How to Clean a Pillow top Mattress?

by Max S
How To Clean A Pillow Top Mattress

Ahhhh! How to clean a pillow top mattress? They’re one of the hardest mattress types to clean!

Maybe you’re panicking because your dog just peed on your pillow top mattress? Or, maybe you removed your bedsheets and notice massive yellow stains?

Most pillow-top mattresses on the market are one-sided and have a famously plush layer at the top. Unlike other mattress types like foam, memory foam and innerspring mattresses that can be flipped, pillow top mattresses can’t.

Hence, the top layer is subjected to more dirt, staining, and wear and tear than other mattress types. Yes! Pillowtop mattresses tend to be ‘premium’, but if you don’t care for them, be prepared to buy a new mattress sooner rather than later.

This blog will share tips on cleaning your pillow top mattress, so you’ll know what to do and what not to do. We will discuss steps for regular cleaning, cleaning sweat stains, dealing with urine, and ways to refresh your pillow top mattress.

What Materials You’ll Need

To start with cleaning your pillowtop mattress, grab the items listed below. Most of these can probably be found in your cleaning stash. If not, we’ll leave our best products when needed in the article!

  • Water
  • Small bowl or container
  • Clean cloth
  • Mild detergent
  • Baking soda
  • Distilled vinegar


  • Empty water spray
  • Enzymatic cleaner
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • End of broomstick

FAQ: Can I clean a pillow top mattress with a carpet cleaner?

red vacuum for cleaning

Image source: Pexels

Carpet cleaners work through combinations of cleaning solutions, scrubbing brushes and powerful vacuum suction.

  • Carpet cleaners inject cleaning solution and water into the carpet fibres.
  • Brushes scrub the dirt.
  • Powerful vacuum suction lifts the dirt.

This vigorous cleaning process can be too harsh for your pillow-top mattress’s delicate fabrics and material. So, we do not recommend cleaning a pillow-top mattress with a carpet cleaner. Read more to know how to properly clean a pillow-top mattress.

How to Clean A Pillow Top Mattress? Powerful Stain Removing Methods

According to Better Sleep Council, nearly 50% of Americans sleep on an innerspring or pillow top mattress. If you’re in that 50%, do you know how to clean a pillow top mattress?

We’re here to help if you don’t, and even if you do, we’re sure we’ve got a few cheeky tips to help you.

Step 1: Change your beddings and wash your pillow top mattress cover.

While we can’t detach the pillow top from the mattress itself, what we can do is remove everything from beddings, pillowcases, and mattress cover for a good washing.

These are the first line of defence against stains and dirt, so give your beddings a thorough weekly clean.  

Step 2: Vacuum every surface and creases.

Vacuuming the foam mattress will help lift small dirt like dust, dry skin, hair, and dust mites that can cause allergies. Since the pillow top mattress structure has a lot of creases, make sure to focus on these as dirt tends to gather in these areas.

Use a brush attachment for the vacuum cleaner to help agitate the dirt that has settled on the pillow top surface and creases.

Step 3: Spot clean

Your pillow top mattress may obtain all kinds of stains, including

The methods below can effectively target these types of stains.

However, you should note that it is essential to completely dry your pillow-top, or any other mattress. 

Mould thrives in a damp and moist environment, and when you leave your mattress wet, it becomes the perfect home for mould.

A mild detergent and cold water method

  • Combine a few drops of mild liquid detergent and cold water in a small bottle. Cold water is preferred for removing blood stains because warm water may cause the stain to stick to the mattress more.
  • Dip a clean cloth into the soapy mixture with your fingertips. Squeeze any excess liquid.
  • Rub the stained area gently until the stain is removed.
  • Using a clean towel, wipe the soap and stain off the mattress.
  • Repeat steps 2 to 4 until the stain is lifted.

Baking soda and vinegar method

  • Sprinkle baking soda on the stain.
  • Apply a small amount of vinegar to the baking soda. This will cause a chemical reaction that will aid in lifting stains.
  • Use another clean cloth and wipe the mixture.
  • Repeat steps 1 to 3 until the stain is removed.

