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Your home should be a safe and happy place. We are sure you put in a lot of effort to clean the floor, walls and the furniture. Dusting, wiping and vacuuming take up a lot of time, especially in the spring and summer, when the air is drier, and dust gathers almost everywhere. After cleaning your home should feel fresh, but do your children still have the sniffles? Do you always sneeze at least a couple of times after you wake up? These are signs of a mattress that has gathered enough dust over the last few months (or years). When was the last time you gave your bed a good spring cleaning?
We spend over a third of our lives sleeping. That means, out of the 78 years (average life expectancy of Americans) you spend about 26 years in bed snoozing. It is possibly more than the time you spend at your workstation, inside your car, or with your kids. Your bed commands more attention than you give it right now. At this moment, your mattress might be crying for a quick cleanup, and you might not even know it. Not paying enough attention to mattress cleaning can translate to a more tiresome day, severe allergic reactions, breathing difficulties, muscle fatigue, and low productivity during the daytime.
You can think of bed as the focal point of your bedroom. The mattress decides the environment of your room. Neglecting the health of your mattress is like ignoring the health of your family. Over the years, it can become the repose of dirt, stains, dust mites and mold. It can impact the quality and quantity of your sleep, and it will determine the air quality of your room. It affects the rate of respiration while you rest. Aside from the foreign particles, your mattress can collect skin cells, hair, sweat and microscopic insects that escape the naked eye. These “pollutants” can go deep inside the foam and latex layers. They pass through the linen easily and resist all forms of superficial dusting.
Aside from compromising the integrity of your mattress, you are also exposing yourself to a significant level of allergens. They can disrupt the natural restorative mechanism during sleep, cause insomnia, sabotage your immunity, cause inexplicable skin reactions and even dampen your libido for good. Additionally, a mattress hardly lasts longer than 6-7 years without proper cleaning and maintenance. However, upon regular cleaning, you can extend its longevity to over ten years at an average. Little extra work can save you more than $800 this year!
If you were still dilly-dallying about that spring clean session, now it is time for you to give it serious thought. Cleaning your bed inside-out can take some time, but is neglecting the task worth it?
How to Clean a Mattress vs. When to Clean a Mattress
We have all asked “How to clean a mattress,” but “when to clean it” is the real question we should be asking right now. Should cleaning depend on the season? Should you consider the weather while cleaning your mattress? Are there specific signs that indicate a pending wipe-down? These are a few valid questions that can come to your mind.
- For any new mattress, the first dust-flip-rotate routine should begin within a month of first use. It should continue within an interval of one month up to one month. This process is the seasoning of a mattress, and you need to follow this for at least one year.
- For an old mattress, flipping and rotating it every six months is essential for getting the dust off and distributing the wear evenly. Flipping is usually impossible in case of single-sided springs, but you can always rotate it every six months.
- It is an excellent idea to dust and wipe the mattress while you are flipping and rotating it every six months. It is always better to air your mattress and expose it to sunlight about every eight weeks, but the busy city life often makes that impossible.
There is indeed a preference of seasons for mattress cleaning. Spring and autumn months are great for it. These seasons usually see a lot of dust and pollen in the air. It is possible for a mattress to gather allergens through these seasons. During the winter months, mattresses usually gather more skin and hair. Therefore, it is wiser to dust, air and sun-dry your bedding at least twice a year during the fall and the spring months.
How to Maintain a Mattress in Good Health?
Maintaining a mattress means investing towards the better health of your family. There are a few regular steps you can take to save the cost of professional cleaning or a new mattress every couple of months. A few easy steps can help you achieve better health and preserve your home air quality.
- Wash and change your sheets at least once a week. If you go to bed without showering, you can be sure that your sheets gather your day’s dust and grime. Sometimes, changing the sheets and pillow covers twice a week is the better idea. Do not forget to use hot water to make sure all the grease and stubborn dirt wash off thoroughly.
- One way to protect yourself from unpleasant allergic reactions is by covering the mattress with a mattress cover. The constant buildup of dust and dust mites can trigger severe allergic symptoms that can range from hives to breathing difficulties in sensitive individuals. Choose a cotton mattress cover to delay the accumulation of allergens.
- Try to stay away from cleaning solutions. Professional mattress cleaning solutions in the market can work better than home-made solutions, but they can be equally challenging for the health of a mattress. It is difficult to dry bedding indoors, and soggy inner layers will become a haven for mildew and mold. Keep your mattress as dry as possible at all times.
- In place of spraying it with cleaning solutions, you can strip it and vacuum it. Take off the top sheet, throw it in the drier and strip the cotton mattress-protector. Vacuum the protector and the mattress separately. A good vacuum usually comes with attachments for cleaning bedding. A powerful vacuum will suck out the collected moisture and dry particulates from deep within the layers and relieve your allergies.
