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How To Clean a Memory Foam Mattress Properly?

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Written By Alex Petrović

Certified Sleep Consultant

Featured image of how to clean memory foam mattress.

29 April 2024 5 min read

Probably nothing has revolutionised the sleep industry like memory foam. It was created by NASA's Ames Research Center. Memory foam mattresses have been the most popular since the early 90s. But how to clean a memory foam mattress can still be rather elusive.

When memory foam was developed in 1966, it was used exclusively by NASA. In the following decades, it was adopted by other industries, so it became part of the equipment for American football and other protection equipment.

However, the sleep industry was reluctant to adopt memory foam until manufacturer Tempur-Pedic created the first mattress.

From then until today, memory foam has positioned itself as a main material in the sleep industry. In the UK, the best-selling products are memory foam mattresses and memory foam pillows or hybrid mattresses that also contain memory foam.

That's the reason why each of you probably had at least one product made of foam. Support, pressure relief and contouring are the main advantages of this material. What many do not know is how to clean a memory foam mattress properly. We from The Sleep Advisors will give you answers to all your questions so you can keep your memory foam mattress clean.

How to remove stains successfully from the memory foam mattress?

We have covered already the topic why do pillows turn yellow, and a similar thing can happen with a mattress. Also, stains can occur for many other reasons, and removing stains successfully can be challenging. Following 5 steps should help. You should not skip any of these steps for the best possible results.

Step 1 – Vacuum the mattress thoroughly

a mattress maintenance

Many owners of memory foam mattresses skip this first step, and it is a big mistake. Remove bedding, mattress protector and memory foam mattress cover if it is removable before vacuuming. When only the bare memory foam mattress remains, set the vacuum cleaner to medium power and vacuum every part of the surface.

If you have a handheld vacuum cleaner, that is even better, because it is easier for maneuvering. But even a classic vacuum cleaner will definitely do the job successfully especially if you have soft brush attachment, so you don’t have to buy handheld vacuum just for this purpose.

When you vacuum the mattress, vacuum the upholstered parts of the bed frame, such as the headboard, as well because they are probably full of dust. Take advantage of upholstery attachment for headboard.

Step 2 – Check the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions first

An image of a woman checking the care instructions.

You can vacuum every matter. But after vacuuming, when it is time for the next steps, you should check the manufacturer's cleaning instructions. Most memory foam mattresses can be cleaned in a similar way, but each manufacturer will tell you what is best for that particular product.

Since high quality memory foam mattress is not cheap and you want it to last you for many years once you buy it, you certainly do not want to damage it by improper cleaning. Once you are familiar with the cleaning method suitable for this product, you can proceed to the next steps.

Step 3 – Make a cleaning solution

baking soda for mattress cleaning

We should start with vacuuming to remove any larger dirt, such as hair. Because if you make cleaning solutions right away and start cleaning, you will probably make an even bigger mess.

When it comes to cleaning solutions, you can make them in a variety of ways. Most people go with some type of liquid cleaner. Choose fabric cleaner or mild detergent, as heavy duty detergents can damage the foam. You can even use dishwashing detergent. Make a solution where you will put two thirds of lukewarm water and one third of the detergent you have chosen.

Step 4 – Spot clean

An image of a woman spot cleaning a mattress.

Once you have made the solution, you can apply the solution to the fabric and rub the stain or put it in spray bottle and spray directly on the stain. Keep in mind not to apply too much liquid. This is not necessary and will not help to remove stains better, it will only create a problem.

The mattress will absorb liquid and then a new stain or even mold may appear. After you spray the solution on the parts of the mattress where you noticed the stain, you should rub with a cloth or sponge. Rub until the stain disappears, and we recommend circular motion for the most effective cleaning.

Step 5 – Let the mattress dry out

Man placing mattress on bed

If you fail to dry the mattress completely, but lie down on it as soon as you notice that the surface is dry, you risk the appearance of mildew, which you may not be able to get rid of. Memory foam tends absorb liquid, so you need to dry the mattress thoroughly.

When you want to speed up the process, use a hair dryer. Hold the hair dryer about 10 cm above the mattress and use a medium heat setting.

Avoid using too much heat or bringing the hair dryer too close to the mattress, as this may damage it. If you do not have a hair dryer at the moment, you can leave it to dry on its own, but then you should not use it for at least 2 days or return the bedding and mattress protector.

How to remove hard stains from the memory foam mattress?

Stubborn stains, such as red wine, urine, blood, vomit and the like are difficult to remove. In that case, this conservative approach we have recommended may not help you. But don't worry, there is a solution. The only thing you should avoid is hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is a great stain remover and you can use it for other types of mattresses, but not for memory foam ones.

