If you need to put your mattress into storage, there is a right and wrong way to do it. And doing it the right way can mean the difference between having a mattress to sleep on when you come home or having a mattress that needs to be thrown out.
The good news is that correctly storing your mattress isn’t as hard as you might think. A few quick steps should have your mattress prepped and ready to go for months or even years.
What to Do
Before we talk about mistakes to avoid when storing your mattress let’s discuss what you should be doing.
Clean Your Mattress Thoroughly
Cleaning your mattress is a vital first step for long-term storage. If you don’t clean it, you could be setting your mattress up to develop mold or bacteria growth. You might also be unwittingly storing your mattress with pests that could ruin it, like moth larvae or carpet beetles.
To ensure your mattress is free of odors and pests, it’s best to steam it on both sides. The heat from the steam will kill bacteria, mold, and bugs. You can also use baking soda as an alternative to steaming.
Spread a thin layer of baking soda evenly over your bare mattress. Let the baking soda sit for at least an hour. Then, vacuum up all traces of the baking soda. Flip your mattress, and repeat on the other side.
Whether you steam or use baking soda or both, you’ll want to air your mattress out for a few hours after cleaning before proceeding to the next step.
Wrap Your Mattress Correctly
You’ll need to wrap your mattress in plastic to to avoid exposing it to the elements during storage. You can do this one of two ways. Either wrap the mattress in plastic sheeting or put it in a storage bag.
If you choose to wrap your mattress in plastic sheeting, you’ll want to get a tight seal. Avoid using thicker plastic wrap because this may trap moisture and lead to mold. Instead, use a thinner, more breathable plastic and seal all seams with packing tape to eliminate exposure.
Mattress storage bags are also a good option. These are bags specifically designed to store mattresses and can be purchased online or in big-box retailers for between $20 and $50.
Move Your Mattress the Right Way
When taking your mattress to the storage facility, be sure to move it in a covered moving truck or van. Avoid bending or folding your mattress if you can—especially if it’s an innerspring bed. You might be able to get away with slightly bending a hybrid or foam mattress if you’re only transporting it a short distance. But innerspring mattresses are not flexible at all. Bending them even a little can easily damage them beyond repair.
Always Lay Your Mattress Flat
Even more flexible foam and hybrid mattresses are not made to be bent all the time. Nor is any mattress made to be stored vertically. That means you need to store your mattress flat and right-side-up. Then, you can either lay your mattress on a blanket or another barrier on the floor or set up your bed frame in your storage unit and place your mattress on it.
What Not to Do
Now that we’ve talked about how you should store your mattress, let’s discuss you you should not store it.
Move Your Mattress in the Open
Many have seen the occasional mattress tied to the top of a car. Alternatively, they’ve seen one tossed in the back of a pickup truck. This is always a bad idea. Not only are you exposing your mattress bag/plastic wrapping to potential damage. You’re also exposing the mattress underneath it. If your plastic mattress cover gets ripped, your mattress may as well.
You also have the potential to destroy your mattress when it flies off the top of your car. It’s common for mattresses to break free of their ties and fly out onto the highway. At the very least, this is almost certain to destroy your mattress beyond repair. At worst, it could lead to serious accidents and even injury or death. Thus, always avoid moving your mattress in the open.
Keep Things on Top of Your Mattress
Always avoid storing items on top of your mattress. Though your mattress is made to take the human body’s weight, it is not made to take heavy boxes or hard items. Items with little give can push against your mattress and cause soft spots to develop or springs to lose their tension. Boxes with sharp corners may also rip your mattress cover.
Store in a Poor Environment
High humidity levels and big temperature swings can severely damage a mattress. That means tossing your mattress in a basement or garage is not a great idea, especially for long periods. Traditional storage units are designed to prevent excessive exposure. But even they can only do so much.
It’s best to avoid storing your mattress anywhere without good climate control. If you have to put it in a basement or garage, at least buy a dehumidifier to keep the moisture out of your mattress’s environment. This situation isn’t ideal, but a dehumidifier is better than nothing.
Lean Your Mattress on its Side
Never, ever, ever store your mattress vertically or on its side. Gravity will warp the springs inside of hybrid and innerspring mattresses, destroying their support cores. Gravity will also pull the foams in latex and memory foam mattresses downward, giving your mattress an uneven and misshapen appearance and wrecking its internal structure.
You can store your mattress for years if you do it right. Just remember the two biggest enemies of a stored mattress are gravity and exposure. You can protect your mattress from gravity by lying it flat and right-side-up (if applicable) and avoiding storing items on top of the mattress. You can protect your mattress from exposure by cleaning it, wrapping it properly, and keeping it in a climate-controlled storage space if possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
All kinds of nasty things can happen to a dirty mattress stored for any length of time. Dust mites or other pests may multiply inside it. Mold and bacteria could turn the bed into a breeding ground if it was not aired out thoroughly before being wrapped in plastic.
Even if you manage to keep pests and microbes out of your mattress, you might have to deal with odors once you pull it out of the self-storage unit. A dirty mattress sitting in a plastic bag can develop terrible odors that ruin your otherwise good mattress. That’s why taking proper care when cleaning it is so important.
Storing your mattress on the floor is perfectly acceptable if it is wrapped properly and placed on a barrier to keep it off the flooring. You can use anything as a barrier: from old blankets to your mattress’s own bunkie board.
As long as you make sure your mattress is protected from moisture and anything that could be crawling around on the floor, storing it on the floor should be fine.
If you store your mattress in a climate-controlled environment and keep it flat, you could theoretically store it indefinitely. Of course, the mattress will eventually go bad due to old age but not due to storing it.
Keep in mind that if you’re going to store your mattress longer than six months, you should take it out of its plastic cover and air it out to prevent moisture buildup. You’ll need to do this twice a year as long as you have your mattress in storage.
If you don’t store your mattress in a climate-controlled space, you will need to limit the amount of time it spends in storage. The less time, the better.
Ideally, yes. Big temperature swings and high humidity can do significant damage to your mattress. Climate-controlled self-storage units limit humidity and keep temperatures constant. They are the best option to keep your mattress safe until you take it to its new home.
If you cannot afford a climate-controlled unit, make sure you’re taking measures to protect your mattress from the worst of the elements. Use a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture from your storage area. And keep your mattress in a well-insulated place to protect it from excessive heat and cold.
As long as it is set up on a flat and immobile surface just like it would be while in use, you can store your bed frame assembled with your mattress on top of it. Ensure to wrap your bed frame separately from your mattress.
If you don’t have the space to store your bed frame set-up, you’ll need to disassemble it and wrap the pieces in plastic to protect them from moisture, just as you would with your mattress. Wooden and iron bed frames are also vulnerable to humidity, so it’s essential to protect them from moisture.