If you're like me, you have never contemplated the need to clean your mattress. But as it turns out, once you know the facts, the cleanliness (or lack thereof) of your mattress can be hard to ignore.

According to Ohio State University, a used mattress can have anywhere from 100,000 to 10 million dust mites inside. That's because mites feed off of dead skin cells, which our mattresses are full of since we spend so much time in bed. And what's really irritating to our skin and lungs is not the mites themselves, but the fecal matter. Yuck.

So what can you do about this not-so-little problem? Change your sheets often (once a week if you can, once every other week for sure) and clean your mattress regularly. "I don't think people give a lot of thought and energy into proper mattress care," Dr. Sharon Horesh Bergquist, assistant professor in the department of medicine at Emory University, told CNN in 2010. "It really can improve not only the quality of people's sleep but also reduce their chances of having mites and infestations of bedbugs."

Sounds easier said than done, right? I mean, you can't exactly just stick your mattress in the washing machine. Never fear! MNN to the rescue. Here are four easy steps to follow to clean your mattress:

  1. First, take off your sheets and wash them in the hottest water possible. This will help to kill any mites living on your sheets.
  2. Next, while the load is running, generously sprinkle baking soda all over your mattress (I use a sieve for this purpose but you can just shake it on straight from the box). If you'd like, you can even add a few drops of lavender essential oil to the mix to help with any funky smell that may be emanating from your mattress.
  3. Then, let it sit there for at least an hour; a few hours if you have the time.
  4. Vacuum up the baking soda with the hose attachment from your household vacuum cleaner. Do this part slowly, since lingering over each part of your mattress with the hose will allow it to suction up as much dust from inside the mattress as possible.

For a deeper clean, you can also steam clean your mattress. Steam cleaning works great to help get out old stains and will also help deodorize your mattress. Just be sure to let your mattress dry fully (three or four hours should do the trick) before putting your sheets and blankets back on the bed.

Do you have a mattress pad on your bed? This will also go a long way towards keeping your mattress clean. Don’t forget to wash it once a month as well.

By the way, your pillows can harbor dust mites also, particularly if you sweat a lot at night. Be sure to wash your pillows regularly and change them out for new ones every two years.

Remember, you spend one-third of your life in your bed, so its important to keep it as clean as you would any other surface in your home if not more so. Be sure to clean your mattress regularly and then you can rest easy (literally)!

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