Step 4: Deodorise the mattress

A pillow-top mattress typically consists of

  • Pillow top – made up of wool, cotton, memory foam, or latex foam
  • Base mattress – spring mattress

If the pillow top is made of wool and cotton, we recommend exposing the pillow-top mattress to sunlight. UV rays effectively kill smell-causing bacteria. And, of course, the heat removes the moisture from the mattress.

If the pillow top is made of memory foam or latex foam, we do not recommend sun drying. We recommend using baking soda as a deodoriser. Baking soda works by absorbing odour molecules. For this method,

  • Sprinkle baking soda all over your pillow top mattress.
  • Leave for as long as possible for maximum odour absorption.
  • Remove by vacuuming the baking soda from the surface.

FAQ: Can I steam clean a pillow-top mattress?

A pillow top mattress topper is an additional layer of padding attached to the mattress for extra softness and comfort. It can be wool, cotton, polyester, memory foam, or latex foam.

You can or cannot steam clean your pillow top mattress depending on what material comprises your pillow top.

  • If your pillow top is memory foam or latex foam, you cannot steam clean your pillow-top mattress.

Memory foam and latex foam can be damaged by extreme heat. Memory foam can soften beyond its capacity when exposed to extreme heat, resulting in irreversible damage. On the other hand, steam cleaning can affect premature degradation of the latex mattress.

  • If your pillow top is wool, cotton, or polyester, you can steam clean your pillow-top mattress.

Wool, cotton, and polyester fabrics can receive high heat treatment and be steamed clean. Still, it’s essential to check your mattress care guide to see if they have particular indications about steam cleaning.

How to Clean Sweat Stains from a Pillow Top Mattress?

These stains can be dealt with through the spot cleaning method shared above. If you’ve seen localised yellow stains like this on your mattress, it’s probably a sweat stain.

Big stains or discolouration like this can be labour-intensive if removed using the baking soda and vinegar method or mild detergent method.

It can also lead to oversaturation of the mattress if a large stained area is concerned. Instead,l try the distilled vinegar method. The acetic acid in the vinegar helps to break down the stains.

How to do this?

  • Mix equal parts of white distilled vinegar and water in an empty spray bottle.
  • Spray on the stained area and make sure not to oversaturate.

The vinegar smell will dissipate after a few hours, and you’ll be left with a whiter mattress again. To speed up the smell dissipation and drying of the mattress, open your window to increase ventilation.

How to Clean a Pillow Top Mattress of Urine?

Did you know that nearly half of British dog and cat lovers sleep with their pets? I do, too! But, if your pet gets overexcited easily or has a weak bladder, there’s bound to be an accident.

If you’ve already gone through the methods above and there’s still a urine stain and smell on your pillow-top mattress, here’s how to fix it.

How do you get the urine smell out of a pillow top mattress?

Enzyme cleaners break down molecules from protein-based urine sources so they will effectively address the urine smell. There is a wide selection of enzyme cleaners in the market, and you can choose what’s best on the pillow top material based on the label.

As a warning, if your pillow-top is made from memory or latex foam, you should only choose mild products as strong chemicals may affect the quality of the foam. Some UK brands of mild enzyme cleaners are Naturally, it’s clean and Puracy Pet Stain & Odour Remover.

How do you Rejuvenate a Pillow Top Mattress?

If you’re here asking this question, it might be because of the following reasons

  • Your pillow-top is not as fluffy as before
  • Your pillow-top is sagging
  • Your pillow-top has localised indents

The pillow top’s material is either made up of cotton, wool or foam, which can settle and lose its fluffiness because of

  • regular use
  • heavy bodyweight of sleeper
  • quality of material
  • age of pillow-top mattress

If you’re wondering how to rejuvenate, refresh, or make your pillow top mattress fluffy again, here’s what you can do:

Vacuum the pillow top

Vacuuming for re-fluffing can only apply to pillow tops made of wool or cotton, not foam. Vacuuming will help lift up and redistribute some cotton or wool fillings.

