Last year my husband Alan and I bought a new (wonderfully comfortable, mostly organic) mattress. I’m not going to tell you how old our previous mattress was, but here’s a big hint: it was handed down from my mother when our now-grown kids were still little. (No matter how well you take care of your mattress, it won’t be in good shape nearly that long.)
I’m taking very good care of our new mattress, in hopes that it’ll be fit for the next ten years (the recommended length of time for mattress replacement). Here’s what I do:
• Air it out. Rather than make the bed the minute I’m up, I pull the covers all the way back and let the bed air out while I get ready for the day. On a nice day, I open the windows. Then the bed is nice and freshened when I get back to make it.
• Make the bed. I always make the bed. And not only because of my tidy tendencies. Those sheets and covers protect the mattress from dust and pollen.
• Use a mattress protector. I like a plain, organic cotton mattress cover, but you might want to consider a liquid-resistant mattress pad for kids’ beds or if you’re concerned about spilling on a mattress. You can also get pads to protect from dust mites and allergens, but be sure to read labels so you know what substances you’re sleeping on.
• Launder bedding regularly. I wash our sheets weekly and the mattress cover and blankets at least once a month.
• Vacuum the mattress. Once a month, I run a hand-held vacuum over the surface of the mattress, to pick up any dust that might sift down into the mattress. Sometimes I sprinkle the mattress with baking soda first, to freshen it further.
• Wipe up any spills. If you spill water on the mattress, blot it up. You can also spot clean a mattress, if necessary, with warm water and a mild detergent, but don’t soak it. Always wait until the mattress is completely dry before putting bedding on it. (Run a fan over the mattress if it needs more air circulation to dry.)
• Flip the mattress. Unless you have a pillowtop (which means only one side is up), it’s usually a good idea to flip the mattress over every few months to help distribute the wear to both sides. Check your mattress’ manual to see if yours is built for flipping.
• Rotate the mattress. No matter what kind of mattress you have, it’s a good idea to rotate it regularly. In other words, move the top to the bottom and the bottom to the top, without flipping it over. Sleep.org recommends rotating it end to end every two weeks for the first four months and then every three months after that. They also recommend rotating your box spring every six months.
• Give the mattress good support. Make sure the mattress is on a sturdy bed frame. If it’s a queen or king bed, a strong center support is also important to keep the mattress from bending in the middle. If you have a platform-type bed frame, a slatted base that allows air circulation is better than a solid plank under the mattress.
• Clean the room. Keep the bedroom clean by dusting and vacuuming or sweeping regularly. This will prevent airborne particles from landing on the bed.
• Don’t sit on the edge of the bed (at least not in the same spot) repeatedly, or you might cause the mattress to sag in that spot.
• Keep little monkeys from jumping on the bed. They might get hurt, and they can damage the structure (coils and/or fibers) of the mattress.
• Move with care. When carrying the mattress, hold it by the bottom (with strong helpers). Don’t carry it by the handles on the sides. Those are for positioning the mattress—when you rotate it, for example. Also try to bend the mattress as little as possible when you’re carrying it through doorways and other tight spots.
By the way, pets do take a toll on mattresses—and bring animal dander to the bed— so for longest wear, keep pets off the bed. (Of course, this is a tradeoff you may be willing to make for your furry friend!)
Also be sure to check the warranty and care information that came with your mattress, if you still have it. If you don’t, you may find it via the manufacturer online. (It may also be written on the mattress tag that you were afraid to cut off.)
Follow these directions and your mattress should provide a decade of healthful sleep.