Considering that most of us spend an enormous amount of our lives in our beds (approx. a third of each day), we would normally expect our sleep and relaxation time to be undisturbed by anything that could cause discomfort or even illness. Unfortunately, this is barely the case. The truth is that we share our beds with some of the most unwanted guests, such as germs and bacteria (even critters!) that find our mattresses a super cozy place to live in.
Yes, we may wash the sheets every week, making mom proud, and make sure we turn and flip our mattresses with the change of every season (or, at least, every six months) to prolong their lifespan and prevent sagging. However, disinfecting them is an entirely different story and today we’ll be sharing tips about how to effectively disinfect mattresses, keeping bugs and bacteria away, as much as possible.
Step #1: Clean the Mattress Outside
Choose a warm, sunny day (not too humid, though) and take your mattress outside. The sunlight acts as a natural disinfectant and will help kill bacteria. That aside, it will be much easier to clean the mattress and dry it with a good dose of UV rays. Now, if getting outside is not an option for you, you can use a room showered by sunlight and take the mattress in front of a sunny window (lean it against the wall).
Step #2: Remove Dust
Attach the upholstery attachment to your vacuum cleaner and go over the entire surface of the mattress. Thorough vacuuming will help remove as much dust as possible so that you are ready for the next step. You may also use the crevice tool when vacuuming to complete your deep-cleaning project.
If the mattress is wet because of a bed-wetting incident, pet accident or fresh spill, then try to soak up as much liquid as you can (you can use clean towels) before you vacuum. Then let the mattress air-dry with the help of the UV rays.
Step #3: Steam Clean
After removing the dust, running a steam cleaner across the surface of the mattress will help get rid of nasty bacteria, dust mites, and germs. If you don’t have a hand-held steam cleaner, you may ask a professional steam clean your mattress, who will not only disinfect the surface of the mattress but its inside as well. Alternatively, you could buy an industrial-style steam cleaner, but there is no need to go to such extremes when you can have the job done quickly by someone that disinfecting and deep cleaning is what he does for a living!
Step #4: Use an Antibacterial Product
Spray the mattress with an antibacterial spray or solution. You will definitely find products with a scent you like. But, no matter what you do, don’t use bleach because it may do a great job killing germs but it is very harsh for the fabric that covers most mattresses and may cause damage.
If you have chosen to use a liquid cleaner, read the directions on the label and dilute it with warm water according to them. Then dip a clean towel or rag into the solution and clean the surface of the mattress.
Important Note: The rag or towel has to be barely damp, not soaked. So wire it out thoroughly. That way, you will be able to clean the surface of the mattress without saturating it with moisture, which might be disastrous as it could lead to mildew and mold.
Spritz the surface of the mattress lightly with the disinfectant spray and wipe with a clean towel or rag that was first dipped in warm water and, of course, well wrung out. Allow to dry for a few hours before you place it on the bed again. If you have the time to let it dry on both sides, that would be ideal. Once dry, cover with a mattress pad (freshly cleaned), sheets, and bedding.
If you don’t want to use harsh chemicals or expensive products to disinfect your mattress, you can use natural ingredients. In this case, you will need a box of baking soda (a 16-ounce will do) and the essential oil of your preferences (optional) that will help gently scent your bed, making your night’s sleep a refreshing experience. Most people usually choose ylang-ylang, sandalwood, chamomile or lavender essential oils, all of which have soothing scents. Besides that, it should be noted that all essential oils have an important attribute: they all have antimicrobial activity.
1. Remove bedding and feather beds (or duvets). Machine-wash the first and fluff the second in the dryer to have them ready for when it’s time to make the bed again.
2. Rotate or flip the mattress and open the box of baking soda.
3. Add 10-20 drops of the essential oil you have chosen and close the box.
4. Shake well so that the essential oil is distributed well and any clumps break up.
5. Sprinkle the baking soda over the mattress. You should empty the entire box.
6. Use gloves and rub the mixture of baking soda and essential oil into the mattress to give it a deep cleaning. Let the mixture work its magic for about an hour and then vacuum the mattress, making sure the mixture is completely removed (work slowly to be more efficient). Meanwhile, you can also wipe down the bed frame and the walls of the bedroom, if you want to have an entirely clean sleeping space.
The mixture will freshen your bed, lift residue and dirt, and remove moisture while disinfecting your mattress and removing mild odors. Any lurking dust mites will also be sucked away with a good vacuuming.
Tip: You could sprinkle some of the baking soda mixture in your vacuum cleaner. Let it sit for a few minutes and then run the vacuum cleaner to help freshen the upholstery! That way, every time you vacuum the rooms, a pleasant scent will freshen the air in your home.
Disinfect or Sanitize?
Although we usually use these terms interchangeably, there is a distinct difference between sanitizing and disinfecting. In the US, sanitizers are all agents that can kill 99.9% of bacteria in 30 seconds during a public health test called the Official Detergent Sanitizer Test.
Disinfectants are products that can kill ALL organisms in 10 mins during an EPA-regulated test called AOAC Use Dilution Test that determines the efficiency of those disinfectants and is widely used in hospital situations (i.e. areas that have come into contact with body fluids, such as blood).
This is why we usually sanitize kitchens (including utensils and dishes) and areas that come into contact with food. We also sanitize kids’ toys. But, we disinfect areas that we need to kill germs completely rather than lessen them (i.e. the area you change your baby’s diaper).
Both methods are doing a great job destroying germs and are definitely a step up from regular cleaning, which only removes the dirt we see.
Time to make the bed and take a siesta, don’t you think!