Home Care Library
Keeping Your Mattress Healthy and Long-Lasting
Types of Mattresses
Do’s and Don’ts
TYPES OF MATTRESSES
There are four basic types of mattresses: innerspring; memory foam; latex foam; and air beds:
Inner Spring Mattress
An innerspring mattress has one or more layers of coiled springs covered with padding, quilting and an outer layer called “ticking.” It is recommended that an innerspring mattress be used with a box spring, and the purpose of the box-spring is threefold: to raise the mattress' height, making it easier to get in and out of bed; to absorb shock and reduce wear to the mattress; and to create a flat and firm structure for the mattress to lie upon.
Depending on the model, a queen size innerspring mattress can cost between $400 - 1,800, and can last for 5-10 years with proper care. Major manufacturers for this type of mattress include Sealy, Serta, Simmons, Spring Air, Kingsdown, and Sterns & Foster.
Memory Foam Mattress
A memory foam (or also called “ viscoelastic”) mattress is made from polyurethane. Many people find this type of mattress to be very comfortable. According to some physical therapists, this kind of mattress could be a good choice for people with joint sensitivity due to arthritis or other conditions. For heavy people, however, the mattress can restrict movement and make changing position at night difficult, thereby affecting spinal health. Lastly, memory foam mattresses change shape in response to your body temperature, so it may feel hard in cold weather, and gradually soften up as it warms from body contact.
Memory foam mattresses vary in quality based on their density, indentation load deflection (ILD) rating, tensile strength, and resilience. Depending on the model, a queen size memory foam mattress can cost between $700 - 4,000 and can last for 20 years with proper care. Major manufacturers for this type of mattress include BergradTempur-Pedic, Bodipedic, Comfort Dreams, and Spa Sensations.
Latex Foam Mattress
A latex foam mattress can be made from either natural or synthetic latex. Most people find that natural latex has livelier, more responsive, and more elastic qualities than synthetic or blended latex mattresses. The advantage of a latex mattress is that it is mold and dust mites resistant, and therefore it is a good choice for people with allergies or asthma. Compared to memory foam mattress, latex foam mattress tends to be more breathable, and since a latex mattress does not mold to the body as much as memory foam, it is easier to move around when sleeping. However, some people may find that they are allergic to latex.
Depending on the model, a queen size latex foam mattress can cost between $900 - 3,000 and can last for 20 years with proper care. Major manufacturers for this type of mattress include OMI and IKEA.
Air beds should not be confused with the inflatable air mattresses which are used for camping and spare guest beds. An air bed looks like an innerspring mattress from the outside, but instead of springs, the mattress has inflatable air chambers under the foam cushioning.
The advantage of this mattress is that the firmness is adjustable and for two people, the mattress can be set to two different levels. The downside is that is that sometimes the foam filled strip in between the air chambers in dual-adjustable models can be uncomfortable. And if not taken care of properly, there can be mold growth between the air chambers and the foam padding.
Depending on the model, a queen size air mattress can cost between $700 - 4,000, and can last for 10 years with proper care. Major manufacturers for this type of mattress include Comforter and Select Comfort.
For the health and longevity of your mattress, there are two maintenance tasks which you should routinely perform for your mattresses: flipping & rotating, and vacuuming.
FLIPPING & ROTATING:
If you have an innerspring mattress, then you should be flipping and rotating your mattress to give the springs a rest, which will enable your mattress to last longer. You should rotate your mattress every six months. That is, swing the head of your mattress to where your feet go. And then 3 months later, you should flip your mattress over. That is, you should turn your mattress over so that the top is now on the bottom, while still keeping the head end at the head end. Flipping and rotating is a two-person job, and not something you should try to do alone by yourself.
To help clean and freshen your mattress, you should take the opportunity while flipping and rotating your mattress to vacuum it, and while it is stripped, to open your windows and allow the mattress to bask in direct sunlight (helpful accessory: mattress cleaning kits).
Dust mites and dander builds up in your mattress over time. To remove this you should use the upholstery attachments of your vacuum cleaner to thoroughly vacuum your mattress (see types, costs, and reviews of mattress vacuums). You should vacuum your mattresses every three months, but if you have allergies, then you will benefit from vacuuming more frequently.
DO’s and DONT’s
Now let’s look at some do’s and don’ts for maintaining the health and longevity of your mattresses. First the “do’s.”
Do use a mattress cover.Mattress covers are removable and washable, and help protect your mattress from dust, bed bugs and other allergens. Using a mattress cover also helps reduce the need to vacuum the mattress as often (see types, costs, and reviews of mattress covers).
Do use a mattress pad.Mattress pads are thin (between ½-inch to 4-inch) pads placed over the mattress and under the sheet of the bed. Mattress pads come in different varieties, and are used for improving hygiene, health, and comfort (see types, costs, and reviews of mattress pads). They can be made from cotton, wool, memory foam or natural latex, with each type having different benefits. In addition to providing additional comfort and creating an additional barrier between you and the mattress, mattress pads can be cleaned by laundering. Water-resistant mattress pads are especially good if you have young children who are prone to bed-wetting accidents.
Do keep bedskirts off the floor, as this helps to reduce your chances of getting bed bugs. Bed bugs don’t fly, but can crawl up bed skirts that are touching the floor to get into your mattress.
Do immediately use upholstery shampoo for any stains on your mattress.Tackle stains as quickly as possible for the best chance of removing them. And unless indicated otherwise by your mattress’ manufacturer, you should use upholstery shampoo in accordance with the product’s directions.
Do strip bed when leaving on vacation. When you are going to be away from your home for an extended period of time, it creates a great opportunity to allow your beds to fully air out.
Do replace broken foundations. And finally, if your box springs, frame or support structure are compromised, you should replace them to ensure that your mattress is properly supported.
And now let’s look at some “don’ts” for your mattress:
Don't use the mattress handles to lift full weight.The handles on the sides of your mattress are only for shifting and adjusting the mattress once it is properly in place. If you try to lift the full weight of the mattress with these handles, they will likely tear loose.
Don’t eat, drink or smoke on the bed.Eating or drinking in bed can lead to staining, and can leave odors and lead to breeding grounds for mold and other infestations. And smoking in bed can lead to deadly fires, and the smoke odor saturates into the mattress.
Don’t stand or allow jumping on beds.Standing on your bed puts too much weight in a small area of your mattress, which can permanently damage your mattress in this area. And similarly, children jumping on the bed can cause permanent damage.
Don't use dry cleaning chemicals.The chemicals in dry cleaning agents can be harmful to the materials in your mattress, and should not be used. As mentioned above, for removing stains you should use upholstery shampoo.
Hopefully this video and article have helped you to understand the different kinds of mattresses, and the routine maintenance and do’s and don’ts that will help keep your mattress healthy and long-lasting.
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