Why You Should Never Buy a Second-Hand Mattress
There are times when you may be tempted to go for a second-hand mattress, even if the idea of sleeping on someone else’s old bed doesn’t exactly fill you with joy. It could be that a friend has bought a new mattress and offers you his or her old one for free, or a change in family circumstances means you could inherit a used mattress.
Alternatively, money could be tight and although you need a child’s mattress, you’re looking to save every penny you can.
Whatever the circumstances, if at all possible, resist the urge to take the second-hand option - no matter how well-intended the offer of a used mattress may be.
Is a second hand mattress safe?
While it may seem that buying a second-hand mattress will save you money in the short term, the risks certainly outweigh that one advantage.
You don’t know who has been sleeping on the mattress before you or how clean they kept it. For young children, the risks can be much greater. Investigations by the consumer organisation Which? In 2021 found that second-hand cot mattresses had a higher risk of causing injury through broken zips, mattresses being too soft for newborns, and gaps between the mattress and the cot.
Studies by the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow also demonstrated a higher proportion of sudden cot death syndrome in infants sleeping on second-hand mattresses.
Our top tip: Buy new, not second-hand. If you're really on a tight budget and cannot afford a new mattress, make sure the one you buy comes from a reputable outlet that properly cleans and disinfects mattresses before selling them on. You could also shop clearance mattresses which are cheaper alternatives.
Why shouldn't you use a second hand mattress?
There is a multitude of reasons as to why you shouldn’t use a second-hand mattress.
1. It won't last as long
The recommended lifespan of a mattress from new is around eight years. If you buy a second-hand mattress, you don't know how old it is or how much life it has left in it. You may pay less initially, but you'll be buying a replacement mattress much sooner.
2. You may be sharing your mattress with unwelcome guests
Eventually, all mattresses end up accumulating dust. Much of it is skin flakes from the users. That encourages dust mites and bed bugs to take up residence. They’re not easy to spot, either, as they are microscopically small and burrow right down into the centre of the mattress.
3. That dust may trigger an allergic reaction
Not only does dust attract dust mites, but it can also trigger an allergic reaction. If you have asthma or a respiratory condition or suffer from skin problems such as eczema, the dirt in a used mattress can cause real problems.
4. The manufacturer's warranty will have run out
If you have any issues with your second-hand mattress, the chances are that the warranty has already run out. If the stitching comes undone or the coils fail, you won't be able to get your money back or like-for-like exchange.
5. No free delivery or mattress removal
When you buy a new or clearance mattress, the supplier will typically deliver it to you for free. They'll also offer you a mattress recycling or removal service at a low cost. If you buy second-hand, you'll probably need to pick the mattress up yourself. If it's a king-size mattress, that could be a problem if you use public transport!
What are the alternatives to a second hand mattress?
You don’t need to buy second-hand to save money on a new mattress. Online shops and mattress stores often have what they call ‘clearance’ mattresses. These are usually end-of-line models or mattresses that haven’t sold and are marked down to clear the way for new stock. These are new mattresses that have either been discontinued or have been previously used for display purposes. The big plus is that they often come with a warranty of around a year. There may be the odd blemish or mark from shop use, but other than that, they're in pristine condition.
Alternatively, look for big reductions on mattresses during Boxing Day, New Year, Easter or Black Friday sales. And remember that if you buy from MattressNextDay, you'll also benefit from free delivery to UK mainland addresses.
How long can a mattress last?
The average lifespan of a mattress is around 7-9 years. Most manufacturers will recommend that you change your mattress every eight years.
By turning it regularly (and if it's a double-sided mattress, flipping it over), you'll extend the lifespan. It will also help avoid lumps and bumps from developing or uncomfortable dips in the top.
How do you look after your mattress?
Like any other item in your home, a mattress needs looking after. Regular cleaning will help it stay looking great for longer. It will also ensure that you eliminate any dust mites that could trigger an allergic reaction.
Your vacuum cleaner has everything you need to give your mattress a good clean regularly. Use the soft attachments or a hand-held unit to give your mattress a quick clean every time you change your bedding.
Stains and spills should be tackled straight away. There are plenty of products on the market that will remove stains from your mattress. If a mattress has become badly stained, it may be time to either call in a professional cleaner or buy a new mattress.
Turning frequently will help prolong the life of your mattress. It allows lumps and dips to even out. Not all mattresses need to be flipped. Single-sided mattresses simply need to be rotated from head to toe every few months.
To find out how to keep your mattress in tip-top condition, have a look at our handy guide on How To Clean Your Mattress for some clever hacks and useful tips.