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A Toxicologist Explains How You Should Be Cleaning Your Mattress

Eliza Sullivan
Food Writer
By Eliza Sullivan
Food Writer
Eliza Sullivan is a food writer and SEO editor at mindbodygreen. She writes about food, recipes, and nutrition—among other things. She studied journalism at Boston University.
Image by Leah Flores / Stocksy
January 13, 2020

After we found out we should've been washing our pillows this whole time, we got to wondering whether there are other aspects of our beds that secretly need "scrubbing." We wash our sheets and pillows, but should we be cleaning our mattresses? If so, how in the world does one do that?

To get to the bottom of this, we consulted molecular toxicologist Rhea Mehta, Ph.D.

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Do you need to clean your mattress?

"We should consider cleaning our mattresses," said Mehta. "Especially so if we don't use a mattress cover or pad for further protection."

Why, you ask? "Cleaning helps remove or prevent dust, dirt, dead skin, pests, and stains," she told mindbodygreen.

With the amount of time we spend in bed, it's a no-brainer to be sure we're keeping that space as clean as the rest of our homes. The good news is it's not too complicated, and Mehta says we only really need to do it twice a year.

But how do you clean a mattress?

There are two types of mattress cleaning we should consider.

The first is easy to add each time you change your sheets. "For a quick cleaning job," said Mehta, "you can start by vacuuming your mattress thoroughly using the upholstery attachment if you have it."

If your mattress is a newer foam-topped model, it's "best if people use a soft brush attachment on their vacuum when cleaning," which some upholstery attachments have.

The second technique is for those twice-yearly cleans that Mehta mentioned and are a bit more in-depth.

"For a deeper cleaning, which includes removing odors, you can use baking soda, sprinkling anywhere from half a cup to the entire box over your mattress," Mehta told us. "You can either let it sit for a few hours or overnight, and then vacuum it."

Beyond that, we'd be remiss to not mention the importance of rotating your mattress (end to end) every two weeks or so, which helps prevent divots where you sleep each night. You can also flip your mattress, though a lot of more modern models have a defined top that makes flipping out of the question.

While this is another thing to clean in your home, a good night's sleep is crucial to overall health, and anything we can do to improve sleep quality is worth it.

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Eliza Sullivan
Eliza Sullivan
Food Writer

Eliza Sullivan is an SEO Editor at mindbodygreen, where she writes about food, recipes, and nutrition—among other things. She received a B.S. in journalism and B.A. in english literature with honors from Boston University, and she has previously written for Boston Magazine, TheTaste.ie, and SUITCASE magazine.