May 28, 2011 - Marshall Coyle

Take Care Your Mattress and It Will Take Care of You

Modern mattresses require very little care, but benefit greatly when you do. Once upon a time, most mattresses were made with half the padding on each side.  It was necessary to frequently turn them over to equalize wear on each side.   If you follow the simple diagram above, you will see how to do it without any heavy lifting.  Never sharply fold any mattress when transporting.

State of the art mattresses today, both innerspring and synthetic  foams,  have thick body-conforming  padding on one side and little to none on the other.  They do not  need to be turned.  However, they do benefit from monthly rotation during the first year break in period.   Turning them will be counter productive because the underside is not designed to be slept on.

A protected and clean mattress will be usable for much longer than a neglected one.   The best possible, and most comfortable protection from human and pet stains  is provided by an absorbent quilted pad.  The thicker, the better.  You can use a  foam or feather pad between the quilted mattress protector and the mattress to provide greater softness, but always use a quilted top protector.  This not only prevents stains, but starves the dust mites that feed on your sloughed off skin cells.

Non-porous plastic or rubber covers may be needed in special situation for sanitary purposes, but they are to be avoided if not needed.  Air passing through your mattress helps keep you cool in a warm bedroom.

All the care in the world will be pointless if you do not buy a good mattress in the first place.    I recently got two platform mattresses from Charles P. Rogers, America’s oldest mattress maker.  They have been around almost twice as long as I have, and Herbert Hoover was president when I was born!

These mattresses are made with an extremely large number of pocketed wire coils held in place by structural foams.  They are then padded and upholstered  in various pre-compressed materials that are a perfect compromise of durability and comfort.  Too hard and the mattress will last longer, but you won’t: Too soft and your spine will sag as quickly as the mattress. It is an art, not a science, and  Rogers has figured it out very well in the last 155 years.

Marshall, the Old Bed Guy.


Bed Buying Tips / Bedding / Mattresses / Old-Bed-Guy


  • Marshall Coyle says:

    dear Debbie, yes,

    Marshall Coyle

  • Marshall Coyle says:

    dear Debbie, slim profile and regular profile foundations are identical in construction from this company. You get less wood in the base, but the strength is from the metal construction, not the wood. You should not hesitate to buy a low-profile.

  • Marshall Coyle says:

    Dear Jackie,
    You do not want anything between you and your new lush and cool surfaced mattress. What is best is one of the new breed of stretch knit waterproof encapsulations that also permits unobstructed airflow. We ordered one from the mattress maker. It is as thin as a good sheet, but has an impermeable barrier to liquids, dust mites, and anything except fresh air. I used to recommend cotton filled pads before these new types of bed protectors were invented. When I get around to it, I will check my blog and update it. Happy sleeping, happy New Year, and a very merry Christmas.
    Marshall Coyle

  • joe says:

    Ijust purchased a very old bed made in NY in the 1900 and placed into storage in about 1936 (from what the tags say). This bed has an all metal box spring which appears to have served as the mattress as well, could this be true?

    • Marshall Coyle says:

      Dear Joe,

      A picture will get you better information in return. Send to OLDBEDGUY@GMAIL.COM. I think you are describing a very popular product called a “coil spring”. In function it was the same as a coil-filled box spring and was considered less likely to harbor bed bugs. The government forbade new ones during World War Two as the steel was needed for armaments and with new-found prosperity, after the war, the more costly box spring became so popular that metal bed spring makers couldn’t compete. Many of the older ones were so overbuilt that they will survive forever. Mid-Western farmers drag old ones behind their tractors to smooth lumpy driveways and field.

      If the top of the spring is smooth and firm and the coils have not given up and slumped, there are few reasons not to just buy a mattress and use it for the next 113 years. If the top isn’t perfectly flat and resistant to downward pressure, your new mattress will conform to the contours and simply break down. This will void 99% of manufacturer’s warranties. If it passes your exam, I suggest that you buy a cloth, not plastic, zippered cover to keep it clean after you find out how many hours a good cleaning takes.

      If I haven’t discouraged you and you start mattress shopping, you can run your choices past me to find out their relative survivability on your old spring. Don’t worry about surviving bed bugs. They are tough but do need to eat to survive and their eggs last only a year or so. I really would appreciate pictures that show any maker’s labels on both the bed and/or the spring.

      Rest Wishes


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