How many hours a day to do you spend sleeping? If you’re doing it right, at least eight. That’s a full one third of each and every day. So the condition of what you sleep on matters.
Eight hours a day x 365 days in a year. That’s 2920 hours per year or over 20,000 hours for the average lifespan of a mattress. In North America, we spend on average $1500 for a mattress and box spring. It’s an expensive but very necessary addition to any home, particularly if you’re buying some for the kids too! Most mattress aficionados (also known as the people who sell them) recommend changing them every seven to eight years, assuming there is no pressing reason to do it more often.
Mattresses that aren’t well maintained can quickly become a den of inequity for bugs, dust mites, and other unsavoury things that you don’t want hosting a party in your sleeping space. So what to do?
Keep your mattress smelling fresh
When you can, air it out. Yes, that means maneuvering it either outside—which if you have a king size, might not be entirely realistic without the presence of movers—or in front of an open window on a sunny day. It will air out fully and the direct sunlight acts as a decontaminant.
If a good airing beyond removing the comforter is pushing the limits of practicality, you can also deodorize your mattress by sprinkling on some baking soda (take the sheets and mattress protector off first!) and leaving it to dry for a few hours before vacuuming it off. Baking soda—as it does in your refrigerator—is a perfect natural deodorizer.
If you like the scent, you can put a few dryer sheets on your mattress before putting on the fitted sheet. It will help to maintain a fresh smell.
Clean stains on your mattress
Like with any stain anywhere in your house, getting to it quickly helps to minimize the damage. Whether it’s your cup of evening tea that went flying when the kiddo barged into your room without knocking (again), or whether Fido decided to leave you a treat, you need to remove all the coverings (sheets / covers) and blot up as much of the liquid as possible. Use a very absorbent towel and put a lot of weight on it for maximum soaking up. It’s important to blot and not rub, which will only set the stain more deeply. If you want to use some water to dilute, use cold; hot water will also help to set a stain. Then sprinkle the stained area with baking soda and let it dry; this will pull up a lot of the remaining wetness. Leave it overnight or longer, until the powder is dry and vacuum it up.
If you’ve got a stain that has already more or less set, it’s more than likely some form of bodily fluid—except for that flying tea—so you need to deal with it as you would deal with most any blood, urine, vomit stain (I know… gross): a combination of salt, baking soda and water. Turn that into a paste and apply to the stain. Leave it on for about half an hour and then brush it off.
The key in any mattress stain removal process is to use as little liquid as you can. A mattress is like a giant sponge and the more liquid you apply, the longer it will take to fully dry up. If you have a memory foam mattress? Ban all liquids from the bedroom. Seriously. Water soaks into the core and and can’t escape. You can, of course, add a mattress protector, rather than banishing kids, dogs and … well, husbands, from your brand new memory foam mattress. That might in fact prove to be the better solution overall!
Protecting and maintaining your mattress
We are all creatures of habit, sleeping in certain positions and on certain parts of the bed more than others, so be sure to rotate AND flip your mattress regularly. Every three months or so, you should rotate the mattress by putting the head where the feet were and vice versa. Three months after that, flip the mattress. Three months after that, rotate again… and so on.
Once in awhile, vacuum your entire mattress while you are changing the sheets and do a visual inspection. What you are vacuuming up is dust, including skin particles, dust mites, and crumbs (no, YOU were eating those cookies in bed!)
We all shed skin about 20 ounces of skin every year. Since we spend so much time in bed, you can do the math on how much of that shedding occurs there. Pay special attention to seams and corners!
What else are you looking for when inspecting your bed?
- Any sign of an unmentioned stain, like when the kiddo tinkled a little when crawled in last week but no one noticed.
- Signs of bed bugs:
- Rust coloured stains on the mattress or on the sheets – sign of the bugs being squashed!
- In the seams, you might see the eggs, which are honey coloured and as small as a pinhead.
- Full size bed bugs are flat, oval, have six legs, and are about five to seven millimetres in length.
Now that you’re probably itching after reading this, don’t panic! It’s not likely that you have bed bugs and if you did, you would likely know about them. This is one of those issues that you might not want to ‘do it yourself’ and instead enlist the help of a pro.
So given the price and the amount of time you spend sleeping on your mattress, it’s best to make sure that you keep it going for as long as possible, in as good a condition as you can. That doesn’t have to be difficult, as long as you follow these basic rules. Do you have a mattress maintenance tip to share with my readers? Comment here!
You might also like these gifts for people who love to sleep.