- In the event of an unfortunate spill, always blot the stain first. Wine stains, juice stains, and blood stains are the most difficult to get rid off with DIY solutions. If you manage to spill something that stains heavily, you might want to talk to professional services for a cleanup. In case, you do not want to refer to professional services, try sprinkling some baking soda over the spot, vacuum the excess and repeat the process in case the stain does not budge.
Your mattress can last longer than the manufacturer guarantees, provided you treat it right. Be gentle, but prompt in your cleaning attempts to extend its longevity.
How to Get Rid of all Unwanted Smells, Stains, and Dust From your Bed?
Cleaning a mattress is a necessary task if you live in a hot and humid climate. Even the residents of cooler cities and suburbs need to opt for a thorough cleanup every six months. This process might take some time as bedding usually has multiple components, and each one requires different treatment.
Separate the mattress and the covers. Begin by stripping your mattress cover and separating the pillows. Pillows harbor a lot of dirt and grime, especially if you have long hair. You can see marks of hair products and sweat stains in case you have lightly colored covers. Wash the linen in hot water and dry in the highest heat setting (check manufacturer’s label for best cleaning practice). Expose your pillows to sunlight and flip them at least once a week.
Ready your vacuum cleaner. Do you have an upholstery attachment for your vacuum cleaner? Then use it for cleaning the mattress. Always start from the top and work in straight overlapping lines. Pay extra attention to the creases and stitches since these places are the nexus of dust mite activity.
Clean and vacuum every nook and cranny. Do not neglect the sides. Use the same overlapping motion to clean the edges of your bedding. The edges rub against our calves and thighs constantly, when we are sitting on the bed. It leads to the accumulation of significant amounts of dead cells, sweat, and grime. It is a crime not to clean the sides of a mattress while cleaning the rest of it.
Get rid of the faint smells. We are unlikely to notice our body odor, but on a mattress, it can be overwhelming. Sweat, skin cells, and body grime can collect on a bed for weeks, months and even years without a proper crackdown. Baking soda is the most active enemy of body odor. Always scrub the top of your bedding with baking soda and let it stay for good 5 minutes. Next, bring out your vacuum again. Follow the same straight overlapping motions to suck out all moisture and odor. In most cases, getting rid of the humidity can get rid of the scents as well.
Cleaning out visible stains. Treating the stains is just as important as treating the smell. Stains remain because there are small portions of the spill present on the mattress. Not getting rid of the stains entirely can leave unpleasant odors behind in most cases.
Mattress stains are usually of 3 types, urine, blood and “other bodily fluids.” You may have already noticed these stains on your kids’ bed, but there is no need to be alarmed. Kids are more active during the daytime than at night. Hence they are more likely to sweat and get minor scrapes. These scrapes can bleed during the night when their delicate skin brushes against the linen.
However, numerous small blood stains on the linen and the mattress can be a sign of bedbugs. If you see such blood stains on your kids’ bed, always check their skin for bite marks. Cleaning out bedbugs is an entirely different ordeal, and you will require a diverse arsenal for that process.
- Cleaning out blood from the bedding. You can combat blood stains with a paste of one-fourth cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide, one tablespoon of liquid dish soap and some table salt. This mixture reacts with old clotted blood and removes the marks pronto. Spread this mix on the stain generously and let it sit for about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on its intensity. Always wear gloves and only use a white rag to transfer the mix. Dab with a white cloth and rotate the rag as the peroxide removes the stain.
- Removing urine stains. Getting rid of urine stains is not tricky, but you should always wait until the stain dries. Having small kids in the house can be a blessing, but your mattress has to bear the brunt during their toilet training period. Forego the industrial grade cleaners and use this two-step DIY method to breathe new life into your bed.
- Mix 3 tablespoons of baking soda and 8 oz. of hydrogen peroxide. Add two to three small drops of liquid soap and lightly dab the solution onto your mattress. Remember not to soak the region with the answer.
- If the stain is particularly recalcitrant, consider using three tablespoons of laundry detergent powder and one tablespoon water to make a dry foam. Avoid any detergent with bleaching in it. Spread this on the stain lightly and wait for it to act (30 minutes). Use a spoon to scrape the dried paste away and use a cloth soaked in hydrogen peroxide to remove the last bits of the paste.
- End each step with vacuuming, since leaving your bed wet makes it a happy home to mold and mildew.
- Other bodily fluids. Bodily fluids have the nasty quality of being odorous. The first step to fight them is by airing the room and the mattress thoroughly. Blot the stain with undiluted ammonia (the kind you get at Home Depot). Next, dry the spot by blotting with a white rag and sprinkle some baking soda to get rid of the pungent ammonia smell. That will also dry out the remnant moisture. Follow this will dry vacuuming. That will obliterate the stain and the odor.
