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How Often Should You Change Your Mattress? Every 5-7 Years?

I don’t usually do rants. But today I’m all fired about a commercial I heard run on a local radio spot here in the Atlanta area. I won’t mention the national chains name because a) it’s irrelevant and b) the commercial was actually quite bad in my opinion. The commercial in question supposedly answered the question, “How often should you change your mattress?” I was shocked by the answer.

how often should you change your mattressThis commercial’s action message challenged consumers to replace their mattress every 8 years. I shouted “What?!” out loud when I heard that (and I never do that in the car). Think I actually scared myself…and the driver in the car next to me at the red light.

I thought to myself that there is no way this could possibly be true. Does the mattress industry really suggest that consumers replace their mattress every 8 years? Well, when I got home and started doing some research I realized it’s even worse than that.

Current industry suggestions are that consumers replace their mattress every 5-7 years.

Give me a break!

An Inconsistent Mattress Message

On the one hand mattress companies extol the high quality construction of their materials. That’s why when you go to a mattress store there is always one model on display with the cut-away look. They have sliced a mattress in half so you can see the inner workings of how the springs and other mechanisms are designed to support you.

Warranties on mattresses vary depending on their price. A low-priced mattress typically comes with a 10 year or less warranty. However, purchasers of these mattresses are not usually looking to use them full-time or for a long time. This might be the type of mattress you’d purchase for a college student or a spare bedroom.

Many consumers will then step up from these models into the mid or high-range price points. Here they will find better construction materials that would typically be reserved for the mattress that will be used day in and day out. Warranties also get better as they will range anywhere from 10 to 20+ years for the highest priced models.

So, if I’m buying a mattress with a 10-20+ year warranty, why do I need to replace it every 5-7 years? What am I missing here?

Playing on Our Pain and Germaphobia

I think the mattress industry knows the conflict in their “warranty-buy new” message. So they have to use another hook to make consumers bite. Those two hooks – both of which were present in the commercial I heard – are our ongoing battle with body pain and our fear of germs.

On the issue of body pain you might hear in a commercial the following:

“If you wake up with constant back or muscle pain it’s time to replace your mattress.”

I’ve had very little lower back pain since we bought our Sleep Number Bed from Select Comfort 8 years ago. If a person has morning aches and pains they can’t automatically assume it’s the mattress. There could be a host of other factors including:

the support of your pillow,

your sleep position at night,

your level of physical activity at work during the day,

your lack of exercise or

your five year old child whose kicked you in the back all night because he’s in the bed due to the loud thunderstorm that happened at 2 AM. (Sorry, that’s a rant for another day.)

The bigger marketing ploy may be to play on our fears.

In this commercial they warned how old mattresses collect heavy amounts of allergens, bed bugs and even dead skin cells. That all sounds gross doesn’t it? Would that be enough to push you over the edge to purchase?

I’ve never been caught up in those cleanliness issues with my mattress. We live around microscopic organisms and germs everyday that do us no harm. In fact, germs go a long way in helping your body build immunity. So I’m not losing any sleep at night even if those things are potentially on my mattress.

Maybe I should be doing more to sanitize my mattress on occasion. I just don’t know how scientifically credible that information is. I’m sure the mattress industry would say it’s 100% accurate.

The Real Reason Behind the Message

Of course you realize this is all about the money. These companies have sales projections to meet and we are the target who will fill up their bottom line. They will do whatever they legally can to get us into the store, including playing on our fears.

I for one won’t be shopping anytime soon even though my king size mattress is 8 years old. It’s still going strong and we love it. We paid $2,600 for it 8 years ago, frame and all. With inflation that would definitely be more expensive now.

I can’t imagine spending that much or more every 5-7 years for something that has a warranty to last for 10-20. That seems very unwise from a consumer’s standpoint.

Questions: How often should you change your mattress? When was the last time you replaced yours? How long do you plan to keep it? Do you routinely sanitize your mattress? Any other insights as to why the industry is saying 5-7 years?

