“Dust mite particles are often found in pillows, mattresses, carpeting and upholstered furniture. They float into the air when anyone vacuums, walks on carpet or disturbs bedding and they settle once the disturbance is over. Dust motes are a common cause of asthma in children.” – American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology

Since we spend about one-third of our lives in our bed, it seems appropriate that we should occasionally tend to cleaning it. Cleaning the sheets, pillow cases and blankets are all great habits, but what about the mattress? As it turns out, a mattress can accumulate some pretty nasty stuff, including dead skin cells and mites.

Consider this: Ohio State University says that a used mattress can contain up to 10 million dust mites. We’ll pause briefly so that those who wish to Google “dust mites” may do so…welcome back. Those critters are ugly, aren’t they? Well, imagine hundreds of thousands if not millions of these ugly things just camping out in our mattresses. Turns out that dead skin cells are the preferred diet of dust mites, hence their attraction to our beds.

But that isn’t even the worst part. Dust mites themselves can cause skin and lung irritation, but it’s the mites’ fecal matter that creates these undesirable effects. Yeah, that’s quite disgusting.

Aside from the eradication of dust mites, cleaning our mattress can also enhance our sleep quality. Perhaps part of this is because we’re free from the thought of dust mites encamped within our mattress, but we are also far less likely to develop skin irritation or breathing problems as a result. Thoroughly cleaning our mattress also reduces the odds that bed bugs will infest where we slumber.

Assuming that we all now have an increased desire to clean our sleeping space, we’ll elaborate further on how to effectively do so. Of course, cleaning and changing the sheets is a necessity. Ideally, sheets should be cleaned and changed once a week, no more than two weeks at the most.

Here’s a little secret: it’s the use of baking soda that makes all the difference in cleaning the mattress. Ensuring a thorough rubbing on of baking soda into the mattress removes the smell, dirt and moisture – effectively giving the mattress a thorough deep-cleaning.

These relatively simple steps require a minimal number of ingredients: hot water, baking soda, a vacuum cleaner, lavender essential oil (optional), and steam cleaner (optional).

Here are four easy steps to cleaning your mattress:

  1. Take off all of the sheets and pillow cases, and wash them in the hottest possible water. This is an important step, as it will aid in killing any mites that have accumulated on the sheets.
  2. As the load of sheets is washing, apply a generous amount of baking soda over the entire surface of the mattress. To give the mattress a pleasant scent, apply a few drops of lavender essential oil (this is an optional component). Rub the baking soda in thoroughly.
  3. To ensure the best results, allow the baking soda to saturate the mattress for a few hours. At minimum, duration of one hour is required for this step.
  4. Use the vacuum cleaner with a hose attachment to vacuum up the baking soda. It is important that this step is done slowly and thoroughly, as the length of applied suction to each individual part of the mattress will help ensure the most amount of dust is removed.
  5. While this step is optional, it is recommended for a deeper clean. Use a steam cleaner to help with removing old stains while further deodorizing the mattress. Allow approximately three to four hours for the mattress to fully dry.
  6. Do a happy dance (optional but recommended). You’ve successfully eradicated the nasty stuff in your mattress!

After all of these steps are completed, and the mattress is fully dried out, immediately put the clean sheets and pillow cases back onto the bed. Attempt to complete these mattress cleaning steps at least once a month.

Bonus material: dust mites can become concentrated not only in the mattress, but in pillows as well. This is especially true if you tend to sweat heavily, so wash your pillows on a regular basis (once every three weeks is recommended) and replace pillows once every two or three years.