The regular cleaning method shared earlier served a double purpose. Cleaning and re-fluffing your pillow top.

Beat the pillow top

Do you want your fluffy pillow-top back? Beating your pillow top is only applicable for cotton or wool fillings. If your pillow-top contains those, the beating allows the filling to fluff up. It’s also quite fun! You can use the end of your broomstick for this or any long hard stick you can find.

If you are sensitive to dust and other allergens, we recommend wearing an N95 mask to prevent inhaling allergens. Beating your pillow top can also loosen and release some dust on your mattress.

Rotate the mattress

Rotating applies to all kinds of pillow-top mattresses. Since most pillow-top mattresses cannot be flipped, rotating from head to toe is the next best thing to do. Do this every 3 months or as your pillow top mattress manufacturer recommends.

FAQ: Can I flip pillow top mattresses?

cross section of pillow top mattress
Image source: SleepSoul

Most pillow-top mattresses are one-sided, with only the top part of the mattress’s comfort layer. The answer is: no, pillow-top mattresses cannot be flipped.

Otherwise, you’ll sleep on the support layer, which is too firm and risk damaging the mattress because the soft pillow top will be subjected to heavy compressions.

Manufacturers would also indicate this in the warranty guide, so check with them first if your mattress can be flipped.

Instead, you can rotate your mattress from head to toe if indicated in the manufacturer’s guide. This will also help the pillow top mattress get even load distribution to prevent localised compression and sagging.

What is the Average Life of a Pillow Top Mattress?

Pillow top mattress UK manufacturers like Rest Assured and SleepSoul offer a five-year warranty on their pillow-top mattresses. These manufacturers expected pillow top mattresses to last up to 5 years. Although with good upkeeping and cleaning, the lifespan of any mattress can go beyond its warranty period.

FAQ: How can I know if my pillow top mattress needs replacing?

“A couple or 3 years later, the ‘pillowtop’ portion had developed a divot from my body, and I felt the mattress begin to sag a bit.”

Source: Reddit

“I recently purchased a new pillowtop mattress from mattressfirm, but that was too soft – my mattress started to sag within a few weeks, which caused lower back pain.”

Source: Reddit

Sagging is a commonly reported issue of pillow top mattress owners. Unfortunately, a pillow top mattress is more prone to sagging because

  • Thin pillow top material is constantly subjected to compression.
  • Pillow top mattress is usually one-sided. Therefore users cannot flip the mattress and use each mattress’s sides alternately.

Suppose your pillow top mattress has significantly sagged and is causing you back pain. In that case, we recommend replacing your mattress as soon as possible.

Sometimes, there’s only so much rejuvenating you can do. If it’s causing you back pain and sleep problems already, it’s time to let go.

You can check out our guides to start choosing the best mattress for you.

FAQ: Should you put a mattress pad on a pillow top mattress?

memory foam mattress
Image source: Ikea

A mattress pad typically sits over the mattress and under the sheet. It provides additional comfort to the top layer.

There’s no point using a mattress pad on a pillow top mattress, which already has a thick comfort top layer.

  • The mattress will be too soft for sleeping. Not providing the necessary support to key pressure points in any sleeping position.
  • The mattress will get excessively hot due to the sleeper’s impression of the comfort layers.


Pillow top mattresses are usually one-sided. Hence, they can be dirty and worn out quickly without proper pillow top maintenance and cleaning. Proper maintenance and cleaning includes

  • Changing beddings
  • Vacuum cleaning
  • Spot cleaning
  • Deodorising
  • Rotating

The typical lifespan of pillow top mattresses is 5 years, but this can be prolonged with proper upkeeping. How about you? How long have you been using your pillow top mattress?


Photo of author


Max S

Chief Editor here at The Sleep Checklist. Suffered from a seemingly infinite knot in my thoracic area (between the spine and shoulder blade) due to my lifelong side sleeping habits. With my girlfriend, we look to provide the most relevant and best mattress advice.