/ Home & Energy

How old is your mattress?


A good night’s sleep often relies on a good mattress – and when you find that good mattress you may be reluctant to part with it…

Since discovering all the nasties that lurk in my bed sheets, I’ve made a point of stripping my bed around every 10 days. I’ve even spent an entire afternoon in the launderette washing and drying the duvet and the pillows, and then conceded that I needed to replace the lot. I’d therefore assume my hygiene standards are quite high.

But now I’ve read that the actual mattress can contain dubious levels of staphylococcus, enterococcus, norovirus and even MRSA, according to The Sleep Council, not to mention dead skin cells and body oils, I’m not so sure.

Bedtime story

I got my mattress (a water and latex one, for the record) when I made the move from renting to home ownership about 14 years ago. Since then, I’ve turned it regularly (no mean feat, it’s heavy), and flipped it over from summer to winter use around every six months.

Remembering the dust that came out of my parents’ mattress when a vacuum cleaner salesman (how very 1980s!) demonstrated why they absolutely had to buy his product, I’ve also given it a quick once-over with my vac each time it’s flipped.

As for actually deep-cleaning it? Not so much. After all, I use a mattress protector, which goes in the washing machine, along with the rest of the linen.

And despite its age, I’d be loath to part with my mattress. Anyone who sleeps on it agrees that it’s the most comfortable thing they’ve ever travelled to the land of nod on. Besides, when I bought it, I was told it was guaranteed for something like 25 years and good mattresses don’t come cheap.

Mattress matters

I’m not alone. A recent study of 1,000 adults, found that half would be reluctant to change their mattress any sooner than 10 years after buying it. And 20% even stated that they’d be reluctant to change it ‘ever’, unless it was completely unusable.

In our mattress tests we’ve found that many of our Best Buys can stand up to 10 years of use, rather than the recommended lifespan of seven years.

When it comes to cleanliness, the same study found that 17% said they clean their mattress every month, followed closely by 16%, who carry out the task every two to three months. Another 11% would leave it as long as six months before cleaning it, which, to my shame, is probably the category I fall into.

And while my mattress protector does protect from spillages and strains, it apparently doesn’t keep dust mites and other allergens at bay, suggesting I’m risking a build-up of all sorts.

How often do you replace your mattress?

Whenever it becomes uncomfortable (67%, 688 Votes)

Every 8-10 years, like the retailers recommend (18%, 189 Votes)

I've never replaced my mattress and wouldn't unless I really had to (15%, 155 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,032

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Will I spend the bank holiday weekend keeping out of the promised sunshine and hot-footing it to the nearest bed shop to replace my clearly filthy mattress? Of course not. And I don’t see me doing that anytime soon. But I might just vacuum it, give it a good wipe and invest in some baking powder to sprinkle on it.

How old is your mattress? How often do you clean it?


Reading the associated links is pleasing is to see Which? now approves of 60C washes for bed linen. However as I understand it many washing machines do not actually reach this temperature, or anywhere near it. This from Which?’s research in 2013, and test.de subsequently.

Can Which? please ask the employed test laboratories to cover this area, and of course Which? to print the results.

Our Relyon mattress is seven years old but is showing hardly any signs of wear or profiling. As a king-size, there is more room to spread out on so less pressure is concentrated in certain areas. It must not be turned, only rotated, so this is diligently done. The mattress protector seems to do what it is supposed to do and all the bedding gets washed every week and the duvets changed and cleaned with the seasons. I support the call for a genuinely hot wash on the 60 setting but I think good ironing of the sheets, duvet covers and pillowcases deals with some of the hygiene issues and purifies the fabric, and I quite enjoy doing it, even the fitted sheets.

I changed my mattress a year ago, when I moved home. I use a mattress protector and pillow protectors and wash the duvet cover and pillowcases after four days, at least in the summer months, rotate it periodically and pull back the duvet in the morning to let the bed air, which allows moisture to evaporate.

