How to clean a foam mattress topper

A woman pulls up the corner of a Layla Mattress Topper to show how thick it is
(Image credit: Layla Sleep)

Mattress toppers give you an extra layer of comfort and help extend the life of your mattress. But because they lie on top of the bed, they're right in the firing line to attract dust, dirt, skin cells and other debris. Plus they can also get stained by sweat, spillages and residue from creams and other beauty products. So it's important to clean them regularly, or they'll need replacing before their time. 

If you have a memory foam mattress topper, you need to be especially careful. That's because the structure of memory foam is very delicate, and can't be put in the washing machine. It will get damaged from being soaked in water, and the centrifugal force of the machine and the heat of the drum will probably add to the destruction further. Some of the best mattress toppers have removable covers you can pop into the washing machine (the Tempur-Pedic Tempur-Adapt Mattress Topper is one example). But if your topper doesn't have one of these, it'll require a different approach. 

Like the best memory foam mattresses, cleaning a foam topper is perfectly possible, once you know how. In this article, we'll walk you through the correct way to clean a foam topper from start to finish. Alternatively, if you have a different filling for your topper then read our more general guide to how to clean a mattress topper.

1. Getting started

Depending on what state your foam mattress topper is in, you'll need the following things before you start:

  • Space to lay out your foam topper in a well-ventilated room 
  • Vacuum cleaner with soft brush attachment 
  • If your foam topper is stained: Cleaning cloth, and either a stain remover OR baking soda, water and vinegar + a spray bottle
  • If your foam topper smells: Baking soda
  • If you have hardwood or carpet: plastic sheeting or tarp to protect it

Note that the cleaning process can take a long time, so it's best to start at the beginning of the day if possible. Alternatively, buying a spare mattress topper and alternating them means you can take all the time in the world.

2. Gently vacuum your foam topper

First remove your foam mattress topper from the bed and lay it on the floor. (This is better than cleaning it while still on the bed, as it's easier to reach all four corners.) If your floor is hardwood or carpet, you may want to first lay down some plastic sheeting or tarp first to protect it. Also make sure there's lots of space around your topper for access, and that the room is well-ventilated.

Now take your vacuum cleaner and, using a soft brush attachment, vaccum the topper lightly, in small, circular movements. This will suck in hairs, dust mites, allergens and other invisible micro-organisms, so it's important to do regularly, even if there are no visible stains on your topper.

Once you've finished vacumming the one side, remember to flip it over and do the other too. If you don't have a vacuum cleaner, you can use a soft brush instead. Either way, the important thing is to be gentle, to avoid damaging the delicate memory foam inside your topper.

3. Remove any stains

Baking soda mixed with vinegar

Baking soda mixed with vinegar is a good alternative to a commercial stain remover (Image credit: Shutterstock)

If there are visible stains on your memory foam topper, then you need to remove them using spot-cleaning only. It bears repeating: never put a foam topper in the washing machine. Also avoid using harsh cleaning agents such as hydrogen peroxide, which can discolor and damage memory foam and other filling materials.

One suitable method is to use a stain remover such as Tide's Laundry Stain Remover with Oxi. Lightly spray over the stain and then run it gently with a damp, lightly-colored cloth. Blot the liquid out with a mildly damp cloth, then dry it with paper towels. Repeat this process until the stain is removed. Make sure you don't use too much liquid, or it may soak into the foam and damage its internal structure.

An alternative way to remove stains is by mixing together baking soda, vinegar and water, pouring this into a spray bottle, and spraying it onto the area. Rub it into the stain using small, circular movements then leave it for about 30 minutes to seep in. For more on this home hack, read our article What makes baking soda and vinegar so good at cleaning. Again, make sure to use only a minimal amount of liquid.

Before you use either of these methods, check the care label, in case your specific foam mattress topper has particular requirements. 

4. Remove bad smells

If your mattress topper is suffering from bad smells, baking soda is a tried and tested way of deodorizing it. 

This process couldn't be easier, but it does take time. Simply sprinkle baking soda directly onto the surface of your topper, making sure it's evenly spread, and leave it on for around eight hours, or overnight. 

Afterwards, gently remove all the baking soda using a vaccuum cleaner. To learn more about using baking soda to clean, read our article What makes baking soda and vinegar so good at cleaning

5. Dry your topper

Clothes pegs on washing line

(Image credit: Photo by Sera via Pexels)

If you've used any cleaning products on your foam mattress topper, it's vital to dry it thoroughly before putting it back on your mattress.  Because if there's a single trace of moisture left, it will encourage the growth of mold and mildrew, leading to bad smells and damage to the foam.

After cleaning, then, keep your topper in a well-ventilated room, or outside on a line, and give it suitable time to dry completely, which may take up to 24 hours. Avoid leaving it in direct sunlight during hot weather, though, as the resulting heat may damage the foam's internal structure.

6. Maintaining your foam mattress topper

To maintain your foam mattress topper, you should clean it regularly: at least every one to two months, or sooner if you keep pets or experience spillages. 

If you run hot at night, then you can help minimise the amount of sweat that seeps into your topper by buying one with cooling properties, such as the Layla Topper, which is infused with copper-gel.

Finally, you can help keep your foam mattress topper clean and hygienic by combining it with a mattress protector, which wraps around it. Read our roundup of the best mattress protectors to find the right one for you. If you do do decide it's time to invest in a new topper, our roundup of mattress topper deals can help.

We have plenty more household cleaning guides. Get started with how to clean a computer screen and how to clean microfiber cloths.

Tom May

Tom regularly writes about sleep for Tom's Guide and our sister site Over the years he's tested a number of mattresses, duvets and pillows, and as a back pain sufferer, has a keen interest in finding ones that offer maximum support. Plus, in running a successful Airbnb business, sleep hygiene and providing the right bedding for guests has become a big part of his day-to-day life.