Never leave a new mattress in its plastic wrapping: always remove this at once. If left on, a plastic wrapper will make the mattress damp, as moisture condenses inside the wrapper. Also, the human body gives off a lot of moisture during sleep, and it is important that both bedding and mattress should be absorbent for a comfortable night’s sleep – apart from which, plastic wrappings are noisy! Turn mattresses at least once every three months. Every so often, clean mattresses and upholstered bases with a soft brush or vacuum cleaner attachment to remove dust and fluff. Treat any spills quickly to avoid wetting the upholstery fillings. For large spills, try to stand the mattress on its side, as seepage is slower on an upright surface. Then blot up as much of the spill as you can, using a clean cloth, towel, or white tissues. Simply sponging with cold water will remove many stains. You can add a few drops of washing-up liquid, or upholstery shampoo. But for milky drinks, including tea and coffee, and for fruit drinks such as orange juice, sponge with a solution of 1 teaspoon of laundry borax to 300 ml warm water; then sponge with clear water. Grease stains can be treated with an aerosol dry-cleaner when the stain is dry. For spills or accidents that smell unpleasant, add a few drops of household antiseptic to your rinsing water. You can dry off large wet areas with a hairdryer, or you can support the mattress safely lengthwise on its edge in front of a fan heater. But do not place it near a radiant electric or gas or open coal fire, and be sure to inspect frequently while drying.
These should always be used with a washable cover which can be removed immediately in the event of spills. For difficult stains, sec Stain removal chart, washable fabrics.
If the spill has penetrated to the duvet underneath, try to push the filling away from the stained area, then gently sponge with warm water to which you have added a few drops of washing-up liquid.
Quilts filled with feathers, down, or mixtures of the two, should be cleaned professionally. But quilts with synthetic fillings can be washed in the bath, provided covering is washable. Knead gently in warm water to which you have added a mild detergent, rinse well and squeeze lightly before hanging outside to dry, well supported over two lines.
Those filled with down, feathers, or mixtures, should not be washed unless necessary, as this removes the oil from the feathers. Use an inner pillow case to protect your pillows from soiling. But if necessary, badly soiled pillows can be gently squeezed through warm soapy water, and rinsed well with at least three changes of water. Spin dry if possible for two minutes. Hang up by two corners to dry outside, and shake occasionally during drying. Alternatively, take pillows to a professional cleaner.
Polyester-filled pillows can be washed as for continental quilts with synthetic fillings, above, finishing off with a one-minute spin in a spin-drier, if you have one.
Latex pilloii’s can usually be sponged clean, but if badly saturated the whole pillow can be washed. It is best to keep the pillow in its inner case as light can harm latex. Use warm water plus soapflakes, and do not twist or wring. Rinse well. Squeeze out as much of the water as you can into a dry towel, then leave the pillow in a warm place until dry.
It is often more convenient to have blankets dry cleaned, but if you use a coin-op machine, be sure to air the blankets thoroughly before you use them, to get rid of any lingering toxic fumes. To wash blankets, tollow carefully any maker’s instructions which may be stitched onto one corner of the blanket. In general, use the relevant washcode indicated on your washing machine, and check that your machine is big enough before you start. Twin tubs can usually only handle a single or thin double. Automatics can usually take a double but not king size. Wool blankets take up less room when they are wet, but acrylics do not reduce in bulk. When washing by hand, the bath makes a good container, and you should use warm water and a good lather of soap flakes. Rinse well and then use a fabric conditioner to restore softness. Hang the blanket outside if possible, over two lines about 90 cm apart. While it is still damp, ease the blanket into shape. When dry, shake well and brush up the pile.