A good mattress, properly cared for, should last for over a decade. Putting a mattress into storage, however, is not the same as pressing pause on its lifespan. Improper moving and storing can age a mattress faster than normal use— or even ruin it altogether.
These basic tips and tricks are all you need to keep your mattress in prime condition.
Why Store a Mattress?
Perhaps you’ve upgraded to a new mattress, watched a child fly the coop or are changing living situations for the season. Whatever the reason for keeping it in storage, you may think it’s practical to just lean it against a garage wall or chuck it in the attic. But taking the time to understand which conditions are good for mattress storage can make a big difference.
5 Steps to Storing a Mattress
Proper mattress storage is about more than finding somewhere to stash it. Here are five steps you can take to keep your mattress plush over the long haul.
1. Clean Your Mattress
Dirt, sweat and dust accumulate on various parts of a mattress during normal use and lead to bacteria growth, mold or fungal activity during storage.
One of the most common methods for deodorizing and cleaning is to sprinkle baking soda on the mattress’s surfaces, and let it set for 24 hours if possible, before vacuuming it dry and allowing it to air out. Another popular option is using an upholstery cleaner, which typically works on traditional mattresses but not on foam or hybrid mattresses, which can over-absorb the cleaner and be hard to dry.
Some people use a disinfectant spray like Lysol, instead, while others might consider using a steam cleaner. With any of these methods, be sure to work your way into any crevices or folds in the upholstery or mattress—using a brush if necessary—and leave plenty of time for it to air-dry in a well-ventilated area.
2. Wrap Your Mattress
Wrapping your mattress protects it from abrasions and scuffs during transport, but is also useful once the mattress is in long-term storage, where it will help keep dust, drips, critters and other headaches at bay. Be sure it’s fully dry first.
One method is using a breathable plastic wrap and securing the material with tape. Another, perhaps more popular, option is to buy a mattress storage bag, which can be more affordable, multi-use and user-friendly.
3. Transport Your Mattress
Moving? It may not be best to transport your mattress on the roof of a car. A roof that’s uneven or doesn’t support the mattress uniformly could damage the interior of a traditional spring mattress. Bending the mattress while moving it around could produce a similar effect. And the whole thing can be a bit of a hazard.
The ideal way to move a mattress—especially a big one—is in a covered moving truck. In this context, for other short periods of time, transporting the mattress on its side isn’t usually a problem. If you’re moving it in a flat position, avoid placing it on highly uneven surfaces and refrain from loading heavy items on top of it, as they can cause damage or excessive wear.
4. Store and Protect Your Mattress
For long-term storage, manufacturers recommend keeping your mattress in a flat position rather than standing it up on its side. The flat, natural position keeps materials from sagging under the pressure of the mattress’s weight, which leads to lumpiness.
In either case, find or create a flat surface to set the mattress on so it doesn’t lose its integrity. If possible, create air circulation to best prevent mold buildup on the underside of the mattress by keeping it elevated, even slightly, from the floor. You could also put a tarp or other protective layer between your mattress and the flat surface underneath.
5. Maintain Mattress Freshness Over Time
Even when stored properly, it’s possible for a mattress to come out smelling musty. If that’s the case, give it a fresh boost by sprinkling it with baking powder and using a deodorizing spray after the baking powder sets and is vacuumed. This can be done any time to keep it fresh. Especially in damp climates or rooms without climate control, doing this may help keep your mattress strong and improve its longevity.
Where to Store a Mattress
A climate-controlled storage unit earns top marks when it comes to ranking the best places to store your mattress. If this isn’t practical or affordable, try to recreate the same conditions. Dry air, good ventilation and a clean, pest-free environment should be your objectives.
By the same token, it’s best to avoid garages, basements or attics, if possible, as these tend to be humid, have lingering odors and potential for unwanted pests (although there are exceptions). Adding a dehumidifier to any room can help. Protect the mattress from direct sunlight and keep it away from sources of heat like furnaces, air vents and radiators.
How Much Does it Cost to Store a Mattress?
Depending on your situation, you may be lucky enough to avoid any significant costs for storing a mattress—baking soda is an inexpensive but effective tool. Many mattress bags cost under $20 and some for less than $10.
Renting storage space is where serious costs start to build up. Smaller units can be found for under $100 per month, according to data from Move.org, but it’s an option most effective for those with existing storage needs beyond a mattress.