I’m planning a longer post soon on five ways to improve the air quality in your bedroom. But for now, can we talk about vacuuming our mattresses? This is a simple practice with a potentially big payoff.
Today, I’m sharing a simple DIY recipe to clean your mattress using a mix of baking soda and essential oils that are proven to kill dust mites — which are prolific on our mattresses as well as on many other soft surfaces in our homes. This is a non-toxic and low-cost way to address a problem many of us don’t think much about — probably because dust mites are invisible.
Why It’s Important to Vaccuum Your Mattress Regularly
It’s easy to get lulled into thinking those newly laundered sheets and mattress covers are keeping our beds fresh and clean, but sorry, guys — that’s only partially true.
Cleaning experts — backed by science — are in total agreement on this one: we should all be vacuuming our mattresses in order to tackle dust mites and improve the air quality in our bedrooms. And it’s especially important if anyone in your household suffers from allergies, asthma or other respiratory issues.
What are Dust Mites and How Do They Affect Us?
Even if you keep a clean home — as mentioned, your mattress is most likely loaded with dust mites, along with other nasties. (If you dare, check out the WebMD slideshow on what lives in your mattress). Eeew, right?!
I’m sure you’ve heard this before: dust mites are tiny eight-legged bugs (arthropods actually) that are impossible to see with the naked eye. They multiply easily in bedding and mattresses because they feed on tiny flakes of human skin that we shed each day. So, like it or not, your bed is a feeding and breeding ground for these creatures!
If you or someone you love is allergic to dust mites, you could experience symptoms like watery eyes, sneezing, stuffy nose, wheezing or coughing.
Even if you’re not allergic to dust mites, it’s still a good idea in the interest of cleanliness to be proactive when it comes to these critters. The DIY freshener I’m sharing today takes only minutes to make and can easily become part of your cleaning routine.
How Often to Vacuum Your Mattress
The Good Housekeeping Institute recommends we vacuum our mattresses every three to six months, while other sources say to do it monthly. I say choose a schedule that works for you and try to stick with it. If you’re not in the habit of vacuuming your mattress (raises hand) or if you’ve never done it — that’s okay. Here on Honest + Simple, our philosophy is to start where we are and take small steps forward.
Why Using Essential Oils on Your Mattress is a Good Idea
A couple of months ago, I vacuumed our mattress after sprinkling on a DIY freshener made with baking soda and lemongrass essential oil. I was just hoping to give it a nice fresh scent. I had no idea at the time that there are some essential oils that have been proven effective at killing dust mites.
Now that I’ve learned this — I’m excited to share this tip with you and try these oils myself! There isn’t anything complicated or time-consuming about this DIY. All you need is some baking soda and one essential oil from the list below, plus a dispenser to make it easy to sprinkle the mix on your mattress. (I recycled a parmesan cheese dispenser. A Mason jar with sifter lid works, too):
Essential Oils That Kill Dust Mites
These essential oils have been tested and proven effective at killing off dust mites. One National Institute of Health study looked at eight oils and found seven (below) to be effective against dust mites. They’re listed in order from most to least effective, according to the study results. You can certainly combine more than one oil — but if you’re trying to keep the cost down, one essential oil should work just fine:
- Tea Tree
- Bitter Orange
Following are affiliate links — which means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no added cost to you. Read more on my affiliate policy.
Where to Buy Quality Essential Oils
Some of the more common oils — like lavender and tea tree — should be easy to find at reputable health stores and even department stores. Beware, though, there are some cheap adulterated oils on the market that won’t do the job. (Check this post for more info on how to buy quality oils). I use and recommend these two high-quality essential oil vendors: Mountain Rose Herbs and Plant Therapy.
How to Vacuum Your Mattress Using Baking Soda + Essential Oils
Start with one cup of baking soda in your dispenser. To this, add 10 drops of your essential oil of choice. Sprinkle this evenly over your mattress and allow it to sit for 30 minutes or longer. [Remember that essential oils are concentrated and very potent, so only use the recommended amount.]
Typically, you would wait about 15 minutes before vacuuming, but I read one study that said the dust mites die by inhaling some of the oils. So I think it can’t hurt to give the oils more time to do their job, just to be sure.
Vacuum all of the baking soda off your mattress using the upholstery attachment on your vacuum. Next switch to your vacuum’s crevice attachment to get into all the seams where dust, dead skin, and other icky stuff collects.
If you have a HEPA filter on your vacuum, even better. Because HEPA filters trap smaller size particles, they can actually remove some of the dust mites and other allergens on their own.
Let’s Be Realistic
We aren’t ridding our beds of dust mites here — we’re just trying to get them under control. We shed skin cells every day (something like 600,000!) and these tiny invisible creatures are prolific breeders and feeders. But I feel better just knowing I’m paying attention to something that can definitely affect the air quality in our bedroom and take a negative toll on our health.
One final note: While there are mattress covers and protectors designed to prevent dust mites from getting through to your mattress, no one method is 100% effective. In my view, it still makes sense to adopt a cleaning routine for your mattress.
I’ll be writing more soon on other ways to improve air quality in your bedroom. But for now, this is a small step to get started. Let me know in the comments if you’re planning to give this a try or if you have other ideas on the topic.
I am not a licensed nutritionist, medical professional or cosmetics expert. The information provided on Honest + Simple is for general informational purposes only. The statements on this website have not been evaluated by the Food + Drug Administration and are not intended to treat, prevent or cure any disease. Before making decisions about your health or other concerns, please consult a qualified professional and do not rely on this website for medical advice.