How to flip your mattress—and when you shouldn’t

A quick guide to the essentials of mattress maintenance.

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Many of us grew up with an innerspring mattress. You might even remember flipping them every so often as part of their general care. Maybe they’re fond memories of the whole family getting together to share in the activity. Or maybe you broke a lamp, immediately after assuring someone you didn’t need to move the lamp.

Over the years, mattress technology has evolved, bringing us pillowtops, water beds, air mattresses, and memory foam. While quite a few consumers still have innerspring mattresses, they’re no longer the only option out there. With so many different kinds of mattress becoming ubiquitous over the years, it can be difficult to know if the same care routines you remember still apply.

Should I flip my mattress?

First, it’s important to know whether you should flip your mattress—because sometimes you shouldn’t. Do you have a two-sided mattress, like an innerspring? Yes, flip it. Do you have a one-sided mattress? Don’t flip it: Rotate it instead.

Don’t stress: If you’re unsure if your mattress is one-sided or two-sided, you can always test it out to see if it’s comfortable on both sides. Either way, it won’t hurt your mattress.

Many modern mattresses are one-sided, meaning they have one sleepable surface and one surface that wasn’t designed to be slept on. Pillowtops have their namesake cushioning on one side and not the other. Some foam mattresses have layers, with softer foam on top of increasingly dense layers for structure and support. These mattresses shouldn’t be flipped and should instead be rotated.

Two-sided mattresses were designed specifically to be flipped. Flipping your mattress helps distribute your weight more evenly than just rotating the mattress, so typically flippable mattresses have a longer lifespan. Two-sided mattresses are often clearly marketed as having two sides. Innersprings and some foam mattresses fall into this category.

There are also outliers that fall somewhere in between. For example, there are newer foam mattresses with a soft side and a firm side, both of which are sleepable surfaces. While this means they’re technically two-sided, users are supposed to pick a side they prefer, then rotate it regularly.

How do you flip a mattress?

It’s a good idea to get a partner to help you flip your mattress: It’s both safer and faster.

Items needed:
A two-sided mattress, preferably one in need of flipping.
Clear space. If you can’t spin your mattress 180° around the center of your bed without it bumping into something, you need to move that something. Especially that lamp.
A friend. Mattresses are floppy, unwieldy rectangles that get more difficult to manage the larger they are. It’s best to recruit a partner to aid with the flipping process.

The trick here is to keep the mattress centered on your bed frame as much as possible. Not only does that disrupt the least amount of space in your room, but using the frame helps prevent the mattress from twisting, flopping, or otherwise being cumbersome to manipulate. The same is true if for rotating a one-sided mattress.

Why do I need to flip my mattresses?

Uneven wear on your mattress can lead to poor sleep quality over time. It’s subtle, so it’s good to stay on top of your mattress maintenance.

The main reason to flip or rotate a mattress is to even out its wear over time. Unless your body is a rectangular cuboid the exact size of your mattress, you’re going to wear down certain parts of your mattress faster than others. Flipping or rotating the mattress ensures your weight is distributed more evenly throughout the mattress, allowing higher-pressure areas to decompress over time. This should help keep your sleeping surface smoother for longer.

How often should I flip or rotate my mattress?

Depending on the mattress, we’ve seen suggestions ranging from once to four times a year, but the number of times you flip is less important than the regularity with which you flip.

The goal is to even out the wear on your mattress, so flipping your mattress at set intervals helps ensure all parts of your mattress are getting slept on and decompressing for equal amounts of time. Flipping at indiscriminate intervals means parts of your mattress are still getting worn down faster than others.

How do I clean my mattress?

Vacuuming your mattress regularly will help keep dust mites to a minimum, which should help reduce nighttime allergies.

Since you already need a routine to flip your mattress at regular intervals, it might also be a good time to clean your mattress. Cleaning your mattress removes odors and dust mites. Fewer allergens can mean healthier sleep.

Which mattress should I buy?

If your mattress is all flipped out (or you’ve had it more than seven years) it’s probably time to buy a new one. When we tested mattresses in a box, the Nectar (available at Nectar for $699.00) was our favorite overall. If you’re looking for the best value, check out the Tuft & Needle.

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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