The Original Hybrid
Cleaning your mattress probably isn't that high up on your list of chores. But there are many reasons why you should spend a few minutes every few months keeping it as hygienic as possible, not least because the average person spends roughly a third of their life in bed.
What's more, your mattress might well be among one of the more expensive and long-lasting items in your home, so it makes sense to look after it.
In our latest survey, 14% of the members we asked had never cleaned their mattress. And with around a third of you expecting your mattress to last between eight and 10 years, that's a lot of dust, sweat and grime building up.
Whether there's a particular stain or smell you want to remove, or you just want to give your mattress a regular refresh, our expert tips below will help you to keep it in top condition. Remember to check the instructions or care label first.
No matter how often you change your bed linen, you still need to go the extra mile every so often and give your mattress a thorough clean.
While you might think your mattress isn't dirty, especially if you normally shower before going to bed and if the mattress is stain-free, that's unlikely to be the case.
According to The Sleep Council:
It's no wonder The Sleep Council says that a dirty mattress can contain worrying levels of staphylococcus, enterococcus, norovirus and even MRSA.
There's no hard and fast rule for how often a mattress needs to be cleaned. It all depends on the mattress and the person sleeping on it.
14% of members we surveyed in March 2021 had never cleaned their mattress.
If you suffer from allergies, you should clean your mattress whenever the telltale symptoms of a runny nose, itchy throat and dry eyes start to worsen.
It also depends on how breathable the mattress is.
Every mattress we review is tested for how well moisture passes through it – the more breathable a mattress is, the less likely it is to stockpile sweat.
While there's no right or wrong answer to the question of how often a mattress needs cleaning, every six months is advisable.
If you're in the habit of flipping or rotating your mattress every three to six months (as you should be), it's worth taking a little extra time to clean your mattress while you do it.
If your mattress is stain-free, cleaning it should be a quick process. Simply follow the six steps below:
Our handy video shows you at a glance how to tackle stains, or read on for more detailed information.
Scrubbing stains out of a mattress is no one's idea of fun, but it's essential if you want to keep your mattresses clean and odour-free for years to come. Before you get going, there are three golden rules to follow:
Read on for advice on how to target specific stains, or scroll down to find out how to get rid of unpleasant mattress smells.
To get blood stains out of your mattress, first dab at the stain with a little cold water. Be careful not to soak the mattress and don't rub the stain as this could spread the blood further.
You might find this technique to be surprisingly effective, especially if the stain is recent, but if not, try adding a little baking soda to the water. Apply to the stain, leave it for 30 minutes, and then dab with clean water and leave to dry.
If the stain is still there after the mattress has dried, try following the steps below for removing urine.
To remove bodily fluids such as urine from your mattress, try diluting washing-up liquid in water and then gently dabbing at the stain with a cloth or sponge. Remember that mattresses aren't waterproof, so it's best to clean slowly and steadily. If the stain still isn't lifting, and your mattress care label says it's OK, use an upholstery cleaner, but always read the instructions. We recommend erring on the side of caution, so it's safest to dilute it and avoid spraying it directly on to the mattress.
For food and drink stains such as tea and coffee, your best bet is to try the baking soda and cold water mix mentioned above. For bodily fluids and sweat stains, try using diluted washing-up liquid. If in any doubt, though, contact the manufacturer to find out if it has any specific advice.
Regardless of how comfortable your mattress is, you're unlikely to get a good night's sleep if you're unable to escape an unpleasant smell when you put your head down.
There are two reasons your mattress might smell. The first is because it's new. It's not uncommon for mattresses made with synthetic materials such as memory foam to have a strong chemical smell when you first unpack them. But even if your mattress isn't synthetic, you might find that it smells a bit when new as a result of the flame-retardant chemicals that manufacturers are required to apply by law.
17% of members clean their mattress once every six months.
The smell should disperse gradually, but you can speed up the process by leaving it near an open window to air. Or, if the smell is especially strong, you can try airing the mattress outside if you have a patio and the weather is good.
The second reason a mattress might smell is if something has soaked into the material. Bodily fluids are obvious examples, but drinks such as tea and coffee can easily be spilt if you're enjoying breakfast in bed. Even spilt water can give the mattress a musty smell if the fabric hasn't been properly dried out.
After you've removed any stains (see above), air the mattress for as long as possible to allow the smell to fade. If the smell is especially strong or unpleasant, though, you'll need to resort to stronger measures. Sprinkle baking soda over the entire mattress surface and leave it for as long as possible, ideally overnight. Next, vacuum up the baking soda and leave the mattress to air by an open window – you should find that the smell has gone.
Memory foam mattresses often come with a removable mattress cover that's machine washable. This can make cleaning a lot easier, but there are a couple of things to be aware of.
Always check the manufacturer’s instructions and the details of your mattress warranty before cleaning. Some mattresses have removable covers but the manufacturer actually advises against taking the cover off and washing it, while others allow this but say to avoid cleaning the foam after the cover has been removed.
If you're putting your cover in the washing machine, follow the washing instructions carefully to be sure you don’t inadvertently invalidate your warranty or shrink the cover so much that it doesn’t fit back over the mattress.
Three in 10 members expect a mattress to last between eight and 10 years, according to our latest survey. And a quarter of you expect it to last longer.
There are a few things you can do to maximise the lifespan of your mattress. Cleaning it regularly is certainly one of them, but flipping or rotating your mattress according to the manufacturer's instructions, using a mattress protector and not sitting on the edge of your bed will help, too. A can also give an ailing mattress a new lease of life.
Even so, mattresses don't last for ever. When you're sleeping on it every night, it's all too easy to convince yourself that your mattress is as good as it was when new. But just because a mattress is comfortable, it doesn't guarantee that it's providing good support for your back.
We've tested mattresses that will remain supportive without sagging or softening for up to 10 years. But if you've had you mattress longer than that, you might want to consider buying a new one.
Which? survey of 1,098 mattress owners in March 2021.
Last checked: April 2021.