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Don’t feel pressured to part ways with your old bed just because you’re downsizing. Hatch a plan for how to store a mattress, and you’ll protect your investment (mattresses cost a pretty penny) and rest easy knowing that it’s in a safe place (no one wants insects or rodents finding their way into their stuff!). We spoke with sleep science coach and Sleep Foundation managing editor Logan Foley about how to stow all types of mattresses, and what happens if you simply stash yours in a random spot (hint: nothing good).

The Best Places to Store a Mattress

The ideal spot is cool and dry, Foley says. Think: a friend’s spare bedroom with regulated temps or a finished basement with air-conditioning. Subjecting foam or latex beds to excessive heat could cause the materials to disintegrate over time, while extreme cold increases foam’s viscosity, making it dense and stiff (and a hard bed = hard pass). Water exposure can cause mold (the air pockets in memory foam mattresses make them a prime breeding ground) and  corrode the coils on spring mattresses, which leads to squeaking and discomfort. If you’re thinking of putting your mattress in a storage unit off premises, go for it. Just be sure the space is climate controlled.

A Few General Mattress Storage Guidelines

According to Foley, all mattresses should be stored the same way: covered in plastic or a waterproof material and placed on a flat surface in its natural position. Even if you’re trying to save space, it’s best to avoid standing a mattress on its side for long periods of time—excessive pressure on the coils in springs or hybrids can damage the structure of the mattress, Foley explains. Another major no-no: Don’t place items on top of your mattress to prevent sagging or any other forms of wear and tear. Foam mattress owners might be tempted to simply squish their bed back into the compact form it shipped in. But while foam’s bounce-back properties are great when it comes to unpackaging (the mattress literally springs to life), don’t expect the same responsiveness when you try to refold it—leaving it this way for an extended period of time could permanently alter its shape. As long as you handle your mattress with the utmost care, feel free to store it for years.

How to Store a Mattress

The Supplies

  • Mattress
  • Mattress protector
  • A clean, dry storage space
  • Mattress storage bag
  • Duct or electrical tape
  • Dolly
  • Ratchet strap
  • Nylon rope
  • Tarp
  • A covered vehicle for transporting (optional)
  • A friend to assist (optional)

Step 1: Clean Your Mattress

Remove all bedding and set aside in a clean, dry place. Now gather all the tools you need to clean the mattress and remove any visible stains, discoloration, or dust from the surface.

Step 2: Add a Mattress Protector

Cover your mattress in this extra layer to prevent water damage and keep it from collecting excessive dust, Foley says.

Step 3: Cover It Up

Unfold the mattress bag on a clean, flat surface. With the assistance of a friend, carefully slide your mattress inside. Once it’s fully encased, use your hands to push all the excess air out of the bag before zipping it closed.

Step 4: Clear the Way for Your Mattress Move

Whether you’re moving the mattress from one room to another or to a completely different location altogether, pick up or relocate any items blocking your path, including furniture, toe-stubbing toys, and low-hanging light fixtures.

Step 5: Relocate Your Mattress

Most mattress bags have handles on the sides. Grab them on one side while your friend takes the other, and slowly lift the mattress into a vertical, standing position. Lean the top of the mattress slightly back, away from your pal, to allow them to slide the nose of the dolly underneath the bottom edge of the mattress. Tightly wrap the ratchet straps (or nylon rope) around the mattress and clip them to the dolly’s vertical supports.

Step 6: Place Your Mattress In Its Designated Spot

Once you get to your mattress’s resting spot, remove the straps and rope and gently lie it down flat on the ground on a piece of clean cardboard or an even, clutter-free surface. Going farther than the attic or basement? If you’re not comfortable transporting a mattress a long distance on your own, hire movers to get the job done. Otherwise, make sure you have a vehicle that can safely accommodate the weight and size of the bed and a tarp to protect it from debris.  

If you need to store more than one mattress, stack them on top of each other with the larger one on the bottom (i.e., a twin mattress goes on top of a queen) to keep dents from forming.

What Happens If You Don’t Properly Store Your Mattress

Expect a number of issues if you skimp on mattress-storage protocol, says Foley. Among those that can decrease the quality of your mattress or render it completely unusable are mold from moisture; excessive dust penetrating the layers; dents and tears in the material; misalignment of coils; odors; bedbugs; and permanent damage from insects or rodents (yikes!) that may find their way into the storage space.