The Gag-Inducing Reasons You Should Vacuum Your Mattress Tonight

The Gag-Inducing Reasons You Should Vacuum Your Mattress Tonight

A few weeks back, the engineering geniuses at Dyson Australia announced series of new developments in their range of vacuums. The news was pretty damn exciting, complete with laser tech and an anti-tangle hair screw tool.

When hearing about the new products from Dyson, the team touched on how effective these babies are at cleaning your mattress, and the importance of keeping on top of this chore at home.

While I was aware cleaning your mattress was a thing, I always saw it as an added extra or something to do before having guests over… not a regular task on the cleaning list. So, being the curious creature I am, I reached out to the Dyson team to get a little more insight into how often we should be cleaning our mattresses, and why.

Research Scientist in Microbiology, Dennis, offered his expertise over email.

First thing’s first. How often do we need to clean our mattresses?

The good news is that you don’t need to be doing this every week. The less good news is that you probably do need to vacuum your mattress more often than when guests arrive.

Dennis explained that regularity really does depend on your mattress type and your susceptibility to dust mite allergens. But in general terms, he said that the sweet spot is about twice a year.

“I’d recommend cleaning them at least every six months: once when you’re spring cleaning and once at the end of dust mite season in October,” he said.

“That way you can reduce the number of skin flakes present in your mattress before dust mite season begins and remove any excess allergenic material once they’ve finished breeding; supporting your wellbeing through the winter months.”


Is it really that bad to leave your mattress unattended?

Listen. If you, like me, have long neglected this task, you’re not alone. Dennis shared that according to Dyson’s recent global study into dust (we wrote about that here) “four in five Aussies don’t clean their mattress regularly”.

Apparently, 60 per cent of us are blissfully unaware of the “potential link between household dust and the potential transfer of viruses”.

He continued:

“We spend roughly a third of our lives in bed. While it may look clean, your mattress may actually be a hotbed of microscopic life, which could be impacting your wellbeing while you sleep.”

“Dust mites, their faeces, bacteria, viruses, pollen and other allergens make up the complex matrix that is household dust, which also exists in your mattress. Indeed, there can be millions of dust mites in a single mattress,” he said.

In a nutshell, dust mites feed on things like dander, dead skin cells and food crumbs, making your mattress a pretty inviting environment for them. Dennis shared that on average, we shed about 2g of skin every day, and “even more at night where friction from bedding causes dead cells to shed”.

Dust mite allergens are often responsible for triggering allergies.

The signs your bed needs some good clean love

The first thing to look out for is dust. If you can see dust building in your bedroom, it’s probably time to give your bed some attention.

Dennis also shared that folks who tend to suffer from dry skin should pay close attention, “as their discarded skin cells have reduced lipid content,” something that tends to attract dust mites.

Humidity and temperature also play a part, he pointed out.

“House dust mites thrive in warm, damp and dark conditions, particularly where humidity levels are around 70 per cent and temperatures rise above 25 degrees Celsius,” Dennis said. So, if your bedroom is a bit of a sauna, it may be worth boosting your cleaning regularity.

How do I keep my bed clean?

If you’re appropriately grossed out by the above, Dennis shared that there are a few ways to ensure your bed and mattress are good and clean. Here are his four tips:

  1. Remove and wash bedding: Washing sheets and blankets on a 60°C or 90°C wash will help to break down and reduce allergens. While you may vacuum your mattress only a few times a year, it’s recommended that you launder and change your bedding once a week to remove microscopic skin flakes and keep dust and allergens at bay.
  2. Vacuum gently – but with power: Dust mites might be small, but they’re tenacious. Their claws help them cling on to the fibres deep in your mattress, which can make them difficult to remove. Using a vacuum with a high-power or Boost mode will deliver the suction you need to remove as many mites, skin flakes and allergens as possible. Use a Mini-Motorised tool in handheld mode which won’t damage the surface of your mattress but has stiff nylon bristles that can agitate the fibres in your mattress and loosen dust mites and other debris. Make sure that the vacuum you’re using has a fully sealed filtration system to avoid allergens being expelled back into your face as you clean.
  3. Focus on hard-to-reach areas: Once you’ve deep cleaned the surface of your mattress, pay attention to any crevices or folds where dust and allergens can gather. For cleaning around the edge of your mattress where there may be a seam, use a Crevice tool in handheld mode to remove any hidden dust. Don’t forget under your bed as well, as dust mites thrive in dark, warm and humid areas with plenty of skin flakes that often remain undisturbed.
  4. Flip, repeat, remake: Flip your mattress over and vacuum the other side too to keep concentrations of invisible allergens low. If you’ve cleaned any stains, ensure that these have dried out fully before remaking the bed – humidity will encourage mould, bacteria and potentially dust mite proliferation in your mattress.

Anyone else feel a little unwell?

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