Original image by dedzine at Flickr Creative Commons

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  1. Herry Hermawan says

    Great Tips. To get a comfortable sleep on mattresses in the summer and not make you sweat when sleeping at night. I think one solution is to use a cooling mattress pads.

  2. This is one of the best suggestion for air mattress. I personally love king size one. Especially those which can be used on camping. Thanks for sharing and please keep it up.

  3. Lovely bed. Personally, I always love air mattress. It is an essential gear which cannot be lacked of for every camping trip. Actually, this January 2017, I plan to go hiking with my friends in a group of 6. Any suggestion on a gear which I should bring?
    Thank you for sharing this and please keep it up.

  4. thanks for good advice.

  5. Great tips mate! We don’t actually change our mattress for 5 or 6 years. If it is still working then there’s no need to change it. Our mattress is already 8 years old and it is still working perfectly fine. But I learned a lot of things from what you’ve mentioned. Thanks mate!

  6. You really cleared up a lot of things for me. It’s really hard to find proper info about mattresses that isn’t just some commercially sponsored blurb. I’ve been looking for a good mattress. I’ll be shifting to Tulsa around New Year’s and I’m throwing out the old Spring mattress cause i think it’s lived its life. Is there a affordable brand you recommend? I’m really set on Memory Foam mattresses, but the ones with the cooling gel things get a bit expensive. I have mild spondylitis and so a good mattress is really crucial. If you have a recommendation for pillows, I’d be willing to listen to that as well.

  7. Awesome Write up Brain. I am Using mine from last 3 Year and Yeh I am thinking to Change it now as the Comfort is not there any more. Springs and loose and Foam is Coming out. According to me you have to change it every 2nd or 3rd year from purchasing

  8. We just bought a new mattress a couple years ago. So it is still in pretty good shape. We’ve been looking at the new adjustable sleep number bed but those things are soooo expensive.

    • We really like our sleep number bed Milly. Have had it a long time. The best part is that each person sleeps in their own chamber so that minimizes how much you feel the other person tossing and turning at night.

  9. The mattress pads really do help the overall comfort. And I feel they help with protection and cleanliness as well.

  10. ThriftyHamster says

    Germs eh? I grew up around a dairy farm and now work at said farm. All things considering, I can’t say the germ angle concerns me.

  11. It makes no sense to me that you “need” to change your mattress every 5 – 7 years. That’s just the mattress industry trying to get more money. It’s almost like the same thing that the diamond industry engraved in our brains that diamonds are forever and you MUST get a big engagement ring for your finance.

  12. Mmmm. We are sleeping on a king size bed ( Sealy Beautyrest I think ) that was given to us when we married in 1990. And it wasn’t new- it was purchased earlier that 1987 but we don’t exactly know what year. Its still comfortable for me, but my husband is starting to complain about a dip on his side! But now I am thinking its gross, when before I was thinking it was frugal. Kind of like my dryer which we were told was on its last leg when we moved here in 1995 but is still going. ( Though I can see I am probably paying higher in energy costs with such an old dryer)
    My mattress reluctance has to do with the cost, confusion and seeming corruption surrounding the business of mattresses. I did see a place called I think … Tuft and Needle?, started by two guys who were flabbergasted at the mark up of mattresses. Its online with complete guarantee( they have salvation Army pick it up, because they don’t sell used mattresses). I will likely try them rather than a local store, but I am still nervous I will not be able to find a bed as comfortable as this one I have. I want comfort in my waning years!

    • Well, I don’t think you will get away from the huge markup. That could be said about just any product. We’ve loved our Select Comfort bed and were willing to pay up in price to get it. It’s still going strong after 8 years and was well worth the money.

  13. We have an old mattress, and we really do need a new one. It does us no favors by sleeping on it.

  14. We have had our for about 8 years, but it really does need replacing. When we move house we will likely buy a new one then, rather than taking the old one with us.

