How To Steam Clean A Mattress: Step-by-Step Guide

Gladys K. Connelly
As a HouseKeeping Technical Writer, Gladys actively enjoys writing guides and tips about housekeeping for Thehousewire's audience. She's a professional housekeeping specialist with just shy of 9 years' experience to boast. That, combined with seven years prior experience in teaching, helps her create content that is both captivating and insightful.
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Updated May 21, 2023

Give your mattress a deep clean

Give your mattress a deep clean

How To Steam Clean a Mattress
On average, we spend 8 hours a day on our mattresses. It’s one of the household items that we have the most skin-to-skin contact with.

A regularly washing of bedding and the mattress protector at high temperatures can be of help – but this doesn’t seem enough to keep your mattress sanitized. Even though you protected it, a mattress can accumulate sweat, saliva, dead skin cells, bacteria, dust mites, and, in the worst scenario, bed bugs (1).

A steam cleaning machine is a powerful machine for cleaning, which will give a really clean mattress. It gets rid of marks and stains that normal cleaning products won’t shift.

Through a combination of moisture and intense heat (210 to 220oF) and without the help of harsh chemicals, steam will loosen dirt. Since skin cells, bed bugs, dust mites, and other particles that cause allergies are killed at temperatures above 180oF, a steam cleaner provides protection from allergens.

Bear in mind that heat cooks protein-based stains, so avoid using steam on food, blood, or urine stains.

How Often To Steam Clean a Mattress

Since we spend a lot of time on our mattress, we recommend that you steam clean it at least twice a year.

The deep cleaning process will air out your mattress foam. This allows the particles of your mattress material a chance to “breathe”.

Plus, a deep clean will also extend the lifespan of your mattress so you won’t need to replace it as often.

What You’ll Need




01 Strip the Mattress

Clear your entire bed and remove the bedding. This can be washed in your washing machine at a high temperature to kill bed bugs and dust mites.

02 Vacuum the Mattress

Vacuum your mattress surface with the upholstery attachment or turbo nozzle. Use short strokes to work slowly across the entire mattress in order to loosen and clean away as much dirt and dust as possible.

03 Remove Unpleasant Odors

Sprinkling baking soda or washing soda on your mattress will help to absorb odors such as sweat. Let baking soda sit for at least a few hours, or overnight would be better, before vacuuming it up which will get rid of the smell.

If you still have an unpleasant odor, white vinegar can help. Spray some onto the relevant area and dab with a dry soft cloth to dry it.

But be careful not to use too much vinegar when cleaning your mattress. Otherwise, you might be left with a pungent vinegar smell when you next go to sleep!

04 Spot Treat Stains

Before starting the steam clean, spot clean stains that are protein-based before any heat is applied. If this type of stain is heated, the stain will be set and it will smell.

A “set” stain means that it’s chemically bonded to the mattress surface. So you won’t be able to remove it without damage to the material itself – the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve!

Urine, feces, blood, vomit, coffee, wine, etc. are all protein-based stains. If you’re not sure where your stains have come from, spot treat all of them.

Use a sponge and stain remover to clean the spill. Use a remover that is designed for that type of stain – check to see whether it’s suitable or not.

Alternatively, make your own cleaning solution. A ¼ teaspoon of liquid dishwashing soap or laundry detergent mixed with a small amount of tepid water works wonders.

Put a small amount of the remover or solution on a dry cloth. Work across the stain carefully from the edges toward the center.

Don’t scrub the stain! Blot gently – you may have to do this several times to clean away the spill.

Once the stain is removed, blot the spot with clean water. This should remove any residual stain remover.

05 Prepare the Steam Cleaner

Attach the steam cleaning tool. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to install it on your unit.

Lift the water tank up and away from the steamer. Unscrew the cap from the bottom of the tank and remove the insert.

Use tap water to fill the tank, being careful not to overfill it. An indicator bar inside the water tank should show you what the water level should be.

Room temperature water gives the best results. Then replace the tank back onto the cleaner and tighten the cap.

Plug the unit into a proper power outlet. Several steam cleaners will have a light that will come on when they’re ready to use.

06 Sanitize the Mattress

Squeeze the trigger (or on some models press a button) to operate the steaming function. To start with, clean a small area and wait for about 15 minutes to check how it’s working.

See whether the spot you’ve cleaned has responded well. If it has, you know you can carry on with the steam cleaning.

Use a push and pull technique to work the steamer across your mattress.

To get your whole mattress clean, you need to move slowly and purposefully. You shouldn’t pass any section too quickly as the steam needs time to get really hot.

Only then will you get a really deep clean and proper sanitization. The mattress surface needs to reach a temperature of around 160 to 180oF to kill any dust mites and bedbugs present, as they can survive lower temperatures than this.

But if the surface gets hotter than this, you might damage the material of your mattress. Use a thermometer to make sure you’ve reached the optimum temperature after the steam tool has passed over it.

If the temperature is too low, move the steam attachment slower. But if it’s too high, you can start to move the wand faster over your mattress.

You shouldn’t have a really moist mattress. If there is excess moisture, decrease the amount of steam being produced – there’s normally a button or dial that allows you to do this.

07 Leave to Dry and Ventilate the Room

Although your mattress won’t be saturated with water, it’ll still be a bit damp to the touch after steam cleaning.

You should ventilate your room by opening the windows and doors. Don’t let anyone lie down on the mattress for at least three hours until it’s completely dry.

08 Vacuum Again

There may be some debris or residue left from your steam cleaning. You should vacuum again at this point to clear this away.

Tips To Keep Your Mattress in Top Shape

  • Don’t steam clean a memory foam mattress. The heat and moisture created when steam cleaning might damage the memory foam layers and the mattress’ construction.
  • Always check with the manufacturer first before steam cleaning a mattress. Some manufacturers can void the warranty if you steam clean the mattress.
  • Use a mattress protector. It will protect the mattress from stains but also bed bugs. Opt for a natural rather than plastic as they’re not breathable and can damage your mattress.
  • If you notice an unpleasant odor, leave the mattress uncovered for a few hours.

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