Your Mattress: Care for it, it’ll care for you. Read, turn, flip….

Apr 30, 2007

The Bottom Line Don't just lay on it. Regular care and maintenance will give you the greatest chance of realizing the comfort and durability you were hoping for when you made your purchase.

With beds and bedding prices steadily becoming stratospheric and bed construction more complex, it is more important than ever to care properly for your new bed.

More and more frequently consumers submit reviews that start out something like this. Our new bed arrived and it was wonderful for the first six months and then it turned into a torture chamber. We noticed deep indentations and when we called the manufacturer….

Of course some beds are indeed defective or just poorly made to start out with. Paying a premium price alone does not insure that you’ll receive a premium product. If there was ever a product that called for reading reviews before the purchase, this is it.

Sadly though, for reasons I just can’t fathom this is often not the case. If you regularly read mattress reviews as I do you’ll note people purchasing mattress and bed systems that have been savaged for years in previous reviews. If we were discussing a purchase of some inconsequential item that cost a pittance it might be understandable. But when purchasing an item like a bed for upwards of $5,000 with the expectation that it will last at least a decade, not to have done your homework up front is just inexplicable. Don’t you agree?

So, you’ve done your research
Okay, you’ve done your research, found the right bed and one day your primo bed arrives. You throw some bedding on it, scoot under the down comforter and sleep the sleep of the pure and just. You awaken the next morning knowing you’ve been smart, very smart. But wait!

Before you start your decade long love affair with your bed, understand that even the finest beds require regular maintenance and care if they’re to remain the object of your affection. And, that maintenance and care should begin before the bedding gets thrown on the mattress.

Here are a few recommendations for getting the maximum satisfaction out of your new purchase.

Your bed will come with a Warranty and usually care instructions. Read them carefully, particularly the Warranty. Often, for a warranty to remain valid several conditions are required. These conditions are not just provided as an out for the manufacturer (though sometimes they are). They are also intended to insure maximum performance of the bed.

Does the warranty insist you use a corresponding box spring? Are you? The box spring provides an important foundation for your specific mattress. My recommendation is to buy your mattress and box spring as a coordinated set.
The frame is next. Particularly with queen-size and larger beds a manufacturer may specify the minimum number of floor contact points (number of legs). Make sure that on larger mattresses you have the right number. A minimum of six contact points are usually required to give proper center support over time. On king-size beds I recommend eight. No matter how much you love your sleep partner, you might not want to find yourselves meeting together in the center of a bed that has bowed.

Does the warranty mention stains and their effect on your warranty? Most do. A stained mattress most often cannot be returned. This is one of those “gotcha” type of warranty provisions. So, before you throw the bedding on the mattress, make sure you have a stain resistant mattress cover in place.

Modern mattresses (particularly inner-spring mattresses) increasingly employ ever thicker layers of upholstery materials to provide comfort and the feeling of plushness. Over time (even a short time) these layers will compress to form to your body. This is quite natural and often the source of complaints about body indentations. I personally am fond of my own body indentations, but to insure proper, even wear a mattress should be turned regularly. For the first three months I recommend turning it every two weeks. After this period three to four times a year is all that’s usually required.

If it’s a pillow-top I also recommend beating the top mattress surface with your hands to disperse the down or down-like filling of the bed.

Though more and more frequently mattresses are being manufactured to be “flip-free”, most still require or benefit from periodic flipping. Again, during the first three months flipping the mattress every two weeks will produce the best long-term comfort and results. Sound a little excessive? I know. But trust me on this one. It’ll pay off in the long run. You can combine the flipping and turning. After the first three months flip it at least two to three times a year.

Flipping your mattress is a two person task. Your mattress is very heavy. When flipping it, having at least two people will prevent you from folding or bending the mattress and damaging the coil construction. It may also prevent you from hurting yourself. Did I mention that mattresses are very heavy? If your mattress has side handles, don’t use them to flip your mattress. They are not strong enough for this purpose and are there only to help you adjust a mattress once it is roughly in place on top of the box spring.

Don’t forget the box spring
The box spring provides the foundation for your bed. And, while it doesn’t require the rotation frequency of your mattress it should be turned at least a couple of times a year. You might combine the box spring turn with every other flip or turn of the mattress.

Oh, you know the tag on your mattress? Yeah, that one. The one that says do not remove under penalty of law. Don’t remove it. No, not to stay on the right side of the mattress police (you, the consumer are allowed to remove it). But by leaving it on, noting its position when you flip or turn your mattress will help you in the combined flip and turn maneuver.

Not a Trampoline a Bed Makes
When my two oldest girls were little they loved to both invade our bed in the mornings and see who could jump the highest using the mattress as their trampoline. Well, we were young then and indulgent. In case you haven’t figured it out, this is a bad idea, a very bad idea. The concentrated force of even a youngster jumping up and down on a very small footprint in your bed can wreak havoc with the coil system. This fun can easily cause the coils to become detached to some degree from one another and really turn your mattress into a torture chamber.

Regularly vacuuming the mattress is important. Much of the dust and dander in the typical home is the accumulation of shed skin cells. Most of those cells get shed while we sleep. And while the sheets and mattress cover do help at keeping them off your mattress they will find their way to your mattress surface. A periodic vacuum of the mattress will keep it fresh and clean.

Fitting Sheets
With mattresses getting bigger and thicker, placing a fitted sheet on your mattress becomes an increasingly difficult chore. The temptation of course is bending the mattress corner up to get it into the sheet pocket. Resist the temptation. Bending the corners up will potentially damage the coil construction. There’s no shortcut here. Put the sheet on one corner at a time and stretch the sheet across the mattress. Make sure you are using sheets with pockets deep enough to accommodate the thickness of your new mattress. Pull the sides of the sheets down until the entire mattress is properly covered.

Summing Up
So, there you have my recommendations for getting the most out of your new bed. Will they assure that you won’t be disappointed with your selection? Of course not. There are some pretty bad beds out there. But if you do your research up front and then care for your bed regularly you have the greatest chance of realizing the comfort and durability you were hoping for when you made your purchase.

A lot of work? It’s not as bad as it might sound. And remember, you change the oil in your car every 3,000 miles, right?

Now go get a good night’s sleep.

Some helpful bed & mattress links:
So You're Thinking About Buying a New Bed
The Heavenly Bed by Simmons
The Cloud Nine Bed by Serta
Aero Bed


© Rudi Xeno 2007

Read all comments (17)

About the Author ID:
Member: Rudi Xeno
Location: Boca Raton, FL
Reviews written: 371
Trusted by: 195 members
About Me: "Nothing is to be more highly prized than the value of each day"