The 3 Commandments Every Foam Mattress Owner Needs to Live By

published Aug 18, 2019
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Apartment Therapy

If you’re just now drifting off into your first foam-supported slumber, you should know that the care and keeping of uber-popular foam “bed in a box”-style mattresses is a bit different than the spring mattresses of the last generation.

Often made with super absorbent layers of memory foam, foam mattresses require unique types of TLC because of their cushiony composition. 

Here’s what you need to know:

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Apartment Therapy

1. Watch Out for Water

Thanks to their spongy composition, foam mattresses can absorb—and hold onto—large amounts of water for long periods of time. So when you’re cleaning, don’t use a lot of water. Instead, use a spray bottle and a light mist if you need to introduce water or liquid cleaning agents.

Even if you use a light hand with the water, you should always make sure your mattress is thoroughly dried out before using, to keep it free of bacteria and mold. If possible, take it outside to dry if the weather’s nice to help eliminate odors, allergens, and other bacteria. Or simply set up a fan inside and point it at the mattress as it dries. If you have a dehumidifier at home, set that up to run in the room with the mattress as it dries.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Apartment Therapy

2. Rotate, Don’t Flip

Many foam mattresses are layered to increase their comfort factor, since different constructions and densities can help keep your body supported and cool. Because they’re engineered in layers, you should never flip a foam mattress. However, you can extend its life by rotating it occasionally to even out the wear and tear—you want to rotate so the former foot of the mattress is at the head of the bed, and vice versa. This can be especially useful when you sleep on one specific side of the bed, or share your bed with a partner who is a different size than you.

Some experts recommend rotating your foam mattress every two weeks for the first three months you own a mattress, and then once every two months after. However, some manufacturers feel that rotating your foam mattress every few months is sufficient. Whatever pace you choose to set, remember when and which way to rotate your foam mattress by pinning a tag to each end of the mattress with date of when it was last rotated as a reminder.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Apartment Therapy

3. Get Cover-Smart

Designed to protect your mattress from everything from stains to bed bugs and beyond, a good mattress cover can make or break the lifespan of your foam mattress.

Some mattresses have covers that you can machine wash, so if you’re shopping for a mattress right now, get one with a removable cover—and be sure to double check the label for wash cycle instructions.

Whether or not your mattress came with a removable cover, mattress protectors are easy to find (and always a good idea) to safeguard your foam mattress from spills that lead to stains or worse, mold. Since memory foam is extra absorbent, it’s almost impossible to get rid of big, dark, or really smelly stains, so a quality mattress cover will help keep it fresh and stain-free for longer.