Frequently Asked Questions

Where do I go to complain about a bed or mattress purchase?

You should first complain to the company who sold you the product. They may decide to involve the manufacturer but your dealings should still be with the retailer of your bed or mattress. If you are dissatisfied with the outcome, you could raise your concerns with The Furniture and Home Improvements Ombudsman www.fhio.org or contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Advice Line on 0808 223 1133.

Please note, we do not offer a consumer dispute service and cannot offer legal advice.

What is the best way to get rid of my old mattress? Can it be recycled?

• Check with your local council – each operates differently. Some offer separate mattress collections or bulky waste pick-up services or collections for recycling. Where they exist, councils may have a contract with a mattress recycler. In other areas, householders may have to arrange to take unwanted mattresses to their local tip.

• If you are buying a new mattress, then seek out a retailer who offers to take away your old one – but check what they do with them. If possible, buy from a retailer who recycles their takebacks. It’s worth digging a bit deeper to find out just how that recycling works. Some of it may just be crushed up and going back into landfill. Some old mattresses or old components and fillings are making their way back into production without proper processing. So look for NBF Approved Members to ensure that the product you’re buying is safe, clean and honest. Read more.

• Be very wary of van collectors who offer to take away bulky household waste items, such as old mattresses, for a charge. Many simply fly tip what they pick up – and some of them have been known to rent a warehouse, dump goods there, then disappear. Others have old mattresses recovered to look like new and then sell them as ‘bankrupt stock bargains’ or ‘cancelled orders’ by cold calling around residential areas and selling to unsuspecting householders.

• We know of three private collection services – Collect Your Old Bed, We Are Mattress Recycling and The Mattress Recycling People who guarantee to send your old mattress to a recycling centre – operating throughout England and Wales in most postcodes. Charges depend on your area and size of the product but expect to pay around £40-£50 for a standard sized double mattress.

• Other regional options: currently only for those living in London and the SE –  is Love Junk, an app-based marketplace for bulky waste disposal, including mattresses, that connects people to their cheapest available licensed waste collector or reuse organisation.
King Size Recycling – this company will collect your mattress for recycling within a 10 miles radius of Glasgow city centre from c.£25.

• You can also help to reduce the number of mattresses going to landfill through informed buying choices. More and more new mattresses are becoming available which have been designed with end-of-life in mind and recyclable filling materials. One company, for example, has brought out what it claims to be the world’s first range of 100% recyclable mattresses, made solely from thousands of tiny, pocketed springs in a glue-free mattress that can be quickly and easily disassembled at the end of life. In more traditionally constructed mattresses, fillings such as polyester are much easier to recycle than others. Read more about mattress disposal.

My fairly new mattress already has body impressions, or dipping where I sleep. Is this normal?

One of the most common reasons for consumer telephone calls or emails to the National Bed Federation is the question of settlement – or body impressions – forming on the surface of the mattress where the user lies.

This usually manifests itself within the first few weeks of use as the mattress fillings ‘mould’ to the user’s body shape, with the areas of most pressure (shoulders and hips) showing the greatest signs of settlement.

This can be particularly evident where mattresses use polyester fibre pads or multiple layers of synthetic fillings to create a ‘high-loft’ appearance. These fillings tend not to recover as well as more luxurious natural materials such as cashmere, mohair, horsehair, silk, wool, cotton etc.

There is no official industry standard for determining whether the settlement is excessive, as there are simply too many variables to consider. Some bed manufacturers, retailers and independent inspection companies use a measuring system based on the type of mattress fillings and the age of the product but this really isn’t based on any scientific evidence and so should only be used as a broad guideline.

Settlement on its own is not an indication that the mattress is failing – on the contrary, a mattress with generous layers of comfort fillings should be expected to demonstrate ‘body impressions’ and is an indication that the mattress is performing correctly. Similar to a good pair of leather shoes, a new mattress will ‘relax’ and take on the shape of the user. There seems to be a misconception amongst some people that a mattress should look and feel as good as new even after months or years of service – despite it supporting your body for around seven to eight hours every night. Of course this simply isn’t the case.

