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Can You Steam Clean A Mattress?

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Steam cleaning a mattress isn't only about giving it new life and making it smell fresh. It is also an essential part of a cleaning routine to remove stubborn stains and tackle allergens, bacteria, and dust mites that can trigger respiratory issues or allergies. Maintaining a clean mattress is paramount for restful sleep and overall well-being.

In this article, I'll share everything you need to know about steam cleaning a mattress – from the pros and cons to how to do it (with a simple yet practical step-by-step guide), other mattress cleanliness tips to consider, and so much more.

Key Takeaways

  • Yes, steam cleaning a mattress is very much possible. You need caution, patience, and time like steam cleaning on other surfaces. Using the proper technique and equipment is also necessary. Some cleaners are too powerful and might damage your mattress. Always utilize the correct steam cleaner attachment and follow the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Always give your bed ample time to dry after steam cleaning. I recommend an entire day for this. Improper drying could lead to unpleasant odors and mold growth. You can lay it outside to dry in the sun (which I advise) or leave it in a well-ventilated room with excellent airflow for the whole day.

Pros Of Steam Cleaning A Mattress

The following are the pros of steam cleaning your mattress:

A Surefire Way To Kill Bed Bugs And Dust Mites

If you grapple with asthma or allergies, you know the importance of sleeping on a clean mattress. Steam cleaning your mattress kills bed bugs and dust mites instantly. All bed bugs can't survive the high temperatures of a steam cleaner as they die within several minutes at only 60 degrees Celsius (1).

Eco-friendly

Steam cleaning is an effective way to clean your mattress without harsh detergents or harmful chemicals that could harm house plants, pets, people, and the ecosystem. Reduced water consumption is also a notable impact on the environment.

Efficient Deep Cleaning

Steam cleaning a mattress utilizes high-temperature steam to break down and dissolve stains, grime, dirt, and grease. As aforementioned, its thorough cleaning eliminates pathogens, allergens, and even bacteria.

Remember that steam cleaning a mattress is highly effective if done right, but it doesn't replace regular mattress maintenance. I would still advise that you do things such as regularly vacuuming, rotating and flipping (if applicable, as most modern mattresses are one-sided, washing your linens and bedding regularly, airing it out frequently, controlling humidity, addressing stains promptly and always following the manufacturer's care instructions.

No Residue

Another advantage of steam cleaning that I have noted over time is that it does not leave behind any residues that might harm my mattress surface over time.

Cons Of Steam Cleaning A Mattress

The following are the cons of steam cleaning your mattress:

Risk of Damage

While steam cleaning your mattress is highly beneficial, you risk damaging the bed if you do it incorrectly. You must carefully follow the steps I highlighted in the next section to prevent any risk of damaging your mattress.

Also, remember that some mattresses need a more sensitive touch while others need particular detergents for cleaning.

Excess Moisture

Steam cleaning a mattress entails the use of steam and water. Failure to do it correctly can lead to the build-up of excess moisture, which then translates to the growth of mold and mildew.

Always allow your mattress to dry thoroughly to avoid this problem.

How To Steam Clean A Mattress – Step-By-Step Guide

Here's my recommended step-by-step guide on how to steam clean a mattress:

Items Needed

  1.   A vacuum cleaner with an upholstery brush attachment
  2.   Microfiber towels
  3.   Steam cleaner
  4.   Laundry stain remover
  5.   Baking soda

Instructions

Step 1: Strip your mattress of everything

Clear your mattress of everything, including the mattress cover. You should only have the mattress bare to start our steam cleaning process.

A mattress cover
A mattress cover

If you have the time, also clean all your bedding as you follow the care instructions in their respective labels.

Step 2: Vacuum your mattress

This is where the vacuum's upholstery brush attachment comes in handy. I utilize it to suction away as much pet dander, dust mites, dead skin, hair, and dust as possible. My sister, on the other, prefers a hand-held vacuum which is equal to the task.

However, from my experience, the former gives more suction for more impressive results.

Gradually work on the mattress and employ short strokes to loosen and grab as much soil as possible.

Learning how to deodorise a mattress is one thing I appreciated and applied at this step, mainly because I noticed a strong odor. I sprinkled my bed with baking soda and Manuka essential oil. I then allowed them to settle and get absorbed for around one hour. After that, I just vacuumed everything thoroughly before proceeding to my next step.

Step 3: Spot-treat any visible stains on the mattress

Do you see any visible stains on your mattress's surface? Before steam cleaning your mattress, I recommend thoroughly spot-treating the stains.

