How to Sanitize a Mattress


Authored by Sylvia Cochran in Furniture
Published on 01-13-2010

Learning how to sanitize a mattress is a worthwhile undertaking if you are an avid second hand shopper or receive frequent hand-me-downs from friends and family members. The money you save is enormous, but the unknown quantity of germs and bacteria is also on the high side. Even with store-bought mattresses, it is a good idea to sanitize the whole thing once a month or at least after being ill with a cold or other ailment.

  1. Begin your mattress sanitizing by stripping it bare of any bedding and padding. If you rely on foam pads to add comfort and softness to your sleep, this is also a good time to sanitize them. Wash all the bedding and the mattress pad.
  2. Vacuum the surface of the mattress. Take your time and hook up the extension that will get you into all the little nooks and crannies where hair, shed skin cells and other undesirable bed fellows congregate. Once all the debris is removed, it is time to get ready for disinfecting the mattress.
  3. Grab a moist sponge and spray a disinfectant spray on it. Lysol, Windex and other antibacterial and disinfectant cleaners are good choices. It might be a good idea to test the mattress fabric in a corner, just in case the disinfectant is so strong that it takes some of the print right off. If it is safe to proceed, simply wipe the mattress with the moist sponge. Reapply disinfectant frequently. If this is a store-bought mattress, you probably don’t need to keep cleaning out the sponge; in the alternative, if this is a hand-me-down from an unknown source or even one where cleanliness is questionable, keep a small pail of water nearby for frequent sponge washing.
  4. Once one entire side of the mattress is clean, let it air-dry. In the meantime, clean and sanitize the sides of the mattress in much the same way as the top. When the top side of the mattress is dry, turn it over and repeat the cleaning.

Commons Mistakes to Avoid When Learning How to Sanitize a Mattress

Even as Lysol and similar products are powerful at odor and bacteria removal, they do not work completely. Do not pick up a stained or smelly mattress with the thought that a thorough once-over will remove the stain causing fluids. First and foremost, there is the danger of diseases from blood or other bodily fluids that seeped into the mattress fabric. Secondly, there is a good chance that decomposing bodily fluids are imbuing the mattress with a smell that goes deeper than just the surface layer, which your disinfectant and sanitizing effort will reach.

In these instances it is wiser to merely pass on the used mattress and spend a little extra on buying a new one. A second mistake that consumers frequently make is the assumption that sanitizing the exterior of the mattress also has an impact on the cleanliness of the mattress’ interior. This is not the case. While there is a good chance that the closest contact with undesirable pathogens is avoided, leftover traces may still reside just a few millimeters below the surface.


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