The Best Way To Steam Clean Your Smelly Mattress So It's As Good As New

We may receive a commission on purchases made from links.

We've all been there — a few restless nights in a row, tossing and turning your way through dreams only to wake up stuck in the unwelcome aroma. We're talking about smelly mattresses. You may not realize this, but your nice, comfortable bed could host an array of unwanted elements, including sweat, bacteria, allergens, body oils, and mold, that collectively make it an oasis of wretched odors. And that's where steam cleaning makes its entry. With just a few items including a steam cleaner, vinegar, baking soda, and a vacuum cleaner, you can get your mattress smelling as good as new.

Steam reaches a high temperature of about 212 degrees Fahrenheit, a level lethal to most bacteria, dust mites, and bed bugs that are often the culprits behind those unpleasant odors. The high-pressure vapor — far less than you'd imagine — penetrates the textures of the mattress, breaking down and lifting stubborn sweat and dirt. That way, this non-abrasive yet effective mattress-cleaning method leaves you with a clean, fresh-smelling place to dive into after a long day. And because it doesn't use harsh chemicals, you can bet it's safe for your family and the environment.

If you don't own a steam cleaner, consider it an investment for future cleaning endeavors beyond mattresses. PurSteam Handheld Portable Steam Cleaner, selling for $49 and boasting a 4.1/5 score from 2,380+ ratings on Amazon is an excellent recommendation. However, steam cleaning isn't suitable for all mattresses — some varieties are more vulnerable to heat damage than others.

How to clean a smelly mattress using steam

With a steam cleaner, suitable cleanser, white vinegar, baking soda, vacuum cleaner, and a clean cloth, you're all set to transform your smelly mattress from grimy to grand. Begin by removing all linens, pillows, and mattress toppers, then position the well-stripped mattress in a well-ventilated area. No operation is successful without a thorough sweep. So, usher in the vacuum cleaner's upholstery attachment, tracing carefully over the entire mattress to banish dust and debris. 

A stain remover like the Earthworm Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner on Amazon or a diluted white vinegar will suffice for mattress stains. Confront the tough stalwarts (read: stains) and annihilate them through gentle blotting with the cloth. Next, unleash the power of baking soda as a deodorizing agent. Douse the entire surface with a generous layer and let it absorb those lingering malodours for an hour. Afterward, vacuum every speck of baking soda, baring the surface for the grand finale: steam cleaning. 

With the stage set, launch the ultimate weapon: a water-filled steam cleaner with steam temperatures rising above 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Glide the nozzle steadily, ensuring every part is blanketed evenly. Then, let your mattress bask in a well-ventilated space (ideally under the sun's watchful gaze), but don't hesitate to post another cleaning campaign with your steam cleaner if any smell decides to linger. Once the mattress is dry, welcome a new era of freshness and stage the mattress topper, linens, and pillows in their original splendor. 

Extra considerations for steam-cleaning a smelly mattress

You need not invest in a traditional household steam cleaner; a garment steamer or an iron with a steaming feature fits the purpose perfectly. If grappling with deep-rooted smells, let the baking soda sit longer during deodorization, even up to 24 hours. You could go beyond simple deodorization by infusing a few drops of essential oil like lavender, peppermint, or eucalyptus into your baking soda. Steam cleaners, although effective, can wreak havoc on some mattress types, such as memory foam and latex mattresses. Moreover, overstepping the stipulated care instructions could void your mattress warranty.

Drying your mattress deserves its spotlight. Overlooking it paves the way for prolonged dampness, which could invite bacteria, mildew, and mold. You could supplement ventilation with circulating fans, open windows, or an overhead fan. Ideally, slot your cleaning activity for a day when you can spare your bed for at least five hours post-cleaning. And if the timing doesn't work in your favor? Sleep elsewhere until your mattress is ready. But should the battle start to feel like a losing game, consider professional mattress cleaning.

Meanwhile, to prevent smell buildup on your mattress, vacuum regularly to remove dust and debris known to sponsor unwanted odors. On top of this, flipping your mattress, washing your sheets regularly, and letting in daylight and air can starve off the accumulation of those sneaky odor-causing elements. A mattress topper suffices in the mix as a barrier against moisture, body oils, and dirt.