Best Mattress Vacuum Cleaners - How to Choose the Best One?

Mattress vacuum cleaners are highly specialized vacuums designed for cleaning mattresses, beds, upholstery, and similar surfaces from mites, bed bugs, bacteria, and other types of dirt and potential allergens.

In order to clean such surfaces, a good mattress vacuum cleaner must use several methods to deep clean and sanitize the required area.

Updated: November 10, 2020.

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Due to their specialization, mattress vacuums often look like something that came out of SF movies. But, their intended use and thus required features, dictate their shape and size.

In order to clean mattresses and beds thoroughly, the best mattress vacuums feature several cleaning methods, including:

- Strong Suction: in order to deeply clean bed bugs and dust mites, these vacuums must have strong suction. Full-size home vacuums feature suction up to 20kPa and good mattress vacuums reach up to 10-12 kPa - even stronger suction would be beneficial in terms of pulling out the dirt, but it would require larger and heavier motors, thicker power cords and would cause the mattress vacuums to be heavier and rather hard to glide over the vacuumed area.

- Multiple Suction Inlets: most mattress vacuums feature 'just' one suction inlet, but having another one above the cleaning area can be very beneficial - as the vacuum cleans the surface, some of the dirt is not sucked into the vacuum, but it is released in the air right after the main suction inlet passes over the surface. The second suction inlet allows the unit to vacuum even such dirt and filter it out.

- Beater Bar or Motorized Brushroll: beater bar oscillates on high frequency (3-4 kHz or more), causing deeply embedded dirt to get loose and then easily picked up via strong local suction. Similarly, rotating brushroll helps clean deeply embedded dirt, but also hair, lint, fibers, and other similar dirt.

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- UV Light: in order to sanitize mattresses and beds, most mattress vacuums feature a UV lamp that emits strong UV ~253 nm radiation. Such radiation penetrates the mattress surface and kills viruses, bacteria, dust mites, and other germs and bed bugs, sanitizing the mattress surface.

Note: ~253 nm UV radiation is dangerous to humans, too. Thus mattress vacuums come with safety sensors that turn off UV light if the mattress vacuum is not in full contact with the cleaned surface. Also, since such radiation can cause damage to sensitive surfaces, most vacuums that feature UV lamps, also have separate power controls for them.

- Hot Air Fan: Although UV light can kill most bed bugs, good mattress vacuums also feature hot air fan which is used to dry the cleaned surface, but also to kill the rest of the bed bugs by drying them out fully. Hot air temperature is usually around 55°C (~131°F) - anything hotter than that could cause damage and even injuries, and anything colder than that wouldn't have such drying effect. Nonetheless, be careful when cleaning sensitive surfaces.

By combining strong suction with multiple inlets, beater bar/motorized brushroll, UV lamp, and hot air fan, mattress vacuums can clean, sanitize, and dry cleaned areas.

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But, mattress vacuums also have other features as well.

- true HEPA air filtration: in order to prevent vacuumed dirt to be exhausted back into the cleaned area, mattress vacuums must have good air filtration, preferably 'true HEPA' air filtration, which is able to filter out and capture 99.97% of 0.3 microns or larger particles.

Note that the average size of the pollen, dust and other potential allergens are:

- smoke particles: 1.0 microns,

- pet dander: 5 microns,

- household dust: 10 microns,

- pollen: 30 microns,

- human hair: 80 microns.

By having true HEPA mattress vacuums, the user is assured that vacuumed dirt is captured in the vacuum itself.

- washable air filters help keep the maintenance costs low. However, keep in mind that such filters must be thoroughly dried before assembling back into the unit and that these (and other vacuums) should never be used with wet/moist air filters or no filters at all. Also, after some time even such air filters should be replaced.

- a relatively large dust cup ensures that the cleaning task is finished before the user has to empty the dust cup. Since mattress vacuums are intended for mattresses (hence the name), beds, sofas, upholstery, and similar surfaces, relatively small dust cups are more than large enough - on average 0.2 liters dust cup is more than large enough. If you need a larger dust cup for 1-2 mattresses, then there are some issues with the mattresses!

- long power cord helps the user reach areas to be cleaned. Most corded mattress vacuums come with 12-15 feet long power cords and they are usually long enough. If you do need a longer power cord, use an extension cord that is thick enough - since mattress vacuums are usually low power units (rarely stronger than 2-3 Amps @120 volts), almost any extension cord will suffice.

Cordless mattress vacuums are not limited by the length of the power cords, but their operating time is limited by the amount of energy stored in their onboard batteries.

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 Safety Features

The most important safety feature is contact/proximity sensors for the units having UV lamps.

Never, but really never block or tamper with those sensors, since they prevent harmful UV lights to cause damage and even injuries to humans, pets, and surrounding objects.

Other, not so common safety features include suction motor thermal protection, dust cup full sensors, clog/blockage sensors, and similar.

Note: Mattress vacuums are easy to use and often to maintain vacuums, but they are rather specific units and prior the first use be sure to thoroughly read the manual.

Long Story Short: If you have issues with bed bugs, allergens, dust mites, and similar, consider getting a good mattress vacuum - they are rather affordable units, and having a good one can help you keep your home clean, safe and pleasant to live.