Interior Bedrooms

How to Store a Mattress the Right Way

Protect your mattress from mold, compression, and other forms of damage so it stays ready for use year round.
Deirdre Mundorf Avatar
A man lifts one end of a covered mattress in the process of moving it.

Photo: istockphoto.com

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Whether you’re replacing your mattress and want to keep the old one as a spare or are temporarily moving in with a friend or family member and won’t be using your bed, you need to know how to store a mattress properly. Improper storage could damage the frame or sleeping surface, making it uncomfortable or even forcing you to have to purchase a new mattress.

If not stored correctly, the mattress may also grow mold or mildew, which will, of course, present you with an entirely new problem. We reached out to two experts on the topic: Katie Lambert, owner of Clean Queen, a residential cleaning service in Westminster, Colorado, and Nick Valentino, the vice president of market operations with Bellhop, a moving company headquartered in Atlanta. Here’s what they recommend when it comes to mattress storage.

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Project Overview

Working Time: 20 minutes to 1 hour
Total Time: 20 minutes to 1 hour
Skill Level: Beginner
Estimated Cost: $5 to $30

Before You Begin

A person lifts a mattress in good condition from a small bedframe.
Photo: istockphoto.com

Understanding the best way to store a mattress will ensure you have a clean and comfortable sleep surface when you’re ready to set it back up. Storing a mattress isn’t particularly difficult. However, you will need to choose the right space, give the bed a deep cleaning, and monitor the storage conditions to ensure the best results. Following the steps below can help you with this important task.

STEP 1: Choose where you want to store your mattress.

An open storage unit filled with various storage containers and boxes.
Photo: istockphoto.com

Before storing a mattress, decide whether you plan to keep it somewhere in your home or in a separate storage unit. The ideal location will be temperature controlled, protecting the materials from excess heat, cold, or humidity levels. Depending on where you live and the heating and cooling system, garage or basement storage might not be viable options. When choosing a storage location, also consider the available space. Importantly, mattresses are best stored flat on the ground, not propped up against a wall.

STEP 2: Prepare the storage location.

Before storing mattresses, you should also take a few minutes to ensure that the storage area is clean. Wipe down the ceiling and walls and vacuum and mop the floors to remove excess dirt, dust, and debris from the space. Give all of the surfaces plenty of time to dry before bringing in the mattress.

STEP 3: Deep-clean the mattress.

A vacuum cleaning attachment is being run along the surface of an uncovered mattress.
Photo: istockphoto.com

After you’ve decided on the ideal storage location, don’t make the mistake of jumping right to wrapping a mattress. Doing so would skip the crucial step of giving the mattress a deep cleaning. Lambert recommends cleaning the mattress with an attachment from a vacuum cleaner. She says, “Spot-clean any stains following the mattress manufacturer’s instructions.” Lambert says that eliminating as much dirt, mold, and stains as possible will help lessen the chance that pets and pests will be attracted to the mattress. If you notice any odors, consider sprinkling some baking soda over the mattress and letting it sit for about 30 minutes before vacuuming the surface. Be sure to give it plenty of time to dry before you move onto wrapping a mattress.

STEP 4: Cover it with a mattress bag or plastic sheet.

A man and woman are standing on either side of a covered mattress in a bedroom while preparing to lift it by the handles of the mattress cover.
Photo: uhaul.com

According to Valentino, covers for mattresses in storage will “cut down on spills, mold, mildew, and other hazards.” He explains, “Sealing the mattress inside a plastic bag or wrap is ideal.” Purchasing a mattress bag is the simplest solution, but those who want to save money could use a plastic sheet or tarp instead. If you’re using a plastic sheet, take care to fold the plastic so it covers the entire mattress and use some duct tape to seal all the openings and any tears in the cover.

Similarly, if you want to know how to store a mattress topper, be sure to cover it completely with plastic to keep it clean and free of debris. You can roll up foam mattress toppers and seal them in a vacuum bag. While you could just place the topper in a mattress storage bag, using a vacuum storage bag will reduce the space it takes up and help protect the mattress from dust and other debris.

STEP 5: Move it to the storage area.

A person is lifting a covered mattress off of a trailer outdoors.
Photo: istockphoto.com

After wrapping a mattress in plastic or a mattress bag, you’re ready to transport it to the predetermined storage location. If you’re looking for how to store a mattress in a storage unit or need to transport the mattress to any location outside your house, the best way to do so will be in a moving truck.

Tying a mattress to the top of a car is not ideal for a few reasons. First, the mattress could get wet or otherwise dirty. Moreover, driving with a mattress on a car roof could turn into a potential safety hazard if it slides down or comes off completely; further, it might get damaged enough that you end up having to replace the mattress.

If you’re just moving the mattress to a new location in your existing home, be sure to do so carefully to avoid tearing the plastic or causing it to fall off. This is where a mattress storage bag might pay for itself; with handles and a zipper, it will be easier to grab for carrying up or down stairs or lifting into a truck.

STEP 6: Position the mattress properly.

”While it’s often more efficient to store a mattress vertically, this can damage the mattress over time, especially if it isn’t well supported on the sides,” says Valentino. Unless you have a foldable mattress, avoid trying to prop it up against a wall or shoving it into a closet. Mattresses are designed to stay flat, in the position you would leave them for sleeping, so storing them in any other manner risks placing too much pressure on the sides of the mattress. While memory foam and latex mattresses are more likely to retain their shape if stored on the side, other mattress types could become lopsided or otherwise lose their shape.

Beyond simply leaving the mattress flat on the floor, Lambert even recommends placing it “on a slatted bed frame or on wooden pallets. This allows air circulation underneath the mattress and prevents moisture build-up,” she says.

If you have no other option than to prop the bed up, then you’ll want to learn how to store a mattress against a wall to minimize damage. “Keep them sandwiched between other materials if you must store them vertically,” says Valentino. Be sure to place a layer of cloth or plastic on the wall side and press a dresser or other heavy piece of furniture up against the other side.

STEP 7: Monitor the storage conditions.

Unfortunately, once you’ve finished positioning the mattress in the storage location, don’t simply forget about it until it’s needed again. Monitor the temperature and humidity levels in the space. Make sure it doesn’t get too hot, too cold, or too humid. Those wanting to know how to store a mattress in a garage or a basement might want to purchase a dehumidifier for the space to prevent it from getting too damp. “Climate control allows for a moderate temperature and humidity level to prevent mold or mildew growth,” says Lambert.

Periodically open the mattress storage cover to allow air to circulate to decrease the chances of mold or mildew growing. Lambert also explains, “Even in storage, it’s beneficial to rotate the mattress every few months to prevent sagging. You can simply flip it end-to-end.” Rotating is especially important for mattresses stored upright against a wall.

STEP 8: Clean the mattress again before use.

A person wearing yellow cleaning gloves uses a vacuum attachment to vacuum a white mattress.
Photo: istockphoto.com

Once you’re ready to use the mattress again, give it one more cleaning before use. Vacuum the mattress again and address any spots or stains that may have formed in storage. After cleaning, let the mattress air out for at least 4 hours before covering it with bedding or sleeping on it. This will allow any lingering odors to dissipate.

Final Thoughts

Proper mattress storage is essential if you want your bed to remain usable when you need it again. The steps above address how to store memory foam mattresses, along with innerspring, hybrid, latex, and other varieties. As you’re planning to store a mattress, remember to choose a location that is not too hot or humid, to give the mattress a thorough cleaning, to carefully cover the mattress, and to place it flat on the ground or even on wooden pallets to protect its structure.