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Cleaning

How to clean a memory foam mattress

We spill the details on dealing with a mess.

hands pushing down on foam mattress Credit: Reviewed / Betsy Goldwasser

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Mattresses are a big investment. When you’re putting hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars on the line for an item, you don’t want to have to replace it any sooner than you absolutely have to. Cleaning your mattress properly and regularly helps maintain its lifespan, typically about 10 years.

We have the information you need on keeping your memory foam mattress in tip-top shape.

First, pull out a handheld vacuum

handheld dyson vacuum on a memory foam mattress surface
Credit: Dyson

Use a handheld vacuum cleaner to keep your memory foam mattress free of dust mites.

You probably vacuum your rugs, but did you know that you should be vacuuming your mattress, too? Hannah Yokoji, brand director of The Laundress, says you should vacuum your mattress to remove debris, dust, and allergens before cleaning up stains.

A handheld vacuum with an upholstery attachment will simplify the task. The Dyson V15 Detect is the best cordless vacuum we’ve tested, and it comes with a variety of attachments. It also won us over with its impressive battery life. If you want something more affordable, look to one of our value picks, the Black & Decker BDH2000PL. It also has a decent run time of 11.5 minutes and picked up 70% of dirt in our tests.

How often should you add this chore to your list of household duties? Leesa recommends vacuuming every few months when you rotate the mattress. (The brand happens to manufacture our best upgrade pick, the Leesa Hybrid.) If you’re particularly eager, a spokesperson from Zinus, another company that makes memory foam mattresses, says you can vacuum your mattress every week.

Of course, you’ll first want to remove your bed sheets and mattress protector. Zinus and Leesa both advise that you don’t take off the mattress cover when cleaning. Mattress companies have different policies, so check the specifics for your brand. The Nectar mattress, for example, has a removable cover that’s advertised as machine-washable—but if you dig into the warranty, taking it off voids the policy.

Spot clean spills on a memory foam mattress with gentle cleaning solutions

a woman's hands press into a foam mattress
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

Be gentle when cleaning your mattress so you do not damage the foam.

Spills happen, even when you try your best to be careful. Whether you’ve spilled coffee or wine or your new puppy had an accident, there are steps to remedy the situation—and the quicker you act, the better.

Start by dabbing a wet spill with a dry cleaning cloth to soak up any liquid. Yokoji says that you’ll want to avoid using a brush, because abrasion from bristles can rip or damage the foam. When caring for a mattress, Leesa warns that you shouldn’t rub a spill, as that can further dirty your mattress.

After sopping up excess liquid, treat the soiled area with a gentle cleaning agent. Leesa recommends baking soda-based solutions for a number of stains. For blood, for example, use a paste of one part baking soda and two parts cold water to gently dab on your mattress. Remove the paste with more cold water, as warm water can set the stain, according to Leesa. Finally, vacuum any residue.

When it comes to treating urine stains, fill a spray bottle with white vinegar. Allow the area to sit for a few minutes, then gently dab with a clean cloth or paper towels. Next, pour baking soda over the soiled area and let it air dry overnight. When the area is completely dry, vacuum up the baking soda.

The Laundress also sells a Wash & Stain Bar, a vegetable-based soap designed for cleaning upholstery, including mattresses. To remove stains, Yokoji says that you should work the soap into a lint-free cleaning cloth and use the damp cloth to dab at a spill or stain.

While these general tips can help, it's important to do some homework, too. “Always check your mattress manufacturer’s care directions for specific cleaning instructions, as memory foam can trap moisture and lead to mold and mildew growth,” Yokoji says.

For example, Tempur-Pedic says that you can remove its mattress covers, but advises against putting baking soda on the foam.

Yokoji adds that your mattress should be completely dry before making your bed. You can speed up the process by opening a window to improve air circulation.

In the end, if cleaning a stained mattress feels like too big a task, you can always hire an expert to help.

Use a mattress protector with your memory foam mattress

A person pulls a mattress protector over the edge of a bare mattress
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

A mattress protector wards off sweat, dust, and other allergens.

When it comes to keeping a mattress clean, an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cures. We’ve said it before and we will say it again: You need a mattress protector. A number of memory foam mattress companies back us up on this; a Leesa spokesperson recommends a “waterproof, spill-proof mattress protector.”

Why should you shell out on the extra cost? For one, they help stop spills and stains from getting to your mattress. Plus, they're much easier to clean than a mattress. All of the mattress protectors we’ve tested can be tossed into the washing machine.

We’re partial to the Slumber Cloud Core. It’s waterproof and machine-washable, and our tester reported that it sleeps cool and creates a cushiony surface sensation. We also love the slightly more affordable Tuft & Needle mattress protector. It's a breeze to take on and off and offers water-protection on all exposed surface. FYI, for hot sleepers, it isn’t quite as cool at night.

Beyond the protector, don’t forget to wash your sheets regularly! If you’ve gone a couple weeks without doing so, put those bad boys in the washer now.

"To further protect your mattress from dirt and grime, you want to ensure you’re also cleaning your bedding (i.e., sheets) frequently," says Jill Johnson, VP of Marketing at Tempur-Pedic.

Last but not least, rotating your mattress is another step you can take every few months to make it last longer. Don’t flip the mattress upside down, simply switch its direction on your bed’s base. Per a Leesa spokesperson: “Since foam does have the tendency to soften over time, this is a great technique to maintain even wear and longevity.”

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