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How to Clean a Mattress Topper

A mattress topper is an excellent solution for those who have a mattress too firm for their liking. When placed on top of the mattress, it provides an extra “comfort layer” to better cradle the sleeper’s body. But this sweet added plushness comes with a downside: Mattress toppers can be a pain to clean! And yes, they do need to be cleaned.

If you’re concerned about the best way to clean your mattress topper without ruining it, you’ve come to the right place. By following the simple steps and tips outlined below, you’ll be able to wash your mattress topper without fear (or at least with very little fear…).

The Low-Down on Mattress Toppers

Mattress toppers owe their cozy feel to the soft (and notoriously high-maintenance) materials they’re made from. The most common materials include:

  • Memory foam
  • Polyfoam
  • Latex
  • Feathers
  • Wool

Most of these materials are known for their tendency to absorb water and other forms of liquid, including spills, sweat, and liquid cleaning products. This means that it’s imperative to clean your mattress topper frequently, yet difficult to do so because of the materials’ high rate of liquid absorption. If not done properly, cleaning your mattress topper can result in bacteria or mold growth, general water damage, or discoloration.

Another factor you need to consider is your application method. Applying a cleaning agent the wrong way can cause ripping or tearing (as many of the materials listed are delicate in composition). It can also make stains worse or cause smearing/running. It’s generally recommended to blot stains away rather than rubbing at them; blotting is much gentler on the material and is less likely to worsen any existing stains.

But despite these difficulties, not washing your mattress topper is not a good idea. Because the mattress topper is the layer closest to your skin, it easily becomes dirty and germy—your dead skin cells and sweat bacteria just love to gather and multiply here!

So, how do you correctly clean a mattress topper without making matters worse? The method you opt for will depend on how much cleaning is required at the time.
Let’s dive in and examine each method.

Basic Cleaning

Depending on your needs and preferences, it’s generally recommended to give your mattress topper a basic cleaning every 1-2 weeks. The actual cleaning process is simple and straightforward, though you should probably start in the morning or early afternoon as the baking soda will need to sit for several hours.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Baking soda
  • A vacuum cleaner with a handheld attachment

And here’s what you’ll need to do:

1. Remove the bedding from your mattress topper and start laundering the bedding.
2. Remove the mattress topper from the bed. Place it on the floor or any other hard, flat surface.
3. Gently vacuum the mattress topper on one side. You should use soft circular motions.
4. Spread a thin layer of baking soda on the mattress topper. Let sit for 8 hours.
5. Vacuum up the baking soda.
6. Turn the mattress topper over and repeat steps 3-5.

By the way: You can also use baking soda for stain removal. Simply mix it with equal parts water, apply it to the stained area, blot out the stain, and use a dry cloth to remove any excess liquid…we’ll talk more about stain removal later!

Deep Cleaning

This is where the real fun begins. A deep clean requires a little more care and effort on your part, but doing this from time to time is the best way to keep your mattress topper fresh for longer.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A clean, dry towel or cloth (x2)
  • A gentle cleaner
  • Cool water
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • A spray bottle
  • Baking soda
  • A vacuum cleaner with a handheld attachment

And here’s what you’ll need to do:

1. Remove the bedding from your mattress topper and start laundering the bedding.
2. Remove the mattress topper from the bed. Place it on the floor or any other hard, flat surface.
3. Use a clean, dry towel to soak up any liquid or moisture that might be on the mattress topper. Make sure to blot—do not rub, as this can cause permanent stains or damage.


4. Mix equal parts cool water and distilled white vinegar inside of a spray bottle.
5. Spray the mixture onto the mattress topper and blot away any excess liquid with a clean, dry towel.
6. Spread a thick layer of baking soda onto the mattress topper. Let sit for 8 hours.
7. Vacuum up the baking soda.
8. Repeat steps 3-7 for the other side of the mattress topper if desired.
9. Let the mattress topper dry completely.