  15. Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank says

    Yea, probably. In November, my mattress will be 1-year old. But, I should be steam cleaning it already. I already smell something a bit awful asap. Thanks for the advice Brian.

  16. I’m 23 and I’m on my second mattress (not including the crib mattress when I was a baby). I bought this one just over 2 years ago and I expect it to last another 10 years or so. I give it new life by flipping it over/around periodically to get use out of the whole thing. The suggestion to replace every 5-8 years is ridiculous! The only bed I plan to buy in the next few years is for my guest bedroom.

  17. I think I’ve changed my mattress once or twice my entire life. I’m almost 22 so that’s about every 10 years or so. I think it’s an American thing to have a comfortable, new mattress every so many years. I’ve read about other cultures sleeping on hard surfaces. My Korean grandmother sleeps on a wooden board, great for your back supposedly.

    • I’ve always heard the “harder surface = great for the back” argument. Doesn’t work for me. When I’m away from home and sleeping on a firm hotel bed I get a terrible night’s sleep.

  18. This kind of stuff makes me crazy. They all want you to replace as often as possible so they can make more money- that’s all it is. You are so right- what is a 10 year warranty for if you need to replace your mattress every five years? And where on earth are all these used mattresses going to end up?

    • “…where on earth are all these used mattresses going to end up?” That’s a really good question Holly, especially if we are replacing them at the rate they suggest. That’s a lot of landfill.

  19. We just got our king size mattress its 4 yrs old and soooo very comfy. Some of my bfs friends were moving south and not taking big furniture. We paid $200.00 for it….they originally paid $2600.00 for it. We plan on keeping it a good long time. My queen size i paid 1300 for on sale is now 8 years old. I didnt move it here with me but my sister rehomed it to their spare room.
    We were sleeping on a queen size here which we moved to the camper and sold the old camper mattress….for $10 ( we tried to give it away but no one wanted it but as soon as we put a price on it we had 3 people asking fir it – the free something has to be wrong with it attitude kinda surprised me!)

  20. It was great to meet you this past weekend Brian! Congrats again on the Plutus Award- well deserved!

    Hubby had the mattress that we are currently sleeping on when I met him, so it’s at least ten years old. We may upgrade to a king at some point in the future, but we have no plans to do so right away- maybe in five years or so. And that would be just because we want a king, not because there’s anything wrong with our current mattress. It would be completely fine as a guest bed! Crazy “industry” recommendations…

    • Likewise Dee and thank you! I had so much fun meeting other bloggers who I had only connected with online. That turned out to be one of the best put together conferences I’ve ever attended.

  21. I have to agree Brian… it is kind of ridiculous to say we give you a warranty on this product for 10 to 20 years, but you really should replace it every 8! Ya know… cause germs and all.. don’t mind the fact that you can get a mattress cover or that you put sheets on it and you aren’t sleeping directly on the mattress!

  22. I would have said, “What?!”, too. My mattress is only a few years old as I had to upgrade from the twin I had since I was a toddler. My parents now have that bed in their guest room, and it has held up pretty well. I’d say it’s at least 20 years old. I’ve never considered the germ aspect, either, as we have a cover over the mattress, between the sheets. Sadly, I’m sure there’s people buying into this.

    • You know there are people buying into it, otherwise they wouldn’t be running those commercial spots. They’ve done their homework…they know what gets people into the store.

  23. You’re singing my song, Brian. I am sleeping in the bed that my husband had with his first (deceased) wife and it is over 35 years old. The mattress has never been replaced but we did get a pillow top foam mattress pad for it about 5 years ago. It’s just so comfortable. It is a good quality bed (though dated) and I love it so much I’ve often thought about taking it to my Dad’s cottage to replace the one we have there that’s not so comfortable. But then I’d have to replace it at home and I’m afraid to, it’s just that good!