To prevent further assaults to your precious sleeping zone, you should try using mattress covers. Go for the waterproof, fabric-bonded kind that can prevent seepage of liquid. It will also prevent dirt and dead skin cells from reaching the inner layers of the mattress.
Can you Tackle your Recurring Allergies with Efficient Bedding Cleaning Processes?
Do you wake up with a blocked sinus or a runny nose frequently? The problem might not be the flu or a cold, but dust mites in your bed. The prevalence of breathing difficulties including allergic asthma has increased since 1980.
There is a link between the 90% of the cases of allergic asthma to dust mites. Allergic rhinitis may not be as acute as allergic asthma, but it can precede breathing troubles in children and the adults. The cause of your health problems might be lurking inside your home. That implores proper cleaning of the bed linen, mattress covers, and the mattress on a regular basis.
There is no research to suggest the special detergents or fabric softeners can interrupt the effect of allergens on your immune system, but it is a fact that regular dusting and period vacuuming can keep your allergy symptoms away. Here are a few ways you can combat your dust mite allergies on a regular basis for better sleep.
- Pillow sanitization. You have no reason to believe that your pillows are utterly innocent while you bed provides asylum to the nasty dust mites. The dead cells from our scalp, oil from our hair, and bodily fluids make our pillows the haven for allergens. To save a fortune, you can try to sanitize them at home. Toss your pillows for 15 minutes and spin them at 130 degrees. Invest in hypo-allergenic covers for your pillows to retard the buildup of allergens.
- Clean your mattress. Okay! We have said this enough time to bore you, but we will say it once more nonetheless, you need to vacuum your mattress to remove dust and mite buildup. Use small strokes to remove all traces of dust. To keep your breathing zone free from dust, buy a pair of hypoallergenic bed covers and bedsheets. These covers will also prevent the shedding of skin, oils, and sweat from reaching the mattress. It will make the mites starve, and it will keep the bed clean for a longer time.
- Wash, wash and wash. To keep the dust mites from coming back with all might, you need to clean your bed linen and dry-wash your pillows. Try to use hot water for washing your bed cover, bed sheet, and quilts. The hot water deters the mites from growing in number and keeps your bedding smelling fresh all the time.
How to Get rid of Stubborn Smells From the Bedding?
There are times when a mattress does not appear dirty to the naked eye, but it emanates unpleasant smells. That usually happens during mucky summers and wet monsoons. Mattresses have the irritating habit of soaking up everything that land on top. From spilled wine or juice to hair products. These products reach the deeper layers, and the heat from the air starts fermenting them.
The presence of mites and microbes does not help the case either. We have seen clean mattresses smell like a garbage dump in the rainy days. The weird combination of organic matter including bodily fluids along with microorganisms contributes to the foul odor. Smokers face this problem more frequently since the fabric surface effectively absorbs the smell. Room fresheners and apparel fresheners rarely help in such situations since these sprays only reach the upper layers and they fail to remove the cause of the unpleasant odor.
- Vacuuming will help you suction the small organic particles from the deeper layers and the crevices of the stitches.
- You can try using store-bought deodorizing products including common ones like Febreze to remove the smell.
- In case the smell is quite stubborn, try using any de-scenter on your pillow and mattress. It is the same kind hunters use so their target cannot spot their body odor. It works better than other deodorizers.
- In case, you are using solid or powdered carpet deodorizers, be sure to vacuum it after 24 hours.
Do not sleep when the deodorizer is fresh on the mattress. Getting rid of cigarette smoke is the most difficult. However, extensive data collection and comparison tests show that a combination of de-scenters and carpet deodorizer works fine when you apply them in succession of each other within 48 hours.
How to Keep your bed From Turning Into a Home for Bedbugs?
Ask any homeowner, what is a terrifying real-life nightmare, and almost everyone should tell you “bed bugs.” There is nothing more horrifying than waking up in the morning to an itchy back and little red bumps all over the body. These critters are such a pestilence because they are tiny, they spread faster than you can call your terminators, and they are unwanted guests, who never want to leave.
You should know that your bedbug situation is crying for professional help when you wake up to red spots on the mattress and the linen. People have lost some of their favorite sheets and dresses due to these pests. They are nasty, bothersome and they come with us everywhere! You will find the occasional itch during an important conference, during your speed at the seminar and while pushing your stroller at the grocery store.
Here are some things that you can do to prevent bedbugs.
