We laugh at the princess who complained about a pea-sized lump in her mattress, but I’m on her side. Lumps, bumps, and sagging springs aren’t just uncomfortable. They can hurt your back and your skin. Even a pea-sized lump can hurt you, causing discomfort and, eventually, painful and infection-prone bedsores.
The average American spends over 2,500 hours asleep on a mattress every year—longer than we spend in the car or on the sofa. But a comfortable mattress matters even more to people who are bed-ridden or forced by illness and age to spend longer than usual in bed. Vulnerable people may begin to develop bedsores after just a few hours of excess pressure or friction against their skin.
Mattresses degrade over time, losing their ability to distribute pressure evenly. They should be replaced when they are worn out. But how often should you change your mattress? And what can you do to lengthen mattress lifespan? Let’s take a look at some top mattress maintenance and buying guidelines to help you keep your mattresses in tip-top shape for longer.
How Long Do Mattresses Last?
The average mattress lasts between seven and ten years. But a mattress’s lifespan depends on many different things. A cheap, low-quality mattress will break down more quickly than a well-made mattress. Spring mattresses aren’t as robust as foam mattresses. A heavier person wears mattresses out faster than a light one.
The real question is not how long mattresses last but whether your mattress is fit for purpose today. Is it lumpy and uncomfortable? Does it sag in the middle or at the edges? Is the outer fabric torn or stained? Does it smell bad? If so, it may be time to get a new mattress, regardless of how old it is.
It’s worth emphasizing that these questions are even more critical for bedridden people and other vulnerable groups. A lump or sag here and there that may not bother a fit 20-year-old could be a health hazard to an 80-year-old or an individual with physical or mental disabilities.
How Often Should You Turn Your Mattress?
To turn or not to turn? The answer depends on your mattress. Rotating and flipping helps to spread wear over different parts of the mattress. You flip a mattress regularly so each side gets even wear, extending the mattress’s lifespan. As a general rule, you should flip your mattress a couple of times a year.
However, some mattresses are not suitable for flipping, including premium home hospital bed mattresses. Sophisticated foam mattresses are made with laminated layers of varying density. They provide extra support where it’s needed, evenly distributing pressure. These mattresses work best in one orientation, and you will not benefit from the full pressure-relief and support capabilities if you flip it the other way.
Hospital Bed Mattresses vs. Consumer Mattresses
Home hospital bed mattresses are typically more robust than standard consumer mattresses. Standard mattresses are designed for regular domestic use: eight hours each day by the average individual or couple. Home hospital mattresses are designed for more challenging environments, including longer occupation cycles and settings in which fluid spills are expected.
Hospital bed mattresses are also designed to support the adjustments available on many home hospital beds, whereas most consumer mattresses work better and last longer if used flat. Home hospital bed mattresses are more expensive than consumer mattresses, but they have a longer lifespan, especially in challenging environments.
Mattress Weight Capacity
A mattress lasts longer if you use it within its intended weight capacity. When you buy a mattress, check it can support the weight of the people who will use it. Overloading a mattress will cause it to sag or develop lumps much more quickly, significantly reducing its lifespan.
As a general rule of thumb, consumer and hospital bed mattresses are built for individuals weighing up to 250 lbs. So, a single mattress will support 250 lbs, and a king will support double that because it’s intended for two people.
If you expect to put a mattress under greater loads, you may be interested in bariatric mattresses, which are engineered to support heavier loads over their lifespan. Transfer Master’s bariatric mattresses have a maximum capacity of 750 lbs. They are ideal for use with our Heavy Duty and Super Heavy Duty bariatric beds, which support up to 600 lbs and up to 750lbs, respectively.
Should You Use A Mattress Pad or Topper?
Mattress pads and toppers have a similar job. They add an extra layer to the top of a mattress, protecting it and changing how soft it is. Toppers are usually thicker than pads, although the names are often used interchangeably. Mattress pads and toppers can extend a mattress’s lifespan by protecting it from spills and adding a layer of additional support.
However, care should be taken when deciding whether to use a pad or topper with a home hospital bed. As we have already mentioned, adjustable bed mattresses are engineered to distribute pressure evenly to combat pressure sores and other skin damage. Covering the mattress with a thick layer of fabric can prevent it from functioning as expected. Additionally, mattress pads can slip or bunch up if improperly attached, creating additional risks.
If you would like to protect an adjustable bed mattress from fluids and other forms of soiling, we recommend using an easily cleaned mattress cover instead. Our Supernal Sleep System mattresses are available with both a Natural Bamboo Cover and a waterproof Stretch Fabric Cover that will protect your mattress for many years.
Air Your Mattress to Remove Moisture
Moisture can gather within a mattress’s fabric, leading to bad smells and eventually to mold formation. To prolong the life of your mattress, regularly air it out for several hours. Remove all the bedding and leave the mattress in a warm room with good ventilation. Mattresses should be aired at least every month or more often if the bed is occupied for long periods.
Vacuum to Remove Deep Dirt
Regular vacuuming can help to remove dirt and dust from beneath the mattress’s surface. In the old days, it was common for mattresses to be removed from the bed and beaten to dislodge dust, just as rugs were beaten. Today, a quick once-over with a powerful vacuum cleaner will achieve the same outcome.
Wash Your Bedding Frequently
Your bedding collects moisture, oils, skin particles, smells, dust mites, and other unpleasant detritus. In time, they work their way through to the mattress, where they are harder to remove. It’s recommended that bed sheets are changed at least once a week and more often if you suffer from allergies or asthma. Sheets should be changed more often, perhaps every other day, if the occupant is bedridden and spends most of their day in bed.
Let’s finish up with a bonus list of five things you definitely shouldn’t do if you want your mattress to remain useful for its natural span:
- Don’t wear shoes in bed.
- Jumping on the bed is great fun, but your mattress doesn’t like it.
- If there’s a spillage, don’t approach it with an “I’ll fix it in the morning” attitude.
- If you want to sleep with your pets, go right ahead. But be aware that your dog or outdoor cat may be bringing worms, ticks, bacteria, and a host of other nasties with them. Once they’re in a mattress, they’re hard to get out.
- Avoid eating in bed. For some people, this is not possible, but take care to clean up crumbs and spillages immediately. Food particles attract ants and other bugs you don’t want to share your bed with.