can happen. If a spill occurs, clean it immediately. Remove any solid debris gently, blot the liquid carefully without rubbing, and apply a suitable cleaner for the type of stain. Always test any cleaning solution on a small inconspicuous area first.

Avoid Eating in Bed

While it might be tempting, eating in bed increases the risk of spills and stains. Crumbs can also attract pests. Enjoy your meals away from the bedroom to keep your cleaned mattress in the best condition possible.

By following these steps, you’ll not only extend the life of your mattress but also maintain a clean, healthy sleeping environment.


Keeping your mattress clean and stain-free isn’t just about tackling the occasional spill or mishap. It’s about adopting a holistic approach to mattress care. By incorporating simple habits like using a mattress protector and addressing stains quickly, you’ll not only extend the life of your mattress but also ensure a healthier sleeping environment. Remember, a clean mattress is key to a good night’s sleep. So, take the time to maintain it, and you’ll reap the benefits in comfort and longevity. Happy cleaning!

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I clean my mattress?

Mattress cleaning should ideally happen every six months, but you might need to clean it more frequently if there are spills or stains.

What is the best way to remove stains from a mattress?

The best way to remove stains is by using a mixture of baking soda and a small amount of water to create a paste, applying it to the stain, letting it sit for at least 30 minutes, then wiping away with a damp cloth.

Are mattress protectors really necessary?

Yes, mattress protectors are essential for extending the life of your mattress. They protect against spills, stains, and dust mites, keeping your mattress clean and hygienic.

How can I prevent mould on my mattress?

To prevent mould, maintain a dry and well-ventilated bedroom environment. Use a dehumidifier if necessary and address any spills or moisture immediately.

Should the mattress be flipped or rotated, and how often?

Yes, rotating or flipping your mattress every three to six months can promote even wear and extend its lifespan. Note that some mattresses are designed not to be flipped, so refer to the manufacturer’s advice.

How can immediate stain treatment help?

Addressing stains promptly can prevent them from setting deep into the mattress fibres, making them easier to clean and less likely to cause long-term damage.

Is eating in bed really that damaging to a mattress?

Eating in bed can lead to crumbs and spills, which attract pests and create stains. Avoiding eating in bed helps maintain a cleaner and healthier sleeping environment.