How to Clean a Pillow top Mattress? Step-By-Step Process

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Written by:

Max Stevens
How To Clean A Pillow Top Mattress

How to Clean a Pillow top Mattress? Step-By-Step Process

Have you just pulled off your bed sheets on your pillow top mattress and noticed loads of dust and debris?

Most pillow tops are one-sided and have a famously plush top layer. Whereas other mattress types can be flipped; pillow top mattresses can’t. And this means the top layer is subjected to more dirt, staining, and wear and tear than other mattress types.

While pillow tops tend to be ‘premium’, if you don’t care for them, be prepared to buy a new mattress sooner rather than later.

Worry not, as this guide will share tips to clean your pillow top mattress, from sweat and urine stains to dust and debris.

What Materials Will You Need

As like all of our mattress cleaning how-to’s, grab the items listed below. Most of these can be found in your cleaning stash. If not, head down to your local supermarket, and hopefully they have stock.

materials needed to clean pillow top mattress

  • Warm and cold water
  • Small bowl or container
  • Clean cloth(s)
  • Mild detergent
  • Baking soda
  • Hydrogen peroxide


  • Empty water spray
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • End of broomstick

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 own a pillowtop mattress, you know how dirty the crevices can get. So, what are the steps to clean your mattress?

Step 1: Remove Your Beddings And Wash

removing beddings from mattress

You most likely can’t detach the pillow top layer. However, what we can do is remove everything from bedding, pillowcases, and mattress cover (if it is removable) for a thorough wash.

These are the first line of defence against stains and dirt, so give your beddings a thorough weekly clean. If it needs a deep clean, we recommend throwing a few tablespoons of baking soda into the laundry machine’s drum or pre-treating with hydrogen peroxide.

Step 2: Vacuum All Sides And Creases

woman cleaning mattress with a vacuum cleaner

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

We recommend using 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 With Hydrogen Peroxide

spot cleaning of mattress with spray bottle

Spot cleaning can help prevent mould and mildew growth and remove bloodstains, coffee spills, wine spills, pee and yellow stains from sweat. The best spot cleaning solution you can use is hydrogen peroxide.

One of the ways to clean the mattress is with hydrogen peroxide, as it’s a powerful oxidiser. Just remember that we recommend dealing with any spillages or stains as soon as possible. The longer it has to dry, the higher the chance of permanent staining.

Let’s get to the steps:
1. Add a solution of 3% hydrogen peroxide and water to a spray bottle
2. Spray the solution directly onto the stain, making sure to fully soak it
3. Leave the solution to sit for 10-20 minutes
4. Using a clean cloth, blot the affected area
5. Rinse the area with water
6. Blot dry with a dry towel

Step 4: Full Surface Clean With Water And Detergent

cold water and detergent to clean pillow top mattress

Another way to clean a mattress is to use cold water and detergent worked well when we tested it on our dirty mattress:
– 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 worsen.
– 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.

Step 5: Allow The Mattress To Fully Dry

sun drying the mattress and bacteria being killed

It is essential to completely dry your mattress after cleaning. Mould thrives in a damp and moist environment, and when you leave your mattress wet, it becomes the perfect home for mould to thrive.

You have a couple of options. If you can easily move your mattress outside and it’s sunny, then that’s our top recommendation. Letting the mattress air dry under the UV rays helps to kill off any bacteria and mould that may be left on the mattress while drying it effectively.

If you can’t move your mattress outside, then we recommend placing your mattress near a window that is open and using an additional fan to speed up the drying process.

Another important aspect of maintaining it is learning how to fluff a pillow top properly.

Step 6: Deodorise The Mattress With Baking Soda

applying baking soda to remove odor

Once your mattress is nice and dry, it’s time to get it smelling fresh.
– Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda all over the mattress
– Leave the baking soda for as long as possible to absorb smells
– Vacuum the baking soda off the mattress

Can Carpet Cleaners clean A pillow top mattress?

carpet vacuum cleaner being used to clean stain

We do not recommend carpet cleaners for pillow top mattresses. They are too powerful and cause inner materials to displace and the mattress surface to become uneven or rupture.

The too-aggressive-for-pillow-top-mattress procedure works like this:

  1. Carpet cleaners inject cleaning solutions and water into the carpet fibres.
  2. Brushes scrub the dirt.
  3. Powerful vacuum suction lifts the dirt.

Can You steam clean a pillow top mattress?

You cannot steam clean your pillow-top mattress if the supporting layers are made of memory or latex foam. If your pillow top is wool, cotton, or polyester, you can steam clean your pillow-top mattress.

Memory foam and latex foam can be damaged by extreme heat. That’s why steam cleaning a memory foam mattress can cause irreversible damage as the extreme heat softens it beyond its capacity. Steam cleaning can also cause premature degradation of a latex mattress.

Wool, cotton, and polyester fabrics can receive high heat treatment and be steamed clean. As always, 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?

removing sweat stains off mattress

If your pillow top mattress is yellow from sweat stains, use hydrogen peroxide. Mix warm water and 3% hydrogen peroxide in a sprayer bottle and shake well. Spray the sweat stains thoroughly and leave it to rest for 10-20 minutes.

Rinse with clean water and dab the excess moisture away. Rinse and repeat until you have a clean mattress.

How To Clean Urine Off A Pillow Top Mattress?

how to get urine smell out off mattress

Remove fresh urine from a pillow top by quickly blotting the urine with paper towels. Then, mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle, apply it to the affected area and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. Rinse the area with clean water and dab the excess moisture away.

To remove dried urine from a pillow top, use the hydrogen peroxide method for sweat stains above.

How To Know If Your Pillow Top Mattress Needs Replacing?

Pillow top mattresses sagging is a commonly reported issue. Unfortunately, the mattress is more prone to sagging because it’s one side is constantly subjected to compression.

Sometimes, there’s only so much mattress rejuvenating you can do. If your mattress is causing sleep disturbance or aches and pains, it’s time to buy a new one.

Which Cleaning Method Will You Choose?

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

Written by:

Max Stevens