Updated January 16, 2022

How to Clean a Used Mattress

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A used mattress can save you money. But you'll need to clean it right to protect your health. Find out the best ways to clean a used mattress below.

Deep Cleaning a Used Mattress

Mattresses accumulate dirt, bacteria, and dust mites, among other less-than-pleasant debris. If you've purchased a used one, you should clean it BEFORE dragging it into your bedroom.

Start by vacuuming the mattress. Use a hand vac or the upholstery attachment on your upright vacuum. You'll want a tool that can reach all the nooks and crannies of the mattress.

Now you're ready to treat any spots and stains. Here's how:

  1. Make a solution with equal parts of hydrogen peroxide, water, and dish soap.

  2. Mix the ingredients in a spray bottle and liberally spray the mattress.

  3. After 20 minutes, use a clean cloth to blot the moisture out of the mattress. Make sure you get all the moisture. Any dampness left behind will encourage mold growth.

  4. Spread a layer of baking soda over the entire mattress. The baking soda lifts the liquid stains as well as the odor, so let it sit for 12–24 hours.

  5. Vacuum the baking soda for a fresh smelling mattress.

Make sure the mattress doesn't have bed bugs, urine, or blood stains BEFORE you buy it. Those require additional work that won't be worth your time. Instead, look for a gently used mattress and clean it well.

PRO TIP: A GhostBed memory foam topper can help you get up to 5 more years out of your existing mattress. The topper can help improve your comfort without having to buy a brand new mattress.

Sanitizing the Mattress

Sanitizing takes cleaning one-step further by eliminating germs that were left behind. You can sanitize a used mattress in a few ways:

  • Use a Hand-Held Steamer
    The steamer's heat can kill more germs and eliminate dust mites, dirt, and debris.

  • Use an Antibacterial Spray
    Lightly spray the entire mattress with a product like Lysol. Just don't soak it. You can let the spray sit for a few hours before wiping it up with a barely damp, warm rag.

  • Try a Liquid Cleaner
    Follow the directions on the bottle. You'll likely need to dilute the cleaner with warm water. Lightly wipe down the mattress, being careful not to soak it.

If you use liquid to sanitize the mattress, give it plenty of time to dry. Letting the mattress sit in the sun all day is the best option. The sun will dry the mattress quickly. Plus, the UV rays kill more germs.

Deodorizing a Used Mattress

Deodorizing may get rid of bad smells. But it won't get rid of what causes them. You'll need to remove the dirt, debris, dust mites, sweat, and particles first.

Choose your favorite scent of essential oils and a box of baking soda to deodorize the mattress. Then follow these steps:

  1. Sprinkle a couple of drops of oil into the baking soda and shake the box.

  2. Spread the contents of the entire box over the mattress.

  3. Let it sit on the mattress for at least a few hours, or overnight if possible.

  4. Vacuum the baking soda up after several hours. It should absorb the odors and leave behind a pleasant scent.

Does Stanley Steemer Clean Mattresses?
Stanley Steemer offers vacuuming, steam cleaning, and deodorizing for mattresses. They uses a hot water extraction process to clean mattresses. Their cleaning agents don't leave behind a residue—they're also safe for children and pets.

Can You Bleach a Mattress?

You can use bleach sparingly on a white mattress. Bleach is an effective germ killer and it neutralizes odors. But excessive use hardens a mattress. The harsh smell can linger, too.

Use these steps when cleaning a mattress with bleach:

  1. Make sure the room is well ventilated and wear protective gloves to avoid burning your skin.

  2. Mix the bleach with equal parts water in a spray bottle. Add a splash of dish soap.

  3. Spray the mattress sparingly.

  4. Scrub the bleach mixture into the areas of concern and blot it dry.

  5. Dry the mattress in the sun if possible. Or let it sit overnight to dry completely.

Can you use a carpet cleaner on a mattress?
Carpet cleaning machines can deep clean a used mattress. Use the machine after a thorough vacuuming. But remember not to soak the mattress. It could cause mold growth within the mattress. You'll also need to allow ample time to dry.

Bottom Line

Used mattresses may save you money. But they can put your health at risk if you aren't careful. Take your time cleaning, sanitizing, and deodorizing a used mattress for the safety of anyone sleeping on it.

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