Considering we spend around a third of our lives laying on them, keeping your mattress clean just makes good sense. Here’s a simple guide to keeping it in tip top shape.
The average Aussie spends eight and a half hours per day sleeping, so it stands to reason that our beds collect more than their fair share of debris – from spilled coffee or toast crumbs to pet hair, general dirt and shed skin cells.
Unfortunately, those shed skin cells are the main source of food for a critter known as the dust mite, an allergy to which is very common and is associated with asthma, eczema and hayfever. CSIRO entomology researcher, Dr Matthew Colloff, puts the numbers of dead dust mites (only about 5 per cent are alive) in an average bed at between 100,000 and more than 1 million, depending on conditions.
These dust mites, their droppings and other debris combined make a regular cleaning routine for your mattress a great idea.
Here are a few simple steps to keeping your mattress fresh:
• Use a mattress protector to protect the surface of your mattress. Choose a washable cover that is easy to remove and replace on your mattress and make sure you wash it in hot water every week to keep it clean and healthy.
• Wash sheets and covers once a week using the hottest water indicated on the manufacturer’s label. A dash of vinegar will help keep them soft.
• Manufacturers recommend turning your mattress every two weeks in the first three months then, once every two months thereafter.
• Vacuum your mattress once a month using the upholstery attachment on your vacuum cleaner.
• Clean up spills or mishaps immediately - stains will set within 72 hours, so sooner is better when it comes to cleaning mattress mishaps. Mould can also create ill health, and will form quickly from spilled liquids, so ensure your mattress is thoroughly dried before making your bed again.
• Have your mattress professionally deep cleaned every six months to keep it fresh and extend the life of your mattress.
Dust mites aside, there are other common spills that may require a quick fix:
Blood – time is of the essence, so get working on that stain as soon as you see it. Shannon Lush recommends you get a cake of soap and dip it in cold water, shaking off any excess water. Scribble on stain with the soap, and rub in with an old toothbrush. Sprinkle with talcum powder, leaving it until the talcum powder goes fluffy and then brush it off. Hydrogen peroxide also works a treat – dribble a little on the stain, which will start to bubble, and dab gently until all the blood is removed.
Urine – While you can use bicarbonate soda to draw the urine up and then vacuum it away a few hours later (be careful to soak up as much of the urine first with a towel or paper), the ideal solution is to strip the bed as quickly as possible, use paper towels or cloth to soak up as much as you can, and then use an enzyme product like UrineFree on the area – be aware using cleaners, chemicals or deodorisers can coat the uric acid crystals (the source of the odours) and make it difficult for these products to do their job.
Liquids (tea, coffee, water…the list is endless!) – Hydrogen peroxide is your friend when it comes to cleaning stains on mattresses. Start by blotting up as much of the source as possible with a towel. Spray or lightly drip the liquid over the stain, then dab gently as the stain starts to lift.
Last but not least, always ensure your mattress is properly dried after a clean, as liquid will develop into mould over time, which is very bad for your health!