In the depths of your bedding, below the sea of blankets and sheets—if you hit the mattress, you’ve gone too far—is your good friend the mattress topper. A topper is one or more extra layers of material designed to give you a comfier night’s sleep, extra support, and to act as a protective barrier for the mattress.
Mattress toppers are usually just bare sheets of material, so they are much more fragile that other pieces of bedding. If you tried to wash one with your standard washing machine setup, you will likely wear down the topper and cause fraying.
Keeping your mattress topper in tip-top condition is a matter of proper care and maintenance rather than regular washing.
However, for those situations where a wash is necessary, instead of risking a machine wash, we have a few general rules to help you keep your mattress topper fresh and undamaged.
How to Clean a Memory Foam Mattress Topper
Tossing your memory foam mattress topper into a washing machine is a sure way to damage or rip it, even if it is convenient. Instead, leave your bedsheets and pillow covers to the washing machine, and try these cleaning methods for your mattress topper. Use one or a combination of these steps for washing memory foam:
Remove your mattress topper from your bed and place is on a hard, flat surface. The floor will do just fine for this. Working on a hard surface will make it easier to vacuum into the corners. Use a soft brush head for your vacuum to avoid tearing a hole in the topper, especially if it has a fabric cover. If you have a handheld vacuum or a water-based vacuum cleaner, we recommend using those as they are particularly well-suited to this work.
Vacuuming in small circles, slowly go over the whole mattress topper, gently removing dust and grime. Be sure to flip the mattress topper over to clean both sides, and be thorough enough to clean every nook and cranny in the topper.
To keep your mattress topper in excellent condition, vacuum it regularly to prevent dirt and dust from building up. It is recommend you vacuum the topper once a week, or at least everytime you wash your sheets. Regular maintenance like this can extend the lifetime of your mattress topper.
Spot Clean Stains
If you notice a stain on your mattress topper, speedy spot cleaning is crucial to prevent it setting into the memory foam. These stains could be from just sweat and the oils in your skin, or they could be from accidental spillages. Whatever the source, act fast.
Select your favorite cleaning solution and check the label. Memory foam can react poorly to some cleaners so be sure to check the instructions before using anything on your mattress topper. Then, with a clean, light-colored cloth in hand (the dye in dark-colored cloths may bleed), gently rub your cleaning solution into the stain.
If diluted with water, an average liquid laundry detergent can be an effective way to clean your memory foam mattress topper.
Mix equal parts water and detergent, then use a cloth to rub it into the stain. Leave it to do its work for 30 minutes, then wipe off the detergent-solution with a damp cloth. Do a final rub-down of the stain with the damp cloth to clean any residue off the mattress topper. Then daub the area with a dry towel.
Be careful not to use low-quality laundry detergent or powder detergent. Either of these can eat away at the fabric cover on the mattress topper, or even discolor it.
To remove lingering odors from your mattress topper, try baking soda! Sprinkle the topper with baking soda so it is completely covered and leave it for a minimum of 8 hours, or overnight. You will come back to a clean-smelling mattress topper. Just vacuum off the baking soda, making sure not to leave any residue or particulate behind.
Baking soda can also act as a stain remover. Mix one part baking soda with two parts cold water and rub the solution onto the stain. Leave it for 30 minutes, then wipe off the stain with a damp cloth to remove the baking soda solution. Daub the area with a dry towel to finish.
Should you need a way to remove stains while keeping your mattress topper dry, trying sprinkling baking soda directly onto the stain and leaving it for 8 hours or up to overnight. Vacuum it up after, and the stain will have vanished!
Diluted White Vinegar
Another way to use household materials for cleaning is with white vinegar. Take care when trying this method, as it may spread the stain if done improperly.
Mix equal parts water and white vinegar, then use a soft cloth to apply the solution to the stain. Rub it in using small, circular motions, and work your way in toward the center of the stain to prevent the stain from spreading. Repeat this proccess until the stain is gone, then wipe off the area with a damp cloth to remove any vinegar residue. Daub the area with a dry towel, and you are done!