  24. Hah! Nice rant. Our Queen mattress is 12+ years and going strong. One thing we do every 4-5 years is spend a hundred bucks or so on a nice soft foam pad thingy (can’t remember what they’re called). It extends your mattress life and they are oh-so-comfortable!

    And rotating the mattress is helpful as well. Our next new one will be a king but that’s a good ways off. Too expensive.

    Never heard of the replace it every 4-5 years though. Just some marketing hype to get people to buy beds and mattresses for sure!

    • We do a pad on top (think it’s called a pillow top) as well. My wife also has the foam eggshell padding under her side for extra cushion. You’ll love a king when you get there…I don’t even know my wife is in the bed at night there is so much room. 🙂

  25. I don’t think I’ve ever put my mattress on a timetable as to when I need to replace it. We’ve certainly upgraded from a queen to king, but otherwise, it’s because the mattress needed replacement, not because it a hit a magical age. 🙂 I never really thought much about their recommendation for replacing every 5-7 years while 20 year warranties. That does seem a bit odd and misleading. And I agree, if you’re struggling to sleep or have aches and pains (that aren’t caused by a child kicking you), there is something going on, but your mattress is probably the least likely culprit.

  26. I’ve heard that mattresses double in weight after 10-15 years from the collection of dust. Not sure, but this sounds like an old wives tale!

    • Holy cow! I’ve never heard that one…That would be incredible! (and maybe cause to get a new one…that’s a lot of dust. That can’t be true…can it?)

  27. Great rant! You feel the way I do about the whole “get your oil changed every 3,000 miles” gimmick. You said it right – it’s all about playing into our fears and exploiting them for financial gain.

    • That’s another great example MMD! I thought about that as I was writing this. I never do the 3,000 mile change anymore. Usually 5-6k depending on the age of the vehicle and where I’ve been driving.

  28. I haven’t had my mattress for too long, but it has been over 7 years already and it looks and feel the same as it did when I first bought it. And I’ve never flipped it, rotated it or cleaned it. I do have a little pad on it that I wash every once in a while, but that’s it. I don’t know how often you should replace your mattress, but I think the right time is whenever you feel like is not working for you anymore. I’m going to keep mine for as long as I can.

    • “…whenever you feel like is not working for you anymore.” I agree…That’s probably the best strategy Aldo. That’s why we changed years ago. However, the mattress companies know this and do a great job of convincing consumers that the mattress is “just not working for you” when in reality there may be nothing wrong at all. Got to stay on guard against that.

  29. Our mattress is about 14 years old and I don’t sanitize it at all. I specifically wanted the one that you never have to flip because I never do that either. We do have a mattress pad and wash the sheets pretty often. I’m pretty sure we don’t have bedbugs and sleep just fine.

  30. I’m with you on this one. We have similar commercials here in our area, and I always shake my head cause it’s a bit silly.

    We bought our mattress that had a 20 year warranty about 12 years ago, and it’s still going strong. We love our bed – it’s extremely comfortable (almost too comfortable – makes it hard to get out of bed in the morning!), and I can’t imagine replacing it anytime soon. The germophobes can go ahead and waste the money if they want, but we’ll be spending our money on better things. 🙂

    • I know what you mean about comfort Peter. I get so spoiled sleeping on my bed…really makes going out of town and staying in hotels challenging. I usually don’t sleep very well on the road.

  31. My mattress is a hand-me-down from when I lived with my parents. When I was 15 I upgraded to a queen-sized bed. Still have it now, 14 years later. At some point it will become the spare bed and we’ll upgrade to a king, but honestly, I have no troubles sleeping on it! It’s still in great shape.

  32. We bought our mattress 2 years ago for only $279 (from Amazon.com!) and we love it and won’t replace it until it falls apart (even then, I’m sure we’ll try to repair it first). We have a mattress pad that I wash regularly and I wash our sheets weekly, so I think we’re OK germ-wise (at least I hope so!).

  33. I had this same rant only a month ago with a family member who thought she needed to go shopping because her mattress was 10 years old, and “you know what they say…” She is their exact target audience, or victim, and I was furious.