I usually utilize a commercial laundry stain remover with enzymes to break the stain molecules. This resourceful solution has become a vital part of my steam cleaning routine. It efficiently tackles even the toughest of stains. With every application, I watch the enzymes work their magic, meticulously breaking down the stain molecules and effortlessly lifting away the blemishes that once marred my mattress. This trusty stain remover always leaves my bed with a pristine and revitalized look and feel, as if the stains had never dared to leave their mark.

If you don't have the budget for a commercial steamer, use an iron with a steaming function or a clothes steamer. You only need to ensure the machine you choose reaches the recommended (100 – 122 degrees Celsius) temperature levels.

Regardless of your choice, ensure you follow the instructions on the product label keenly. Alternatively, place a dab of stain remover on the damp microfiber cloth.

Work your stain remover thoroughly into the stained area and allow it to settle for 15-20 minutes. After that, use a clean and damp microfiber cloth to splotch away the stain and cleaning product.

Avoid over-saturating the area with cleaning products or water.

Step 4: Prepare your steam cleaner

Preparing your steamer entails filling it with water and bringing it to full heat. Get the steam to 100 – 122 degrees Celsius. This temperature range will thoroughly eliminate dust mites and bacteria.

Step 5: Steam the mattress

Hold your steamer head roughly 2-3 inches above the mattress surface and gradually move in long strokes down the surface. Exercise caution with blasts of steam. Ensure the surface of your mattress is damp, not wet.

I notice that it becomes wet when I hold the steamer too close to my mattress. Therefore, avoid putting it too close.

Remember to steam the entire mattress surface, including the side surfaces.

Step 6: Drying the mattress

In this final step, open your windows, turn on your fans, and allow your mattress to air dry for under three hours. I recommend letting it as many hours as possible to dry. The last thing you want is moisture getting trapped inside the fibers.

Learning how to dry a wet mattress is essential at this stage. To establish if your bed is dry, I advise placing a dry piece of paper towel on the surface and pressing it down with some pressure or force.

If you notice any moisture on the towel, give it more time.

I advise cleaning your mattress when you use it for only a few hours or even the whole day. On top of that, always ensure adequate ventilation in your room. I usually open all my windows, circulating fans and utilize an overhead fan. Regarding the choice of day, I've had the best results on a low-humidity and sunny day.

How Often Should You Steam Clean A Mattress?

Your bed habits inform how often you need to steam clean your mattress. For instance, if you have a child or pets or taking care of someone bedridden, there'll be a need to steam clean the mattress often. The same is true if you drink or eat regularly from your bed.

If you only use your mattress for sleeping, I recommend steam cleaning it only seasonally to keep it odor-free and fresh.

How To Clean A Mattress Without A Steam Cleaner

Cleaning all mattresses, even the best memory foam mattresses, without a steam cleaner is possible. There are countless methods you can follow, but here's my simple and quick guide:

Items Needed

  1.   A vacuum cleaner with an upholstery attachment
  2.   Paper towels or some clean cloths
  3.   Mid-liquid dish soap
  4.   Baking soda
  5.   Spray bottle
  6.   Distilled white vinegar
  7.   Mild laundry detergent (optional)

Instructions

Step 1: Remove your bedding

Just like with how to clean the mattress with a steamer, you need to strip your bed of all the bedding and wash them separately.

Step 2: Vacuum

Using your vacuum cleaner, thoroughly vacuum the entire mattress surface, including the crevices, edges, and seams where debris, dirt, and dust might accumulate.

Step 3: Spot-clean all stains

If the stains are fresh, I recommend blotting the area gently with a paper towel or clean cloth to absorb excess liquid thoroughly. After that, mix some water with mild liquid dish soap to form a diluted solution.

Now damp the clean cloth with the soapy solution. Next, gently splotch the stained areas. I usually prefer working from the outside parts to prevent the further spreading of the stain.

Pick a separate damp cloth with plain water to rinse the part and splotch again to remove any residue.

Step 4: Use baking soda to deodorise

Deodorising is always my favorite part when cleaning a mattress. I like evenly sprinkling vast amounts of baking soda over my mattress surface as it helps absorb moisture and neutralize odors. After that, I allow it to rest for around 30 minutes - 1 hour.

Another hack I recommend to tackle odors is vinegar. Here's how I do it.

I mix equal parts water and distilled white vinegar in a spray bottle and then lightly mist my mattress with the solution. As it dries, the vinegar smell will fade and eliminate odor.

