Can You Put Your Mattress on the Floor?
When getting a new mattress, many people assume they’ll also need a bed frame and mattress foundation, but this isn’t always the case.
Technically, most mattresses function fine on the floor and nothing’s stopping you from putting it there if you want to. Still, floor sleeping comes with its benefits and drawbacks. While the floor can provide extra firmness and support, many manufacturers will void warranties if the beds are left on the floor.
Putting your mattress on the floor isn’t as inconsequential as it seems. We break down why you may or may want your bed on the floor, along with our tips for maintaining a mattress when it’s on the ground.
Reasons to Put Your Mattress on the Floor
The main reason people consider putting their beds on the ground is that it’s cost-effective and provides extra support. Beyond that, the floor is colder than anywhere else in a bedroom, making it a potentially good choice for hotter people.
The floor is both a flat and hard surface. Placing a mattress on the floor ensures it’s sturdy, in turn providing excellent support for the spine. Proper spinal alignment plays an important role in sleep health, including improving blood circulation, making it easier to breathe, and evenly distributing body weight.
Reduces Back and Neck Pain
Mattresses on the floor not only provide great support, but they feel firmer than they would on a mattress foundation. The extra firmness prevents painful sinkage and helps sleepers maintain good posture, potentially reducing neck and back pain.
Pain relief in bed is partially dependent on sleeping position. When side sleeping, the overly firm feel can worsen pain and cause pressure build-up, but the firmness is beneficial for back and stomach sleepers.
One of the tempting reasons to place a mattress on the floor is you won’t have to buy a mattress foundation or bed frame, both of which can cost hundreds of dollars. People on a tight budget can prioritize getting a good mattress without having to worry about expensive frames or foundations.
If anything, the only added costs of putting a bed on the ground include getting a barrier between the bed and the ground.
Cool air collects closer to the ground while hot air moves toward the ceiling. If you’re already a hot sleeper, sleeping high off of the floor may worsen night sweats and discomfort. Conversely, the cold draft of the floor might finally alleviate hot sleeping and help you get some rest.
Reasons Not to Put Your Mattress on the Floor
Although you might be tempted to sleep on the floor to save some money and improve your pain, the numerous issues caused by floor sleeping might just change your mind.
The floor is home to all types of allergens, including pollen, dead skin cells, dander, and bugs. All of these allergens can trigger reactions such as runny noses, itchy skin and eyes, coughing, sneezing, and rashes. If a person struggles with allergies as is, sleeping on a floor mattress will only worsen them.
Vulnerable to Pests
Even if you regularly clean the floor, dust, dust mites, and other critters ultimately collect on the ground. Dust mites and bed bugs are attracted to the heat and moisture of a mattress to live in, and when a bed is on the ground, pests can easily crawl into it and make it their new homes.
Disinfecting the floor and mattress can minimize the number of pests lurking about, but some are still bound to end up in the bed eventually. Not only is sleeping in a bed ridden with bed bugs and dust mites unsanitary, but it can cause allergic reactions.
Causes Moisture Build-Up
Keeping a mattress on a box spring or mattress foundation ensures it gets proper airflow, keeping the bed dry and clean. On the floor, that very airflow is drastically reduced.
Poor ventilation throughout a mattress causes it to get hotter and a hot mattress causes sleepers to potentially overheat and sweat. This then causes the bed to trap moisture.
A damp mattress is the perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew. Once a mattress is infested with mold and mildew, it’s nearly impossible to get rid of these fungi.
Too Cold For Some
Although the cold air near the ground may be nice for hot sleepers or for cooling down on a summer night, it may be unpleasant if sleepers tend to be chilly at night or live in cold climates.
Sleepers will likely have to keep their heater on throughout the night, use a space heater, or double up on the blankets. Still, this might be cumbersome.
Difficult to Access
Climbing in and out of a low-profile bed might place stress on a person’s joints and muscles, and although a bed is supposed to be a comfortable place, a bed close to the ground can be too painful to get into. People with limited mobility are more likely to be comfortable with their bed higher off the floor.
Voids Mattress Warranties
A big problem with putting a mattress on the floor is it voids a majority of mattress warranties, which are there to protect the bed in case it sags or is defective.
Putting a mattress on the floor generally causes many more problems compared to when it’s on a foundation, such as premature wear and bacteria build-up. These issues aren’t the same as defects or sags, and since manufacturers don’t want to be held responsible for these damages, they’ll nullify the warranty entirely.
What to Do If You Place Your Mattress on the Floor
Although putting your mattress on the ground isn’t the right choice for everyone, the benefits of floor sleeping might appeal to you. If so, there are multiple factors to be aware of to keep your mattress in its best condition so you sleep comfortably.
Double-Check Your Mattress’s Warranty
Before you decide to skip on a mattress foundation, read the fine print to the mattress’s warranty and ensure it’s fine to use the bed directly on the floor.
Most mattress warranties require specific foundations for the beds to maintain the warranty for its entirety. In many cases, manufacturers consider the floor an improper foundation and will void the warranty if the bed is on the ground.