The extent to which the mattress will show signs of settlement depends on a number of factors such as the weight of the user, the amount of fillings, the type of fillings, the firmness of the mattress, whether the mattress is two-sided or single-sided. Larger size mattresses such as super king size (180cm wide) and king size (150cm wide) will show signs of settlement more so than a smaller size mattress. This is because there is a wider area in the centre of the mattress that doesn’t get used and the fillings don’t become compacted. This ‘ridge in the middle’ accentuates the sleeping areas on either side of it where the fillings will have settled or compacted during the night. Read more about bed sizes.

Whilst these body impressions can be quite noticeable, they are not necessarily a sign that the mattress support has failed. A mattress that has collapsed or sagged will be very evident when you lie on it – there will be a distinct lack of support, almost a sensation that you can feel right through to the bottom surface of the mattress.

The NBF recommends that you follow the care instructions supplied with your mattress to prolong its life and minimise the effects of settlement.

What sort of bed should I choose if I have a bad back?

For a long time, it was believed that a hard bed was good for a bad back. Nowadays it’s generally accepted that this is not necessarily the case – and could in fact cause more damage. A supportive and comfortable mattress is the best option – it doesn’t matter what type of construction it is. Any reference to beds being orthopaedic – or similar medical-sounding terms – does not automatically mean that the bed has been professionally assessed or recommended – it is a term loosely used by manufacturers to refer to extra firm models in their range. Read more about finding the best mattress if you suffer from a bad back.

Is memory foam worth the hype?

Memory foam is a great filling that responds well to individual shape and pressure. It has good pressure relieving properties and is available in a variety of qualities and densities. Beware of cheap offers though – they might not have enough density or be thick enough layer to provide the properties claimed for memory foam. Read about the difference between memory and latex.

Should I buy from, or trust, a back-of-the-van trader?

While the vast majority of UK bed manufacturers produce safe, compliant and “as described” products, there are some dodgy dealers who try to pass off inferior mattresses as ‘luxury’ items.  

From fake flammability labels to used, dirty mattresses stuffed into a new cover, rogue traders will stop at nothing to make a quick buck. A popular trick by a ‘back of a van’ trader is to claim they have an unsold mattress that they will sell for a fraction of the Recommended Retail Price (RRP).

The general advice is if an offer is too good to be true – it usually is. A reputable trader would never try to sell door-to-door or from the back of a van, so we’d always advise people not to buy a mattress this way. Read more.

What sort of bed is best for asthma sufferers or other types of allergy?

Almost all beds will, in time, attract house dust mites, whose droppings are highly allergenic. Regular cleaning, airing and the use of protective covers will reduce the effect. Some manufacturers are now using anti-dust mite-treated fabrics for tickings. Always check details of construction and materials if you suffer from any other allergies. Manufacturers will be able to supply you with details. Read more about finding the best mattress for allergy or asthma sufferers.

My new mattress has a strong odour – is it harmful and will it disappear?

Some new mattresses, particularly ones that have been vacuum packed/rolled and contain foam can have a strong odour when first delivered and unpacked. Other new furnishing products in the home like carpets, curtains and upholstery will also smell to a certain degree. However, as you’ll be spending around 8 hours at a time with your nose pressed fairly close to your new mattress, the smell is more pronounced.

The smell is caused by chemicals used in the foam that were trapped in the packaging now reacting with air. The good news is that the smell is harmless to health and will disappear although it could take up to a week for it to completely go. To help, you should air the room as much as you can during the day. You could also use a spray to reduce odours on fabrics. If the smell is particularly strong you could place a few bowls of water + baking soda around your room and it will quickly neutralise the odour. Read our tips on cleaning mattress stains.

Will I notice any difference between rigid and flexible slats?

