Laura is an freelance writer living in Florida. She has a Master's degree in English.
Consumers have been hit with a campaign to replace your mattress every eight years. But is this campaign a true message to promote better health or a stealthy way to get a little more of your money?
In the last few years advertising spots on TV and the radio have bombarded consumers with the "if it's over eight, it's time to replace" mantra concerning their mattresses. The advertisement claims that the mattress doubles in weight every eight years due mainly to dust mites and other contamination caused by pets and people sleeping on the bed.
Some consumers seem to believe it. Facebook and other social media posts show people asking if they should replace their mattress or being concerned with the age of the mattress they are sleeping on.
But is it a health hazard?
Does the average person need to shell out hundreds to thousands of dollars every few years for a new mattress set?
The answer is mostly: No.
What They Claim
The companies claiming that you must replace your mattress mainly cite health reasons. They say that due to sweat and moisture, a mattress will double in weight every eight years.
The thought is that all the sweat and skin flakes create a great place for the dust mites to live. Because so many people have allergies to dust mites, you may be risking your health by not replacing your mattress.
Do Mattresses Get Dust Mites?
Yes, most mattresses contain dust mites. Dust mites are microscopic organisms that feed on dust and particles that naturally occur where people and pets live.
According to Mayo Clinic, dust mites thrive in environments of 70 degrees or higher (the temperature of most homes) and eat the shed skin of people. They are a relative of ticks and spiders.
The only evidence that you may have of dust mites is allergy symptoms or feeling like you have a cold. Only an allergist can determine if you are allergic to dust mites or if they are causing an allergy.
So mattresses may be the perfect place for dust mites to live. We spend many hours a day in bed, and naturally sweat and shed skin cells.
But is it a problem that can be prevented or remedied? Does the mattress really double in weight?
According to an article by Elizabeth Landau "Meet the critters inside your mattress" on CNN.com, experts believe that the idea of your mattress doubling in weight every eight years is exaggerated. Experts say this it is not mathematically possible. While mattresses can and do contain dust mites and possibly gain some weight from the absorption of fluids, they are not likely to be gaining weight at that rate.
So what can you do about preventing or reducing the amount of dust mites in your mattress? A simple and inexpensive solution is to use a high quality mattress cover.
Quality Mattress Cover Extends the Life of Your Mattress
A simple and inexpensive solution to stopping or preventing the spread of dust mites is to use a high-quality mattress cover on your mattress.
Ideally, the cover should be waterproof and should be placed directly over your bare mattress. From there you can add your sheets and other bedding.
If you use memory foam or an egg crate pad, be sure that the mattress pad covers this as well. Dust mites can live in that foam as well.
A waterproof mattress pad acts as a shield, preventing the skin flakes and moisture from your body from penetrating the actual mattress itself, preserving your mattress and your health. Even if your mattress is older, you can add a mattress cover to prevent any further accumulation of moisture or dust mites in the mattress. It will also provide a barrier between you and the mattress, preventing you from breathing in the dust mite allergens.
How Do You Know It Is Time to Replace Your Mattress?
There are times when a mattress does need to be replaced, but it is likely to last longer than eight years. For one thing, experts recommend checking the mattress label. If it has a 10, 20, or 30-year warranty, with proper care, you are likely to get about that amount of time out of the mattress.
You also want to think about comfort. Are their pressure points? Is it less comfortable than it used to be? Would adding a memory foam pad or egg crate pad alleviate some of these problems? If you are like most consumers and watching your money, adding a pad may give you a few more years out of the mattress.
You should also visually inspect it. If it is dirty or soiled, it may be time to consider replacing it. Putting a mattress cover on at the start of the use of your mattress may help to eliminate these problems with your next mattress.
Picking Out a Mattress
When picking out a mattress, many people have very particular ideas about how it should feel. It is important to get one that is comfortable for you. Consider the quality as well. Watch out for pillow top mattresses that are not able to be flipped over. They are likely to wear down and become less comfortable over time.
Don't feel the pressure to buy an expensive mattress. Look for quality and durability. Check a less biased source such as consumer reports to find the right balance of quality and affordability.
Remember that the biggest point that the "replace after eight" campaign is making is that your mattress will be overloaded with sweat and dust mites. But you can prevent or eliminate this problem by simply adding a quality, waterproof mattress pad.
- In order to get the most life out of your mattress and to reduce allergies wash all of the bedding and the mattress pad regularly. Washing in hot water kills the dust mites that might accumulate in the bedding.
- To prevent wear and tear, remember to flip your mattress every six months to a year, rotating when you flip so that all parts of the mattress have regular wear.
- If your mattress is uncomfortable or has clear wear and tear, it is time to consider a new one.
There is no reason to stress about sleeping on an older mattress. With care, a mattress can last a decade or more with no reason to worry.
© 2013 L C David
Lisa Christie on March 15, 2018:
My bed is king size ensemble Pillow top is older than my daughter whose 21 years old.. it maybe about 23 and its stilll comfy and soft ..my sister's cant believe how soft n comfy it still is..have no allergies or sore backs from having it so long as that's what they say could happen.. otherwise I'd get a new one..it gets rotated every few months and cleaned.. bought it for over $2000... along with my bedroom suite which I also still have.. none of the drawers are broken just need bit of an update to them..sanding revarnish etc.. only thing now is my cat has now shredded the base at the bottom using it as a scratching post..I've just put a valance on it to cover it..so pays to spend good money for something and it will last.. how many beds and drawers has everyone else in my family had over that period.. quite a few..I love my bed
Joean@aol.com on January 12, 2017:
Our mattress going on 17 this year. It is in good condition but the padding has compacted over the years. I bought a gel foam mattress pad 4 inch on the internet and absolutely love it. I expect this to last quite a while as it is the same since purchased two years ago. For dust mites, I just fog our house once in a while with. Pyrethrin based fogger. No probs.
L C David (author) from Florida on August 13, 2016:
That makes sense!
seesee on July 22, 2016:
It also make a difference if one or two are using the bed.
L C David (author) from Florida on December 24, 2013:
Thanks Wiccansage. I agree the eight years thing sounded funny to me too so I did some digging. There are definitely ways to get more than 8 years out of the mattress. And if it really doubled in weight there would be bed frames falling apart all over the place. I'm not even going to tell you how old the oldest mattress is in our house!
Mackenzie Sage Wright on December 24, 2013:
I just bought a new mattress this past year because the springs were shot and my old. I kept hearing that thing about replacing it after 8 years and doubling in weight and thought it sounded dubious. My old mattress from my mother's house stayed with me for about 20 years-- when I got married it went to a guest room and eventually to my daughter, she had no problem with it as it was one of the most comfortable in the house. A lot depends on quality of the mattress and how you take care of it. This is a great hub.