Maybe your college student’s room is going to become your fabulous new home gym, or it’s time for that twin bed to become a double. What to do with the old mattress? It’s still in good shape but you don't want to throw it out -- what if the kid moves back home after college and needs it again? What if he doesn’t move back home after college and he needs it for his new place? (What if you never use the exercise equipment and decide to turn the space into a guest room instead? It’s been known to happen…) Here are a few storage tips on how to keep a mattress in usable condition until you need it again.
Keep It Under Wraps
If you have to store your mattress in a garage or storage unit, keep it covered to protect not only against dirt & dust, but also moisture, bugs and rodents. Plastic mattress storage bags are available online and also at many hardware stores. If you're using plastic, be sure to thoroughly clean and dry the mattress before wrapping it. Otherwise you could be sealing moisture IN and your mattress won't be in good shape for very long.
It's best to store your mattress in a climate-controlled environment. Avoid outdoor storage units, damp basements and storage sheds. (Really, would YOU want to sleep on a mattress that came out of a shed?) If you live in an area with high humidity, storing a mattress in a non-temperature-controlled unit can lead to mold and bacteria breeding inside and on the mattress. Not only will your mattress smell like gym socks, but it will be health hazard.
Keep it Clean
Putting a dirty mattress into storage can result in mold, fungus, bugs or at the very least, a dirty mattress coming out of storage. To avoid this problem and have a nearly ready-to-use mattress upon retrieval, first vacuum thoroughly, then apply an upholstery cleaner. Use a light hand with this -- this can be tricky, so read the directions carefully and don’t soak the mattress to the point where it won’t dry. Work the upholstery cleaner with a brush and allow the mattress to dry completely. Even after you think it’s dry, give it another day. You can use floor fans and open windows to expedite the drying process or put it out in the sun if possible.
A steam cleaner kills all kinds of allergens and is a great alternative to applying upholstery cleaner by hand. These types of vacuum cleaners are made by the major vacuum brands (Hoover, Bissell, etc) and can be very effective in cleaning both carpets and upholstery. To clean your mattress, you’ll need a model with a handheld attachment. Again, be sure to avoid soaking the mattress. You can also rent these cleaners from some grocery and hardware stores, and if you’re storing several pieces of furniture as well as the mattress, it’s worth the bother.
Keep it Flat
If you have the space to store the mattress flat, manufacturer’s recommend this for keeping it in shape.. It may be more convenient to store your mattress standing, but when a mattress is stored upright, the coils and inner workings can shift and the mattress fabric can sag. Lay a tarp down on the floor before placing the mattress on top. If you have large boxes or flat furniture where the mattress will be stored, you can lay the mattress on top. Don't store items on top of the mattress. It’s not a steady surface for the items, and can cut or permanently dent the mattress.
Retrieving your Mattress from Storage
If, despite your efforts, the mattress comes out of storage smelling a little musty, not to worry. Here’s how to freshen it up: first, sprinkle baking soda on each side in turn, to absorb the smell. After 10 minutes, vacuum the mattress. Once both sides are done, spray the mattress with a natural deodorizing spray and allow it to air dry completely. To ensure you have time to let it air out, remove the mattress from storage at least 24 hours before you need to use it.
There is no reason to toss out a perfectly good mattress. Follow these steps and you should be able to keep your mattress in usable condition for the future. (And good luck with that exercise room!)