The average mattress lasts for around 7 years before requiring replacement. People may find that the best indication of a mattress wearing out is how it looks and feels to sleep on.

This article will explore how long a mattress typically lasts, when and why to replace one, some alternative options, and how to dispose of an old mattress.

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According to the Better Sleep Council, a mattress will generally need replacing after 7 years.

The durability of a mattress can also depend on the usage and the type and quality of its materials.

For example, metal coils in hybrid and innerspring mattresses may loosen over time and provide less support. A higher amount of coils in relation to the surface area of the mattress creates a stronger and more durable mattress.

Also, natural latex has higher durability than petroleum-based foams and is very resistant to dust mites and mold.

Some signs that a mattress may be wearing out and needs replacing can include:

  • sagging and dips
  • lumps and bumps
  • visible wear and tear
  • uncomfortable to sleep on
  • stains, smells, or dirt that will not go away
  • presence of bed bugs

Mattresses can affect quality of sleep and spinal position. In fact, research suggests that around 7% of sleep problems are due to uncomfortable mattresses.

An old or uncomfortable mattress may cause aches and pains. Some health reasons to replace a mattress include:

  • waking up stiff or with aches and pains
  • numbness
  • waking up tired

A mattress may also need replacing if it poses health risks with allergens such as dust mites, which can cause allergic rhinitis.

If a mattress has any signs of a bed bug infestation, it may be possible to eliminate the bed bugs without disposing of the mattress. If a person does choose to replace the mattress, however, they will need to completely eliminate the bed bugs in the room or building first.

Some signs of a bed bug infestation include:

  • live bed bugs
  • rusty or reddish stains on sheets or a mattress
  • bed bug excrement, which appears as small, dark spots
  • small eggs or eggshells and pale, yellow skins
  • inflamed bites on the skin

Learn how to get rid of bed bugs here.

People may also need to consider replacing a mattress if a change in weight, sleeping styles, or usage — such as starting to share the mattress with another person — creates a change in how supportive it is.

If a person sleeps on a different mattress than usual and their sleep quality improves, it may indicate the need for a new mattress.

If a mattress is still in warranty, the mattress company may replace or repair it if it has reasonable wear and tear. Some companies offer 10–25-year warranties, while others offer lifetime warranties.

Adding a mattress topper or pad may add extra comfort or support to a mattress. This is sometimes a more affordable option.

A mattress encasement covers the whole mattress and can protect it from bed bugs and mites.

A mattress cover or protector is a thin layer that fits around the mattress, which sheets then go on top of. Using a cover can help protect against dust and dirt.

In one study on the durability of mattress covers, researchers studied the effect of friction on four different knitted fabrics. They found that combinations of polyester with viscose and viscose with bamboo were the most friction resistant out of the test fabrics.

Some other steps a person can take to prolong the life of a mattress include the following:

  • Vacuum the mattress regularly to keep it clean.
  • Avoid using harsh chemical cleaners.
  • To remove a damp spot, apply a small amount of baking soda and then vacuum it.
  • To remove a stain, lightly dab it with mild soap and cold water, but avoid soaking it.
  • Use the correct base for a mattress, which people can check with the mattress company.
  • Flip the mattress every month or so, unless the mattress is not suitable for this, or turn it around 180 degrees to avoid always sleeping in the same spot.
  • Avoid jumping on the mattress or putting very heavy objects on it.
  • Keep pets off the mattress to help keep it clean.

People can also replace their pillows every year to help support the spine and reduce their exposure to potential allergens.

According to the Better Sleep Council, safe options for mattress disposal include checking if a mattress company will collect an old mattress when they deliver a new one and checking for a local recycling scheme that collects larger objects.

More than 75% of each mattress is suitable for recycling, which can prevent it from entering a landfill. People can refer to a mattress recycling directory to find their nearest recycling facility.

Learn more about recycling a mattress here.

People should avoid:

  • dumping a mattress
  • donating it to a charity shop
  • selling it online
  • handing it down to a child

If a person can no longer use their mattress because it negatively impacts their health or sleep quality, it will not be suitable for anybody else to sleep on.

A mattress may need replacing after 7 years, if it has severe sagging or damage, or if it is dirty and unhygienic. People may also want to replace their mattress if they wake up tired or with aches and pains or if they sleep better on an alternative mattress.

As soon as a person gets a new mattress, taking steps to protect it can help prolong longevity and keep it clean. For example, people can use a mattress protector, pair it with the correct base, and vacuum it regularly.

People can recycle their old mattresses with a recycling scheme.