- Wash and sanitize everything. Since burning everything down is not an option, you need to take the saner step. It is vital that you understand these critters don’t just infest your bed. They are capable of spreading like viruses, and they will infest every bit of fabric inside your home. If you have come in contact with your office chair, and drapes, they probably have bedbugs too. The best way to combat them is by making piles of all infected clothes and putting them in the washer. Turn the water to the hottest possible setting to zap them instantly. However, washing woolens and soft toys in hot water can be harmful to their texture, so consult an expert before cleaning them.
- Put the rest in double-layered garbage bags. These pests can be everywhere. From mobile phones, laptops to books, and TV remotes. Bag everything you have come into contact with during the infestation problem and put pest-strips inside these bags to kill off the insects completely.
- De-bug your mattress. Cleaning your bedding like your clothes or drapes is impossible. You need to take a more labor-intensive step for this process. You can opt for a professional cleaning service, but they usually cost a bomb. You can save tons by combing the mattress for bedbugs. Use a flashlight, look in every corner and vacuum them. Do not use bristles or other attachments for the vacuum. Bugs are clingy, and they will stick to these attachments.
- Take care of your furniture. Bedbugs go everywhere and infest everything. You have no reason to believe that your furniture is safe from their wrath. Your dresser, cabinet, wardrobe, and even study table could be under threat right now. Look for the bugs and their eggs inside the drawers and at the corners of the cabinets. Scrape with a hard-vacuum cleaner attachment to clean them out.
- Clean all the surfaces. Cleaning every surface inside is very necessary for complete removal of the insects and their eggs. Wiping down the surface with disinfectants including the baseboards, floors, walls and the cracks in the walls is imperative for ridding your home of these bugs.
To prevent another outbreak in the recent future, you should try to invest in a mattress encasement. These covers keep the bed bugs from reaching the surface and feeding. They eventually starve and die. These remaining bugs will usually die within the next year, and you should vacuum your bed again by removing the encasement after a year. In the meantime, use hypoallergenic linens and mattress toppers to sleep comfortably without adverse reactions from dust buildup.
Is There a Time you Should stop Cleaning and Buy a New Mattress?
Many of us do not understand when it is time to give up and buy a new mattress. We have seen mattresses with mold, tears, visible stains and foul odors. Although the owners keep cleaning them periodically, the problems never seem to go away. Buying a new mattress is a considerable financial burden, but nothing should sound like an unwarranted expense when your health is in question.
Here are a few situations you should never ignore.
- Mold. When you leave drink spills and food particles on your mattress for long, it facilitates the growth of mold. Molding is a health hazard, and it is almost impossible to stop fungal growth inside mattresses once they start. It is best to buy a new bed and take good care of it.
- Wear and tear. Some people believe that the costliest memory foam mattresses will last them a lifetime. That is a false belief, and you need to reconsider replacing your old bedding once it crosses 6 to 8 years. Depending on the material and build of it, the longevity will vary, but at an average, you should never use a mattress for more than ten years. It can cause health problems including muscle fatigue, joint pain and lower back pain, irrespective of your age.
How to Tackle the “New Mattress Smell”?
A new mattress usually has a strong odor. Off-gassing causes volatile organic compounds from inside the bed to come out and disperse in the air. Although this is a temporary stage, people often want to accelerate it since they do not have a standby.
The most obvious sources of off-gassing include adhesives. The VOCs are formaldehyde, methylene chloride, naphthalene, benzene, perfluorocarbons, toluene, and trichloroethylane. Low-level emissions of these compounds are okay to breathe, but fervent discharge inside a closed room can cause breathing trouble, suffocation, and headaches.
Since most mattress companies work with recognized research organizations and regulatory units for the control of VOC emissions, purchasing from a reputable company and dealer is always the safe option, especially if you have children in the house.
Here are a few ways to get rid of the artificial smell.
- Open the mattress packaging and let the air out. Do it in an area of your house where there is enough cross-ventilation.
- You can choose to air the mattress outside on the patio or your balcony, as long as there is not too much dust and vehicle exhaust in the air.
- Cooler areas away from direct sunlight, but directly on the path of cross breeze is perfect for airing out the mattress.
It might take you between two days to two weeks to get rid of the smell entirely. However, off-gassing is a natural process for all mattresses, irrespective of their size and budget.
A mattress will determine more than the quality of your rest. That will dictate your mood, physical performance and mental state throughout the day. Therefore, you need to pay slightly more attention to your mattress than you already do. Invest time in proper vacuuming, deodorizing, sanitizing and stain removal. Take protective measures like putting a mattress protector and an enclosure to keep the dust mites and bed bugs at bay. No matter how expensive or how old your mattress is, implementing a few steps of regular cleaning and dusting will help you achieve good health.
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Co-founder of Counting Sheep and Sleepaholic