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Can You Put a Mattress on the Floor? The Do’s and Don’ts of Mattress Care

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Whether you want to create a minimalist style in your home, save money, or try to fix back pain, placing your mattress on the floor may have crossed your mind as a solution.

However, there may be some crucial factors you haven’t considered yet that can cost you big time in the future, like potentially voiding your mattress’s warranty. 

This article will answer ‘Can you put a mattress on the floor’ and the pros and cons of sleeping on the floor. We will also look at the most common do’s and don’ts of mattress care to ensure your mattress, and your sleep, is as comfortable and long-lasting as possible.

Let’s dive in. 

Key Takeaways

  • Ensure your room is dry and your mattress is placed on a finished floor to avoid moisture or uneven support issues.
  • Review your warranty carefully before placing your mattress on the floor to ensure you are covered in the case of any damages.

The Pros and Cons of Putting a Mattress on the Floor

You may want to place a mattress on the floor for various reasons. It’s essential to determine the pros and cons first to ensure sleeping on the floor is your best option. For example, the lower profile of a mattress on the floor can save space, but it can also be challenging to get in and out of.

Below I’ve compiled some of the most significant pros and cons of putting a mattress on the floor.

A proven benefit of sleeping on the floor is better support for the spine due to the firm surface. According to The Spine Institute, sleeping on the floor encourages your spine to remain neutral and minizines cushioning, which increases ease of movement. It also places even pressure on the spine. This can make floor sleeping a solution for some of the best mattresses for bad backs.

However, if you or your partner struggle with mobility, having the mattress so low to the ground may make it challenging to get out of bed in the morning (1). More effort is put into the legs and back to stand from the ground than from hip height, which is where most bed frames raise a mattress to.

It's true that not using a bedframe can make your bed take up less space. This minimalist design is practical, especially in studio apartments or tiny homes. However, the lack of airflow under the mattress increases dampness around your sleeping space. This moisture can encourage mold to grow on your mattress, as described by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2). This can make your sleeping space unsafe and ruin your mattress.

In addition to mold risk, having your bed directly on the floor puts it close to all the dust, allergens, and dust mites on the floor, a common cause of asthma attacks, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (3). This can make your sleeping space unclean and cause continuous allergen symptoms. The closeness to the floor also makes your bed more accessible to pests like bed bugs.

Not investing in a bed frame can save you money, significantly benefiting sleepers on a budget. Bed frames are typically priced around $100-$300 for a metal frame and upwards of $500-$1000 for a wooden frame. Adjustable bed frames, like the Peacelily Adjustable Base, are even higher, around $1500-$2500. Pocketing this investment and sleeping on the ground can help keep your furnishings within budget.

However, many mattress companies explicitly state in their warrant terms that their mattress must be placed on a solid bed frame to be in effect. Sleeping on the floor may void your warranty as the floor doesn’t provide the same support as slats or a platform. This means you won’t be able to receive a refund or replacement if your mattress has a manufacturing fault. 

Pro Tip: You can always ask online store staff through chats, email, or a toll-free business number if their warranty specifies placing a mattress on the floor. That way, you will know what options are available to you.

The Do’s of Putting Your Mattress on the Floor

Some essential to-do’s if you want to put your mattress on the floor include keeping your sleeping area clean, letting your mattress air out, placing a barrier between your mattress and the floor, using a mattress protector, and ensuring the bed is on a finished surface.

Keep Your Sleeping Area Clean

Carpets and hardwood floors are notorious for collecting dust, debris, and dead skin cells. Keep your space clean by regularly vacuuming the floor at least once or twice a week. You can also consider using sanitizing products to ensure bacteria don’t have the chance to grow.

Air Out Your Mattress

Mattresses can get hot and retain moisture, especially along the bottom where it's sandwiched against the floor, trapping dampness. You can avoid moisture build-up by keeping a fan in a well-ventilated bedroom. You can also consider moving or flipping the mattress to let the bottom air out.

