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How to deep clean your mattress

Your mattress is a mite magnet. Here's how to get it clean.

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Baking soda can get rid of odors. 

Alina Bradford/CNET

Your mattress is probably the last thing you think about cleaning, but chances are it's pretty gross. Humans shed around 1.5 grams of skin a day. That amount can feed about 1 million dust mites, and these bugs are huge contributors to allergy problems. Your mattress alone could be home to 10 million dust mites, according to The American Council on Science and Health.

Before you chunk your mattress out the door in disgust, give it a good, deep clean. Now, I know you can't just stick your mattress in the washing machine, but you can get it clean without too much effort. Here's how.

Start with a clean sweep

Grab your sheets, pillows and pillow cases and give them a good cleaning, while you're working on your mattress. Now that it's bare, the first step is giving it a good vacuuming to suck up bugs, bug feces and skin flakes.  Be sure to get in the seams, around labels and in any divots because that is where the most yuckiness will accumulate. 

You can use the upholstery attachment on your vacuum, or get a more serious cleaning using a hand vac designed to clean mattresses, such as the Dyson V6 Mattress Handheld Vacuum or the Euleven UV Bed Vacuum Cleaner. Mattress vacuums have more suction power and pull more ick out. I tried the Dyson on my mattress and was disgusted -- and fascinated -- at what it pulled out.

How often should you vacuum? Consumer Reports recommends giving your mattress a good once-over every six months or so.

Get fresh

Now that you have the particles of grossness sucked up, time to work on sweat and other stains. Spray the surface of the mattress lightly with 1 teaspoon liquid dish soap and 1 cup of warm water. Let the solution sit for a few minutes, then scrub the mattress with a damp towel to act as the rinse cycle.

If your mattress has pet urine stains, I recommend using the handheld attachment on your steam cleaner and a pet-stain enzyme cleaner to work out the stain. Then, use three drops of peppermint essential oil and 1 cup of warm water to remove any lingering smells. Just spray it on and let it dry.

When you're done stain removing, sprinkle a liberal amount of baking soda over the entire mattress and leave it there for at least an hour, or until the mattress is dry. 

Finally, go back over the mattress with your vacuum to remove the baking soda to finish.

Protect your efforts

Now that your bed is clean, protect it. Purchase a fabric waterproof mattress cover and put it over the mattress under your regular bed sheet. It will protect your mattress from sweat and skin flakes and you can wash it whenever you wash your sheets.

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