How to Clean a Latex Mattress Topper
When investing in a mattress topper, latex is an excellent choice of material.
It is durable, water-resistant, and will last for multiple years of regular use.
Spills can be easily wiped off the latex, and will not seep deeper into the topper and cause permanent stains. Cleaning is simple because water does not damage latex, though stronger cleaners might.
Some latex mattresses do not have a removable mattress topper, so here are some tips for both latex toppers and latex mattresses.
Spot cleaning is always a handy tool to have in your toolbox. A mix of baking soda with a tiny bit of vinegar creates a strong-yet-organic paste which can eat through stains without damaging the latex. Rub the paste onto the stained area and leave for at least 10 minutes (more serious stains might take up to 20 minutes). Then vacuum up the dried paste and wipe away any residue with a damp cloth. The stain will have disappeared entirely!
For dirt, dust, and debris, vacuuming is the way to go. Hand vacuums are a convenient size, but there are advantages of using a traditional vacuum cleaner too. A bigger vacuum means more sucking power, which provides not only a surface clean but it can dredge up anything deep in the layers of the mattress as well.
An important part of your maintenance routine for a mattress or mattress topper is rotation. For conventional mattresses, this helps even out lumps in the mattress, though latex mattresses do not have this problem. The biggest advantage of rotating your mattress and topper is that the dirt and sweat that sink in are instead spread around. Rather than getting pockets that need intensive cleaning, you get a larger area that needs a lighter clean. Consider rotating every time you wash your sheets, though rotating it even as infrequently as twice a year would not hurt either.
With other materials, “sunning” a mattress is a common way to air it out. However, for latex mattresses and mattress toppers, this can cause the latex to break down and fall apart. Rather than setting your mattress or topper in the sun to dry, leave it to dry in the shade or inside your house.
Be sure your mattress is completely dry before you put your mattress topper back on. Any lingering dampness can provide a breeding ground for mold and mildew, which can have a negative effect on your health.
How to Clean a Wool Mattress Topper
Like with washing wool clothing, wool mattress toppers need special care. Materials like cotton can go through a soap-and-water bath no problem, but doing the same with wool will cause it to shrink.
It will also ruin the wool’s ability to insulate heat. Wool is animal hair, and like human hairs have tiny scales on them. For wool fibers, these scales are slightly curled and loosely overlap with one another. This results in small air pockets, which provides insultation. If the wool is washed improperly, the scales flatten out and fit together more tightly, shrinking the air pockets and decreasing the wool’s ability to insulate heat.
Unless otherwise specified, wool mattress toppers should not be washed in water.
Chemical washing can be even more harmful, as products like Lysol and bleach can mix with chemicals in the wool and release noxious fumes. For this reason, dry cleaning is also not recommended for wool toppers.
Since cleaning wool can be tricky, it is important to clean spills on your mattress topper before they dry. Soak up as much of the spill as possible using dry cloths or paper towels. Next, dampen a cloth with cold water and press it onto the spill. Do not rub to clean, just press, otherwise you can damage the wool.
You can also mix a little bit of water with salt and baking soda to clean wool. Very gently spread the mix onto the stain and let it dry. Then carefully brush it off and leave the wool topper to completely air dry.
How to Clean a Feather Mattress Topper
The best way to clean a feather mattress topper is by getting it dry cleaned. Some cleaners even have specific methods for cleaning down, but at a premium cost. It may be a better investment to replace your topper, as it could cost as much for down cleaning as it would to buy a new one.
Lightweight feather mattress toppers can be machine washed with certain cleaning agents. Buy down soap and follow the provided instructions to avoid ruining the feathers. Look for a residue-free soap that will wash out completely. Wash in cold water. Be patient with your washing machine: more than one cycle is recommended for a feather topper. The same goes for your dryer, as most toppers take at least three cycles to dry all the way through. Dry at warm temperature.
