How To Clean A Used Mattress (The Right Way!)

It doesn’t matter if you’re getting a used mattress from your mom or some guy down the block who both seem clean – a used mattress can be one of the most disgusting things you’ll run into. A mattress is the only thing where we spend hours on sweating, drooling, and doing other “adult related stuff”.

Let’s not forget the bugs like dust mites and even bed bugs that love hiding in them too!

Because of this I highly recommend the first thing you do is to get a Mattress Encasement. It’s the easiest thing to do, and it supplies a way to keep the bugs and other stuff on the mattress from getting to you even after you have cleaned it. Just keep in mind, no matter how well you clean the used mattress you’ll never get the years of soil out 100%.

How To Clean a Used Mattress Steps:

  1. Simply avoid getting a stained used mattress to begin with. If you can see visible stains then it’s not worth it nor is it worth what sickness you can get from it. You can never be too safe when it comes to this. Another good indication of a badly used mattress is if it smells.
  2. Vacuum the used mattress. If you’re going to vacuum the mattress make sure to clean the vacuum hose and its attachments that are going to touch the mattress. I recommend a Shop Vacuum, and I clean the attachments and hoses with rubbing alcohol because it dries quickly and kills germs. Make sure to be thorough when cleaning with the vacuum, clean all the sides of the mattress!
  3. Spot clean with Enzyme Cleaners. Enzyme cleaners can be a great way to clean all the stuff that comes out of your body like sweat and drool from the used mattress. I’m a fan of Pet Stain & Odor Miracle Enzyme Cleaner*.
  4. Fabric Cleaner. Use a general purpose fabric cleaner that is made to clean mattresses with. It’s essential to use these fabric cleaners as they avoid ruining the mattress and don’t over saturate it.
  5. Vacuum the mattress again. After cleaning, you may have dug up new dirt, and a good cleaning from the vacuum will be needed. Make sure to vacuum all areas of the mattress!
  6. Allow the mattress to dry all day or If you can place the used mattress in the sun all day. The sun can be a great way to clean and even air out the mattress. Avoid keeping it overnight or when raining as water can destroy a mattress.
  7. Cover the mattress with a mattress encasement. The mattress is never going to be 100% clean when you get them used, no matter how hard you scrub it’s hard to get years of sweat and other bodily fluids out. But a mattress encasement can stop more sweat and bugs from making things worse for you.
  8. Consider new? I know you may have gotten the used mattress because it was free or cheap but have you consider new? Sure, some new mattresses can be super expensive, but you don’t have to buy those. You can buy mattresses online that are more affordable then you might realize. Like for example check out the Zinus Memory Foam 12 Inch Green Tea Mattress. Mattress sellers online don’t have the overhead as retail stores have, they don’t have the pushy salesman or the storefront that has to pay for the things to run a retail store. The most significant perk of buying online is that you can see what other people say about the mattress reviews before you buy it and you don’t have to listen to the sales guy push the mattress of the month.

What To Avoid

There are some critical things to avoid when cleaning a mattress. Some of this stuff spreads through the internet like a virus and does not help or often makes matters worse. Let’s talk about them.

Avoid Spraying The Mattress Directly

Avoid spraying liquid cleaners directly on the mattress. It’s better to spray the cleaners on a rag first and then clean.

When cleaning a mattress, it can be tricky. The goal should be to avoid using any water if possible. Mattresses are giant sponges that will hold on to water so much that they can mold.

Avoid Baking Soda

Avoid using baking soda and sprinkling it on the mattress and vacuuming it up. Baking soda can be bad to suck up with a vacuum because the particles are so small.

Not only is baking soda bad for the vacuum cleaner but it also spews out white powder that is almost impossible to stop from coming out of the vacuum cleaner. Not a good trade-off.

Avoid Steam Cleaners

Avoid using a steam cleaner as it can do more harm than good. We have a post that goes deeper into why steam cleaning a mattress is bad.

Avoid Mixing Vinegar and Baking Soda

Avoid the 5th-grade science experiment of mixing baking soda and vinegar – it doesn’t work like you think it does!

When the two mix it looks like they’re doing a lot by bubbling up but what is really happening is that you’re making salty-water. Salty-water is not a great cleaner and water should be avoided as much as possible on a mattress to stop the growth of mold.

Here is a link to why baking soda and vinegar don’t clean well.

What About New?

In step 8 we talked about getting a new mattress instead. If you avoid the retail stores and buy online, you can often find more attractive price points on Mattresses. Plus, you avoid the “used car salesman” experience too.

For something you spend 1/3 of your life on it might be worth it to you to get a new one especially when you don’t know the history of it. You never know if the reason they got rid of there old mattress was that of bugs or something nasty like blood stains or adult like fluids?

Why risk it with used – just get a new one.

Don’t forget if you have allergens to something like dust mites it would be foolish to get a used mattress as there is a fair chance it’s covered in dust mites.

We Sleep on Hotel Beds?!

We sleep on hotel beds so what’s the big deal with used mattresses? We have a post that goes into great details and explains the difference here.


Why not contact professional cleaners? Many places will come to your home to clean your mattress for you. It can be worth it as the cleaners and techniques they use is stronger then the average person can do.

The Last and Best Tip

No matter if you go with the used mattress or get a new one – BUY AN MATTRESS ENCASEMENT!

You’re human, and you sweat, drool, and do other nasty stuff that you don’t realize on your mattress. If you want the mattress to last longer by avoiding the nasty stuff that you release from your body, then a mattress encasement is ideal.

Many of the modern mattress encasements feel like a standard bed sheet and helps out a lot.

The mattress encasement goes double for the ones that want to have a used mattress as it gives you the barrier from bugs and other nasty stuff.