How to Clean a Pillow Top Mattress – The Easiest Tips and Tricks

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Pillow top mattresses feel luxurious and comfortable thanks to their soft top layers. But these beds are also more susceptible to stains because their soft top layers are more absorbent. You also can’t flip a pillow top over like a traditional innerspring or even some memory foam mattresses, which means it is important to clean it.

We recommend investing in a mattress cover and throwing that in the washing machine instead. But, some pillow tops are too tall for traditional mattress protectors and covers, and there’s no point in adding a mattress topper to an already cushy pillow top. So, it’s important to learn how to clean your mattress!

Read on below for mattress cleaning tips and tricks.

Supplies You’ll Need to Clean your Mattress

Depending on what types of stains you’re dealing with, you may need a few different cleaning products. Take a look at the lists below for more info.

For a normal deep-clean you’ll need:

  • A vacuum
  • Baking soda or a steam cleaner

To remove sweat or urine stains you’ll need:

  • Clean towels or rags
  • Water
  • A bucket or large bowl
  • A spray bottle
  • Liquid dish soap (you can also use upholstery shampoo or laundry detergent)
  • White vinegar
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Baking soda

To remove blood stains you’ll need:

  • Clean towels or rags
  • Water
  • A spray bottle
  • White vinegar
  • Meat tenderizer powder
  • A bristle brush

How to Clean a Pillow Top Mattress

It’s important to clean your mattress regularly to extend its lifespan. We recommend spot cleaning your mattress whenever you change your sheets and notice a new stain. Generally, it’s best to clean and deodorizeyour mattress every six months. For more tips on extending your bed’s lifespan, check out our How to Make your Mattress Last Longer article.

A woman cleans the top of a mattress

If you’re not addressing any particular stains and giving your mattress a general clean, strip your linens and then vacuum your pillow top to remove allergens, dead skin cells, and dust mites. If your vacuum cleaner doesn’t have an upholstery attachment, a small hand vacuum is a good way to complete this step. If you also want to deodorize your bed, sprinkle baking soda over the entire mattress. Let the baking soda sit for about an hour, then vacuum it off. This is the best way to deep clean your mattress and keep it feeling like new.

Alternatively, you can try steam cleaning your mattress. Most manufacturers have specific steam cleaning instructions for their beds, so check your mattress’s tag and brand website before pursuing this option. As an overview, you’ll vacuum your mattress as usual and then run a steam cleaner over it instead of applying baking soda.

How to Remove Sweat Stains from a Pillow Top Mattress

To remove sweat stains from a pillow top mattress, you’ll first need warm water, dish soap, a bucket, and a clean cloth (or bristle brush, if you prefer). Mix the water and dish soap in your bucket and then gently scrub it onto your mattress with a clean cloth. Use a circular motion to scrub.

Let the soapy water sit on the bed for about 20 minutes, then get a new clean cloth and blot it off using water. If your sweat stains are still not gone, grab a spray bottle and some white vinegar. Spray the stained area with white vinegar and let it sit for about an hour. Use a clean white towel to soak up any excess liquid after this. Then, let your mattress air dry.

Tired of scrubbing sweat stains out of your bed? Check out our How to Stay Cool at Night while Sleeping guide.

How to Clean Urine from a Pillow Top Mattress

If you’re dealing with urine on a pillow top mattress, you’ll want to use an approach that addresses both the discoloration and the odor. To do this, you’ll need a spray bottle, hydrogen peroxide, white vinegar, baking soda, dish soap, clean towels, and a vacuum.

A stain sits on a pillow top mattress

First, throw your bedding in the wash and soak up as much urine as you can with the clean towel. Next, soak the urine stain in vinegar using your spray bottle. Blot it off with a clean towel until the mattress dries. While you wait, mix up a cleaning solution made of 3 tablespoons of baking soda, one cup of hydrogen peroxide, and a teaspoon of dish soap. Put that in your spray bottle and soak the stain. Let it sit for about 20 minutes, then dry the bed with a clean towel.

Repeat this process as needed until the stain is gone.

Fighting the Urine Odor

To ensure no odor lingers (especially if you’re dealing with animal urine) cover the affected area in baking soda and let it sit overnight. Do this as soon as you’ve cleaned off the urine. Vacuum the baking soda in the morning.

You can also try adding an essential oil like lavender to your hydrogen peroxide cleaning solution. This could help fight the odor as well.

How to Remove Blood Stains

Sometimes stains are so set-in that no classic stain remover is able to get rid of them. That’s often the case with old blood stains. Luckily, there is a way to get these out of your bed.

If the bloodstain is still fresh, mix 50/50 cold water and white vinegar into your spray bottle. Blot any blood that is still wet up with a damp cloth or paper towel (but do not rub it in). Then spray the stain with the vinegar mixture. Let it set for 30 minutes or more, then blot off the mixture. Repeat as needed.

A person cleans a blood stain from a mattress

If the stain is stubborn or old, you’ll want to grab meat tenderizer powder. This will break down the enzymes found in old blood and make it easier to scrub it out of your bed. To use this trick, mix one tablespoon of meat tenderizer powder with two teaspoons of cold water. Once you have a paste-like consistency, spread it onto your mattress and work it in with a bristle brush. Let it dry and then blot or vacuum it away.

Want to know how to clean the rest of your bedding? Check out our How to Get Blood Stains out of Sheets guide.

How Often to Clean a Pillow Top Mattress

So, how often should you clean your mattress? We recommend cleaning your mattress every six months, or whenever you notice new mattress stains. If you use a mattress protector, you may be able to clean your mattress less frequently.

Keep in mind that even if you keep your mattress very clean, eventually you will need to replace it. It can be hard to tell when to replace your mattress, but as a rule of thumb, most beds last about 7 to 10 years. If your bed sags or feels uncomfortable it’s likely a sign that it’s time for a new bed. If you’re on the hunt for a new bed, check out our best pillow top mattresses of 2024 roundup.


Still have questions? We’ve got you covered. Check out our FAQ section below.

Can you use carpet cleaner to clean a mattress? 

Yes, you can use carpet cleaner to clean a mattress. But, carpet cleaners often contain chemicals that are too harsh to sleep on. We recommend opting for a natural brand or using gentle household supplies like dish soap and white vinegar. 

Can you steam clean a pillow top mattress?

Yes, you can steam clean most pillow top mattresses. Check your bed’s care tag to confirm before you start to clean mattress stains with a steamer.

Madison Schaper

Madison is an ex-mattress tester and current law student. When she's not studying, she puts her accumulated mattress and bedding knowledge to good use writing articles for Mattress Clarity. A few of her favorite non-work activities include trying new restaurants, reading short stories, and watching too much reality TV.