Tested and Reviewed by Experts

Tested and Reviewed by Experts

Mattress FAQs

James Brains/Insider

What kind of mattress should you buy?The most popular types of mattresses are memory foam (contours to your body), latex foam (eco-friendly), hybrid (durable), innerspring (supportive), pillow-top (soft), and adjustable air beds (versatile). Here are more pros and cons of each type.Memory foam: When most people think of a bed-in-a-box, they think of memory foam mattresses. These are mattresses with multiple layers of foam that support and contour your body. Due to this construction, all-foam mattresses tend to trap heat.Latex foam: People looking for an eco-friendly, cooler, and more responsive alternative to traditional memory foam tend to prefer latex foam.Hybrid: These beds combine one of the above foams with individually wrapped coils. The coils help with motion transfer and edge support, making them an excellent option for couples. The pocket springs also help with airflow for cooler sleep.Innerspring: These are your more traditional beds, also called innerspring or coil mattresses. Due to the responsive coils, they offer good overall support, edge support, cooling, and durability. However, they are generally more expensive and primarily found in showrooms and not online.Pillow-top: Pillow-tops are found on any mattress type but are usually associated with innerspring mattresses. Pillow-tops are an excellent choice for those who like a soft, cushy feel.Adjustable or air beds: These beds use an air pump to adjust the firmness of your mattress to suit your needs. They are among the most expensive options but may be an ideal long-term solution since your firmness needs change with time. Couples with drastically different firmness needs would also benefit from an adjustable air bed.What size bed should you buy?Twin, twin XL, and full beds are generally better for smaller, taller, and larger individuals, respectively. Queen, king, and California king are better for smaller, larger, and taller couples, respectively. Here are the dimensions of each.Twin: 38 inches wide by 75 inches longTwin XL: 38 inches wide by 80 inches longFull: 54 inches wide by 75 inches longQueen: 60 inches wide by 80 inches longKing: 76 inches wide by 80 inches longCalifornia king: 72 inches wide by 84 inches longFor context, my wife and I are slightly taller and heavier than average, and we share a bed with a dog and a full-body pillow. Queen mattresses are too small and uncomfortable for us, though queen is the size we test as it’s the most popular. We’ve found king is ideal for our needs.Check out our mattress size chart for more detailed recommendations.What’s the best way to clean a mattress?Deep clean your mattress with baking soda and a vacuum every 3 to 6 months. You should treat stains immediately with a disinfectant wipe. Tackle harder stains with a mixture of dishwashing liquid and hydrogen peroxide.Some mattresses have removable covers. Check with the manufacturer before removing the cover and attempting to clean it. Some brands may state that their covers are machine washable. If that is the case with your mattress, we recommend that option only as a last resort since it’s incredibly difficult to take the cover off and put it back on and make sure you follow the cleaning instructions carefully.For more tips, check out our guide on cleaning a mattress.Do I need a mattress protector?When purchasing a new mattress, you should protect your investment by also buying a mattress protector. See our guide to the best mattress protectors for our top recommendations.When is the best time to buy a mattress?Mattress makers have sales throughout the year, but you can usually find the best deals during holiday weekends, like Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, and Black Friday/Cyber Monday.  Manufacturers tend to start marking down their mattress prices in the spring as they prepare to launch a new line in June. In March, you’ll usually find the most comprehensive selection with the smallest discounts. As you get into May, the discounts increase while the inventory becomes sparse. We keep a running list of all mattress deals and sales updated monthly and feature Insider-exclusive discounts.What’s the best mattress for back pain?Both of the orthopedic surgeons we talked to said that medium-firm mattresses are best for people with back pain.Amit Jain, MD, chief of minimally invasive spinal surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital and an associate professor of orthopedic surgery and neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said a medium-firm mattress is best for those with or without back pain, based on a 2015 study.Tamara Huff, MD, a Georgia-based board-certified orthopedic surgeon and health disparities advocate, pointed out that it’s hard to pinpoint what “medium-firm” is. She recommends avoiding the firmest mattress if you suffer from back pain. Instead, choose one that feels medium-firm to you.I recommend looking for a mattress with zoned support. These offer more pressure relief around the hips, lower back, and shoulders and can do a better job of keeping your spine aligned.Take advantage of the home trial. After all, the only way to know if a mattress is right for your back is to sleep on it.We rate the Leesa Hybrid as the best mattress for back pain, but read our comprehensive guide to the best mattresses for back pain for more options.How much should you spend on a mattress?We outlined picks at various price points, but time and again, experts tell us to think of a mattress as an investment in your well-being. You spend about a third of your life on your bed and should expect to spend over $1,000 on a quality mattress.While the upfront cost may seem high, a good mattress should last you about 10 years. The  chart below breaks down the average cost for different types of mattresses. For more in-depth information, see our guide on mattress pricing. 

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