Still, some brands approve of buyers using their mattresses on the floor. Even then, brands may have specific guidelines if you put a mattress on the ground, such as using a mattress protector or using a barrier between the bed and the floor.
Avoid Using Foam Mattresses
It’s not a good idea to place foam mattresses—including memory foam, poly-foam, and latex—on the ground. Foam is porous and vulnerable to trapping body heat and moisture. If the mattress gets hot due to being left on the floor with minimal airflow, you may start sweating, leaving the foam bed damp and vulnerable to mold growth.
Another reason to avoid using foam mattresses on the ground is they’re likely to wear and sag rapidly due to the improper foundation.
Consider Your Flooring
When using a mattress on the floor, it’s important to place it on finished flooring. This includes hardwood, tile, or synthetic carpets, rugs, or laminate flooring. Unfinished floors or natural carpets are more susceptible to moisture and germs, which will then contaminate your mattress.
Even with finished flooring, it’s worth using a barrier between your bed and the ground. This could include plywood, a foam mat, cardboard, blankets, or a flat sheet. The barrier reduces the risk of bacteria and allergens reaching your mattress.
Use a Mattress Protector
Regardless of whether you use your mattress on the floor or a foundation, it’s crucial to place a mattress protector over the bed. Since the mattress is on the floor, it’s worth looking for a protector that fully encases the mattress as most protectors only go over the bed like a fitted sheet. This way, the bottom of the mattress is just as protected as the top.
Keep Your Floors Clean
Unsurprisingly, if you’re going to leave your mattress on the ground, be sure the floor it’s kept on is clean. By keeping your floors clean, you limit your mattress’s exposure to germs and bacteria.
Whether you have wood floors, carpets, or rugs, vacuum and disinfect beneath your bed once every one to two weeks. If you have wood or tile floors, mop the ground.
If you place a sheet or blanket between your mattress and the floor, take this time to wash that as well.
Before replacing your mattress onto the floor, ensure the ground is completely dry because a damp surface can cause mold and mildew growth in your mattress.
Regularly Air Out Your Mattress
When on the floor, the air circulation throughout your mattress is severely restricted. As we mentioned, the lack of airflow can cause moisture build-up, leading to mold and mildew.
Prevent moisture build-up in your mattress by airing out your mattress once every one to two weeks, such as when you’re washing your bed sheets or cleaning the floors. If you live in a humid or warmer climate, it’s best to air out your mattress twice a week.
Either way, simply lift your mattress and prop it up against the wall. Leave your mattress for two to three hours before replacing it on the ground.
If your mattress is flippable or dual-sided, it’s a good idea to flip your mattress regularly to further limit moisture build-up.
Yes, box springs are usable off of the floor. Unlike mattresses, box springs are hollow—minus the steel springs in certain box spring models—so they’re less likely to trap allergens or dirt the same way mattresses can.
Leaving a box spring on the floor leaves enough space between the mattress and the floor, ensuring your mattress stays clean. However, box springs aren’t the most attractive bed bases, so you might not enjoy having your box spring exposed when leaving it on the ground.
Generally, your mattress should be between 16 to 24 inches off of the floor, both to keep it clean from dust and bugs and to make it easier to get in and out of bed.
A good indicator of whether or not your mattress is the right height is by sitting on the edge of your mattress. Your feet should be flat on the floor with your knees aligned with your hips for the easiest mattress access.
Yes because not all mattresses need a box spring. Innerspring beds are the only type of mattresses that require a box spring. Pairing a box spring with any other type of mattress leaves it vulnerable to premature sags and voids the mattress’s warranty.
There are numerous types of bases for foam and hybrid mattresses, including adjustable bed bases, platform beds, and solid foundations.
No, most bed frames don’t provide the support a mattress needs to perform properly. The average bed frame only features one or two support beams or slats designed to support an additional mattress base, not a mattress itself. Placing your mattress on support beams will cause your mattress to sag and wear down rapidly, along with voiding its warranty.
The only bed frames you can put a mattress directly onto are platform beds with numerous slats placed close together. The slats on platform beds are similar to standard bed slats and are capable of supporting a mattress without an extra bed base.
Innerspring mattresses pair well with box springs, bed slats, solid foundations, and bunkie boards. Memory foam and hybrid mattresses work with bed slats, solid mattress foundations, bunkie boards, and adjustable beds.
The floor is a less than ideal foundation, regardless of which mattress type you sleep on.
There are many real concerns to consider before just popping a bed onto the ground. Mattress type, warranties, maintenance, and accessibility are all crucial factors affecting whether or not it’s worth putting your bed on the ground. Just because you can put your bed on the ground, doesn’t mean you should.
Still, if you look over all of these criteria and still want to sleep on the floor, go for it. So long as it’s within the restrictions of your mattress warranty, there’s no harm done. Sleeping with your mattress on the floor can improve your pain and spinal support, helping your overall sleep quality.
This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.