Step 5: Vacuum again

Once I've had the baking soda sit for some time, I vacuum the mattress again to remove the deodoriser and any remaining odor.

Step 6: Drying

I will keep insisting when cleaning your mattress to give it ample time to dry. Air dry it for hours outside or open all your bedroom windows before returning your bedding.

Other Mattress Cleanliness Tips To Consider

Some other mattress cleanliness tips I can share from my experience include the following:

Always Have The Right Accessories

One of the things I have noticed come through throughout my use of a mattress is having a mattress protector. It adds a protective layer between my bed and my body.

Mattress protectors for all mattresses, including mattresses in a box, are available in various materials. You can remove, and machine wash them seamlessly.

Of great importance to note is that some mattress protectors change some mattresses' cooling and feel features. This is the same with mattress padding which I’ve noticed from experience and research, can improve the cooling features of a mattress (2).

You should settle for one with a breathable material like organic cotton. My other recommendation is one with improved cooling features, particularly if you're a hot sleeper

A mattress protector
A mattress protector

.

Reduce Moisture Levels Around The Mattress

Your bedroom or any place your mattress needs to be relaxed and dry. Cooler temperatures are ideal for sleep but will also come in handy against night sweats.

Ensuring your room is dry reduces the chances of bacteria or mildew growth in the mattress. I've taken this point seriously since I live in a region with a humid and damp climate. I recommend having a dehumidifier in your bedroom if you live in a similar area.

Still, on this suggestion, I advise you to avoid throwing dirty towels or yet-to-dry clothing on your bed.

Are you into furry friends like I am? While we all love them, ensure they don't come straight to your bed from having the time of their life in the rain.

Take Advantage Of Sunlight

Direct sunlight is handy for keeping your mattress in good shape. When you have the time, place your bed outside in a dry and clean spot once every month.

Doing this will go miles to reduce moisture and kill any bacteria. It is also magical in freshening the smell of your mattress.

My Experience With Steam Cleaning A Mattress

One sunny weekend my college roommate and I decided we'd had enough of the stains and awful odor from our mattress. Of the different cleaning methods available, we decided to try steam cleaning.

We fetched a borrowed steam cleaner, and with a quick review of the instructions and a shared grin, we began the process, slowly moving the steam cleaner across the mattress's surface.

As the steam made contact with the fabric, we watched in amazement as the stains seemed to loosen their grip and fade away. With the mattress now thoroughly steamed and smelling surprisingly rejuvenated, we left it to dry in the sunlight.

Later that evening, when we lay on our freshly treated mattress, it felt different – cleaner, fresher, and more inviting. After many years of steam cleaning my mattress after college, I believed I had the experience and expertise to share my insights in this guide.

FAQ

Is it safe to use a steamer on my mattress?

Yes, it is safe to use a steamer to clean your mattress. Nonetheless, please take your time and do it carefully, following the steps I have shared above.

The last thing you want is to damage your mattress, some of which can be costly. Steam clean your mattress properly and give it ample time to dry to avoid moisture build-up. Hiring a professional cleaning service is prudent if you need clarification on the whole process.

Can steam cleaning my mattress eliminate urine stains and smells?

Yes, it can. However, I recommend you first clean your mattress using a cloth dipped in a dishwasher, liquid soap, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide to remove the stains from the mattress. If this recommendation doesn't work, you can turn to steam cleaning for the awful smell.

Conclusion 

Our mattresses suffer extensively from food spills, pets, dust mites, dead skin cells, and sweat. If the bed smells awful or you notice stains, it's time to clean it. One popular question when it comes to cleaning is, can you steam clean a mattress? The answer is yes, you can steam clean a mattress. A steam cleaner is effective at thoroughly cleaning your mattress.

While steam cleaning your mattress is not challenging, you need adequate planning and time to pull it off. By carefully following the steps I have laid out in this guide, you'll enjoy an effectively cleaned and good-smelling mattress within a reasonable time. Just ensure you give it ample time to dry before putting your bedding back and sleeping.

How do you handle your steam cleaning process? Is it any different from how I have shared it above? Please let us know in the comments section.

References

  1. Temperature stress deteriorates bed bug (Cimex lectularius) populations through decreased survival, fecundity and offspring success (Mar 14, 2018) Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5851602/#:~:text=All%20bed%20bugs%20die%20within,38.5%C2%B0C%20%5B40%5D
  2. High rebound mattress toppers facilitate core body temperature drop and enhance deep sleep in the initial phase of nocturnal sleep (Jun 27, 2018) Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6021054/

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