We have had a great deal of discussion about washing temperature on Which? Conversation but the point that washing that is effective at removing dirt is also good at removing bacteria and moulds seems to have been missed. Washing powders and tablets that contain bleach (liquids and gels never do) worthwhile, so avoid buying dark coloured bedding as that would be faded by bleach. I believe that the biggest problem with low temperature washing is that the insides of washing machines can become coated with a slime containing bacteria and moulds, which can be so bad that it smells unpleasant. That can be avoided by doing regular high temperature maintenance washes using detergent with bleach.

I would like to see a ban on expecting nurses to launder their own uniforms, certainly if they are in contact with infected patients. I remain to be convinced that the rest of us need to be concerned about the move to low temperature washing. In my view it would be better to focus on doing maintenance washes, frequent washing of bedding, not overloading the machine and using the correct amount of a detergent containing bleach.

I have always thought vinegar as an acid is good to counteract the slime of repeated alkali products. And better for the environment. Too much bleach in the waste water system must be a bad thing.

We replaced our mattress about three years ago. We use a mattress protector and pillow protectors. Previously we always used two pillowcases on pillows and I was amazed that other people didn’t. We now also have a topper but were late in discovering these. I find turning the mattress really hard work and need help but vacuuming it is much easier.

I am so pleased that you are now including these mattress protectors and toppers together with mattresses. Hopefully we will find fewer mattresses decorating our streets in future if people learn to look after them better.

There are bugs everywhere if you use a microscope. How about a comparison with other surfaces in the home? A dishcloth? Skin? Hands?

I agree about the washing of nurses’ uniform. Weren’t laundries once part of a hospital? Are the sheets and pillowcases now washed at a lower temperature too? Carers who work for a care company and have a rota of visits to clients in their own homes will be wearing the same uniforms all day and may but don’t always have disposable aprons and gloves available to use. I would think that there is a lot more of a problem here.

As far as I know, hospital laundry is still washed at high temperature, but it would be good to know for sure.

A lot of the dust in bedrooms is probably human dander: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dander

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I expect that the steam would be used for autoclaves, operating at a temperature between 120 and 135°C. Some of my colleagues handled dangerous bugs and their lab coats were sterilised in autoclaves before being sent to the laundry. I do hope that hospitals still run their own laundries rather than outsource the work, but knowing that nurses are expected to launder their own uniforms I fear the worst.

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“Experts”once again ! I never trust anything “Experts “say There always is some motive behind what they say . Usually to make you spend you money unnecessarily on a product they will make money from .Can I be an expert I too know nothing about anything as well as most”experts “

Having slept on a couple of memory foam mattresses, I would not be happy to have one. I suppose I could get use to not being able to move about as easily but from my limited experience they are very warm. I would not like to sleep on one during the present hot weather. I wonder how many people try memory foam and then go back to traditional mattresses.

My Feather & Black 3000 coil spring mattress came with a 7 year guarantee and is still in very good condition after about 6 years. It doesn’t need turning over but turning round with the seasons, which I can still manage to do myself, inch by inch. Last time I turned it I found myself well and truly cornered between the mattress, the wall and the dressing table! I was eventually able to free myself by climbing over the half secured mattress to get to the other side to pull it back into its rightful position on the base! It gets vacuumed every time the sheets are changed and the pillows are plumped up (good arm exercise) every morning upon rising. My duvet is hypoallergenic and gets taken outside and given a jolly good shake every couple of months. If anyone still feels the need to iron their sheets (which I don’t) the best place to do this is when they are actually on the bed! (My tip for today.)

Digressing a little, on the subject of foam, my sofa came with a complete new second set of loose covers in 2001. The fibre cushions however eventually lost their firmness so I contacted an online firm in Bilston in the West Midlands who specialise in various types of foam made to order and cut to size to your own specification. The company were extremely helpful when I contacted them by ‘phone with prompt next day delivery for both cushions.

If your sofa seats are now sagging a little and the covers are still in reasonable condition I would certainly recommend this company as it could save you the cost of buying a new sofa. With its new covers and ‘reflex’ cushions my old sofa now looks as good as new.

Vac mattress each week after leaving to air. It is a no turn mattress.