Feather mattress toppers can be spot cleaned like any other topper. Be sure to shift the feathers themselves away from the spill so you can clean just the fabric. If the spill has seeped in and congealed around the feathers, or if the spill is stubborn, some dry cleaners offer laundering services for just this situation.
Be sure to completely dry out your feather topper if it gets wet to prevent mold from forming. Shake it out when drying to separate the feathers and let them dry. Afterward, feel for clumps of feathers, which can indicate if there are still damp spots. Also, smell the mattress topper for any odd odors, which is another indication of dampness.
How to Clean a Bamboo Mattress Topper
A rising star in bedding is bamboo microfiber products. They have natural antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, making them hypoallergenic. It also means bacteria, fungus, and other nastiness cannot grow in your topper.
Bamboo mattress toppers are tested to ensure the plants fibers do not cause you any harm from long term use. The manufacturers take care to remove plant allergens, irritants, and particulate which might harm exposed skin.
You can machine wash your bamboo mattress topper, just be careful what cleaners you use. Use only cold water in the wash. Add a non-chloride, non-alkaline liquid detergent without added bleach or whiteners to the water. Watch you do not put the detergent directly on the mattress topper: mix it into the water first, and then dunk the topper into the water.
If your mattress topper is discolored and you feel bleach is necessary, use oxygen-based bleach. Using the more common chloride bleach can cause the bamboo fibers to turn yellow and decay.
After washing, shake out the mattress topper and tumble dry on a low-heat or no-heat cycle. Go for as little heat as possible, as too much heat can cause the bamboo fibers to weaken or even burn.
How To Keep Your Mattress Topper Fresh
To get the most out of your mattress topper, stick to a regular schedule for maintaining it and dealing with any problems before they become permanent.
Perform Regular Checkups
A habit to develop is giving your mattress topper a quick inspection everytime you wash your sheets, or around once a week. Look for stains or discoloration, sniff for any odors, and feel for wear and tear. Be sharp about stains, and clean them up quickly before they set in.
Some toppers are reversible, and flipping them every checkup can more evenly distrbute wear between the two sides. If you have a topper made of fabric, such as a wool topper, flipping can extend its lifetime and help fluff it up for more comfort. Do not flip mattress toppers made of some type of foam, as they have a specific side to use.
Air Out Your Mattress Topper
To keep your mattress topper fresh, take it off your bed and give it time to air out. Lay it somewhere clean with good airflow. This process can help eliminate unpleasant odors. A couple of hours will be enough time.
Fabric and foam mattress toppers can even be left outside in the sunlight to air out for an extra-strong clean. Other materials should be aired out inside or in the shade, such as latex or bamboo toppers.
Stop Accidents Before They Happen
If you could plan for accidents, then they would not be accidents. Still, a stained mattress topper is much more difficult to clean than other types of bedding. When washing sheets, be careful not to leave your mattress topper uncovered on the mattress. There are a number of other items which can protect your topper from any number of accidents.
When to Replace Your Mattress Topper Instead of Cleaning
Damage: Wear and tear will inevitably happen. No amount of cleaning can fix holes, tears, or divots where the support material has worn down. When you notice any of these, it is time to look for a new topper.
Odor: If you still have lingering odors after several cleans, your mattress topper may have mold or mildew growing deep inside. You should replace your topper immediately in this situation, as mold and mildew can spread to your bedding and mattress, and can be unhealthy to sleep on top of.
Thinning: For thicker mattress toppers, with time the material may break down and start to thin. This is most common in foam or latex toppers. The thinning occurs simply from the pressure of being slept on, but once the topper is too thin to provide comfort or support, it is time to consider a replacement.
Dirtiness: No cleaning technique is 100% effective, and eventually dirt and grime can become set. If after cleaning your mattress topper the stains and odors have not been affected, they may be here to stay. Rather than paying for an expensive deep clean, it may be more worthwhile to simply replace the topper.