Mix vinegar and warm water

Vinegar, especially white vinegar, removes stains very effectively. It will help you fight tough stains. How much vinegar you put in the solution depends on the type of stain. It usually takes about half a cup of vinegar, but sometimes you can put more or less than that. You can also add baking soda for even better outcome.

Soak the rug in the mix and scrub the stain

an image of a man cleaning a mattress topper with a vinegar

The procedure with stubborn stains is very similar. Once you have added the vinegar and baking soda to the solution, you will again use a sponge or damp cloth to rub the stain. You may need more time before you notice the stain disappearing.

But don't give up, be persistent and give the vinegar time to break down the stain. Vinegar is not a chemical and it takes more time compared to some stain removers. But that is why it is not toxic and will not damage the foam. So, given it ample time to do its job!

Use a dry towel to absorb excess water

In the first place, try not to use too much water and do not soak the mattress. But if that still happens, then before you start drying your mattress with a hair dryer, use a dry towel. The towel will absorb excess water, and then all you have to do is to dry remaining moisture using hair dryer.

How to prolong the lifespan of a memory foam mattress?

The average lifespan of a memory foam mattress is 7 to 10 years. Budget models will probably start to lose their main features after 5 years, while premium models may be the same as on the first day even after 10 years. You also have an influence on how long it will take before you have to buy a new mattress. If you follow our advice, you will prolong the lifespan.

Vacuum the mattress every time you replace sheets

You don't have to wait to notice stains on the mattress to vacuum it. Bedding should be changed every week, and every time you change the bedding you should vacuum the mattress. This is important not only from the perspective of lifespan of the mattress, but it is also very important for your health. Vacuuming will remove allergens such as dust mites that can otherwise cause allergies at any age even if you are not allergy sufferer since childhood. Also it is important to remove dead skin cells since bed bugs feed on it.

Rotate the mattress every month

a woman laying on stomach on an eve mattress

Rotating the mattress is one of the safest ways to prolong service life. Rotate the mattress every month or two to prevent dents, and wear and tear will not be noticeable. We advise you to buy mattress with handles for easy rotating.

This is recommended for every mattress, and especially for memory foam ones due to the characteristics of the material. Some mattresses are double sided, so you can both rotate them and flip them. That way you practically have two sleep surfaces, and while you use one, the other recovers.

Do not use bleach or harmful chemicals

First of all, all types of chemicals are harmful, especially in a sleep environment. That is why your bedroom should be completely free of such substances. In addition, bleach and chemicals can also damage the mattress, so they should be avoided at all costs. It is better to leave a stain than to use chemicals or bleach.

Get a waterproof mattress protector

an image of a man changing a mattress protector

Mattress protectors are a great addition to your mattress. When you purchase a waterproof mattress protector, you will be sure that even if you spill something in bed, it will not leave a stain or cause a mildew. If you are worried about breathability because you are hot sleeper, you should go with Panda Bamboo mattress protector.

Also most of today's waterproof mattress protectors do not have a problem with breathability as was the case 10 or 20 years ago. So, if you just want to have a bit more security, getting a materproof mattress protector could be ideal. Just make sure it's not too firm so that you don't end up being uncomfortable in bed!

Sprinkle baking soda over the mattress every now and then

Baking soda has other purposes than just to help you remove tough stains. Baking soda is great at removing odours, so you should sprinkle baking soda over the mattress every now and then. Do this when changing the bedding, leave for an hour or two and then vacuum the baking soda before putting on the new bedding.

Avoid eating & drinking in bed

We know it’s great to eat and drink in bed while watching your favorite TV show, but it’s not something you should do, even if you have a waterproof mattress protector. Food crumbs will attract various pests, and it can happen that you spill drink somewhere where the mattress protector does not protect. And by the way, you should not watch TV in the bedroom because it emits blue light which can disrupt melatonin secretion and thus your night’s sleep.

Should I steam-clean my memory foam mattress?

Steam cleaning has many benefits such as destroying germs, viruses and allergens, eliminating pet odour and eco-friendliness. So you are probably wondering if you should steam clean your memory foam mattress and memory foam mattress topper. The answer is no.

Conclusion

The mattress is of paramount importance for a good night's sleep. So we believe that you invested a lot of time to find the right one, and then that you spent a significant amount of money because high-quality memory foam mattress is not cheap. And now that you know how to clean a memory foam mattress, you should be able to enjoy your new mattress for years to come!

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About the author

Alex Petrović
Sleep Consultant
A CPD certified Sleep Consultant with more than 2000 hours of research into all the different ways we can get a great night's sleep. As a former insomniac, I know how difficult life can be without a nightly recovery and I love that I get to share everything I've learned with you all. So hopefully we can all sleep soundly!
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