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6 Jul 2019

How often should you clean your baby's cot mattress?

Find out how often other parents clean theirs and what we recommend

It's vital to keep your baby's cot mattress clean and germ-free, especially as your baby will be sleeping between 12 and 18 hours a day in his or her cot or cot bed during the first year.

Our cot mattress reviews tell you whether a cot mattress is easy to keep clean, how much protection it offers against night-time accidents and if you'll need to spend extra to get a waterproof protector or cot mattress cover.

Consult our shortlist of the best cot mattresses to find one that's resistant to the lovely liquids all babies leave there.

How often other parents clean theirs

We surveyed 1,008 parents in February 2019 to ask them how often they cleaned their cot mattress:

  • 13% manage to clean it every day
  • 28% wipe it down or wash the cot mattress cover once a week
  • 18% opt for two to three times a week
  • 17% take care of it every fortnight
  • 19% clean it less than every other fortnight

The truth is there's no hard and fast rule as to how frequently you should clean a cot mattress, except obviously making sure you get to any spills and leaks straightaway.

It's also recommended you change the cover on your cot mattress at least once or twice a week if possible.

This means it's handy to have spare covers to deal with an accident in the middle of the night, as you don't want your baby sleeping on a damp mattress.

Read our guide to baby bedding safetyto find out what other baby bedding essentials to stock up on for your little one and which ones to avoid.

How to clean your baby's mattress

  1. Remove the cot mattress cover and wash it according to manufacturer instructions.
  2. Vacuum all sides of the cot mattress to get rid of any dead skin or dust.
  3. Wipe the mattress all over with a damp cloth - check on the label whether you need to just use warm water or if you can use warm water and a gentle detergent to clean it.
  4. Let the mattress air dry completely to ensure no bacteria or mould has a chance to grow. Then replace the cover.

Do I need a waterproof cot mattress protector?

Just under two thirds of parents we surveyed use a waterproof protector to guard their cot mattress against accidents and sickness.

It's completely optional as to whether you use one, but it's worth bearing in mind that not all mattresses are water resistant.

This means that urine can soak into the core and bacteria could fester, making it unhygienic for your baby to sleep on.

Our tests have discovered cot mattresses with a miserable one star for water resistance, but others get a great five stars.

Others have only partial waterproofing. That means it's pot luck as to whether your baby has an accident on the protected part. Or the underside is waterproof so it traps in liquid and makes it impossible to clean.

During the potty training stage we'd certainly recommend using a waterproof protector on your cot mattress. Find out more in our guide to choosing a cot mattress.

Cot mattress covers

We recommend always having a non-waterproof soft top cover for your baby to sleep on, which you can whip off and machine-wash it if it gets dirty.

Some cot mattresses don't come with a washable and removable top cover, so you'll have to budget for this separately.

Others have covers that shrink after washing, making it a nightmare to put them back on the mattress. This could also pose a safety risk if the shrunken cover compresses the mattress, leaving gaps that could trap your baby between the mattress and the cot sides.

One of our recent mattress tests found a cot mattress cover that shrunk significantly after washing, reducing the mattress in length by 5cm, which is one of the reasons it's joined those we've name Don't Buy cot mattresses.