Editor’s Note: From time to time we entertain guest articles. Today’s guest article was written by Stacy Watts.
The average person spends up to one third of his or her life sleeping atop his or her mattress, so it is not too surprising that mattresses very quickly can become grimy and grubby. Apart from the regular cleaning of mattress, which should take place every three to four months, occasional staining can occur – small children and pets have accidents, nosebleeds happen and illness can strike anyone.
No matter the cause of the stain or dirt, it is possible to refresh your mattress so it feels and smells as good as a new one! If you are choosing a new mattress in the near future consider choosing one with special fabric coverings, such as those that use COOLMAX fabric. This unique fabric wicks moisture away from the sleeper, ensuring a more comfortable night’s sleep. This is invaluable for people who suffer from phenomena such as night sweats or ill people who perspire heavily when in the grip of a fever. There are also mattress covers to protect mattresses from soiling, which are very much easier to remove and clean by popping them into the washing machine – these are also available in specially treated fabrics like COOLMAX to keep the sleeper warm and comfortable.
Urine, blood or vomit should be cleaned up as quickly as possible, the longer it is allowed to sit on the mattress, the further it can penetrate, and the more likely it is to set in. Blot wet patches repeatedly until no more will come out. Patience is very important here as the more of the substance you manage to remove, the less likely it that the stain will remain afterwards.
For blood stains, after you have blotted up as much as you can, apply a hydrogen peroxide solution to the area. This can be applied with a cloth or sponge, or even sprayed on if you have a handy bottle to use. Apply the hydrogen peroxide lightly to the area – too generous an application will simply soak through and cause a new set of problems. Once the hydrogen peroxide touches the blood stain it should fizz and foam up instantly. Blot up the foamed-up blood as it appears and continues this process until the fizzing up action no longer occurs. Apply a final thin spritz of the solution to the stain and allow it to sit for five minutes. After the time is up, blot the area thoroughly one more time and then allow the mattress to dry completely. One important point to note about hydrogen peroxide is that it can have a bleaching effect on some fabrics. It is always best, with any cleaning solution, to make a tiny test patch in an unobtrusive area to be sure that the mattress can ‘take’ the solvent safely.
If your mattress is covered with tiny specks of blood and you have no idea how they got there, there is a strong possibility that the mattress is infested with bed-bugs. If that is the case the best solution is to get rid of that mattress as quickly and safely as possible and purchase a new one; bedbugs are persistent and exceedingly hard to get rid of; especially in a place where people spend a lot of time which precludes the use of powerful pesticides.
Urine and vomit stains should also be cleaned immediately and hydrogen peroxide can be used on these stains too. Dry Borax, or boric acid (not to be confused with Boraxo, an American soap product!) can be applied to the area of the stain and then blotted away. If the stain has already dried by the time cleaning takes place, lightly dampen the area with plain water before sprinkling on the dry powder.
If the stain has been cleaned satisfactorily but an unpleasant odour still lingers on the mattress, a very quick and easy solution is to sprinkle on simple baking powder or bicarbonate of soda. If the stain is damp, apply the powder to the affected area; otherwise sprinkle it over the whole mattress. Leave for at least half an hour, then vacuum the mattress to remove all the loose powder. This simple yet effective treatment can be used almost anywhere there is an unpleasant odour – a saucer full of baking powder next to a cat’s litter tray works wonders for example.
An ecologically friendly cleaner is white vinegar which can be applied to stains and worked in much the same way as hydrogen peroxide and borax. White vinegar also works to remove bad smells, but leaves its own vinegary odour on the mattress. This should dissipate and vanish within a few days though. A cheaper alternative is to make your own mixture from water and your regular detergent, to be applied as a paste to heavier stains or a light spray for lighter ones. There are also many other cleaning solutions which can be used to clean a mattress with good effect.
It should be a regular practise to clean mattresses thoroughly, once every three to four months. The first step is to get the mattress out in the open so that you have easy access to both sides, and where the mattress can be rested in such a position that air can circulate all around it afterwards, when it needs to be left to dry out.
First of all, vacuum the mattress on both sides to remove any loose dust and debris. Take a little time to be certain you have covered every inch of the mattress. If your vacuum cleaner comes with an upholstery attachment, that is the correct tool to use. After vacuuming, apply a light spritzing of cleaning fluid to the mattress: diluted hydrogen peroxide, a boric acid mixture, shop-bought formulation or home mixed detergent and water. Using a sponge or soft scrubbing brush, work your way over the mattress, paying particular attention to more heavily soiled areas and treating stains as mentioned above. Be very careful to use as little liquid as possible on the mattress, it will need to dry out thoroughly before it can be used again, and too much wetness can do more harm than good. Turn the mattress over and repeat the process. Once the mattress is completely clean leave it on edge, in a position where it is able to dry off easily, turning it around or over as needed to ensure that no wet or damp patches remain. If the mattress is not given enough time to dry out and air properly the moisture can cause mould, mildew and accelerated decay of the mattress, all of which have been linked to instances of respiratory diseases. Once the mattress is 100% dry – test it by pressing your full weight on various places to see if you can feel any wetness – vacuum it to remove any powdery residue left by the cleaning materials.
Another excellent tip is to change bed linen regularly; this gives you the opportunity to check on the mattress and quickly pick up and treat any problem areas. With a little hard work every now and then you are able to keep you mattress in excellent condition, serving you well for years to come.
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