How to Move a Mattress Without Professional Movers

Friends, Rope, and Plastic Make the Move a Cinch

Men carrying mattress
Matthias Ritzmann/Getty Images

If you're moving by yourself, you'll need to move your mattress too. Not only will this guide ensure your mattress arrives in your new home without a rip, but it'll also keep the roads and highways safe.

Matching Your Mattress to the Right Vehicle

Most mattresses won't fit inside a car's trunk or hatch. Some vehicles, however, are ideal for moving a twin, full, double, queen, or even king-sized mattress

  • Most mattresses of any size will fit into a typical pickup truck. If you can borrow or rent one, you're in good shape.
  • If you have a van and can remove its seats, a single small mattress may fit without too much trouble.
  • A large SUV is big enough to carry almost any mattress on the roof, provided that the mattress is properly secured.
  • A small vehicle may be appropriate for carrying a smaller mattress on the roof.

What You'll Need if You're Carrying Your Mattress on the Roof of a Car

The following are the basic tools you should have available. In fact, most of these items should be part of any move you're planning to do on your own without the help of a moving company. Some of these tools also show up in our list of the top five essential tools to help you move:

  • Thick plastic or mattress bag (sized to fit your mattress)
  • Rope
  • Duct tape
  • Scissors
  • Work gloves
  • Extra pair of hands!

How to Safely Secure the Mattress to the Roof of the Car

Let's assume you don't have a truck or van large enough to accommodate your mattress, so you're taking the roof route.

This should work out fine, assuming you're not moving a king sized mattress with a Volkswagen Beetle! You will, however, need to follow these steps.

Wrap Your Mattress in Plastic. Use a specially sized mattress bag. Make sure that any extra plastic is taped down; the wind can easily rip plastic if it's not properly secured or create a sail that can cause the mattress to come loose.

Purchase Sturdy Rope. Buy enough rope to secure your mattress both lengthwise and across the middle. Bear in mind that:

  • Mattresses are 74 to 84 inches long, for a maximum of seven feet. You'll also need several additional feet of rope at each end. So about 14 feet of rope should be sufficient for one rope.
  • Mattresses are 39 inches (twin) to 76 inches (king) wide. It's a good idea to measure the width of your bed, then multiply that number by four to get more than enough rope. For example, 50 inches times four is 200 inches, which translates to a 16-17 foot long rope.
  • While you want your rope to be strong, you also want to be able to tie it. Choose a rope that's strong but not too thick or hard to manage.

Secure Your Mattress to the Top of the Car. Place the mattress on the roof, making sure it's in the middle. Toss the first long piece of rope over the length of the mattress. There should be enough to secure one end under the front of your car and enough at the other end to secure the second end under the back of your car. Make sure the rope is tied taut and that the knots on both ends are secure.

Next, open all the windows except for the driver's side. Toss one end of the second piece of rope over the mattress's width, then loop it back through the open windows.

Do this twice before tying the two rope ends together inside the car. Make sure you leave the driver's side rope-free. By running the rope through the windows, you won't be able to open any doors; keeping the driver's side free will enable the vehicle's passengers to escape during an emergency.

Be Safe When You Drive

When you drive with a mattress on your roof, you're carrying a wide load that may block some of your view. For safety's sake, drive slowly and take the back roads or streets if possible.  Consider having friends drive behind you to let me know if the mattress is slipping at all.  If you have friends helping with the move, you can also ask them to ride along with you, having each one hold the mattress through the passenger side and back windows. This provides a little more security especially if you'll be traveling on a busy road, freeway, or interstate.