How to Clean a Mattress

Dust, mold, mildew, body sweat, fungal spores, allergens – all make mattresses the ideal breeding ground for bacteria and dust mites.  If you’re as grossed out as I am by this, keep reading and learn how to clean your mattress for a better, cleaner sleep.

Vacuum It

Vacuum your mattress every month or so or as often as every time you change the sheets, if you or family members have severe allergies. Run the vacuum very slowly over the mattress, so it has time to inhale the dust and dust mites. Break out the crevice tool for the edges and crevices.

Treat Stains

Treat any stain immediately. The longer liquids sit in a mattress, the likelier you are to foster mold and mildew growth.

This may sound crazy, but use foaming shaving cream for mattress cleaning, in part because of its thickness. Liquids will soak right through a mattress, not allowing adequate time to dissolve the stain. Foaming shaving cream contains denatured alcohol, which is a stain remover, and it’s thick, so it sits on the surface to work on the stain. Wait 10 to 15 minutes, wipe with a damp cloth, and rinse with a 50/50 vinegar/water solution. Repeat if necessary.

Other helpful solutions for common mattress stains:

  • Blood: A 50/50 hydrogen peroxide/water solution.
  • Urine, fecal matter, or vomit: An enzyme cleaner, such as Bac-Out by BioClean, or Nature’s Miracle, available at pet stores.

Freshen Fast

Use a mixture of cornstarch and baking soda to remove smells.  Place in a colander and just shake the mixture on to the mattress, let it sit for a few hours or longer, then vacuum. The cornstarch will absorb body oils, while the baking soda will work on smelly odors.

Sheet Strategy
Don’t put new sheets on until evening. This will allow the mattress to air all day discouraging dust mites and bacterial growth.

Pad It
Remember, mattress pads aren’t just for comfort. They keep your mattress cleaner, too.  Wash monthly in hot water, and machine dry thoroughly, unless the tag instructs otherwise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How to Wash and Dry Down-Filled Items

Manufacturers usually offer cleaning suggestions for their down items. Most recommend cleaning down items infrequently — typically every three to five years, but life happens and sometimes that’s just not sanitary. Try following these steps to get the best results when washing and drying down comforters and pillows.

Washing

Step 1

Check the comforter or pillow for worn stitching or holes, and repair with small fine stitches to avoid losing any down stuffing during the laundering process.  Most comforters are too big for your home washer. Instead, use the large capacity front-loading washing machines at your local Laundromat…specifically Sapulpa Laundry.

Step 2

Before laundering a down comforter or pillow, check for stains. Color-safe bleach can be used on stains caused by water or food, but blood or urine are best treated with an enzymatic cleaner such as Nature’s Miracle or Pure Green Kleen.  Pull the cover of the comforter or pillow away from the down while spot-treating stains to keep the cleaning product from damaging the down. Then launder.

Step 3

Put a sock stuffed with two tennis balls (secured with a knot) in the machine with the comforter or pillows. This addition will help keep the down from bunching and will agitate soil from the items being washed.

Step 4

Use a gentle or delicate-cycle setting and a minimal amount of mild laundry detergent. Choose lukewarm water; hot or cold water can be hard on the down. Use an extra rinse cycle to ensure all soap is rinsed from the down.

NOTE: Down bears a distinctive odor when wet. The odor will dissipate when the down dries.

Drying

Step 1

After the wash is complete, load your comforter or pillows into a dryer large enough to give the items plenty of room to fluff. Add a pair of clean tennis balls to help fluff the down and keep it evenly distributed.

Step 2

Run the dryer on air fluff or the lowest temperature possible. Stop the dryer periodically and break up any lumps that are forming in the comforter or pillow. Also ensure that the down is not getting too warm as extreme heat can scorch the down. Expect the drying process to take three to four hours.

Step 3

Make sure the down item is dry before taking it out of the dryer to avoid the formation of mildew. If the item is still slightly damp, hang it out on a clothesline or lay flat on a table with a fan blowing on it to get the down as dry as possible. Once you bring the comforter or pillow inside, leave the item out for another month to ensure all moisture has evaporated before storing.

 

 

 

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How To Clean Stuffed Animals

Did you know it’s perfectly safe to throw most stuffed animals in the washing machine? On gentle cycle using warm or cold water, a washing machine will get your stuffed animals clean without ruining them.

Most care labels instruct to hand wash, but after raising two kids and needing to deep clean their beloved friends, I tried machine washing.  Set the washing machine  to the delicate cycle, apply  some Spray N’ Wash, Mean Green, or your choice of stain remover if needed,  scrub a little, and wash. Afterwards hang them up to dry. I learned the hard way that throwing them in the dryer can melt the fake fur on some of them.  Poor Simba from the Lion King had a melted mane!

SOME THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN DECIDING IF YOUR STUFFED ANIMALS CAN BE WASHED IN THE WASHING MACHINE:

  • The care label – if it can be hand washed, it can likely withstand the delicate cycle in the washing machine. Your washing machine may even have a hand wash cycle.
  • Material – Take notice of the care label and use your sense of touch as well as sight to thoroughly examine all parts of the stuffed animal to be washed. Polyester and acetate (a form of cotton) are fine to wash. The stuffed animals I washed have plastic pellets and were fine, but you wouldn’t want to machine wash something with foam balls such as Beanie Babies. Be cautious of delicate clothing items and things that are glued on, they may not survive!
  • Age – The older it is, the more fragile it will be.

 

 

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How to Care for Bed Sheets

If you haven’t noticed, bed sheets are expensive.  If you buy quality, you’d like for them to hold up – not fray, get those pesky little fiber balls that form, also known as “pilling”, or simply to prevent them from fading. This blog may seem pointless to some, but learning how to care for your bed sheets will help you keep them longer and save a little money.

First of all, know your sheets’ fiber content. Look at the care label or packaging to identify the fabric content of your sheets. The most likely fabric choices are cotton, Egyptian cotton, or a cotton-polyester blend, although sheets can also be made of bamboo, linen, or silk. Be sure to review the manufacturer’s care recommendations before washing. Keep in mind that cotton-polyester blends will generally come out of the dryer less wrinkled than all-cotton sheets. Bamboo, linen, and silk sheets need special care.

Wash sheets separately from towels or other clothing. This gives the sheets more room to circulate in the water, which means they’ll get cleaner. Washing sheets alone also prevents damage caused by zippers and other fasteners, and it reduces the amount of pilling that can happen over time.

Always pre-treat stains before laundering sheets. Avoid using bleach on bed linens as it can damage the fabric. If you need to brighten white sheets, add 1/4 cup of lemon juice to the wash water instead of bleach. Use a mild detergent for cotton and cotton-polyester-blend sheets. Special fabrics such as linen and silk may require a special detergent.

Use a gentle wash cycle and cool or lukewarm water. Simple tip – shaking the sheets out before placing them in the dryer can help reduce wrinkles. Use a low heat setting to minimize damage from high temperatures.

Wash your sheets weekly (more often for humid climates) to extend the life of your bed linens. During the time spent on the bed, dirt, dust, skin cells, body oils and fluids accumulate on sheets. The longer these particles accumulate on the sheets, the more stress is put on the sheet fibers. In addition, skin cells and body oils and fluids can attract microscopic mites. A good tip to reduce the washing frequency, is to bathe before bedtime so you’ll take less dirt into bed with you. Keeping sweat, oils, and dirt out of the bed will keep the sheets clean longer.

 

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