Sometimes, mattresses have added cooling technology to keep the temperature in check. Some of the best mattresses for hot sleepers use gel foam, cool-to-the-touch covers, and breathable coils to help keep heat to a minimum, which is helpful for floor sleeping.

Put a Barrier Between You and the Floor

Using a barrier between your mattress and the floor enhances breathability and insulation. This helps prevent any moisture build-up and can help avoid issues with mold or mildew. A barrier also insulates your mattress from temperature changes, creating a buffer so you don’t retain as much heat and don’t feel a cold floor as much.

Examples of suitable barriers include coconut rugs and bamboo mats for their breathability. You can also consider using a bunkie board or Japanese tatami mat.

Use a Mattress Protector

A mattress protector protects your mattress from stains, debris build-up, and pests. A protector keeps bed bugs and dust mites out, keeping your mattress cleaner even if it's on the floor.

Showing a mattress protector
Showing a mattress protector

Place the Mattress on a Finished Surface

A mattress is sensitive to its support, even without a dedicated bed frame. Instead, it will take support from the floor. A straight, finished floor will ensure the mattress receives even, balanced support, translating to better support and healthy sleep.

The Don’ts of Placing Your Mattress on the Floor

Some essential don’t-do’s for placing your mattress on the floor include avoiding placing your bed on a damp or unfinished floor and not forgetting to check your warranty.

Don’t Place Your Mattress on a Damp Floor

Bedrooms connected to a bathroom are exposed to higher humidity, which can lend itself to dampness on the floor. Basement floors are also known for moisture. Avoid placing your bed on these surfaces, as the extra water can encourage a mold problem on your mattress.

Don’t Place it on a Lumpy or Unfinished Surface

An unfinished or uneven floor with dips can cause weight to be displaced within the bed. This strain on the delicate nature of the mattress can cause premature wear and tear. In addition, it can cause you to feel uneven pressure while sleeping, leading to aches and pains.

Don’t Forget to Check Your Warranty

Mattress companies will stipulate in their warranty terms what they will cover and won’t if a mattress suddenly becomes saggy or has a defect. For example, the Peacelily mattress has a 25-year warranty that says it must be placed on any sound bed frame, foundation, or base. Placing the mattress on the floor would be considered ‘improper use’ and void the mattress warranty. This would make it impossible to claim a warranty at any point in the 25-year coverage.

The Potential Risks of Placing Your Mattress on the Floor

There are several potential risks of placing your mattress on the floor, including mold, allergens, pests, and prematurely losing the shape of your mattress.

A mattress on the floor can trap moisture due to the limited airflow, which can encourage mold. A mold infestation will look like brown or gray spots on the mattress, primarily showing up along the bottom where the dampness is, so it will be challenging to spot when it starts. You may notice respiratory symptoms first as your body breathes in the mold spores at night.

Mold is a type of infestation that grows into a mattress. Wiping it away simply won’t do the trick. Once mold sets in, the bed has to be thrown away.

The risk of mold can be minimized by ensuring the bed is in a dry, humidity-free environment and has the opportunity to air out.

Allergens are another potential risk, directly affecting sleepers sensitive to dust and environmental factors in their sleeping space. As the mattress is on ground level, you’re closer to dust build-up and a dirty floor, which can cause allergy symptoms like sneezing, coughing, and irritation of the eyes.

Allergens can be mitigated by wrapping the mattress in a protector and keeping your floor clean.

Due to the mattress being so close to the ground, it's more easily accessible to pests like bed bugs, who love moisture and heat. One of the most common ways to prevent bed bugs from entering a mattress is by placing anti-climb devices on the feet of a bed frame, so the bed bugs can’t enter the mattress. Unfortunately, a mattress on the floor does not have this option.

Once a bed bug infestation starts, it can get into all the items in your home, like clothes and other bedding. This can lead to bedbug symptoms like itchy and red skin from the bites they leave. The treatment for bed bugs is often expensive, running between $500-$1000 for a chemical treatment and $800-$1500 for a heat treatment. It also usually requires more than one dose to ensure the bed bugs are gone for good.

