How to clean your mattress and pillows

Couple in bed
We spend a lot of time in bed - but often forget to clean one of its core components. Photo credit: Getty Images

With Aotearoa about to spring into, um, spring, now's a great time to bust out the sponges and spray mop and get down and dirty for a - you guessed it - spring clean. 

Most of us know the basics of a deep clean: vacuuming, dusting, mopping, washing. We relish in our freshly laundered sheets and refreshed flooring, but continue to overlook one of the filthiest and most forgotten elements of the home.

The mattress.

Be honest - when was the last time you cleaned your mattress? Have you ever cleaned your mattress? Despite many of us splashing significant cash on memory foam and organic masterpieces, we continually forget that the thing we sleep on - every night - is also made of fabric and filling and collects grime like anything else in the home. 

Coated and clogged with dirt and dead skin, that mattress of yours is possibly home to as many as 10 million dust mites - nasty little critters that can cause allergies and exacerbate symptoms for asthma and eczema sufferers.

According to bedding brand Bed Threads, we should ideally be cleaning our mattresses every six months to banish the buildup and discourage mites from sharing your sheets.

So how does one clean their mattress, you may ask? Here are a few tips that will turn your bed into what dreams are made of. 

As the perfect primer, perhaps follow the tips of TikTok star and Australian cleaning expert, Chantel Mila - who goes by the username Mama Mila. The cleaning guru - who boasts almost a million followers - put together a video of handy hacks to help any beginner deep-clean their mattress. 

Firstly, Mila recommends stripping the bed and vacuuming the mattress to collect any dirt and debris. Next, she suggests mixing an essential oil of your choice with baking soda and sprinkling it over the stripped mattress, but make sure to leave the mixture on for several hours for it to work its magic.

According to Live Science, baking soda dissolves organic compounds like dirt, grime and grease. In addition, the mineral structure of each baking soda particle provides a gentle abrasive to help scour off sticky ickies. 

While you're waiting for the baking soda to do its thing, Mila advises using that time to wash your sheets and linen, noting that pillows and comforters, quilts or doonas should also be washed every three to six months.

After a few hours, Mila says to vacuum the baking soda mixture off the mattress before making the bed. To finish off, she suggests using a linen spray on the freshly laundered sheets for an extra touch of luxury. 

If you're also now wondering how to clean your pillows (to clarify, the actual pillows, not the pillow slips - if you're washing those every three to six months, you're beyond help), Mila also has handy hacks for that too. In a clip shared last month that has since been viewed almost 60,000 times, the cleaning pro shared her top tips for washing pillows - without the water causing the filling to clump. 

Firstly, Mila says many pillows can be machine-washed, but as always, check the label - and make sure to wash two at a time to balance the drum.

Next, add your liquid detergent - a few drops of eucalyptus oil may also help banish any mites that have taken up residence among your pillows. 

As an optional step, Mila suggests adding hydrogen peroxide to the drum to remove any yellowing of the pillows, which is typically caused either by sweat or sleeping with wet hair or lotions and oils on the skin.

Then, simply wash the pillows in warm water and ideally leave them out in the sun to dry. You can then place them in the dryer - along with a knotted shirt - to help fluff the pillows and prevent the filling from clumping.