How to Take Care of Your Mattress

Don't Make These Nine Mistakes

Man sitting on bed
hellomikee/Twenty20

By the end of an average year, you’ll have spent nearly 3,000 hours lying on your mattress, so it pays to take good care of what is typically an expensive purchase. A well-chosen, well-cared for mattress is crucial to your health – it keeps your spine properly aligned, your body well supported and your sleep blissful and uninterrupted by aches or pains. Still, many people ruin their mattress long before its time by making the following nine mistakes.

Never Rotating the Mattress

The days when you needed to periodically flip a mattress over are long gone, as mattresses from the past decade or so no longer have double-sided springs. But that doesn’t mean you are free and clear once the delivery guys set up a new mattress in your bedroom. Make it a habit to rotate your mattress top to bottom at least every other month, and you’ll delay the inevitable appearance of valleys and sags due to body weight.

Not Using a Mattress Pad

If you don’t cover your mattress with a protective pad, you’re leaving it defenseless against its mortal enemies: moisture, skin flakes, dust and body oils. Still, this is one of the most common ways people ruin their mattresses. If you’re avoiding a mattress pad because you remember the hot, crinkly, plastic covers from decades past, you’ll be pleased to discover that today’s numbers are far more comfortable and breathable, and many are thickly padded for extra comfort and are dust-mite resistant.

Wash your mattress pad at least two or three times per year to keep it fresh.

Jumping on the Bed

Whether it’s your kids using the bed as a trampoline, or you guilty of standing on your mattress to reach a shelf or hang a picture, the strain is too much for your bedsprings to bear. And if you have a platform bed, standing or jumping on the mattress is an even bigger no-no; the wooden supports might break, sending the mattress and you to the floor.

Not Bothering with a Bed Skirt

Sure, dust ruffles are mostly decorative and an excellent way to add a splash of style to your space – just choose one that matches an accent color in your bedding or room. But beyond that, the hanging fabric helps keep dust, pet hair and general grime from migrating under your bed, where it tends to build up not only as dust bunnies, but also as a potent source of allergens. So whether you prefer a ruffled bed skirt or a more tailored design, if you have a mattress sitting on a foundation, a dust ruffle will help protect the underside of your mattress. Wash the bed skirt at least once a year to remove accumulated dust and hair.

Letting Pets Sleep Underneath Your Bed

It probably seems like a cozy den to Fido or Mittens, but letting pets sleep underneath your bed means lots of pet fur along the bottom of your mattress, and an increased likelihood of a sniffly nose for you. Not only that, but your pet might rip through the thin fabric protecting the bottom of the foundation. Instead, give your pet a cozy bed of his own. You’ll both sleep better.

Neglecting to Clean Your Mattress

Mattresses need periodic cleaning just like the rest of your room. At least twice per year, but preferably once each season, strip your bed of all the coverings, and then vacuum the top and sides of the mattress thoroughly with your vacuum’s upholstery tool.

Pay particular attention to the seams of the mattress, where dust mites especially like to hide. If you’d like, sprinkle a little baking soda on the bed before vacuuming to help remove odors.

Leaving Your Mattress Unsupported

If you have a platform bed, check the slats periodically for cracks, sags or weakness. If you have a foundation, (you might still refer to it as the box springs, but these days, it’s just a wooden support – actual springs are a thing of the past) do the same: look for cracks or damage to the frame. A mattress without proper support is going to sag and bend under your body weight, and that means YOU aren’t being properly supported, either.

Keeping It in the Dark

Help keep your mattress odor-free and dust mites in check by periodically exposing your mattress to fresh air and sunlight.

Just pull off all the bedding when it’s laundry time, and let your mattress air out for a few hours.

Leaving Spills to Dry Out

It happens; your potty-training toddler has a nighttime accident; you’re enjoying a romantic glass of wine in bed with your significant other, but it spills; or someone in the family has a bad case of stomach flu and can’t make it out of bed in time. Regardless of the source, liquid and your mattress do not mix. Anytime moisture is spilled onto your bed, remove the sheets immediately, and use a towel to blot up the liquid as much as possible. If necessary, use a commercial cleaner or baking soda to remove residual odor or stains. Then either allow the mattress to air dry before remaking the bed, or use your blow dryer on its low setting to speed things along.

Even with the best of care, mattresses are generally ready for replacement in five to ten years. You’ll know it’s time for a new one when the mattress has valleys or sags, you aren’t sleeping well or you are waking up with aches, stiffness or tingling.