To prevent bed bugs, wrap your mattress in a protector, remove the clutter in your bedroom to reduce their hiding places, and vacuum frequently.

Losing your mattress's shape is another potential risk of placing a mattress on the floor. This is due to the delicate nature of mattresses needing additional support from a bed frame or foundation. 

If a mattress is placed on a lumpy floor, the weight will be distributed in a warped fashion, causing more stress in certain parts of the bed and causing these areas to wear out faster. This can cause the integrity to collapse and your mattress to sag earlier than intended in its lifespan.

Even on a straight floor, mattresses made in Australia are intended to be used with additional supports. They will not have the right amount of give from a firm floor, may feel uncomfortable, and end up bottoming out faster due to the lack of specialized support beneath it.

Consider placing a bunkie board when wondering what to put under the mattress on the floor. This will provide space between you and the floor and a slightly more stable surface.

Sometimes, a mattress is simply too soft for the floor. In this case, opting for some of the best firm mattresses may be a better option.

How the Type of Mattress Affects You When Placed on the Floor

The type of mattress you place on the floor will affect you differently depending on the material used. Latex and memory foam mattresses will feel firmer, while hybrid and innerspring mattresses have more support built into them and will not feel as different on the floor.

Latex and memory foam do not have as much bounce as hybrids and innerspring mattresses and are simply made of layers of material without an internal structure. They benefit the most from a slatted bed frame or foundation, as the support ensures give and bounce. Without that extra structure, they can feel dead on a firm floor, offer less give, and feel firmer when lying down.

Testing the bounce of the hybrid mattress

Innerspring and hybrid mattresses provide more support and are naturally more breathable due to their coils, and they will likely have fewer issues with moisture and mold than their foam counterparts.

Pro Tip: If you live in a humid environment, opt for a mattress that has coils instead of an all-foam or all-latex mattress to place on the floor. That way, you have more support and a more breathable mattress resistant to moisture build-up.

My Experience With Placing a Mattress on the Floor

I have found in my personal experience that lying on a bed on the floor works in the short term. It’s a good solution for a comfortable space, especially when I was in the middle of moving and didn’t have my bed frame yet.

However, once I finished setting up my bed frame, my foam mattress was much more comfortable than when I had it on the floor. 

Alternative Options To Consider Besides Sleeping Directly on the Floor

Alternative options besides sleeping directly on the floor include a low-profile platform, a slatted bed frame, and even an adjustable bed frame like the Peacelily.

A low-profile platform will provide the additional support a mattress needs, doesn’t come with a headboard, and is usually priced on the lower end of the scale. 

A slatted bed frame, typically made of wood, or an adjustable bed frame is more expensive but will provide the support your mattress needs and is durable, lasting you for years.

A memory foam mattress on a bed frame
A memory foam mattress on a bed frame

FAQ

Is it okay to put a mattress on the floor?

Yes, it is okay to put a mattress on the floor as long as you know that most mattress brands may void your warranty, and placing your bed on the floor may increase your risk of damaging the mattress.

Is it better to have a mattress on the floor or a frame?

Placing your mattress on the floor is better for saving space and money. Putting a mattress on a bed frame is better for keeping your mattress’s warranty and enjoying proper, elevated support.

Conclusion 

When understanding if you can place a mattress on the floor, it’s important to consider external factors, like humidity levels and how flat the floor is. If your room doesn’t have a high humidity level, and you let it air out occasionally and keep your bedroom clean, sleeping on the floor should be fine.

In my own experience, I had no issues placing my mattress on the floor, and it does work for the short term.

What are your experiences with putting your bed on the floor? Let us know in the comments below!

References

  1. NIH National Library of Medicine (2000.) Bed mobility task performance in older adults. Retrieved from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11322161/ 
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2022.) Basic Facts about Mold and Dampness. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/mold/faqs.htm
  3. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (2015.) Dust Mite Allergy. Retrieved from: https://aafa.org/allergies/types-of-allergies/insect-allergy/dust-mite-allergy/

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