Remember that you can also repeat these steps if you find that your mattress topper still looks or smells unsightly after the first round.

Removing Stains

Maybe you’re a night sweater. Maybe after a long day, you like sipping red wine in bed (and we all know how well that works out). Or maybe you woke up this morning and found out, whoops, it’s that time of the month.

Stain removal can be finicky when it comes to any material, but it’s especially important to take proper care and precaution when cleaning your mattress topper of stains.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A clean, dry cloth (x2)
  • A gentle cleaning solution
  • Cold water
  • Baking soda
  • A vacuum with a handheld attachment

And here’s what you’ll need to do:

1. Blot the stain (or stains) using a clean, dry cloth.
2. Dip a different cloth into cold water and carefully blot the stain(s) some more.
3. Repeat step 2.
4. Put a layer of baking soda on the affected areas of the mattress topper; the baking soda will draw out any remaining moisture. Let sit for 8 hours.
5. Vacuum up the baking soda and let the mattress topper dry completely.

What You Should Know About Cleaners

Throughout this article, we’ve mentioned a couple of different “mild” cleaners: baking soda and distilled white vinegar. But there are a few other cleaners you could potentially use to either deep clean your mattress topper or remove stains from it. Here’s a quick breakdown of different cleaners and some notes regarding their use:

Cleaner Use
Baking soda
  • Removes stains
  • Neutralizes odors
Distilled white vinegar
  • Removes stains
  • Mix with equal parts water
  • Use circular motions to remove stain
Enzyme cleaner
  • Best for blood, sweat, or urine stains
Dish soap
  • Mix with water and use only the foamy part to spot clean
Hydrogen peroxide
  • Only for occasional use (with caution)
  • Mix with equal parts water to spot clean
Laundry detergent
  • Mix with equal parts water
  • Apply to stain with cloth and wipe off 30 min. later
  • Blot up excess moisture
Boric acid
  • Moisten stained area
  • Sprinkle on boric acid
  • Blot with a cloth (circular motion)
  • Dry with a towel
  • Vacuum up residual boric acid

Generally speaking, it’s best to go easy on any cleaner you opt to use. You can apply more natural cleaning agents (such as baking soda and vinegar) a bit more liberally than you would other, harsher cleaning agents. Also make sure that whatever cleaner you’re using is mild—anything too “harsh” could discolor or even destroy your mattress topper.
Further, it’s recommended to always start with natural cleaners; if those don’t work well enough, you can upgrade to one of the stronger cleaners.

What About Drying it?

Only put your mattress topper in the dryer if the instructions that came with it explicitly say you can do so. If you go this route, keep these two things in mind:

  • Tumble dry, low heat
  • Dryer balls can help it dry evenly

Most mattress toppers, however, will need to be air-dried:

  • Hang it outside
  • Direct sunlight is okay for a little bit (about half an hour)

Eight hours is a good benchmark waiting time, but you may need to let it dry longer if you find it’s still damp after this time. Not allowing your mattress topper to dry completely before putting it back on your bed can promote bacterial or fungal growth, thus reversing all the time and effort you put into cleaning it.

 

Conclusion

By now, you should have a better idea of how to clean your mattress topper for any situation. Whether it needs a quick freshening-up or an intense stain removal, you can rest assured the job will be in good hands—your hands!

One more thing: Always take care to follow manufacturer instructions for care. A good night’s sleep is priceless, and taking proper care of your mattress topper is the best way to keep it around a good long while.

If there’s something we didn’t cover here or if you still have questions, feel free to reach out in the comments. Or better yet, drop us any hints or tips you’ve learned through experience. Good luck, and long live your mattress topper!

Photo credit: Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock; Oleksii Bilyk/Shutterstock;
Ksenia Kirillovykh/Shutterstock; mdbildes/Shutterstock;
travelarium.ph/Shutterstock; J.H. Photography/Shutterstock