How To Disinfect a Mattress

Updated: Feb. 24, 2023

You and your mattress are pretty close, but when was the last time you disinfected it? A pro shows you how to reduce germs in your mattress.

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2 hours






Whether you have a traditional innerspring, memory foam or a popular mattress-in-a-box, all mattresses get dirty. They're repositories for dead skin cells, dirt, sweat and germs. If this is news to you, it's time to clean your mattress.

But what about disinfecting? Is that possible?

"It depends on how you define disinfection," says Allen Rathey, director of the Indoor Health Council. Technically, disinfection means to kill germs on hard, nonporous surfaces, and "mattresses are too porous and thick to effectively and completely 'disinfect' in place," Rathey says.

However, if you define it more informally — say, making something more hygienic — you can do that to a mattress.

One way is to spray it with an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered disinfectant. "Some of those products will reduce germs on soft surfaces, too," Rathey says, "though not necessarily at the same level as on hard surfaces." Rathey says with this method, it's important to follow label directions. The solution needs to stay in the fibers of the mattress long enough to kill germs.

If spraying your mattress with a harsh chemical isn't for you, Leanne Stapf, chief operating officer of The Cleaning Authority, walks us through a DIY cleaning and disinfection technique that physically removes dirt, skin flakes and other food sources that germs need to thrive.

Project step-by-step (7)

Step 1

Strip the bed

  • Remove all the linens from your bed.
  • Toss the sheets in the washer.
  • Run a load of laundry while you clean your mattress.

washing machineAlly Childress for Family Handyman

Step 2


  • Vacuum your mattress to remove surface dust and debris.
  • Pay attention to the edges and crevices, where dead skin and dust mites settle.

Vacuum MattressAlly Childress for Family Handyman

Step 3

Spot treat stains

  • Mix a solution of one teaspoon dish soap or enzyme cleaner and one cup water.
  • Apply a small amount to stain with clean towel. Use as little soap/water solution as possible.
  • Blot the stain with dry section of towel.

Mattress Stain Removal Soap Ally Childress For Fhm JveditAlly Childress for Family Handyman

Note: Enzyme cleaners like OxiClean work well on blood and other bodily fluids. Dilute as indicated on package; apply and blot as above.

Stain Removal Oxiclean After Ally Childress For Fhm JveditAlly Childress for Family Handyman

Step 4

Spray with vinegar

Mattress Spray W Vinegar 2 Ally Childress For Fhm JveditAlly Childress for Family Handyman

Step 5

Add baking soda

  • Sprinkle baking soda over the mattress.
  • Break up chunks of baking soda with your fingers.
  • Apply to crevices and seams, where dirt hides.

sprinkling baking soda on a mattressAlly Childress for Family Handyman

Step 6

Allow to sit

  • Drape a clean sheet or towels over the mattress.
  • Let the vinegar and baking soda work for a few hours.

Towel Over MattressAlly Childress for Family Handyman

Step 7


  • Remove sheet or towels.
  • Vacuum the mattress to remove baking soda.
  • Use the brush attachment for best results.
  • Empty the vacuum dirt canister into the trash.

vacuum baking soda off mattressAlly Childress for Family Handyman