Beneath the sheets: It's time to give the mattress a seasonal cleaning
Among the most-used of all your household items, the mattress is one that doesn't get cleaned nearly as often as it should. Many of us think just changing the sheets is enough. But it's not.
Your hard-working mattress needs a bit more care than that, and now is the time of year to do it.
Follow these tips at least twice a year to keep your mattress looking and smelling its best.
Pull off the mattress pad and take a look at what lies beneath. See a few stains? Are things smelling less-than-fresh? It could be perspiration that seeps through bedclothes into the mattress, or dead skin cells you shed at night, or even the remains of mites that burrow into mattresses.
Gross. Here's what to do.
To make your mattress smell sweet, sprinkle a solution of baking soda and essential oils on it. Simply pour some baking soda into a bowl and add a few drops of oil like chamomile, sandalwood, or lavender (all of which have soothing scents).
Spread the mixture on the mattress or evenly distribute with a flour sifter. Use a bristled cleaning brush to rub it into the mattress. Let it set for at least an hour.
Suck up the baking soda mixture by using the hand-held extension of your vacuum cleaner. This helps eliminate dust mites, which are too small to see, but can live in mattresses.
Mites can cause hay fever and asthma, and have been linked to other conditions, including allergies and migraine headaches. Vacuuming can also get rid of dead skin cells, pet hair, and other debris.
Most stains can be treated using one of these solutions:
Cover the stains with a 50-50 mixture of liquid dishwashing detergent water. Put the foam on the stain, and rub it in circular motions with a sponge.
Fill a spray bottle with distilled white vinegar; spray the stain. Let the vinegar set for approximately five minutes. Sprinkle baking soda on the spot, and leave it on until the fizzing stops. Soak it up with a towel, and vacuum the residue. If the stain remains, use a wet sponge and hydrogen peroxide to blot the stain in a circular motion.
For serious stains, you may need to rent a self-service steam carpet cleaner with an upholstery attachment. Spot-clean the mattress according to the manufacturer's instructions, taking care not to oversoak the mattress. Make sure you suck up as much moisture as possible, and then open the windows to help the drying process, or use a hair dryer on the spot.
Now that the mattress is clean and thoroughly dry, find a helper and get ready for some acrobatic manoeuvres.
Start by moving your bed away from the wall.
If you've got a two-sided standard mattress, give it a flip and rotate. This will extend the life of the mattress and prevent sagging.
You want to end up with the place where your head was resting to be under the spot where your feet will be. Do not flip a pillow-top mattress.
During the rearranging process, give the bed itself a good clean. Vacuum or sweep the floor underneath, and dust the headboard and footboard.
If the newly-flipped side of the mattress is looking or smelling nasty, simply repeat the cleaning steps above.
Now that the mattress is clean, you might want to give the pillows some seasonal TLC.
To care for the pillows you sleep on, read the care labels and follow the directions. In general, you can wash your pillows in warm water on a gentle cycle. Tumble dry with a few rubber dryer balls to keep the filling from clumping.
Foam pillows need to be hand-washed in a tub and air-dried.
Now, with a freshened-and-flipped mattress and some clean and fluffy pillows, you're ready for sweet dreams!