Not only are they likely to feel different – rigid slats will give a bed a firmer feel – but they will affect the durability of the mattress – rigid slats have no give and work against the mattress, leaving it to do all the work; sprung slats work with the mattress and will prolong its life and improve comfort levels. Read more about slats and other bed bases.

I've heard that fire retardant (FR) chemicals used in mattresses are toxic. Is this true and how can I avoid them?

All consumer products are required to comply with legislation that governs the safe use of chemicals. This legislation regulates which chemicals can or cannot be used and these requirements are sometimes subject to review and amended accordingly. Some chemicals may therefore be removed from use over periods of time. Any new product purchased would be required to comply with the legislation at that time the product is made available for sale.

Bed manufacturers do not make these rules or write the legislation that governs the use of chemicals, but in accordance with product safety, they are obliged to abide by the legislation at the time the product is placed on the market. As legislation is reviewed and updated, manufacturers will adapt and change their products accordingly. NBF members are aware of their obligations under this legislation and work together with their suppliers to ensure that the materials supplied to them meet these requirements.

There are some beds on the market which do not contain FR chemicals and are marketed as such – these are foam free and often premium priced products. Since manufacturers change their ranges and offerings constantly we are not able to provide detailed information on individual product ranges.

 

Can I buy an organic mattress or one that doesn’t use flame retardant chemicals?

Yes you can but our advice is to do your research thoroughly into the organic claims on the mattress. Ask to see copies of any certificates such as GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) and Oeko-Tex standard.

Marketing terms like organic, natural, non-toxic and eco-friendly are used a lot but it’s difficult to establish exactly what these mean. And just because a mattress is advertised as such does not necessarily mean that it is organic or natural. Some mattresses may contain elements or components that are organic such as fabric or fillings but that doesn’t necessarily make the mattress an organic one.

There are more and more manufacturers, including some NBF member companies,  eliminating the use of flame retardant chemicals from their mattresses – by excluding foam and by using naturally flame retardant covering fabrics.

Are foam mattresses hot?

Mattresses don’t create the heat and people can get hot on beds of all constructions – and remember that age, health and medications can all affect your body’s heat control mechanisms.

But foam is a good insulator and the higher the density (i.e. the better the quality) the greater the potential heat retention. Manufacturers are coming up with various novel solutions for climate control – from the cellular construction or the composition of the foam itself to aid breathability; to specially constructed ventilation layers; special springs to enhance air circulation; to warm sides and cool sides; to covers with the sort of technology you see in high-performance clothing: fast drying and capable of allowing moisture to evaporate quickly. Read more about keeping cool in your bedroom.

Why are two similar mattresses so widely different in price?

Chances are they are not as similar as they seem at first glance. They might both claim to be predominantly of the same construction – but further investigation will probably reveal different material qualities; densities; amounts; etc . If you want to comparative shop you will need quite a lot of detail to make sure you are comparing like for like. Read our comprehensive Bed Buyers’ Guide for all your go-to information.

My new mattress is making me too hot to sleep – what can I do?

Thankfully this problem is not as common as it was a few years ago, due to technological advances in mattress fabrics and foam. Cooling agents have been added to foam mixes and the latest developments in wickable, breathable fabrics help regulate body temperature.

However, there are some practical steps you can take if you’re still finding your new bed too warm.

  • Make sure your bedroom isn’t too warm. The ideal temperature for sleeping is 16-18C
  • Have a warm shower or bath just before bedtime which will help cool your core body temperature
  • Create airflow by opening doors and windows (if it’s safe to do so)
  • Reduce the weight of your bedding, choosing a lower tog duvet
  • Choose 100% cotton bed sheets and pillowcases
  • Wear lightweight cotton pyjamas or nightwear
  • Purchase a mattress protector or pad that uses natural fillings such as wool, cotton or bamboo or one that incorporates cooling technology.

Read more about how you can keep your room cool.

What should I pay for a good mattress?

Prices for beds range from well under £100 to several thousands. As a general rule, you get what you pay for and our advice is to spend as much as you can reasonably afford. After all, what other household item gets used every day for between six and eight hours at a time.

