How Dirty Mattresses Impact Your Health

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Getting good sleep is crucial for overall health, and your mattress plays a major role in determining the quality of rest you receive each night. Today, there are various types of mattresses available, each suited for different individuals. Some people prefer firm mattresses, while others who suffer from back pain need pressure-relieving ones.

According to The Sleep Foundation, it’s recommended to replace your mattress every 6 to 8 years or sooner if it no longer offers the necessary comfort and support.

Many specialists suggest rotating your mattress to prolong its lifespan. By rotating it, you prevent excessive wear and tear in the same spots and decrease the risk of sagging.

But, could your bed be causing health problems besides back pain, other than aging and sagging mattresses?

As you sleep, you naturally sweat and shed skin and hair, and over time, your mattress accumulates dust, grime, sweat, and other particles, making it a breeding ground for bacteria.

It’s common to vacuum a mattress when changing sheets, which is harmless. However, professional mattress cleaners suggest a deep cleaning to reduce potential health hazards.

If you get the recommended amount of sleep, you could spend 8 hours a night in bed. This extended period in a potentially unhealthy environment can have a negative impact on your health. The accumulation of bacteria and other substances in your mattress can affect your health during sleep, and your lifestyle choices can also contribute to the problem.

Eating breakfast in bed may seem like a nice idea at times, but spills and crumbs can lead to mold and bacterial growth and shorten the lifespan of your mattress. Mold thrives in moist environments and can cause health problems for both adults and children.

Sleeping naked has health benefits, but it also results in the mattress absorbing more sweat compared to when you wear pajamas, causing it to become dirtier faster.

What health issues can result from a dirty mattress?

Not having a clean mattress can lead to several health problems, including dust mites, which are difficult to completely eliminate. Professional mattress cleaning can help reduce their populations.

Dust mites and allergies

Dust mites are a common household health issue that can trigger asthmatic symptoms and cause allergic reactions, even though they are generally harmless.

Research shows that a mattress can harbor up to 10 million dust mites, and their waste can cause symptoms from allergic reactions, including:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Red eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Chest tightness
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing

While some people may experience mild allergic reactions to dust mites, others may experience asthma attacks triggered by these pests.

Poor sleep patterns

Older, dirty mattresses can significantly impact sleep patterns. Sagging mattresses can result in back and muscle pains, and dirty mattresses can affect your sleep quality.

Once more, dust mites can cause poor sleep quality through constant exposure to their waste. This can lead to physical health problems such as high blood pressure and obesity, as well as negatively impact mental well-being, making it difficult to concentrate and focus.

Pet dander and children

If your child is showing symptoms of allergies, it may be due to pet dander. Many pet owners, including cat and dog owners, allow their pets to sleep in their beds, and children may be especially susceptible to this.

Unfortunately, the shedding of hair and skin by dogs and cats can trigger allergies in both children and adults.

Also read: How to Summer Yard Care to Get Rid of Pests

Bacterial and fungal growth

You wouldn’t want to associate your cozy bed with fungus, but an old mattress may contain an abundance of bacteria. Tests have shown that older mattresses can have up to 16 million colony-forming units of bacteria per square inch. The bacteria present in your mattress can range from mold to potentially deadly staphylococcus.

Bed bugs

It’s important to note that bed bugs are not related to cleanliness, but high-temperature mattress steam cleaning can have the added advantage of eliminating bed bugs and their eggs.

Toxic chemicals in cleaning products

Cleaning your mattress with chemical-based products can potentially harm your health, as the residue left behind can be inhaled while sleeping.

The Better Sleep Council suggests avoiding the use of chemical-based cleaners on mattresses, and Crown Cleaners is a chemical-free alternative for mattress cleaning among many other similar services.

What is the proper way to clean a mattress?

The initial step is to vacuum the mattress. However, since the mattress can soak up dirt, oils, perspiration, and other moisture, it requires a more thorough cleaning.

You can opt for spot cleaning, but some individuals may prefer avoiding chemicals. For removing stains and marks, you can use dish soap, and for overall cleaning, a mixture of water and vinegar can be used.

To clean a mattress, many people use baking soda. Sprinkle baking soda over one side of the mattress, once it is completely dry. For best results, place the mattress in direct sunlight to eliminate moisture, kill mold and bacteria. Leave for a few hours, then flip and repeat the process.

For a thorough cleaning, steam cleaning is recommended as it reaches deeper layers and provides a more in-depth clean. You can either rent steam cleaning equipment or opt for professional cleaning services.


Many people cherish a good night’s sleep or a daytime nap. However, the very mattress that provides comfort can also be detrimental to one’s health.

Unclean mattresses can harbor allergens like pet dander and dust mites, leading to allergic reactions and asthma attacks. Additionally, poor sleeping patterns caused by an unclean mattress can have negative effects on mental health and increase the risk of certain illnesses.

Cleaning your mattress every 6 months is recommended. This modest effort can greatly enhance your physical and mental well-being.

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