  34. Since I’m only 28, I’ve replaced my mattress every 8 years or so purely out of moving on up. I’ve gone from a twin to a full and now to a queen. I would love to go to a king in 8 years 🙂 But on a seriously note, I do not plan on replacing my mattress out of necessity every 8 years. I think double that is a good idea – maybe every 15 years ish.

    • I’d be OK with every 15 years. That’s a big enough gap in time for technology to move forward where you might see considerable improvements in design and comfort. Since Select Comforts are basically air mattresses there is not much to change there. Oh…and you’d love a king…so much space!

  35. Whether there is scientific validity to it or not, I still can’t afford to replace my mattress every 8 years. I’m sure it does get kind of gross and worn out, but I have bigger fish to fry. 🙂 I think most of us in the first world have worse sleep issues than our mattress, and I probably would spend more money on figuring out that before the mattress…know what I mean?

    • I agree. It seems like the mattress is the last thing I would consider is causing me problems…although I know I cannot sleep on one that’s rock hard.

  36. “Think I actually scared myself…and the driver in the car next to me at the red light.” Ha ha, you’ve got to love when that happens. I could not agree more Brian. We replaced our mattress a little under two years ago for about $1500. It belonged to my wife before we got married so all totaled it was a little over 15 years old I believe – maybe closer to 20. There had been a spring poking through that we had been dealing with for a couple of years that started getting worse and the kids would get in to play with it when we had the sheets off and thus became a safety concern for us. We had even used duct tape to cover it at times. 🙂

    With having little ones, of course, we had basically anything and everything you could imagine on that thing and it worked just fine for us. I think it largely comes down to the money which is why the marketers play on those fears of germs and other things. My brother is an engineer and has told us often how he was taught in college that you need to design things so they break down over time. I don’t know if that’s the case with mattresses, but it wouldn’t surprise me one bit.

    • “…design things so they break down over time.” That doesn’t surprise me. I’m OK with the normal wear and tear…I’d expect that. But if I was an engineer I’d want my products to last as long as possible because it would reflect positively on my craftsmanship.

  37. We bought a tempurpedic mattress (20 yr warranty) over 10 years ago. It’s pretty gross looking after dog vomit, toddler bloody noses, leaky diapers and such have happened. But I spot clean it and put a sheet over it, and other than potentially upgrading to a king sized bed, I’ve never thought twice about sleeping on it.

    • Haha…I can relate to that Kirsten. We have a thick pillow top cover (which we clean occasionally) between our sheets and the mattress, so I doubt ours is getting very dirty.

  38. We spend more time on our mattresses than in our vehicles. Most people spend more time in bed than in any other place or position all day.
    Clothes wear out. Desk chairs wear out. Why is it so absurd that a mattress wears out.
    Even if I pay $2,500 for a new mattress every 5 years, that’s still just $1.36/day.
    Considering that lousy sleep is related to stress, blood pressure, immunity, focus and productivity, depression and anxiety, and just about EVERY OTHER ASPECT OF HEALTH, I’m comfortable with the investment.
    I love a good rant, but I think this one is off base.

    • Thanks for the comment Allissa! I have nothing against a good sleep. I cherish them. But it’s wildly inconsistent for a manufacturer to offer a 20+ year warranty and then turn around and suggest you replace it 5 years into ownership. Warranties imply the product will maintain it’s quality and functioning over that amount of time because the materials are designed to last and do what they are intended to do…which in this case is keeping us all sleeping well.

  39. I’d like someone “from the industry” to explain to me why they recommend a new mattress every 5-7 years…….yet they sold me a mattress with a 30 year warranty.

  40. Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank says

    I don’t know how my mom do it. Living independently for three years, I haven’t considered that thought yet. What I do is I just vacuum the mattress. This helps to keep it clean by the sheer fact that when it does get wet, there is less dirt to cause it to stain.

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