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How To Wash A Mattress Pad & Make It New?

image of our writer Filip Maric

Written by Filip

Sleep Advisor

Featured image of how to wash a mattress pad.

24 October 2023 8 min read

Today we're going to answer the question “how to wash mattress pad?”.

Be it through mattress pads, mattress protectors, or mattress toppers, it's always a good idea to protect your mattress from stains and prolong its shelf life.

However, the mattress pad needs to be cleaned as well! So, today we're going to go over all mattress pad varients and discuss how you can keep them clean! For a start:


REQUIRED WORKING TIME: 1-2 hours work, 8+ hours to complete.


  • Vaccum
  • Spray bottle
  • Destiled white vinegar
  • Lemon juice
  • Enzyme-based cleaner
  • Water
  • Mild low-sudsing laundry detergent
  • Down solution
  • Mild detergent
  • Washing machine
  • Drying machine.

How often should I wash my mattress pad?

First, let's answer the question of how often you should wash your mattress pad. While it's not on the front lines of battle (like your bed sheets), they do still soak in a lot of dirt. So, at the bare minimum, you should be cleaning a mattress pad once a year.

However, it's much better to play it safe and do it every 3-4 months. And this goes without saying, but if you happen to spill something on the mattress pad, clean it right away.

And the final scenario I want to cover is if you have allergies and/or live with pets. In this case, you will have to gauge yourself how frequently you get flare-ups and go from there. In severe cases, you might even need to wash your mattress pad every week or so.

Do I need to wash it often if I have pets?

an image of a pet standing on a otty pet bed

As I've briefly mentioned already, having pets means that you'll have to clean your mattress pad more frequently – this goes double for allergy sufferers. Especially if your pet is shedding and likes to spend a lot of time with you in your bed.

But even something as seemingly innocent as a hamster could mean more frequent cleaning if you let them run around on your bed – as you never know whether nature gave them a call while you weren't looking.

Cleaning the mattress pad not only protects you from breathing in pet hair and dead skin cells during the night, but it also protects your pet as well. So, don't be lazy and keep things clean.

Cleaning a cotton mattress pad

The first step for all of these different mattress pads is to read the cleaning instructions on the label. After all, nobody knows how to clean a mattress pad better than the person who made it. And since cotton mattress pads are particularly tricky and have to be cleaned multiple times a year, this is information you want to have.

Now that that's out of the way, let's go over the most general approach you should have. First off, take a vacuum (preferably with the brush attachment) and get rid of any debris or clumps that might have fallen on the mattress pad.

Then, throw it into the washing machine, with warm or cool water and mild detergent. Again, you want to consult the label on the product to find out the specifics.
After that, if the label allows it, tumble dry at the lowest temperature. It also helps to throw in rubber drying balls to keep the mattress pad fluffy. But if you don't have any, tennis balls will work as well.

And if machine drying is not an option, simply air dry it outside. Either way, make sure that every part of the mattress pad is completely dry before putting it back on the mattress so that it can't accumulate mould.

Cleaning a vinyl-backed mattress pad

Often used for mattress protectors, vinyl tends to have a waterproof membrane, and can thus just be wiped down. However, when it comes to vinyl-backed mattress pads, that's only half the story – as there's still cotton involved as well.

So, first things first, check whether you can machine wash it. Most vinyl-backed mattress pads can be machine-washed, but it never hurts to make sure. Using cold or warm water, set the washing machine on a gentle cycle and use a mild detergent.

And just like with cotton mattress pads, if possible, throw it into a tumble dryer on low heat and toss in dryer/tennis balls so that the pad can keep its fluff. If not, dry it outside or set it on a clean surface in the house with proper ventilation, flipping it every few hours so that it dries evenly.

Either way, you want to dry the vinyl side first and then flip it over to dry the cotton side. And once you're positive it's completely dry throughout, you can place it back onto the bed.

Cleaning a foam mattress pad

In terms of cleaning, memory foam pads are by far the most complicated. Unlike the previous two entries, you can't just toss a foam mattress pad into a washing machine, as the foam would be damaged beyond repair. To this point, some people even suggest throwing your foam mattress pad out and getting a new one once it gets too dirty.

But if you were to clean it, this is what the process would look like. First off, use a vacuum and get rid of any dirt clumps that might have formed on either side of the foam mattress pad. Then, ideally, you'd just want to stick to spot cleaning. To do this, use an enzyme-based cleaner, and starting from the outside of the stained area, work in circles towards it. If you don't have any enzyme-based cleaner on hand, you can also use a solution of equal part water, distilled white vinegar and lemon juice.

Once either the solution or the enzyme-based cleaner has been applied, let them sit for about twenty minutes and then use a wet sponge to gently clean it up, making sure to dab and not rub. Lastly, dab the foam mattress pad with a clean cloth or towel until dry.
And if spot cleaning isn't possible and the entire surface needs a deeper cleaning, repeat the process, rinse lightly with a hand-held shower head and let it air dry. You could also use a different solution – with one part mild, low-sudsing laundry detergent to two parts water and then clean it in the manner described.

