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How To Clean a Memory Foam Mattress Topper

On average, you spend 7 to 8 hours in or on your bed every day. In that time, a lot of your dead skin cells, sweat, and body oil accumulates in, on, and around your foam mattress and/or mattress toppers. The skin cells and body fluids breed allergens to your bed like dust mites, bacteria, fungi, and many others. These allergens feed on your dead skin cells, thrive in the humid atmosphere of your bed, and can trigger multiple allergy symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, runny nose, and breathing difficulties. To avoid allergic reactions, you must clean your mattress toppers periodically, especially when it’s made of memory foam. Today you’ll learn how to clean a memory foam topper as well as extend its life.

What Is Memory Foam?

Originally developed by NASA as a way to improve the safety of aircraft cushions, the foam mattress, aka memory foam, was popularized because of the way it provided softness and comfort by molding to the shape of any and every individual. Those who choose not to buy a memory foam mattress oftentimes will opt for a less expensive foam topper to get the same or at least a similar feeling to sleeping on what many have called the best mattress. Those that do get a foam mattress do not need to get a topper, but some do, usually for either their pets or their children. However, buying it is one thing, maintaining is another.

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A foam mattress or foam mattress topper needs to be kept clean, and for you to do so, you have to know how to properly care for them. Doing so is both beneficial for personal hygiene, but also beneficial in protecting you from allergens and many other potentially harmful microbes.

What You Should Know Before You Start Cleaning

First and foremost, there's a difference between a mattress pad and a topper, so avoid using the same cleaning methods for both. When it comes to cleaning frequency, you are recommended to wash your foam mattress topper at least once or twice a year. However, a foam mattress topper cannot be washed in the same way you would wash any other type of topper. This is because throwing it in a washing machine can cause moisture retention. This will weigh the memory foam down and either damage the structure of the foam or breed bacteria that cause mold, mildew, odor, and/or further material damage. Here are some of the most widely used methods of cleaning memory foam and memory foam mattress toppers.

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Before You Start

As both a health and general safety precaution, please make sure you wear rubber gloves and long sleeves whenever you clean a memory foam topper. The chemicals in both the cleaners and the foam can damage your skin or get into your eyes, nose, or mouth if you touch your face (memory foams are often treated with chemicals to reduce how flammable they are).

As both a health and general safety precaution, please make sure you wear rubber gloves and long sleeves whenever you clean a memory foam topper. The chemicals in both the cleaners and the foam can damage your skin or get into your eyes, nose, or mouth if you touch your face (memory foams are often treated with chemicals to reduce how flammable they are).

Before you start you will need the following

  • a large open space (with proper ventilation)
  • a tarp or plastic covering large enough to go under your memory foam topper
  • any vacuum with a brush attachment
  • non-abrasive pieces of cloth (a soft rag or anything microfiber, though an old shirt will do)
  • an enzyme or oxygen-based cleaner
  • laundry detergent or vinegar/hydrogen peroxide
  • a spray bottle
  • a timer

How To Clean A Topper - Spot Treatment & Odor Removal

Let's get started. First, lay your tarp or plastic covering in your spacious area. Next, you want to lay your mattress topper on it. If there are no deep stains, you can just use any powerful vacuum with a large enough brush attachment over the surface of the foam topper. The vacuum is very efficient and will be used to get rid of most allergens found in the foam.

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For the stains that are hard to remove, mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle (hydrogen peroxide with no parts water works well as an alternative). Apply this mixture to the stained area and leave on for 10 minutes. After the 10 minutes is up, use a soft scrub brush or old toothbrush to scrub the area and wipe it dry with a microfiber cloth. Enzyme or oxygen-based cleaners work well in place of the homemade vinegar mixture and the directions are the same with bothBe sure to let the spot air dry away from direct sunlight.

For persistent odors, baking soda is the solution backed by many. For these, generously sprinkle baking soda across the surface of the foam topper. After allowing it to it sit for at least two hours, use a vacuum cleaner to take the powder out of the mattress. Then, flip the topper over and repeat this process on the other side.

Washing Your Topper

Washing a foam mattress or topper safely and effectively requires you to follow these steps. First, vacuum the surface to remove any debris or large allergens before you take the topper outside. Next, generously apply either enzyme/oxygen-based cleaner or laundry detergent across the memory foam and wet it thoroughly. Afterward, allow it to sit for 30 minutes before you begin rinsing off your cleaner or detergent. The most efficient best way to wring it is to fold it and press down on it to push the excess water out. After thoroughly rinsing the topper and getting ALL the cleaner or detergent out, mix, one part vinegar and four parts water in a spray bottle. Spray this vinegar solution across, and rinse again. Now you can begin the drying process.

Drying Your Topper

Now that Start the drying process by first forcing out any leftover water by wringing out your topper. Next, place it outside away from direct sunlight as this can cause parts of the foam to fade. Any shaded area with a medium or strong breeze will do. If you’re indoors, open windows and turn on a fan or air conditioner. A hairdryer can also be used to slight speed this part up, but due to the lack of size, it is largely inefficient. If you use a hairdryer, be sure to hold it at a reasonable distance from the foam as the heat from the dryer could damage it.

Additional Tips

When you clean your toppers, be sure to start in the morning so that it will be dry in time for you to put them back on your beds at night. Complete dryness is essential to prevent the growth of mildew and bacteria.

All these methods are pet-safe and kid-friendly and any allergy concerns can be resolved by switching out detergents or cleaners for allergy-friendly alternatives.

If you're cleaning up to store the topper, here are some tips on how to go about mattress topper storage.

Using a cover for your mattress toppers is recommended to aid in keeping them in perfect shape. Covers can be washed in your washing machine which allows you to keep your toppers clean and in pristine condition without frequent cleaning. Unlike the toppers they’re used on, covers can be cleaned as often as necessary without serious long-term damage, and using one will save you both time and money in the long run.

If you'd like to learn how to make a custom topper, read this post.

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