Remember that every £100 you spend on a new bed, actually presents an investment of just 2.7p a night (assuming a lifespan of seven years). A bargain bed is no bargain if you don’t sleep well in it.

Ready to take the plunge? Read our Bed Buyers’ Guide first, which includes tips for shopping around and finding the best bed and mattress for you.

On a slatted base, what is the recommended gap between each slat and what should the maximum width of the slat be?

It is important to ensure the slatted base is compatible with the mattress you choose to use with it. There are so many different suppliers of slatted bases with differing specifications of slat widths and the space between each slat that it is impossible to issue a recommendation that covers all options. Mattress manufacturers should provide their own recommendations for slat spacing and slat widths to suit their particular mattresses so we strongly advise you to check these before buying as they can vary from make to make. Be aware that using a mattress on an incompatible base could invalidate your guarantee.

Which is better – tufted or quilted?

It’s a matter of personal preference. With tufted mattresses, better quality tufts are well protected by wool or felt pompoms but some more sensitive people may be more aware of them than others. A good mattress protector can help. Otherwise, choose a quilted style instead. Read more about the difference between quilted and tufted.

Why is my mattress a slightly different size to the base?

There could be several reasons for this. You may not have bought the same size mattress as base. There are so many different sizes on the market these days, it is important to check actual dimensions, in the same scale (metric or imperial) to be sure of a size match. Don’t go by names alone – one shop’s king size may not be exactly the same as another’s!

If you buy a mattress to fit inside a bedstead, it is important that you establish the internal dimensions of the bedstead so that your mattress isn’t so tight that you can’t fit your bedsheets. Similarly, you don’t want too large a gap that results in your mattress sliding around.

Another reason your mattress may not be the same size as the divan base might be because of the construction. In transit or storage, mattress springs can sometimes nestle into each other temporarily reducing with the length or width. During use, the mattress should recover its original dimension. The effect is likely to be more pronounced if the spring unit does not have a perimeter frame or the mattress is not fully hand side-stitched – ideally a mattress should have one or the other feature to ensure it keeps its shape. Read our full lowdown on bed bases.

When it comes to choosing the bed what sort of base would you recommend?

There are a variety of bases on offer from divans and bedsteads to adjustable bases and bunk beds. Bases affect the feel of the mattress for example a solid top divan will give a mattress a firmer feel than a sprung edge divan. It’s important to ensure the mattress and base are suitable for use together, especially if you are buying them separately. Read our full guide on bed bases.

What is the most important part of the bed to focus on – is it the frame, the mattress or the bedding?

All of it – they need to work together. When buying a new bed it can be false economy to change only the mattress and keep the original base, especially if you are buying a divan set. The old base could reduce the useful life of the new mattress as well as the comfort and support it can offer. It can also invalidate manufacturers’ warranties or guarantees.

Read our Bed Buyers’ Guide for information on bed bases, mattresses and pillows.

Do you always need a base – could you just have a mattress on the floor?

A mattress on the floor is not something we would recommend. A mattress is designed to work with a base and needs ventilation. Read our full guide on bed bases.

Are springs a no-go nowadays – what should we look for?

Spring fillings are still very popular in Britain and make for excellent mattresses. Changing the spring construction, the thickness of the wire, the number of coils, height of each spring and the quantity alters the tension, feel and weight distribution properties of each mattress. There are three types of spring interiors – open coil, continuous spring and pocket spring.

Is a wooden base sturdier than a metal one?

It would be difficult to make generalisations as sturdiness is more to do with quality of materials and manufacture. You get what you pay for in terms of durability. Read our Bed Buyers’ Guide to find the right type of bed for you.

So how can you be sure that you are going to buy a mattress that is everything it says it is?

Simple: buy a product made by an Approved NBF Member.

Bed Advice UK Frequently Asked Questions
Bed Advice UK Frequently Asked Questions

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Bed Advice UK Frequently Asked Questions

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