Cleaning an egg crate mattress pad

Egg crate mattresses are prime opportunities for crumbs and dust mites to hide in. So, the most obvious first step is to vacuum both sides of the egg crate mattress pad. You can also remove all the padding from the pad and simply shake off any unwanted dirt and crumbs.

But if there are any stains, then you have to clean it like a foam pad – so, a bit more work could be required. However, you might be lucky as some manufacturers do in fact make egg crate mattress pads that are sturdy enough for machine washing – just check the care label. If you're in luck, you can use a commercial or oversize washing machine, putting it on a delicate cycle and using mild detergent to get the job done.

If not, you can use the same spot-cleaning method as with foam mattress pads – making sure to dab and use either the equal part water, distilled white vinegar and lemon juice solution or the enzyme-based cleaner.

Cleaning a down mattress pad

The first two steps for cleaning a down mattress pad are the same as with all the previous pads. Use a vacuum to get rid of any crumbs or dirt, and check the care label to see whether it's machine washable.

If the down mattress pad can be washed in a machine, first check it for any rips (so you don't end up with feathers everywhere) and then use a front loading washer, put it on a delicate cycle with cool water and either a low-sudsing detergent or a special down cleaner.

And if the pad has noticeable stains, it's best to rub them down with some detergent or down cleaner prior to the wash so they come out more easily. Just make sure to let the solution sit for about 20 minutes and you should be alright.

And when it comes to drying the pad, the usual tactic of setting the drier to low heat and throwing in drier/tennis balls will do the trick. However, do also make sure to pull the pad out of the drier every fifteen minutes or so in order to fluff it up and remove any clumps that may have formed.

Steps for cleaning a mattress pad

Just so that we're all on the same page, let's go over the basic steps once more. And to reitirate, always check the care label to see whether these methods apply to your product.

Remove the pad from the bed

mattress pad fitting

You don't want to risk any of the detergent or cleaning solution seaping down onto your mattress, so it's best to take it off before you start cleaning.

Vacuum the pad

an image of cleaning a mattress topper with a vacuum cleaner

Regardless of whether you use a washing machine or just spot clean, you first want to get rid of any crumbs, dust mites, or debris. And remember to vacuum both sides of the mattress pad.

Get rid of odours

a spoonful of baking soda on a wooden table

If your mattress pad is brand new, don't be surprised if it smells a bit odd. Especially if it incorporates foam in any way. Don't worry and just leave it in a well-ventilated room and the smell will go away within a day or so. However, if you've had it for a while, then you need to attack the source directly.

Sprinkling baking soda on top of the mattress pad, letting it sit for a few hours and then vacuuming it up is the simplest way to get rid of nasty odours. You could also leave a bowl full of vinegar in the same room so that it absorbs some of the unpleasant odours.

If that doesn't work, you'll either have to clean the pad completely or even replace it with a new one.

Remove stains

An image of a stained mattress

When it comes to removing stains, it's always good to use a sponge topped with either mild detergent or a cleaning solution and rub the affected area.

Just make sure to go from the outside of the stain inwards, so the stain doesn't spread. After this, you can either wash the entire mat in the washing machine or repeat the process and spot-clean it bit by bit.

Sprinkle the pad with a cleaning solution

an image of a man cleaning a mattress

In cases where the mat is not machine washable, the best thing to do is to sprinkle the entire pad with a cleaning solution, letting it sit for about 20 minutes, using a sponge to clean the solution off with light dabs or rubbing the pad out if it's more durable.

Rinse the pad and air dry it

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

Lastly, either use a towel to get rid of any excess moisture or let it air dry. When air drying, just make sure that it air dries equally – so flip it over every twenty minutes or so. And if you can't hang the mat on a clothesline, just place it on a clean, flat surface inside a well-ventilated room.

What is the difference between mattress pads, mattress protectors, and mattress toppers?

While looking around on the internet, you might see these three terms being used in a pretty similar context. In fact, you might've read “how to clean a mattress protector” and are now left wondering whether you can use the same advice for your mattress pad.

In short, a mattress pad, a mattress protector, and a mattress topper all serve a very similar function. They all add a bit of softness to your mattress and protect it from stains and dirt. However, keep in mind a few things.

A mattress topper is generally way thicker than a mattress pad, and it's rarely machine-washable due to its size. However, it's a lot softer than a mattress pad. And mattress protectors are usually thin but focus more on protecting the mattress from stains than adding comfort – so they're usually waterproof and a bit more rough.

Overall, while they're all pretty similar and certain cleaning tips to apply to all three, it's not a one size fits all. Always look at the care label and make sure you're committing to the right approach.

Related Reading:


Now that everything has been said, I hope these cleaning methods have helped you out and your mattress pad is as good as new! If not, don't worry – this might just be an opportunity to get an even better, new mattress pad. And rest assured that the Sleep Advisors will be there to help you pick out the very best one!

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